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Thread: Improve performance by tweaking your hardware

  1. #1
    eset_boy's Avatar
    eset_boy is offline Windows Enthusiast
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    Wink Improve performance by tweaking your hardware

    Learn how your hard drive and graphics card impact your system's performance, and dig deep under the bonnet to discover and fix hardware issues.

    Before we start examining your computer, we need to see what Windows Vista believes is possible from the system when it's working at its best. Searching for 'Performance' in Start Search should lead you to the Performance Information and Tools analysis of your system. If any numbers are low, then you may wish to consider looking at these areas for replacement. My laptop has a lowest rating of 4.3, which is more than adequate, but should one number be low compared to the rest, I would consider replacing that element. If your computer is running low on RAM, for example, it will use the hard drive as an extension of memory, but this deals a fatal blow to your computer's performance because the hard drive can be 1,000 times slower than memory. In my experience, a Windows Vista PC with just 1GB of memory will struggle unless your system is only lightly used.

    Other hard drive problems can be caused by fragmented files. To see if your computer is suffering from this, fire up the Reliability and Performance Monitor. While this is very useful to explore, we will concentrate on the Disk section. If you open this and sort by Response Time, you can see how long some of your disk operations take. The higher the number here, the more your hard drive is being stretched. Should you see numbers above 500ms (0.5 seconds), you need to defragment your drive or add more memory.

    You can use Task Managerto look for processes that use up a lot of your CPU's processing power. Sometimes a disk-intensive process will show light processor usage in Task Manager, while slowing the system down through intensive hard drive access, so you need to check both tools to understand what is slowing your system down. Use Task Manager to identify any programs that are doing this. This will either point to a need to defragment the hard drive or add more memory. If this file is the Pagefile.sys file, then it is a strong probability that more memory is needed. The need for programs to access the hard drive will never go away, but a slow system with a constantly illuminated drive light always points to too much hard disk usage.

    Once we have tuned the most common areas of the system, we then move on to an area that Windows Vista has stretched far more than Windows XP - the graphics card. While previously the graphics card was only stretched with gaming, it is used extensively by the Windows Aero graphics and now needs to be examined. Aero graphics hit the computer in two areas - memory and GPU (graphics processing unit) performance. To see how much memory is being demanded by Aero, look at Task Manager and search for the process dwm.exe - the memory used by this process is the memory used for Aero. Aero can also cause problems with the PC's ability to render the screen in a timely process.

    There are two tests you can take to see if the graphics card is holding back your system. The first is to switch off the full Aero experience in Windows Color and Appearence. Click on the link to open the Classic appearence properties and select Windows Vista Basic. If this makes your computer more responsive, then your graphics card is causing a problem.

    The second test is to run a winsat command that stresses your system and checks to see that it runs adequately. A sample command might be 'winsat d3d -totalobj 20 -objs C(20) -totaltex 10 -texpobj C(1) -alushader -v -width 1000 -height 750', with the width and height numbers being adjusted to something close to your screen settings. If this is jerky, then again your graphics card is showing itself as not being great for Windows Vista.

    Extreme performance analysis tools
    Use the most detailed analysis tools to diagnose performance issues

    1 PERFORMANCE TOOLKIT Download and install the Windows Performance Toolkit from Windows Performance Tools Kit, v.4.1.1 (QFE) to enable the tools that hardware providers and engineers use to diagnose deep system issues.

    2 TRACING CHARACTERISTICS You need to start a trace. Begin with the command "xperf -on DiagEasy -f\trace.etl" which needs to be run from a command prompt that was started as an Administrator. Now do the things that cause your system to underperform.

    3 STOP TRACE While the trace was running, you will have collected a number of statistics on your system while it was not performing as desired. You now need to stop the trace with the command "xperf-d \ final_trace.etl", from the same command prompt as before.

    4 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS The final trace file can now be loaded and examined. You will notice that the initial screen shows all the activity that was taking place on your system.
    5 EXPLORE PROBLEM AREAS Now the detective work comes in. When you see a place with lots of disk or CPU activity, hover your mouse over it to see what caused it. For a more detailed view, select a region and choose Zoom or Details from the menu.

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  2. #2
    HappyAndyK's Avatar
    HappyAndyK is online now Site Administrator
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    One cool find ! Nice article, Thanx

  3. #3
    bootloader's Avatar
    bootloader is offline New Member
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    i always love to get that extra bit from my hardware.thx for thuis trick

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