Help with Computer Decision

A friend has offered me her old computer. It is a 3 year old HP Pavilion a365c that is a A 2.8 GHz P4 Northwood. The PC has XP home. I’m told it is a slow computer by the former owner.

How much memory do you recommend to speed up this computer? It currently has only the original 2x256 mb DDR.

Newegg has a special today on 1 GB Crucial DDR 400 for $42 AR & FS. Would I need two sticks or is one sufficient? Rebate is only good on one stick, so it would be $58 for second.

But is it worth $100 to upgrade this box, or should I just buy new PC? One factor is that I have a lot of IDE drives, and the HP has both SATA connectors and 4 IDEs too. So I could use my old drives, which I couldn’t do in a new Dell for instance.

its not a slow a computer at all , not the fastest but defintly not slow , winxp can run great with those specs as long as there aint too much programs going on startup & as long as the registry is kept clean with software like regvac for example (my favorite registry cleaner) & as long as you wont run too much memory-hungry softwares at once , it will also run way faster after formatting & reinstalling windows , so what im saying is that its good as is alredy , you can add more ram but you might not benefit from it unless youll really need it well that depends on what type of softwares your using , and in this case for performance reasons 2 identical 512mb sticks (a 1gb dual channel kit) would be better then a single 1gb stick

as for if its worth spending 100$ on upgrading , that depends , are you getting it for free or paying for it? and if paying then how much? , and what your gonna use it for? , and it have 2 ide ports not 4 you probably got confused between em to the actual device total (2 devices per port) , FYI currently all consumer available motherboards have at least 1 ide port (some even have 2) its not history yet , but some oem motherboards made for manufacturers like dell dont have ide’s at all for cutting down costs , so if youll buy all of the parts yourself youll have ide for sure , if youll decide to get that hp , you might wanna get another hard drive (its always good to have backup,and besides you cant really trust a hard drive that was used for more then 3 years)

I bet its slow because of spyware, adware, too many start up programs, and HDD fragmentation. It would be pretty quick if you did a clean install of windows and kept it clean with avast, adaware, spybot S&D, and regscrub xp (all free, GIYF) and run a defrag every week or two. I have a 2ghz northwood with 512mb and it is plenty fast for general computing/web browsing and burning, and nero recode can shrink a dvd in about an hour in high quality 2 pass mode. you will be better off with more memory since it has integrated video, and it has 4 ram slots, so your best bet is probably a 2x512 matched pair which will give you 1.5gb total and keep you in dual channel.

EDIT: I’m too slow :o :stuck_out_tongue:

I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it as a secondary PC :disagree:…and I’m with jwill, I bet your friend finds it slow because of what’s installed on there (spyware, adware, malware etc).

I had an older P4 1.4 gig (512MB RAM, XP Pro) and if it hadn’t died I would still have it as backup today.

:iagree: I’ll take it if you don’t want it :stuck_out_tongue:

jwill427 you might have a point there didnt thought about spyware at the time , as far as i know for dual channel to work all of the 4 sticks must be in same size it will probably run in single mode with 2x256+2x512

Get in line :p. LOL.

@tederick - you didn’t say anything about price, is it a gift or do you have to pay your friend for it? :slight_smile:

just make sure you have enough slots for the memory you want to put in it and pay attention to the mobo’s max capability.

i have an older hp P4 2ghz that i upgraded to a gig of ram and it runs better than my brother’s 2.8ghz with the same ram. it’s all in the upkeep.

if she says her computer is that slow, burn the recovery discs if she hasn’t already (or get them from her if she has) and nuke the C partition and start over.

i would say it’s worth a $100 for sure…would make a great secondary rig if you already have something better (and an upgrade for my primary if you don’t want it :p)

:frowning: :bigsmile:

I’m not familiar with dual channel on skt478 boards (mine uses RDRAM) but usually there are 2 banks with 2 ram slots each which makes it possible to run 2 different matched pairs in dual channel

EDIT: here are the specs on the board

Thanks for all the replys and kind offers to take this off my hands. I am paying nothing for this PC. However, I recently gave the friend my 27" TV when I upgraded to an LCD. The HP will be an upgrade over my five year old P4 with Win 2K (that has no sata and no USB 2.0). Sounds like it can be speeded up with the suggestions given. I will ask about the recovery disk for clean install.

Easterbunny, it looks like there are 4 Ides and 2 satas and 4 USB 2.0. This is what the HP spec site says about the ide/sata for this pc:

2 IDE connectors - Supports 2 IDE devices on each connector. Supports UDMA 100/66/33 - requires an 40 pin/80 conductor cable for UDMA 66 and 100 disk drives

2 SATA connectors Supports. 1 Serial ATA-150 disk drive on each connector

I will mainly use the PC for CD and DVD burning. I have 4 ide hds full of DVD and CD files: two new 300 mb, and two older 60 mb. I just ordered a 500 mb usb external drive (on sale at Dell today for $96 with FS) to take advantage of the USB 2.0. (Off-topic: Are USB harddrives too slow for burning purposes? I tend to leap before I look).

From the HP site concerning RAM:

Memory Type DDR SDRAM (Supports duel channel), Memory Speed PC3200 (400 MHz), PC2700 (333 MHz), PC2100 (266 MHz), Memory Sockets Four DDR DIMM (184-pin), Single or Dual Channel Dual System Memory, Maximum unbuffered (HP and Compaq recommend 2GB)

Curious that the HP specs say “Memory Supported 4GB (4 x 512MB)”. Shouldn’t that say 4 GB (4 X 1GB) to equal 4 GB? I also leaped at that 1 GB Crucial DDR 400 for $42 AR & FS at Newegg. Will this 1 GB stick work or should I cancel the order? (Is it even possible to cancel a Newegg order from a couple of hours ago?) Now it sounds like I should have gotten 2x512 MB instead of the 1 GB, but $42 seemed like such a good deal.

no motherboard on the planet have 4 ides , 2 is the max , and the specs you gave do mention and i quote “[B]2[/B] IDE connectors” each supports 2 devices of course so thats 4 devices max but again 4 devices not ides

[B]edit[/B] SATA is a completly diffrent interface,its not IDE

hillarious,i believe you meant 500gb , usb hds usally peak at around 30mb on transfers so should be okay for ripping/burnning but i hadnt have much expirence with these so cant say for sure , 1gb stick will work but the memory will be in single and not dual channel mode which will hurt performance , i think you should call it off and go for a 1gb dual channel kit (and use only that,remove the 2 256mb sticks)

since you already ordered the 1gb I say just stick with it, if you cancel your order there might be a restocking fee or something, dual channel isn’t a huge performance jump anyway, maybe 5-10% faster than single channel, if that

Only 5 or 10 percent with dual channel? Then why all the fuss? In the Fatwallet forum, someone said single channel was half as fast as dual channel, so I was worried.

Thanks for the info.

the theoretical bandwidth is double with dual channel, but real world performance isn’t that much because not all programs (actually very few) benefit from the extra bandwidth :wink: also some mobos can’t run with 3 memory sticks, so you may have to remove one of the 256’s, but thats also not a big deal because 1.25gb is more than enough for a smooth xp experience, definately try it with all 3 though, it might work :iagree: your best bet is to put the 1gb in the ram slot closest to the cpu, then the 256’s in the next two slots leaving the slot furthest from the cpu empty, if it doesn’t boot like that remove the 256 from the 3rd slot

Yes your choice is right for 1GB and 512HDDR and install minimum needed programme in drive c so performance will be much better.

Thanks for the help.

By the way, I need a monitor for this PC. Can you please comment on this 20" widescreen Benq LCD monitor that is on sale at for $144 AR with F/S that I saw on Fatwallet:


I haven’t shopped for LCDs much, but they seem pricey in stores. Would I need to also get a video card, since that HP only has integrated graphics? If so, what type would you recommend? I don’t do any gaming, but I might check out watching a DVD or two just for kicks. Mostly general purpose stuff including Internet is what I do. Would the Benq be a good purchase, or is it too gamer-oriented? Some people seem to like it in the Fatwallet thread; others aren’t too sure.

that looks like an excellent monitor for the price, the viewing angle is a little low, but all the other specs look really good. it probably would be a good idea to get a video card too, most older integrated graphics cant properly support widescreen resolutions, and a card with DVI would give you a clearer picture too. you can always try it to see if the integrated will work, but if it doesn’t just about any low end agp card with DVI will do, here is the cheapest one from newegg, but you might be able to find one cheaper, or you could try and find a used one for next to nothing or even free (I was able to get a free 5200 for my dads comp from a friend who was upgrading :slight_smile: )

Thanks for the reply. The Benq monitor is on its way. I may order the video card as well. Thanks for suggesting which card. It looks like a good price.