Extremely slow and buggy after clean install. Likely result: budget upgrade

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
Afternoon all,

My computer has been running strangely slow as of late, and I’m looking for some help in fixing that. In particular, many of the guts are old and could use an upgrade; I’m willing to spend circa $500 to spruce things up (more on that below).

Here are the specifications of the computer:
Motherboard: Asus M2N-SLI deluxe
CPU: Athlon 64 X2 6400+
CPU fan: Zalman CNPS 9700
GPU: VisionTek 4870 (512/1gb? The invoice looks like 512mb, though when I run dxdiag on the computer now, it shows 244mb graphics memory in the “Display” tab.)
Primary HD: Seagate 250gb Sata2
Secondary HD: Seagate 160gb Sata2
PSU: Enermax ELT620AWT 620W
Case: Lian-Li (like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112100)

Chronology of events:
- 2 weeks ago, the computer froze unexpectedly and wouldn’t restart properly for a while. I just unplugged it and came back later; it seemed to have “fixed itself” except that the secondary hard drive was no longer recognized.
- One week ago, I boxed the computer up and shipped it cross country to school. I made sure everything inside was are secure and packed the computer in layers of bubble wrap, foam, extra cardboard, etc., but I didn’t remove any internal components. (I know, that’s not how you’re supposed to do it. I was in a hurry and I knew that most of the internals are cheap to replace, given their age).
- A few days ago the computer arrived. I opened it up and everything inside was still secure and seemingly undamaged, though a few fins on the heatsink were bent.
- However, when I tried to boot the computer up, it first was stuck in boot for ~15 minutes before I gave up. Second time it went into safe mode, though that took about ~15 minutes. Third time successfully booted normally (but still slowly). Second hard drive (unsurprisingly) still not recognized. I saved needed data and shut it down.
- Yesterday I did a clean install of Win7 x64 Ultimate. The OS copy is legal: I downloaded a disk image through the university and used my laptop to burn that to a blank DVD.
The install itself took much longer than I remember; in particular, there were several times during the settings input where everything froze for a few minutes.
- Since the clean install, the machine has still been slow and buggy as hell. Startup takes ~5 minutes, Google Chrome crashes more often than not (when loading google.com), trying to install Windows updates takes hours, and so forth. Lots of intermittent freezing. Something inside has recently started emitting an occasional high-pitched squeak.

So. I know my box is old, but it’s nonetheless good enough for my needs. If there’s a cheap way to get things up and running decently, I’ll go for that and save my money for when it buys me more. Right now, I don't need the very best...just something workable. If this isn't salvageable, I’ll want to upgrade/build asap. Mandatory questions answered below:

1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc
- In order of most common to least: web browsing/LaTeX, etc (with plenty of multitasking), gaming, light programming, “heavy” programming (and/or numerical simulations, etc.)

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?
- I’d say around $500. If need be I can go up, though no way more than $700. If possible, less would also be nice. Less money spent on computer now = more to spend when it buys more and/or more dinners out with the girlfriend.

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.
I live in Claremont, California, USA. If it matters, the billing address is Georgia.

4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.
- Definitely motherboard and CPU. I assume RAM and PSU as well. Possibly a newer GPU, though this one hasn’t slowed me down yet. If there’s $50 left over, a bigger hard drive. (I don’t need a lot of space or have lots of media, but 250gb is still a bit small for a primary).

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.
- Willing to reuse any of the above, as appropriate. Don’t see why I wouldn’t keep the case, DVD burner, cpu fan, etc.

6) Will you be overclocking?
- Minimally if at all. Not a priority for me.

7) What size monitor do you have and/or plan to have?
- I have a 20” 1680x1050 Acer AL2051W. In the future, if I can justify the cost I may add a second monitor - such a setup is nice for programming. It'd probably be same size/resolution. I'm not particularly interested in dual-monitor gaming.

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?
- ASAP, though if there’s a hugely compelling reason to wait, I have a serviceable laptop.

9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? eSATA? Onboard video? etc.
- Nothing fancy, though futureproofing is nice. As shown by the specs above, I don’t upgrade much.

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?
- Yes, Win7 x64. See above.

Concerning Microcenter: The university is about an hour away from one. I don’t own a car, so any savings from a combo would need to be large enough to offset about $25 of Zipcar bill + make it worth my time.
Concerning Amazon: I have free shipping.

One other note: The computer as currently configured is *loud.* I certainly don’t need a whisper silent computer, but something that doesn’t sound like a desk fan on top speed would be nice.

All else being equal, I'd prefer AMD over Intel. But all else not being equal, I'll take the best value any day.

Thanks for your help, gentlemen. Hopefully in a few days I’ll have either a working computer or a box full of new components …nothing like a new build.

Tarrosion
 

Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
Since you're in California now, your best bet would be to buy the parts off Amazon.com to avoid California taxes. IIRC, CA will still require tax even if the billing address is somewhere else. So Amazon.com it is.

$123 - Intel Core i3 2100 CPU
$85 - MSI PH67S-C43 Intel H67 Motherboard
$50 - Kingston KHX1333C9D3B1K2/8G 2x4GB DDR3 1333 RAM
$60 - Samsung Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$59 - Antec High Current Gamer Series HCG-520 520W PSU
---
Total: $377 plus tax and shipping

Notes:
- At the $100+ price point, you're better with an Intel CPU. Outside of a few situations, which do not apply to you sadly, AMD CPUs above $100 have a pretty bad price to performance ratio compared to their Intel counterparts.
- That Samsung drive is actually faster than your current drives in a RAID 0 array. So I highly recommend using it as your OS drive.
- If you want to spend the leftover cash, I recommend swapping out the CPU for the significantly faster Core i5 2400:
$190 - Intel Core i5-2400 CPU

And upping the PSU to the Corsair 650TX V2 so that you can add higher-end GPUs in the future:
$85 - Corsair 650TX V2 650W PSU

Even with those substantial upgrades, should still be under that $500 budget.
 

tonytnnt

Gawd
Joined
Jun 30, 2004
Messages
871
I could be accused of being an Intel fanboy at times but the AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE at $120 isn't such a bad deal. It would likely run his heavy programming/numerical simulations faster assuming his software is multithreaded.

Also, Microcenter might be a good option for him, even with the $25 Zipcar fee, whether AMD or Intel.

Here's why:

Intel:

$100 - Core i3-2100
$150 - Core i5-2400
$10 - H61M-P23 (B3) LGA 1155 H61 mATX
or
$60 - TP67B+ LGA 1155 P67 ATX (Has USB 3.0 and 4 slots for RAM.)
Subtotal: $160-210
Total (after taxes): $172-$226
Add $25 + your time +/- adventure on the freeway depending on your outlook on life. So it's about $40 cheaper to get it from Microcenter on an absolute dollar cost. Also, having gone to college without a car in a large city (I'll admit, Boston isn't quite LA when it comes to traffic) it's always fun to get out and drive to see some places you don't normally have access to. Maybe make it a shopping night with friends to get the Zip Car cost split more ways?

AMD has a bunch of options. However you should realize that for gaming and simulations, the Core i5-2400 is faster than any of the AMD CPUs listed there. The Core i3-2100 is surprisingly close to even the Phenom II x4 980 on most options except when heavy multithreading comes into play, where the true quad core takes the lead. I would really recommend the Core i5-2400 over the AMD options. But if the budget doesn't work, and you run a lot of multithreaded programs, consider AMD.

The rest of my build would be what Danny posted... except I'd also add a video card if you plan on gaming.

There's a $200 Radeon 6870 on Amazon, but it would be about the same price to order it off Newegg, and cheaper after MIR and free games, even with taxes and shipping. Some of that depends on what type of games you want to play though, so post back if there are specific titles and what your priority is as the 4870 is still an okay card for 1680x1050.
 

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
Concerning specific titles, there's nothing definite I want to be able to max. Looking forward, Mass Effect 3, Skyrim, and Battlefield 3 are likely options. I tend to play a fair amount of last-gen games that I get cheap on Steam/Impulse, though now and again a new title snags me.

I've been meaning to try the Witchers and Crysis (the original).

Mostly, I just want to be able to play new games at reasonable settings or older games at their best; I'm not concerned with maxing out new blockbusters.

By the sound of it, the 4870 will last me a while longer at 1680x1050, and down the road I'll invest in a new card.

I won't be building until next weekend, so I'll probably wait a few days before buying to see if anything changes.

Tarrosion
 

tiraides

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
11,066
Crysis 1 would wreak havoc on the HD 4870 on high settings, and there's the chance that Skyrim and BF3 could also be graphically demanding. I recommend looking at the HD 6870 or the GTX 550 Ti unless you're planning on buying a new 1920x1080 monitor within the next six months or so.
 

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
Is there a reasonable motherboard not terribly more expensive than the one recommended by Danny but with some USB 3.0 support? I wouldn't want to pay much, but I'd be willing to spend a few dollars more for that perk.

Thanks,
Tarrosion
 
D

Deleted member 88227

Guest
This should meet your USB 3.0 requirement.

MSI H67MA-E45 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 - $89.99 + shipping
 
D

Deleted member 88227

Guest
Just realized you're in CA. Use this retailer instead.

MSI H67MA-E45 (B3) - $89.99
 

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
Hey,

I ended up going with the i5-2400 and the second (more expensive) mobo that tonytnnt recommneded from Microcenter. Yesterday I did the build; no problems except that my optical drive was so old it doesn't connect to the new motherboard. Fine, no problems - I'll install Windows from a flash drive.

I used the Microsoft tool to prepare the flash drive and put it at the top of boot priority in the bios. The Windows installation starts fine, but when the installation process requires the machine to restart, it reboots back to the beginning of installation, rather than continuing on where it left off. Any possible solutions?

Thanks,
Tarrosion

Edit: Also, any recommendations for cheap DVD drives?
 
D

Deleted member 88227

Guest
Remove the USB boot drive when it restarts. IIRC, it even tells you to "remove boot media" prior to restart.
 
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