Dell™ Dimension™ 8250 - How can I get a performance boost

Problem: No space to conduct system maintenance within system partition.

Analysis:  The Dell™ Dimension™ 8250 is approximately 6 years old. System performance is at a low. As each day passes it becomes increasingly difficult to find replacement parts and upgrades for this computer. We could not justify spending $400 on memory for a computer that will not give satisfactory returns. Therefore we decided to upgrade the hard drive from 320 GB to 500 GB. The machine will not go any faster but at least it will have room required for regular system maintenance routines.

Upgrading from the 320 GB to the 500 GB hard drive was successful! I wasn't expecting the machine to go any faster but to my surprise the computer moving slightly slower. I have updated all of the drivers, scan the hard drive for possible spam using three scanners. I was able to successfully defrag the hard drive something that I was unable to do previous to the upgrade. Still I think the machine is moving a little slower.

Is there anything that I am missing that I should reviewing? I know that this machine only has 512 MB of memory in it (LOL!) and the client has more software packages on the computer than I can count. BUT if you can provide any suggestions and/or comments they are definitely welcomed!

Elton BrownAsked:
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Larger drives tend to have slower access times. The biggest improvement you could make would be to add more RAM to reduce disk paging.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
$400?? You should be able to pick up Dell RAMBUS 512MB sticks for about $60 a pair.  You must get 40ns or better though.  

What is the difference in hard drive speeds RPM? Bigger drives aren't always faster.

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Elton BrownAuthor Commented:
Both drives are 7200RPM. I thought that they are rotating at the same time...
WOW! I wish I could find Dell RAMBUS 40ns 512MB sticks for about $60 a pair. If you know of a place I would like to know.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
eBay.  I've upgraded several computers with RAMBUS memory from there.
A $350 entry-level PC or notebook from Walmart will run circles around that 8250.  I wouldn't spend much money on it if I were you.  Certainly not over $100 absolute max.  
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
It's not true that "larger drives tend to have slower access times" => access time is a function of rotational latency and seek time, and has nothing to do with the size of the drive.   Transfer rate is a function of rotational speed and areal density.    In your case, since both drives are rotating at the same speed, I suspect the performance difference is due to areal density.    I suspect your 320GB drive has 160GB/side, while your 500GB drive has 125GB/side.

In any event, with XP you will notice a BIG difference between 512MB and 1GB of RAM ... and a modest gain going from 1GB to 2GB.   While I agree that a new PC would have far better performance, if that's not a reasonable upgrade at this time (often the case to preserve the software configuration) I'd buy a pair of 512MB modules from the Amazon link above for $55.05.    Depending on the current memory configuration, that would give you either 1.5GB or 1.25GB of RAM -- a BIG improvement over the current 512MB -- and should make a nice difference in the system's performance.
Assuming it's XP, I agree that >512MB RAM will help.  However if they're expecting a 100% improvement in performance (x2) I think they'll be disappointed.  25% is probably more likely.  That's significant, maybe even big, but that 8250 was (in my opinion) a dog when it was new and it's not going to suddenly get way faster by adding memory.  We used to have some 8250s here and they were just never very fast even under the best conditions.
Elton BrownAuthor Commented:

Thank you garycase for such enlightenment
Where were you guys when I was farting around looking for memory and all I found were the sharks!

I am going to buy a pair of those AmaZon sticks for 55.00!  
Heh, I recall spending a small fortune on memory upgrades for 8250s.  The links above are a little more palatable.
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Windows XP

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