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Windows 7: Windows 7 on an older computer.

23 Apr 2011   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Windows 7 on an older computer.

My mom is using an older Dell. It is one of the slimline models, so I did what I could with it.

i845G motherboard
Pentium 4 2.66 GHz (Northwood)
1.125 PC2100 DDR SDRAM
128MB Geforce FX5200 PCI

The motherboard would probably run a 3.06GHz P4C, but I don't know that it meets the higher TDP required by that CPU. I don't want to blow the MOSFETs or something. The BIOS also lacks the ability to enable HT. Can't put a better GPU both because the PC lacks a PCIE/AGP slot and because it has only a 180W PSU.

Windows 7 runs pretty well. Aero is functional with no glitches. I do, however, find that Adobe Flash content generally causes the computer to have trouble.

I've heard Windows 7 can be crippled by only 1GB of RAM, but I don't know how true that is. I used to run an Athlon 64 X2 4000+ and Phenom X4 9750 on 1GB of RAM, and they worked fine; they had significantly higher memory bandwidth and were far superior CPUs, though.

Is it possible to make this PC run any better than it does? It IS ten years old, so the fact it runs Windows 7 remotely well is amazing.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #2
Orbital Shark



The biggest issue you're experiencing that's causing the slowdown is the aero effects in general. I've had Ultimate running on a machine with 768MB of memory and it ran fine until it got to flash content. Try disabling transparency and see if it helps improve your flash performance.

Click Computer then System Properties > Advanced System Settings > Performance and un-check Enable Transparent Glass and Enable Desktop Composition. Alternatively you could just try a basic theme.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #3

windows 7 Pro 64Bit

At 1GB ram you are just barely scraping by the minimum requirements. With the prices of ram these days I would max it out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Apr 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Actually, Windows 7's "minimum" requirement of 1GB of RAM is a complete fabrication. The OS will run with far less. As I said, 1GB of RAM with both an Athlon 64 X2 and Phenom X4 worked perfectly well.

DDR SDRAM prices aren't amazingly cheap compared to DDR2/3 prices, either. $30 for 1GB isn't bad, but it isn't great either.

Do you really believe the glass effects are to blame? I was under the impression that Aero was entirely GPU accelerated and deloaded the CPU.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #5
Orbital Shark


You'll find that as you only have 128MB of video memory it doesn't actually leave very much for everyday tasks, like internet browsing. You'll find that flash content is requiring more and more GPU acceleration these days.

You may also want to see if Windows is allocating memory for shared use with the GPU. Right-click the desktop and select Screen Resolution then Advanced settings

Windows 7 on an older computer.-shared-video.png

You'll find that with shared memory, your system will experience slow periods as Windows tries to compensate for more GPU intense operations.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Hm. I've only got 271MB shared VRAM. Is there any way to change this setting? Is it proportional to your amount of total system RAM?

So far, what I'm seeing is this:
Aero off resorts in graphics loading very awkwardly; they literally load from the top of the monitor to the bottom as programs/windows open.
Aero on/transparency off does not do this.
Aero on/transparency on shows no obvious performance loss from transparency off.

Maybe I should just find a cheap stick of RAM on Ebay.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #7
Orbital Shark


You'll find that as Windows requires more video memory it'll pool it's resources from your physical memory as and when it's required. Upgrading the memory would be the easiest option in this case (as it was with me).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Well, I should've done my homework before I dumped that P4 2.66 in there. Apparently Dell just failed to update their documentation as newer CPUs came out.

The board should support any CPU with a CPUID of 0F27h, meaning the 3.06 GHz P4 can run in there. I don't know if it falls within the TDP limits of the board, though. The 2.8 model certainly would, however.

I'll probably pop in a second 1 GB stick and a 3.06 in there. Probably a $10 upgrade, overall.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2011   #9

Windows Vista Home Premium x86, Home Premium x86

If you have spare cash you can bump the RAM to 2 GB or more & also add a HD4650 AGP 8x graphics card.

This will enable HD decoding & also accelerate flash content.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2011   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

There's absolutely no way I could put a better GPU in. The PC only has PCI slots, and the PSU is only 180W. It wouldn't even run an 8400GS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows 7 on an older computer.

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