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Thread: Causes and Solutions for a slow PC

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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Causes and Solutions for a slow PC

    Common reasons for a PC running slowly

    As many people have been running our benchmark and asking us to explain why their PC is slow we have written this article to try and help them find the cause and fix it.

    Note that we are not attempted to cover the other common question of 'why is my PC crashing', in this article but some of these solutions might also help with crashing issues.

    This is not intended to be step by step guide for such things as re-installing your O/S or changing BIOS settings, as that would extend over many many pages. Rather is intended to be a short list of things that you can research and check.


    Problem:
    Spyware & Viruses and other mal-ware are running on your PC using up CPU time, RAM & network bandwidth.
    Solution:
    Get a good antivirus and anti-spyware scanning program. In some cases of bad infections however it might be quicker, safer and more effective just to reformat the hard disk and re-install the compete operating system.



    Problem:
    A fragmented disk is causing slow disk access.
    Solution:
    Files can be written and read from the disk faster if they are stored in a continuous sequence of bytes on the disk. But as files on the hard disk are updated, deleted and created, they become fragmented. Windows has a build in disk defragmenter. Use it every couple of months.


    Problem:
    3D graphics are slow
    Solution:
    Make sure you have the latest copy of the device driver for your video card. Then check you have the current copy of DirectX. Video device drivers are complicated pieces of software and as a result it is very common that they are buggy or unreliable. So if you have the latest device driver and still have problems, consider trying the previous versions.

    Also check you video hardware acceleration is turned on from the Windows, “display properties” dialog and in DirectX (use Dxdiag.exe for this).


    Problem:
    Onboard 3D graphics are slow
    Solution:
    Just about all of the onboard graphics solutions are slow when compared to equivalent generation PCI solutions. The onboard chipsets might have names like, "Express Chipset" or "Extreme chipset" but they are not designed for high performance. They are designed for low price. Consider an upgrade. Especially if you are a 3D gamer.



    Problem:
    2D is slow plus 3D graphics are slow in windowed mode, but OK in full screen
    Solution:
    We have seen some Windows skinning applications (like Windows Blinds from Stardock) have a dramatic negative effect on the 2D and 3D video performance. The full screen 3D results are not effected as the normal Windows interface in hidden in this case. Uninstalling Windows Blinds fixes the performance problem.


    Problem:
    CPU is too hot
    Solution:
    Your CPU might be overheating and then throttling down to a slow speed. Check your fans, heat sinks and CPU temperature. Clean out any dust in the case. Check the fan outlets are not obstructed. Check this especially if this is a new build or new CPU.


    Problem:
    Your PC is full of Junk
    Solution:
    Over time people tend to install more and more software. There has been a trend by software developers over recent years to have their own applications set to automatically start up when the PC is turned on. The more stuff you have running, the less RAM you have and the longer your PC will take to start up. The solution is of course to uninstall stuff you don’t need and stop unnecessary stuff running at start up.


    Problem:
    Your Operating System is running stuff that you don’t need
    Solution:
    Windows contains dozens of software services (pieces of software that run when the operating system starts). Most of these are part of the operating systems. Some of which most users don’t need and can be turned off for a minor saving. The detail of what services do what is beyond the scope of this article, but there are lots of articles on the internet about turning off some of these services.


    Problem:
    PC is slow start and stopping applications & the disk light is on excessively.
    Solution:
    You might be low of RAM. This might be because you have too much junk running or because you don’t have enough physical RAM. Clean up your junk and or add more RAM. Now-a-days RAM is cheap.



    Problem:
    PC is slow
    Solution:
    Upgrade your hardware. If you PC is more than 5 years old, it is never going to run Vista or XP very well. Consider a hardware upgrade.



    Problem:
    Slow disk access and errors from the disk
    Solution:
    You might have some corrupted files. Check the S.M.A.R.T. status of the drive to see if the drive itself thinks everything is OK, then try Scandisk to check for file corruption.



    Problem:
    Slow disk access
    Solution:
    Check you have the correct motherboard device drivers for your motherboard. If you are just using the default device drivers, you might not be running the hard drive in the faster possible mode (PIO mode vs Bus mastering Ultra DMA mode). Also check you are using the best cable (80 conductor cable vs 40 if using IDE drives).


    Problem:
    RAM access is slow
    Solution:
    Check the BIOS RAM timings. Select automatic unless you really know what you are doing. Check you have enough RAM to avoid swapping out to disk all the time. Check the RAM is in the correct slots and matched pairs if you have a dual channel motherboard.


    Problem:
    The full capacity of my CPUs / Cores are not being used
    Solution:
    If you are running PerformanceTest then check the number of processes in the Edit / Preferences window matches the number of CPU's and cores that you have in the machine. So as an example, having two Dual core CPUs mean you want 4 processes to max out the CPUs. In some cases it might be possible to disable CPUs or Cores from BIOS. So check BIOS settings as well if you seem to be missing a CPU.


    Stuff which normally doesn’t help much if at all.

    Here is a list of stuff that probably won’t help your PC run faster (despite what you might read elsewhere from people with vested interests).
    • Fixing registry problems. Removing a few things from the registry rarely has any impact on PC speed. The whole registry 'cleaning' industry greatly exaggerates the benefits of doing this.
    • Using ‘memory optimizers’. At best these memory optimizers do close to nothing. At worst they are a straight out software scam, preying on the ignorant consumer.

    Copyright PassMark Software 2007. Not to be reproduced without permission.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    19

    Default

    I am a PC Technician and since we charge alot todo work, I'd figure I'd give you guys some instructions on exactly how I fix common problems.


    Problem: Adware/Spyware/Virus

    Solution:

    1) Boot into safe mode (press F8 as computer boots) and select Safe Mode with Networking.

    2) Clear ALL temporary internet files and folders.

    3) Goto Add/Remove Programs, and remove anything that looks like it could be malicious or unwanted (WeatherBug, etc...)

    4) Then, install Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy

    5) Run and update both. They will probably find problems, remove everything they find. I have removed millions of instances of problems, and it has NEVER ruined any OS installation.

    6) Update and run your AV software. If you don't have any, or care to install any, use an online scanner. HINT: If you disable your AV, and use an online scanner, they sometimes find different problems.

    7) If it finds anything remove it. If the AV software can't remove the infection write down the name and Google a removal tool, based on the name of the infection.

    Once that is done, goto RUN > MSConfig > choose the Startup tab

    Remove as much as you can from msconfig. You can REMOVE EVERYTHING and the computer will still boot, so don't be afraid to remove something if you don't know what it is. Keep the stuff you recognize like your AV. You don't need 7 different IM applications starting when the computer boots.

    That should greatly increase startup times, and take care of 99% of Adware/Malware/Virus infections. I charge 100$US to do that, and follow that to a "T". Sometimes I have to use Enterprise level spyware/adware scanners that are not avail. to the retail scene. But I have to do that 1 out of every 100 I fix.

    You can also backup your stuff and format and reinstall if things get too heavy. However, Windows Activation will get very angry at you, if you do this too much (more than ~3 times on a custom machine, or more than 1 on a OEM machine).

    [Editors note: This post was written many years back now. Some modern viruses are better at hiding themselves. So a full re-install, or restore of an earlier full disk backup is often a better solution]
    Last edited by Brian; 09-08-2007 at 01:27 AM. Reason: Revision to step 2+3

  3. #3
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    Jan 2003
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    Default

    Problem:
    3D graphics results don't get above 60 frames / sec
    Solution:
    If the frame rate for the 3D test always sits at approximately 60 frames / sec then your frame rate might be limited to your monitors refresh rate. There is an option in PerformanceTest to limit the frame rate to the refresh rate. (Edit / Preferences). But there are additional options in some device drivers to control this and further overrides in some versions of DirectX. As stated in the Wikipedia article "...For that reason it is not uncommon to limit the frame rate to the refresh rate of the monitor in a process called vertical synchronization."


    Problem:
    CD / DVD Score is low in PerformanceTest
    Solution:
    The media selected for the test has a big effect on the score. Media with a large number of small files will give lower scores than media with a small number of large files. We suggest you use our test CD/DVD for consistent results. DVD media is often better than CD media as well.
    Last edited by David (PassMark); 03-11-2008 at 09:26 AM. Reason: More reasons...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    6

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    A key way to keeping your PC top notch when running into issues.. When installing your OS for the first time on a freshly formatted drive..Spend the extra bucks on a external usb Hard Drive and Keep a fresh Install on that as well with all your driver installs for your hardware,network and basic programs.. Also have 1 cheap storage other than your main drive for files/programs you don't want to lose or need to back up.. So if your OS craps out you can just plug in your backup OS drive and boot to that.. This way you can format and reinstall your OS on the other drive when you feel like it rather than saying Crap I NEED ACCESS NOW! :P

    I have 3 drives in my pc.. 74gig raptor (main) 250gig maxtor (storage) and a 80gig maxtor drive (OS Backup).. It only takes me a few seconds to go into bios and select boot priority to be back up and running :P.. When I have some time I reformat my *main drive* and reinstall the OS/drivers or do a auto recovery that I set to for when I first installed the OS..
    Last edited by SniprKlr; 12-31-2007 at 12:31 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Problem:
    Windows 7 only reports 2 cores for a Core i7 9xx CPU
    Solution:
    The Core i7 CPU should have 4 core and 8 threads (when hyperthreading is turned on in BIOS). We have seen some rare instances where the wrong number of cores is identified by Windows, 2 cores instead of 4. This might happen if you upgraded the CPU from a 2 core unit to a 4 core unit. The solution is to reset the Core count via the Microsoft msconfig utility, under the advanced tab.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Problem:
    Disk results are slightly lower than expected
    Solution #1:
    One of the (many) reasons you might get a slight decrease in disk speed is the BIOS disk controller mode. Typically BIOS options are IDE, SATA, RAID & AHCI. IDE is the most compatible, but often slower than the other options. If your hardware and O/S support SATA & AHCI, then select these options.

    AHCI stands for "Advance Host Controller Interface". It offers a collection of features not available on the old Parallel ATA controllers such as hot plugging and NCQ command queuing.

    Warning: turning this on without the right drivers (especially on Windows XP can result in crashes and a BSOD). Also see this Microsoft knowledge base article

    AHCI performance gains vary from 0% to 20% depending on the test method, the hardware & the O/S.

    Solution #2:

    Also check you have the latest BIOS firmware for your motherboard.

    Solution #3:
    Try different SATA ports on your motherboard. Some motherboard come with 2 disk controller chips. Normally there is one controller included with the motherboard chip set, but there might be a second set of ports to support RAID or other advanced functions.

    Example:
    This was taken from this old post. A Samsung 1TB drive (HD103SJ) scored 620 in the PerformanceTest DiskMark. While the average DiskMark for this drive was 829. The rest of the configuration was, Intel i7 920 @ 3.36ghz / 6gb / Win7 64 / Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R MB.

    Initial score: 620

    Switching cable from the Gigabyte to Intel SATA port increased score to: 784
    Switching to AHCI on Intel port increased score to: 819

    An overall 32% performance increase. CPU usage was also lowered at the same time. So a double benefit.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    1

    Default Spyware, Adware, Antivirus and Msconfig comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    I am a PC Technician and since we charge alot todo work, I'd figure I'd give you guys some instructions on exactly how I fix common problems.

    Problem: Adware/Spyware/Virus

    Solution:

    4) Then, install Adaware (www.lavasoft.de) and Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/)

    6) Update and run your AV software. If you don't have any, or care to install any, use an online scanner. HINT: If you disable your AV, and use an online scanner, they sometimes find different problems.

    Remove as much as you can from msconfig. You can REMOVE EVERYTHING and the computer will still boot, so don't be afraid to remove something if you don't know what it is. Keep the stuff you recognize like your AV. You don't need 7 different IM applications starting when the computer boots.
    Regarding 4 and 6:
    After 30 years of dealing with spyware, adware, and anti-viruses on Apples, Macs, and PCs, I have decided to stick with Microsoft's Security Essentials. Personally, I have been dissatisfied with both products suggested in 4.

    Regarding 8:
    Be really careful in disabling items using msconfig. As an example, you could end up with no sound. While it is true a lot of items can be disabled, you really need to know what you are disabling. In reality, if you have a newer machine with lots of memory, startup is minimally affected.

  8. #8
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    Default 2D results with remote desktops

    Problem:
    2D results are low compared to other some other baselines. (Or put another way, some machine's have 2D results that are too high).

    Solution:
    We have seen a small number of baselines with very high 2D results in V7 of PerformanceTest. Roughly 10x faster than normal. e.g. Solid vector scores of 22.0 instead of 2.1

    It turns out that running PerformanceTest across some remote desktop solutions gives higher than expected 2D performance. This isn't a real performance increase, the video driver is instead throwing away some requests to update the screen, making it seem to the application that updates are running faster than they actually are.

  9. #9
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    Default DirectX 9 3D test gives low results

    Problem:
    The DirectX 9 complex test gives low 3D frame rate results (~30% down) compared to similar machines.

    Solution:
    The Morphological filtering (also know as MLAA) setting might be turned on the video card's device driver control panel. This issue was seen with HD 6850 video card, but probably effects most cards.

    Morphological filtering is a technique that applies full screen anti-aliasing, which can improve the smoothness and quality of rendered images.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    2

    Default

    I know this is really old, but I wanted to add my experience and reason for a slow system/CPU score. I'm not sure why, but I installed passmark 8 from my server to my client over a wireless network. After installation my PC was much slower than another near identical machine which had tested real close to one another back with passmark 7. I uninstalled passmark 8, copied the downloaded file to my desktop of the PC that was having the slow performance issue and reinstalled. After this, this machine now rates up with the other, or actually, just above.

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