Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

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Windows 7 lag when using dual monitors with different refresh rates

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I have recently installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64 with Service Pack 1, coming from Vista (in which I had no problems). After the installation, the first thing I did was install the graphics card driver for my AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB card. I then noticed that when I drag windows around the desktop, scroll through windows, and especially drag windows from the secondary monitor to the primary, there was very noticeable lag. However, there was no lag in games – just the Windows desktop and its windows. This was a completely fresh install. I have dual monitors – the primary is a 19″ widescreen Acer X191W, and the secondary is a 15″ Sony LCD. I am using them in extended desktop mode.

What happened at first was Windows locked the primary monitor to 75Hz, and would not let me change it to 60Hz.  For some reason the first time I installed the video drivers, I think there was a conflict with the default Windows display drivers, causing my main monitor to be stuck at 75Hz. I had to uninstall and wipe the display driver to reinstall it, after which the option to set it to 60Hz appeared. I used ATIMAN Uninstaller to wipe the driver. After setting the display to 60Hz, the lag disappeared completely.

So it seemed there was a conflict somewhere with my specific hardware configuration that caused lag when two monitors were set to different refresh rates. However, then I tried to recreate the problem on a different system. This system has a Radeon HD 4870 and different dual displays. It had the same problem when one of the monitors was set to refresh at 60Hz and the other at 75Hz. And again, putting them both to 60Hz resolved the lag issue.

I could not find any information about this issue online. It can’t be the monitors as between the two systems there were four different monitors that had the same problem. It can’t be the hardware, because my computer has a 6870 and the other has a 4870. It can’t be interfering software, as this was a clean install of Windows. It has to be either the AMD driver, or an issue with Windows.

The point of this post is to let people know how to fix this issue, as well as ask if anyone else has experienced this, especially with a different graphics card. It took me two weeks to find the cause of this. I haven’t found anyone online with this issue. Both the video cards I tested should handle different refresh rates without a problem. Although I have fixed the issue, I still want to know what caused it.

Posted in Operating Systems, Performance, Software | 3 Comments »

How to upgrade memory on an Acer Aspire One

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

My Acer Aspire One came with 1GB of memory, and after installing Windows 7 on it, that 1GB has become inadequate. I bought 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory on Newegg for just over $20. This is great value for the money, and improved the overall performance of the netbook significantly. This quick guide will show you how to upgrade the RAM on an Acer Aspire One AO751h, but it might apply to many other laptops as well.

NOTE: Follow this guide at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damages or injuries caused by following these instructions. Your laptop may differ from mine.

1. Buy the correct RAM for your laptop. For my Acer, I bought one 2GB stick of Corsair 800MHz DDR2. Make sure you’re buying laptop memory, not desktop memory. The laptop RAM is obviously a lot smaller.

2. Shut down the laptop. Disconnect your power supply and remove the battery. Ground yourself by touching something metal. I touched my steel computer case. This should dissipate any static electricity that is on you.

3. Get a small phillips screwdriver and unscrew the two screws holding the memory bay on. Then gently pry it off – it is still held in by plastic clips.

4. Remove your RAM by pulling the two tabs on the sides apart, and pulling the RAM up and out. Be gentle.

5. Install the new RAM by pulling the two tabs on the sides apart, and gently inserting the RAM into the slot. Once it starts going in, release the tabs, and when fully inserted the memory module should snap into place.

6. Screw the cover back on and push down on it a bit to get it to clip in. Reinstall your battery and power on the laptop. Right click on “Computer” on your desktop or in your start menu, and click “Properties”. If you see 2GB of memory indicated, the install was a success!

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Hardware, Performance, Tutorials | No Comments »

Why you should defragment your hard drive

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

For those of you still using Windows XP or any earlier version of Windows, you need to manually defragment your hard drive. Windows Vista and later versions do it automatically, unless you disable the option to auto-defragment on a set schedule.

Defragmenting your hard drive will make a noticeable difference in your computer’s speed. Programs will open faster and the whole system will run quicker, as disk cache access will speed up after a defragment. What defragmenting does is reorganize fragments of files that spread out through the disk over time. Each time your computer accesses the hard drive, files get fragmented. Defragmenting your hard drive will also increase free space.

A program I highly recommend is Defraggler, made by the same company that makes CCleaner (another great program for speeding up your computer). To give you an example of what Defraggler or a similar defragmenting program can accomplish: my 320GB drive had 10GB of free space left before the defragment, and it was 23% fragmented. After running Defraggler and getting that figure down to 10% fragmented, I now have 55GB free space. So defragmenting my hard drive by only 13% gave me 45GB of free space, plus of course it made my computer faster.

All modern versions of Windows include a defragmenting program standard, and this includes Windows XP. To access the stock program, at least in Vista, open up Computer, right click on the hard drive, click properties. Click the Tools tab up top, and click Defragment Now. But again, I recommend Defraggler. It has more options and seems to get the job done better, and it’s also free.

So there you have it. Defrag your drives. Some people such as myself disable the auto-defrag option in Windows because it can start defragging when you don’t want it to. You should defragment your hard drive about once a month, depending on how you use your computer.

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Performance, Software | No Comments »

Windows 7 Ultimate on the Acer Aspire One Netbook

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Windows 7, the operating system from Microsoft that people actually seem to like. Although Vista was actually a great operating system, many people trashed it for no apparent reason, other than just wanting to jump on the Vista-Hate bandwagon.

And even though Vista was and still is a great operating system, Windows 7 is a lot better. I would never even think about installing Vista on my Acer Aspire One netbook, with its tiny 1.3GHz Atom processor and 1GB of memory. But I did think about installing Windows 7. Sorry, XP lovers, but XP sucks. It is a very buggy operating system. It wasn’t designed to handle today’s hardware. The amount of small errors XP has annoys the crap out of me. It happened on my old Pentium 4 system, and is happening on my netbook.

I like tinkering with computers anyways, so I decided to install Windows 7 on my Acer. I had no data on the laptop, just a few things installed. I decided to do a dual boot for now. I downloaded Easeus Partition Master and formatted a second primary (NOT logical) partition. Then I plugged in my USB DVD drive, popped in the Windows 7 disc, and restarted the computer.

After booting from the disc, I chose customized setup and selected the new partition I made for Windows 7. After about 30 minutes, the installation was finished. I then downloaded the Windows 7 specific drivers from the Acer website, and the install was ready.

This was the simplest, easiest operating system install I ever did. Everything on the laptop works perfectly after installing the drivers. I can run full Aero with transparency if I wanted to, but doing that makes the computer lag, very noticeably. So I switched it back to the Windows 7 Basic theme (which was the default – I only switched to Aero to see how it would run). I then installed Office 2007, Firefox, Pidgin, and some other programs, and tweaked some settings to my liking.

Surprisingly, when I ran msconfig and checked out the startup items through CCleaner, there was nothing extra running that I didn’t need. The only thing I disabled was drive indexing; I turned the service off completely through Control Panel. I never use Windows Search, so I don’t need it running all the time and wasting resources. The only program running in the background is AVG Antivirus.

With the software all set up and configured, I did some initial tests. It seems to run at the same speed as XP. Firefox takes a bit less time to open. For now I will say it’s the same in terms of speed, making this a successful upgrade. No loss of speed while gaining more features equals success. Battery life estimates seem less than XP. When XP estimated 10 hours remaining, Windows 7 estimates 8 hours. Maybe it’s just better at estimating, but I haven’t tested it completely yet.

Windows 7 is a million times better to use than Windows XP. Everything is easier to do, looks nicer, and it just feels better. It’s a better overall experience. It makes the laptop feel more modern, with its tiny hardware specs. And the best thing is, it should get even faster in the next week or so, thanks to SuperFetch. That is why I am holding off on doing tests between the two. Once Windows 7 has time to optimize itself, I’m sure it will be quicker than Windows XP. I might do a side-by-side video of the two doing certain tasks when that happens.

If you’re thinking about installing Windows 7 on your Acer Aspire One netbook, you should go right ahead. I have found no negatives in the two days I’ve been using it so far. It is a great operating system, and works great with this netbook. It’s much better than Vista at handling resources. My install of Windows 7 Ultimate x86 (32-bit) is here to stay, and I will get rid of the XP partition after I do the comparisons. You should upgrade too.

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Operating Systems, Performance | 5 Comments »

Phoenix Instant Boot Starts Windows 7 in a Few Seconds

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Phoenix Instant Boot looks like an impressive new technology that lets computers start up in just a few seconds. But let’s take a closer look at what is really happening.

The video is demonstrating a new BIOS that starts in about one second. The BIOS is supposed to make Windows load instantly as well. But this cannot happen with current hardware and a normal install of Windows. This is the key point – the Windows install. A normal install will have background applications running, more icons on the desktop, a higher resolution, and more things which will make it take longer to start. The video demo shows Windows Aero disabled, a resolution that appears way too low than it’s supposed to be, and it’s obviously a brand new install, maybe with the exception of a program or two installed (but not starting up).

The Windows install shown in the video is customized in a way that a normal user would never have it. That is why it boots so fast. And the thing about it changing how people will use the device – most likely no. It won’t change how people use laptops. It will just let people turn them on quicker. But then, who ever turns off their laptop? Hibernation cuts Windows loading time to half or less, and that’s what laptops do when you close the lid.

Don’t get me wrong – faster is always better when it comes to boot times. But people should also be realistic in terms of how much to expect – you just can’t boot a normal operating system in a few seconds on today’s hardware.

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Multimedia, News, Operating Systems, Performance | No Comments »

Should you get a 5400 RPM or a 7200 RPM laptop hard drive?

Monday, October 19th, 2009

With more and more laptops coming with an SSD option, is there a point in getting a 5400 RPM hard drive for a laptop? The simple answer is no.

SSD – solid state drives – are soon going to become mainstream in notebooks. Right now, most mid to high end laptops either have an option for an SSD drive or come with it standard. This means the 7200 rpm hard drive will soon be outdated. Yet some laptops still come with 5400 rpm hard drives. If you are looking to buy a laptop that comes with a 5400 rpm hard drive as standard, it is most likely a low end computer. So since 5400 rpm hard drives are getting outdated, should you still buy the laptop with this option? Yes, if you’re getting a good deal on the notebook, you can overlook the hard drive for two reasons – it’s very easy to upgrade in most laptops, and it’s not that big of a speed difference for the average person.

If you want to buy a new hard drive separately for your laptop, then do not get a 5400 rpm hard drive. You can get a 7200 rpm drive for the same price or even cheaper if you look around. In addition, most new 5400 rpm drives are for IDE connections, while 7200 rpm drives are for SATA connections. This means most newer laptops will accept the 7200 rpm drive, and if the price difference is no more than $10, it’s better to get a 7200 rpm drive.

In conclusion, if you find a deal on a laptop but it has a 5400 rpm hard drive, you should still get the laptop. If you’re buying a new hard drive for your laptop as an upgrade, get a 7200 rpm drive over a 5400 rpm drive if the price difference is $10 or less. The difference in speed between the two is not noticeable unless you are doing something like video editing all the time. And contrary to popular belief, a faster hard drive will not make your internet any faster whatsoever – a 5400 rpm hard drive can transfer data many times faster than your internet connection can.

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Hardware, Performance | 2 Comments »

Are Aftermarket Car Air-Intakes Worth the Money?

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Videogames like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, and movies like The Fast and the Furious and Tokyo Drift are introducing many people to the world of car customizing. One of the most drooled-over upgrades is a simple air-intake upgrade that consists of a new intake tube that is streamlined and replaces your old hose, and a cylindrical filter. An air-intake is designed to provide a less restrictive airflow, colder air, which contains more oxygen than warm air, thus increasing horsepower, improved fuel mileage, and a low-pitched noise. Is it really worth $100 to $350 for one of these?

Simple answer: the more upgrades on you car, the more power it adds. Say you have a completely stock (no factory installed parts have been changed) Honda Civic. You decide to put an air-intake on the engine. Some manufacturers say that an air intake on a Honda Civic can add up to 20 horsepower. A stock engine without any other upgrades like a turbo-charger or high-rise throttle-body does not need as much air as an engine with all those upgrades, so you will be lucky if you get an increase of 10 horsepower—and that’s 10 horsepower to the engine, which translates to about 5 extra horsepower at your wheels. It’s not easy for anyone besides a race-car driver to tell the difference 5 horsepower makes. On the other hand, if you’re running a V8 IROC Camaro with a supercharger, nitrous system, high-flow injectors, and a stock air-filter set-up, you’re pretty much making your car get air through a straw, thus losing horsepower. And fuel mileage: how does an intake improve it? Well, if your car has more horsepower, you don’t need to step on the gas pedal as much, thus saving gas. If you can’t even feel your horsepower gain, you won’t notice a difference at the fuel pump.

Say it’s the sound you’re after, but you’re unwilling to spend any money on a custom exhaust system. Take off your air filter silencer(s). Many cars that have to be smog checked have an air filter silencer, or silencers installed. Basically, just remove any boxes and/or tubes that come before the opening hole on your stock air-filter box, and you’ll get a low-pitched sound just like an air-intake would provide, and an extra horsepower.

Basically, if you’re building a racecar and you’re after every 1/10 of a horsepower, it’s worth getting a custom air-intake. However, unless money’s burning a hole in your pocket, a custom air-intake will not provide a noticeable power difference on everyday cars.

image from rygraves9 on flickr

Posted in Auto & Motorcycle Tech, Performance | No Comments »

Speed up your web browsing with the click of a button

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

No, this isn’t a program you download that pretends to make your internet faster (and installs some malware as a bonus). I’m talking about using a button on your mouse to make your browsing many times faster.

All (I hope) computer mice these days come with a scroll wheel. Of course that scroll wheel is also a button. If you installed mouse drivers, this middle button can be configured to do anything you want, almost. So if you do have drivers installed, set the middle click to the “middle click” or “standard” (it will be different for different mice) option. If you don’t have drivers installed, you don’t need to change this.

So what is this all about? If you’re doing heavy web browsing, you can set your middle mouse button to open links in a background tab. How does this help with speed? The new pages you open load in the background, so when you’re done reading a page, you can just switch to the next tab and continue reading whatever you clicked on, without having to wait for it to load. Genius? I think so.

To do this in Firefox, simply click Tools > Options, click on the Tabs tab, and uncheck When I open a link in a new tab, switch to it immediately.

This will make new links open in background tabs, which also means they’re loading in the background. As for your middle mouse button, the default action for Firefox to take when you click a link with the middle mouse button is to open it in a new tab.

So now when you click a link with your middle mouse button, it will load in the background. This comes in really handy when browsing sites like Digg or just browsing forums. New pages or threads will load in the background as you are uninterruptedly browsing the home page, looking for more stuff to open.

Be sure to comment with any other quick and easy browsing tips.

Posted in Internet, Performance, Software, Tips & Tricks | No Comments »

AGP is dead, get over it

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

There was recently an article on TG Daily saying AGP is almost dead. This is true, so why do people still want to revive this old format?

On major overclocking forums, people are complaining that AGP is being phased out of the market. I don’t understand why. AGP is a very old format, and it has been replaced by PCI Express long ago. PCIe is a superior format, mostly because it’s multiple times faster than AGP.

All the new graphics cards that have been released over the past few years have been targeted for PCIe. Some companies made AGP versions of these cards, but recent graphics cards are far too powerful to be put in the AGP format. AGP simply cannot transfer data at the speed that these performance cards need to transfer it.

This is the same as people complaining that their five year old 300 watt power supply cannot power a 9800GX2. It’s obvious it can’t because it’s lacking the performance ability to do so, and the same is happening for AGP. It can’t handle newer cards.

People who still use AGP should just upgrade their motherboards when they want a new video card. Stop complaining about an old format and upgrade. You can’t put a V12 Ferrari engine in a ’90s Honda Civic. This is the same as the transition from DDR to DDR2, and soon it will be DDR2 to DDR3. Face the facts that AGP is too old and upgrade to PCIe if you want a new graphics card.

Posted in Hardware, Performance | No Comments »

Photoshop CS4 in October, with GPU Acceleration

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

When Adobe Photoshop CS4 comes out this October, it will feature GPU and Physics acceleration, as well as 64 bit processing.

This means Photoshop CS4 will not only be the first version of Photoshop to come in a 64 bit version, but also the first version to feature graphics and physics processor acceleration. This will make Photoshop CS4 faster than any previous versions, and it will let you manipulate 3D graphics. The physics acceleration might be able to generate particle and lighting effects dynamically and in 3D.

The GPU acceleration alone will increase the speed of Photoshop CS4 in certain tasks up to 100 times. At a recent Nvidia demo, “the presenter playing with a 2 GB, 442 megapixel image like it was a 5 megapixel image on an 8-core Skulltrail system. Changes made through image zoom and through a new rotate canvas tool were applied almost instantly.”

There is no word yet on whether CS4 will only take advantage of workstation GPU’s such as the Nvidia Quadro series. I am hoping that it will be able to use any GPU for an extra speed and power boost.

More information should be available as the October 1st release date approaches.

Posted in Graphics / Design, Performance, Software | No Comments »

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