Upgrade computer Was (Re: "budget" laptop?)

Subject: Upgrade computer Was (Re: "budget" laptop?)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Kathleen MacDowell <kathleen -at- writefortheuser -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 15:27:53 -0400

Kathleen MacDowell wondered: <<I've got a Toshiba Satellite laptop
(A215-S4747) I need to improve (as inexpensively as possible). Specs
say: AMD Turion 64 x 2 Dual core mobile technology, 1024 MB DDR2
SDRAM, 200GB HDD Reasons: It's slower than molasses, and I think some
of that is due to a drain on the system resources.>>

What operating system are you running? Windows XP works fine in 1 Gig
of RAM, whereas Vista only begins to perform acceptably fast at 2
Gig. If you're using software such as Photoshop, more RAM is better.
Note that Vista lets you use more RAM than XP, so adding RAM beyond 2
Gig probably won't produce much additional improvement for an XP

Also have a look at your hard drive (details should be available via
the Hardware control panel). Typical modern 200 GB drives are at
least 5400 rpm (rotation speed), but I imagine that older or
"economy" models might use the older 3600 rpm drives. If that's true
for you, upgrading to a faster drive would give a decent boost in
perceived speed.

However, the system specs you describe are plenty fast... certainly
faster than my current laptop, which rips along quite nicely with
that much RAM and a smaller hard drive. (It's a Mac, but that
accounts for only part of the difference.) Make sure that you've got
the latest and greatest versions of your antivirus and antispyware
software running, update all the virus/malware definition files, and
then do a full check of your system (not the "quick scan" or "smart
scan" most software permits) to ensure that it hasn't been infected.

I've seen a few anecdotal reports of speed problems with AMD chips,
so you might need to contact the manufacturer to find out whether
there have been any reported problems for your version of Windows and
your computer. If so, they might have a patch. I've also seen reports
of problems with suites such as Norton, which are memory hogs.

<<I think it was probably a poor decision to buy a laptop>>

Not necessarily. I've been using a laptop for most of the last 6
years, including with memory hogs such as Adobe's Creative Suite,
with no problems. However, one big problem might arise from the
graphics chip. Check your specs: if you're using any of the Intel
"integrated" graphics chips, or any other chip that uses "shared
memory", that will slow things to a crawl for graphics-intensive
applications. Then check the software requirements: if it requires a
certain minimum level of graphics chip, and you don't have that much
power, you're SOL. Since laptop graphics chips are usually soldered
to the motherboard, you can't replace it, and might need to upgrade
to a laptop or desktop with a better graphics chip (e.g., NVidia, ATI).

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Upgrade computer Was (Re: "budget" laptop?): From: Kathleen MacDowell

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