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  1. #1
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    Dell Latitude C600 performance

    Seen a couple of times here: Dell Latitude C600, XP Pro, SP1, 256 meg ram or better, after opening empty Excel, Powerpoint apps, opening Outlook, opening a few other apps without doing anything but watching task manager show the CPU % rise to near 100% then fall back with each new app, eventually the fan kicks up a
    notch due to heat probably generated by the CPU.

    When the fan speed increases, the laptop is warmer and at times the laptop appears to be locked up. I don't see in my notes that we can end task and
    continue on or whether we reboot. I will get this information Monday.

    Most of our C600s do not do this under similar moderate loads. The apps are open and empty in the case of everything. Outlook is not being used to read
    any mail so the communications between Exchange and the laptop is not hyperactive.

    If Access is one of the apps open it is not running queries but just open and empty, same for the others.

    Anyone see something similar?

    Thanks,
    David
    I know enough to know I don't know enough

  2. #2
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    Just curious, do you have the search "indexing" service turned on ? It's supposed to work in the background but....me thinks it causes CPU usage which equates to heat. Are you networked ? While we're at it, when your apps are actually doing something do you still get the appearance of being locked-up ? Is the sun shining ?

  3. #3
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    We turn it off and suggest it remain off but there are exceptions.

    I will confirm status tomorrow AM.

    Thanks.

    David
    I know enough to know I don't know enough

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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    I would suspect this is a problem centering around 3 areas (and not necessarily a problem unique to the Dell Lat. C600s - but certainly typical (IMO) of this class of legacy laptops/PCs - that is, not exactly cutting edge stuff):

    1. 256Mb is not enough RAM for XP - I highly recommend any PC running XP to have at least 512Mb of RAM. Is this as big a problem with your systems that have at least 512Mb, or more? 256Mb is barely enough RAM for XP to manage itself - let alone hardware, network/comm, and video. And note that with on-board video, an even larger portion of precious RAM is dedicated (whether in use or not) to video! The same applies to on-board audio, though to a lessor degree. Add in your Anti-virus program (and maybe popup stopper, IM, and all the other stuff you can note in MSCONFIG), fancy desktop backgrounds, fonts, etc. and that takes you to "idle"! Then ask it to manage several large apps and you are really taxing memory (RAM and the hard disk), and the CPU just trying to manage it, even more. I have no doubt the fan is working hard.

    2. With small amounts of RAM, XP must constantly swap data to the swap disk (AKA: Virtual Memory, page file, disk cache, cache buffer, and others). The more things XP has to manage, the more swapping it must do. All of the following affect cache speed:

    <UL><LI>CPU type, CPU cache size, and CPU speed
    <LI>Bus speed and width
    <LI>Various hard drive performance factors, including access speed, on board (internal to the HD) buffer size, sector size, and more.
    <LI>Page File size
    <LI>Amount of free disk space[/list]3. Lack of disk space. I note the C600 came with 30Gb drives, which is okay for a clean install - but drives start filling up from that point on. If you did not reformat when you upgraded to XPP (I note the C600 originally came with Windows 95), then I suspect your HD is getting full, and probably fragmented too. Various factors dynamically affect free disk space. If your VM (virtual memory) settings were left at the default setting, then XP is managing the VM on C: drive. The page file needs large amounts of contiguous free space. When XP manages the VM size, it expands and contracts the page file as it sees fit. This is normally not a problem with large disks with plenty of free space. But with small disks, disks with little free space, and/or fragmented disks, the amount of contiguous free space is reduced, creating a severe bottleneck, and even system freezes (although often walking away for 10 minutes allows XP to work itself out - but most people are impatient and start ending apps or hitting the reset button).

    So I think you need to do the following:
    1. <LI>Upgrade all systems to at least 512Mb
      <LI>Delete all unnecessary applications, temporary files, trash, cookies, unused fonts, backgrounds, custom pointers, screen savers, etc.
      <LI>Disable virtual memory settings
      <LI>Reboot into Safe Mode
      <LI>Defrag the HD
      <LI>Enable VM (Consider at this point, a static Page File size, normally recommended to be 1.5 times RAM size)
      <LI>Budget for replacement laptops.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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  5. #5
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    I, on the other hand, have found 256MB to be fine for XP-both Pro & Home. I'll admit to having 512MB on my laptops but that's because they've been, in the past, more difficult/expensive to upgrade so I tend to specify more than the 'minimum' when I buy them. It may depend on what you're doing-my digital imaging work is with photographs, not video. But I typically run multiple applications (word processing, image editing, email, for example-I also do programming, spreadsheet, and database work but tend to substitute whichever of those I need for the word processing or image editing) and have rarely found a slowdown. This is on 2.8GHz P4's though. Perhaps the speed compensates for the lesser RAM?

    Also, I think you mean 'shared' video RAM rather than 'on-board' video. Most of my machines have on-board video-but not shared. I've had machines with shared video RAM in the past & found performance was fine-as long as you had plenty of memory. (Note that these were not gaming or video machines-see my list of common apps above. On-board video is rarely high-performance although I've heard of a few exceptions.)

    Hard disk size. I've found 12GB to be fine for those machines that I keep my work on. The one I keep my archives on, now that has two 80GB & a 120GB. And I'm thinking of adding more to it. One of the biggest factors in running out of disk space, for me at least, is the number of programs I load. My typical machine has no more than 5 'major' programs & maybe 15 'minor' ones. I have found that I need a larger drive on my test machine-but I'm constantly loading & removing programs from it. So much so that even with XP I find myself reformatting it at least once a year. Typically I'd guess that it has at least 40 apps on it.

    30GB would be more than enough for what I consider 'normal' use-but everybody's use differs. I always look at the use before making a recommendation for a larger HD.

  6. #6
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    Hey Calvin - you are correct that "shared" is the proper term for the dedicated RAM used - although I don't really think it, or most of it, is shared - I believe you'll find that it is pretty much hogged by the video. No matter what, it is RAM that is taken away from the CPU.

    However, "on-board" video is the accepted term when the video processor unit (VPU or GPU) is located on the motherboard, as is usually the case with laptops and "econoclass" PCs.

    Your suspicion is correct that your 2.8GHz P4, being HUGE compared to the 750MHz PIII found in his Dell C600s, will have a very significant impact on improved performance - but not just because of clock cycles. Comparing your 2.8 GHz P4 to a 750MHz PIII is really no comparison. The PIII has a Level 1 cache (L1) of 32Kb, and L2 of 256Kb. Your 2.8Ghz, has a L1 of 128Kb, and L2 of 512Kb. Those are major differences and have a significant impact on performance as they operate at processor speed.

    The FSB is much wider and faster on motherboards that support the P4 than those that support the PIII - meaning it can crunch much wider chunks of data on each cycle, and, of course, are many more cycles per second. This greatly minimizes the need to access slower page file on your system.

    Since you have a 2.8GHz P4, then I am sure your HD is several years newer than what came in the C600s and, therefore, is significantly faster, operates over the wider bus, and very importantly, has a much larger buffer as well. Again, reducing page file use.

    Yes, a 30Gb drive would normally be considered large enough for the OS and business apps - on a fresh install. But I note again, that his C600s came originally loaded with Windows 95. We don't know, but it may have then been updated to Win98, then Win98SE, and finally to its current OS, XP. The vast majority of people who upgrade from an older OS to a newer, do NOT reformat and install from scratch - in fact, they buy the upgrade version (yes, I know you can do full installs with upgrade disks - but we are talking most people) to save money but also to maintain all their customizations, don't have to mess around as much with drivers, add-ons and all their other favorite programs they have installed over the years.

    So, comparing the results you see on your system to what he sees on his is an invalid comparison and should not be made. Your CPU is at least 2 generations beyond his (so too are the motherboard/Chipset, RAM, and HD). Although your thoughts and ideas are appreciated, they are not really applicable to this situation.

    One thing is in common, although you may be happy with the performance of your 256Mb machines, you would definitely notice the performance boost on any given machine if you upgrade to 512Kb.

    -bill
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  7. #7
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    Win95? Man, time just slips away. Must be OSR2 though as, IIRC, FAT was limited to 2GB partitions. Unless he has this 30GB drive partitioned 15 ways? Anyway, saving old versions of the OS doesn't take up that much space. But FAT might if he does, in fact, have that. Plus, as admitted, it depends on what he's storing on there.

    As for the RAM, I compared 256MB with 512MB before moving to XP. No significant performance difference with my apps. Didn't try with gaming & video which is mostly what XP seems to be aimed at or used for. (I'm intuiting the target based on what seems to be the most common use. Whether or not that's what Microsoft aimed at depends on how good their marksmanship was.)

    File size, of course, has a huge impact on memory requirements. In my day job I deal with files up to 200MB-and need more than 256MB of memory for decent performance. In my own business (night job) I rarely deal with a file larger than 20MB-and find no need for more than 256MB of memory. And like I said, I've tried it both ways.

    (BTW, the 'sharing' takes place during the BIOS setup. I believe you're correct that once 'shared' the designated memory is available exclusively for use by the video chip.)

  8. #8
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    If all the similarly configured machines are fine except this one, it could have some spyware or other malware installed. Do you see any unusual processes running on that one but not on the others?

  9. #9
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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    I have seen this behavior on two machines, one the C600 and another, a C640. I will attempt to run several of the spybot utilities in an attempt to confirm that we either have clean and simply poorer performing boxes or they have been hit by something. If they are clean and poorer then I will investigate the hardware and any updates from Dell.

    We run Diskeeper set to auto pilot mode so fragmentation should not be an issue on either one.. unless for some reason these came through with 512 cluster size which apparently won't allow Diskeeper to be run in "set it and forget it" mode.

    Thanks again, everyone.

    Dave
    I know enough to know I don't know enough

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    Re: Dell Latitude C600 performance

    Calvin said:
    <hr>(BTW, the 'sharing' takes place during the BIOS setup. I believe you're correct that once 'shared' the designated memory is available exclusively for use by the video chip.) <hr>
    - that is true but it is not selectable - as opposed to the "move video cache to RAM" option in some BIOSes which is. It moves video RAM in to L2 cache, further reducing caches for the CPUs use - but with faster buses these days, it is rarely used.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

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