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Speeding up your computer!

Your computer and gaming!


I doubt that everyone out there is able to buy the latest and greatest quad GPU gaming rig out there. I know that I can not even begin to even buy one of the fastest graphics cards out there let alone four of them and all the other components to go with it.  But that shouldn't keep us from being able to play games with at least some eye candy and decent frame rates either, but to do that we do have to be a little more particular about the background applications and other stuff we run.


First of all, if you have a 64 bit CPU and OS you should be using a 64 bit version of a game client if available.  All 32 bit games will run on a modern 64 bit OS but they are placed inside of a wrapper so it does slow them down a bit.  Having a native 64 bit client like the one available for World of Warcraft is great to get and use.  It is not exactly supported as it is a work in progress and the voice chat does not work at all but if your system can support it and it runs as it should you should see an improvement in frame rates as well as responsiveness.


Ok now down to the rest of the stuff.


Leaving other applications running while you game is a bad thing.  If you do not need it open close it.  This includes messenger programs and web browsers and media applications, these programs don't care that you want to devote as much memory and CPU time to the game as possible and do what they are designed to do. . . and use resources in the process.  If I leave firefox running with a couple of tabs open it can easily be pulling 200mb of memory, add some more tabs and it will pull more memory and cpu time even if it's not in focus.  And if your not actively chatting on Yahoo, MSN, ICQ or whatever you are using then close them.  Just signing out isn't enough because they are still running.  Even better turn the auto stat up options off, if you want to chat you can always open a program.  And if you HAVE to have music use a radio or mp3 player. . . if you don't have that option use a program like Media Player Classic.  It is more like the original windows media player and does not use near the resources as the media player Microsoft or any of the other companies try to push on you, those players have more than one purpose because 90% of the time you are linked to their servers and they are trying to sell you something or at the very least have it less than a click away from a sale.  I'm Sorry I am not BUYING!


Close the other games too!  If you are like my wife trying to play Second Life while playing WoW you are just hurting yourself and make your computer work extra hard.  Want me to prove it, I can do exactly that.  Press  Control - Shift - Escape   it may be Ctrl - Shift - Esc on your keyboard for those people who can not find the "ANY' key.  Now look at the performance tab.  It shows what you memory state is and the cpu percentage of use.  Mine with a firefox session and one tab to my site with a HTML editor and the task manager running on Windows 7 Ultimate x64 is using about 1.29 GB of memory about 39% of what I have available and CPU usage is bouncing from 4 to 17 while I watch it.  When I add just the WoW client and do not even log in the memory jumps to about 1.52 GB or about 46% of the available and CPU usage goes to 29 to 75%. Now my computer isn't the newest or fastest thing on the planet it is a AMD athlon 64 x2 4200+ overclocked a bit with 4GB of Ram about 3.29 GB of that is useable due to certain limitations and a Nvidia 7600GT by XFX that is also slightly overclocked.  It is by no means the fastest or newest thing out there but it still beats computers that were not made with dedicated graphics cards put out only a few months ago.  My windows 7 system score is a 5.0 and my cpu and memory speeds rank at a 5.1  My system is over 4 years old so if you bought a computer that ranks even a 6 yesterday and plan to use it for gaming take it back and spend an extra 200 for something better.  BTW I spent about 400 on my computer when I built it.  I used some second hand parts but have had very few problems, but that was mainly the MB and the PSU and case.



I built a new computer in October of 2012 and am currently running an AMD PhenomII X4 965 with 16GB of ram and a Radeon HD 6850.  I just got in a second Radeon 6850 and will soon be running crossfire.  The same Windows 7 X64 with firefox an html editor is now at about 18% memory usage or about 2.95GB But I now have a steelseries keyboard and mouse that require software to run so the keymapping and mouse functions update with the game loading, cpu is at about 2% to 5%.  When The current version of WoW is loaded the memory usage goes to around 4.1GB or 25% and cpu goes to between 20% and 27%. In game my memory usage shows to be around 200MB but that is basically just the addon memory. I still dump the start up programs as always is my moto. . . the MAJOR hog that I added is I am using "dreamscene" to play a video file as my desktop background. . . I have a bit more power and went for some extra eye candy there.


Back on topic a bit.  Running multiple game clients and other programs uses your computers finite resources which is when you will begin to complain about lag.  Not all lag is due to internet connections but can also be due to setting the video settings to the max on a computer that can't handle it or it can be from too many things running and a fight for CPU time can slow things down.  So close the crud you don't need.  You will enhance your game play and have less headaches when trying to run the 25 man Firelands or Dragon Soul.


Another thing that you can look at is those little "Vampire" applications out there.  Some off the top of my head are iTunes, adobe acrobat, MSN messenger, MS Zune software and there are many more out there, trust me.  The reason why I call them "Vampire" apps is because they automatically install applications to update themselves and/or applications that pre load the applications, these are made to run on startup.  So every time you boot your computer they try and see if an update is available and even pre load the DLL's into memory so that the application can start faster.  Sounds nice if all you do is talk on MSN while listening to iTunes and read things using Adobe Acrobat reader ALL DAY LONG.  But if you don't then kill them!!!!  Find a smaller alternative like Foxit Reader for PDF's and get something like Windows 7 Manager so that you can kill those startup applications and unload the DLL's (Dynamically Linked Libraries -- basically files that can be used by more than one application though generally only used by one and then stored in memory or the page file for when the program is used again even after closing.)  I mean come on do we really need to have the latest version of iTunes every time we sit at the computer?  Or do you read PDF's all day long or at least multiple times throughout the day that you couldn't wait a few extra seconds for it to start?  The bad thing with these programs is they do not even give you an option to say no to the loading of these programs.  Another one I LOATHE is called QTtask.exe it's apples quicktime application loader and it is a PAIN to get rid of.  The first thing you have to do is exit the QTTASK program and then delete the file as well as remove it from the registry startup.  Every time you update it adds it back and you have to do it all over again. You have to know about them and remove them.  A program I like that helps with this is called Windows 7 Manager, it even highlights new stuff that has been added to the system startup and you can simply uncheck something to not load it rather than deleting it completely in the case you may actually need it.


A final thing to think about removing is the multitude of toolbars you likely have.  Do you really need 4 toolbars just for searching the web?  I mean what is it that we did before toolbars were invented. . . oh yeah we went to a search engine and typed what we wanted to search for.  In the immortal words of "Special Ed" Google Yay!.  When did we get so in need of information that we could not click on a bookmark or open up a new page to google?  We haven't as far as I know so uninstall ALL of your toolbars cause ya know most if not all of them load when your computer boots.  So that should save you another 100 to 400 MB of ram space and about 5 percent of your wasted CPU cycles right there.  Another thought here real quickly, a computer virus is a program that uses resources, may steal or damage your information and often causes unintended results.  A toolbar is a program that uses resources, tracks all of your movement send the information back to it's "HOME" and may cause computer slowdowns and instability.  You can guess that I don't have ANY toolbars right?


It may sound kind of harsh to say this but stop using your computer in stupid wasteful ways and maybe you wont' need a new one again every year and I can bet that you won't be wishing it was faster all the time.  I use my computer for a lot of things not limited to gaming, surfing the web, editing websites and content, editing graphics and editing pictures.  I do my best to keep the extra crud off of my computer and hate buying computers because the manufacturers are paid to load programs like toolbars and other crud that really isn't needed to your computer.  They are even paid to load that free 6 month or year antivirus program because in all likely hood you will pay to keep it.  I use Avast Home free for an antivirus, and I believe in finding free programs that allow you to do what the other paid ones do.  I would go exclusively to linux if I didn't have a need to hang around in windoze most of the time for the things I deal with and generally try to have a linux box running on my KVM anyway.


So gain a little information and take back control of your computer. 


Written for my wife who loves to run firefox with 12 open tabs, second life, World of Warcraft, and chat on yahoo while complaining that her laptop is too slow. . . go figure.



Updated 03-15-2013  Minor revision plus new comp specs info.


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