Reader Needs Help With New Dell System Running Slowly

Hi, everybody. I did this once before when a reader had an HP system he had just bought that was running slow. The response was great and we were able to get the user up and running with a big boost in performance. Paul now needs our help so please post any helpful hints you may have.

Hi Ron,

Last week I purchased a DELL Inspiron 6400. The spec is:

  • Core 2 Duo T5600 (1.83GHz, 667MHz FSB 2MB L2)
  • 1024Mb (2×512) 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • 120Gb Hard Drive (only 15Gb free now)
  • 256Mb NVIDIA Ge Force Go 7300 Turbo Cache
  • Vista Home Premium.

I am very disappointed with the performance of this machine, it often freezes or runs very slowly when switching between applications, the 3D switching option in Vista usually takes ages to come up. I am running Office 2007 – Word, Excel, Outlook, and also use Mozilla Firefox and Adobe Photoshop regularly, not all at the same time but two or three together.

Also Vista is sometimes incredibly slow. To bring up things like the control panel, the icons appear one by one, also sometimes when I’m looking through a document folder the icons again appear slowly as this annoying task bar ticks slowly across! Is there any way to get rid of that thing? Same thing when I open my computer icon – very slow indeed.

My Vista performance index is given as 3.1, due to the graphics card, and the other things are between 3.5-4.1. I have taken off a lot of the crap that came with the computer, like McAfee, and installed avast anti-virus instead (works well); I stopped lots of the programs that were running on start-up with autoruns.

I was wondering what you would recommend to get this machine running better, as I’m sure it should be able to. It cost £600 ($1188), which is quite a lot more than the cheapest out there so i thought I would get pretty good performance. I could by 2×1Gb 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM from Crucial for £58 which I am prepared to do if you think it would help significantly, and from this post it seems 2Gb is optimal. Do you think the RAM is probably the biggest issue, or the graphics card which has 128Mb shared and 128Mb designated memory? Will increasing the RAM help the graphics card in the 128Mb that are shared with RAM? Also, will getting 667MHz RAM make a big difference compared to 533Mhz? Finally, do you think having only 15Gb free on the hard drive is a problem?

Sorry for the long post but I’m really lost on this and would really appreciate your help.



Hi Paul,

My first thought is to definitely kick up the RAM to 2G. Vista is a resource hog and running programs such as Office and Photoshop should perform better as well. I would venture a guess you are running out of physical memory and your system is then disk swapping, which will slow any system to a crawl.

It also seems you have a lot of stuff on the hard disk. The more stuff you have, the slower the performance will be. That’s just life. You may wish to consider transferring some of your treasures over to CD or DVD to free up some space. But this is purely a judgment call.

553 vs 667 won’t make that much difference, IMO.

Hopefully some of the other readers will have some ideas as well. Hope this helps.

Comments welcome, as always.

(Side note – it may take a while to get the comments posted. My wife and I are flying to CT on Friday morning and hopefully by Friday evening will be enjoying some of that great New England lobster and shrimp!)

[tags]dell, system, reader, help, slow performance, [/tags]

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I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.