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Do I need a fast FSB, fast spinning hard drive or something else?

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by lucasjensen, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. lucasjensen

    lucasjensen Guest

    I need a laptop with the following requirements:

    1. I do not like waiting till the notebook finishes booting up. In
    other words it has to be extremely fast in booting up. Additionally it
    has to be very fast in shutting down again.
    2. When moving smaller windows across the screen, they often freeze by
    leaving 50 or so frames behind. I do not like that.
    3. When using Windows Explorer or just clicking on folders I do not
    like when the computers needs time to show the new folders/map (often
    the moving flash light appears). I don't like that.

    So, how can I avoid the following things mentioned above (because they
    are really annoying to me)? How can I get rid of it? Do I need a CPU
    speed? Do I need a fast spinning hard drive? Do I need a lot of RAM? Do
    I need a high FSB speed? What about the RAM speed?

    Besides the annoying things mentioned above, the computer will be used
    for LaTeX, meaning compiling a lot of code and regular office
    application. The laptop is NOT going to be used for gaming. The laptop
    will both run Windows and Linux.

    What specifications should I look for?

    Regards, Lucas Jensen
    lucasjensen, Oct 18, 2005
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  2. lucasjensen

    aj Guest

    Once you have gone to http://www.tweakxp.com/ and done everything they
    say to speed up XP, then boot time depends almost 100% on drive
    speed. So 5,400 rpm is min and maybe you should get a 7,200 rpm HDD.

    XPlite might be in order, also. http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html

    Minimum of 512MB of RAM.
    Get a Pentium M
    Yes, that might be 90% of the battle.
    512MB minium with larger amounts not helping much at all in most
    Should be fine with the above listed specs.
    This RAM trick has become popular for extending battery life but could
    help you. You can get incredibly fast USB thumb drives 1-2GB or even
    larger. Anything you put on them(normally movies) will run incredibly
    fast/smooth and use almost no battery power. Although it doesn't help
    with the screen which is a big drain. These thumb drives show up to
    the system just like any spinning drive, so you can run apps off them
    as well.
    aj, Oct 18, 2005
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  3. That's a function of your perating system and its configuration, not the

    That depends on your operating system and window manager and the ay you
    have it configured. It sounds to me like you are doing "solid" moves
    with a software "Vesa" (standard) driver. Don't do that. Configure
    for skeletn animation or no animation only.
    Well, don't use WE. Is that a "gui file manager"? I'm sure there are
    alternatives. Again, this sounds like something to do with your o/s -
    you may have configured it so that it does not use dma for disk
    transfers, or perhaps it is doing synchronous i/o to the disk, or
    turning interrupts off while waiting on disk i/o. Don't do that. Use a
    different driver, o/s or change its configuration.

    It may be that your disk is slow, but a proper o/s will have a
    sensible buffering and caching and lookahead management scheme, and
    you wouldn't notice. Try tuning your o/s to your likes.
    You'd have to learn what you were doing.
    That's not a heavy load at all. CPUs are faster than lightning nowadays
    and all latex does is solve linear constraint problems to determine
    character placings. I write whle books on a 450, and did on a 150.
    Then you will find it easy to avoid Windows Explorer.
    None. Anything will do. Get a laptop you can service, which
    eassentially means an IBM. Check out the linux-laptops page. My needs
    in laptps may be different from yours - I like small keyboards and
    tiny screens and lightweight ultraportables with excellent networking
    and NO peripherals.

    Peter T. Breuer, Oct 18, 2005
  4. lucasjensen

    Barry OGrady Guest

    SATA hard drive.
    Home page
    Barry OGrady, Oct 19, 2005
  5. lucasjensen

    Barry OGrady Guest

    Wrong. A fast SATA hard drive will speed up startup.
    See above.
    Home page
    Barry OGrady, Oct 19, 2005
  6. [/QUOTE]
    Nonsense - my startup takes 200ms. That's because it doesn't read
    anything from the disk after booting the 1MB kernel. At 5MB/s that is
    one fifth of a second.
    If you don't understand what you are talking about, please say. If you
    really MEAN that you don't have any control over what YOUR operating
    system does and THEREFORE have no option but to play with the specs of
    what you can change in the hardware, then utter the dreaded words. But
    you will find that startup speed is chiefly a function of what is DONE,
    and HOW, not of what it is DONE TO (or from, hic).

    For example, if you arrange that all the daemon processes started are
    started in parallel instead of sequentially, then you will reduce the
    starting of 30 daemons that each take one second to start from 30 to one

    Or you can choose to start one daemon instead of thirty. These things
    are questions of CHOICE - choice of operating system, configuration and

    [rest snipped for greater pleasure all round]

    Peter T. Breuer, Oct 19, 2005
  7. wrote:

    [I'm assuming WinXP, just because it's the easy assumption]
    Well, there's always the suspend mode, if you have some power
    This sounds like you need to work on the performance of the machine in
    general before you start worrying about the hard drive. Check for
    free memory, hard drive space, virtual memory settings, malware, and
    startup programs before you start worrying about hard drive speed.
    Laptop speeds are not really upgradable, while you can add more memory
    and a faster hard drive, you can't upgrade the CPU speed, FSB, memory
    bandwidth, or hard drive interface without replacing the laptop.

    At their current speeds, the difference between PATA and SATA hard
    drives isn't that significant, IMHO.

    I don't know where you are starting from, but adding memory and
    upgrading you hard drive to 7200RPM will help, but only after looking
    at why your current configuration is so slow. Tell us more about your
    current system, it wasn't always that slow, was it?
    William P. N. Smith, Oct 19, 2005
  8. lucasjensen

    lucasjensen Guest

    It sounds very interesting. I would really like to configure my
    operating system (Windows XP) in order to be in control of what's
    happening. How can I do that? Any links?

    What is a SATA hard drive?

    lucasjensen, Oct 19, 2005
  9. ? I have no idea what you do about windows - I imagine Peter Norton makes
    a bomb selling tuning tools for it. I thought the idea of windows was
    to leave the owner feeling helpless and powerless so that one shelled
    out money for "addons" that do "copy" and other simple things. Perhaps
    tuning is in the same area.

    Google for "windows tuning".
    A normal drive with a fast-ish cable attached to it - thus not any faster
    than a normal drive when it gets down to it.

    They actually took the opportunity to upgrade the standard ATA interface
    electronics a bit too (while mucking with the bus stuff), so as to make
    it more like scsi. This helps with multiple requests at once. But
    since startup is simply a read read read read kind of thing it makes not
    much difference. You can't read faster than the disk can read no matter
    what speed the bus is. And there's nothing cached at that point, so
    nothing good to read out of the cache (which would be faster than with a
    slower bus :).

    If you want to speed things up another way, you could spend your time
    re-laying the files on disk in the physical order that they will be
    read, so that the read ahead (which I hope your o/s performs, or maybe
    even the drives own readahead if it does any ..) from each block read
    request primes the cache with the blocks it will read next.

    That should keep you occupied.

    Unless Peter Norton has made a utility that logs the read sequence one
    time through, and then re-lays the disk to suit. If he hasn't, tell him
    I said he's missing an opportunity there.

    Peter T. Breuer, Oct 19, 2005
  10. SATA = Serial ATA.

    I thought that this was a strange response, because there are very few
    if any 2.5" drives or laptops that use SATA. [SATA is an alternative
    interface that can replace the IDE interface used to connect a hard
    drive to a computer].

    I really doubt that SATA BY ITSELF will make much of a difference.
    Barry Watzman, Oct 20, 2005
  11. lucasjensen

    Barry OGrady Guest

    OK. A friend of mine was able to speed up his desktop startup by going to
    SATA hard drive. If your OS is MSDOS I suppose it could be uicker again.
    I will.
    Some people prefer something better than MSDOS.

    Home page
    Barry OGrady, Oct 20, 2005
  12. lucasjensen

    Barry OGrady Guest

    I have seen a few laptops advertised with SATA.
    Seems it did for a friend of mine.

    Home page
    Barry OGrady, Oct 20, 2005
  13. lucasjensen

    Barry OGrady Guest

    Serial ATA, as against Parallel ATA.
    What you can do is turn off any automatic startup that you don't need.
    Also, Windows slows down with time so a fresh install might help.
    Home page
    Barry OGrady, Oct 20, 2005
  14. DOS is a fine program loader, but it isn't anywhere near the o/ses I
    normally run (which thankfully never ever have come from microsoft, even
    when they have been DOS, and all of which I can configure, change, tune
    just as I wish - "choice").

    The point is that _you_ define the parameters of your system, even if
    only by exercising the choice of which operating system to use, or which
    hardware to use. SATA in itself _cannot_ make any difference - it's
    principally a bus technology and the bus is not the bottleneck in a
    blankety blank read, read, read situation (at system init). The best
    you can do is configure the o/s to (a) not read so much, (b) issue as
    many reads in parallel all at once as possible (which implies running
    all init tasks in parallel or pipelining at even lower levels).

    Failing that, and I repeat that (a) is the best alternative, you can
    work on configuring the o/s to use the disk to best advantage by say,
    using dma transfers instead of programmed i/o (still done?), using udma
    instead of dma (but this is not going to make a difference - the disk
    read platter/head speed is the bottleneck).

    But such access mode tweaks are not going to help by more than a few
    percent. What will help is arranging the files on disk in such a way
    that reading one file automatically causes the standard readahead in the
    o/s or the drive to read the next file too, because of its physical

    That will probably double or treble read speed. But then reading less
    will do much more ;-).

    Peter T. Breuer, Oct 20, 2005
  15. I've started seeing SATA laptop drives and SATA laptops, but they are
    few and far between.

    While it doesn't _seem_ like it ought to make much difference, folks
    who have upgraded seem to indicate that their machines have felt
    faster afterwards. This might be any combination of:

    1) The Placebo Effect. I spent a lot of money and they _said_ it was
    faster, so by gosh it's going to feel faster to me!

    2) Faster interface means the CPU spends less time transferring data.

    3) Rebuilding or defragmenting system drive as a result of the

    4) The hard drive CPU spends less time handling the interface and more
    time on the drive, so it's more efficient, and gets that next sector
    without waiting for another rotational latency.
    William P. N. Smith, Oct 20, 2005
  16. I can't figure out if Peter is being deliberately obtuse in refusing
    to refer to Linux, or if everyone else is being deliberately dense in
    refusing to catch his meaning.

    The OP wants this to be fast for both WinDoze and Linux. Tuning each
    of these for decent performance is only part of the "speed" question,
    and the hardware will make a difference as well.
    William P. N. Smith, Oct 20, 2005
  17. SATA (Serial ATA) is JUST the interface between the hard drive and the
    computer (laptop or desktop). In fact, many mfgrs. use the same hard
    drive with different circuit boards to make an IDE and an SATA version
    of the same drive, and others have used an external IDE to SATA
    converter on occasion (e.g. the boxed SATA drive was really an IDE drive
    with a converter), although this practice seems to have ended.

    The only way that this could make a speed increase would be if the
    transfer rate was the limiting factor in performance, and the simple
    fact is that it's not, indeed it's not even close. Especially on
    laptops, where the most common rotational speeds are not yet even up to

    However, it probably is the case the only "high-end" drives are offered
    with SATA, while the less expensive (read "slower") drives are still
    IDE. In that case, it's not SATA, per se, that is responsible for any
    speed increase, but other drive performance factors (rotational speed,
    cache size, servo system seek speed). SATA "just happens" to be "along
    for the ride".

    But to reiterate, there are very few laptops that use SATA drives to
    begin with, and there are very few SATA 2.5" drives. Some do exist, but
    not many, and making this choice will severely restrict the choice of
    the laptop itself.
    Barry Watzman, Oct 20, 2005
  18. More likely, the drives on which SATA is offered are just high-end
    drives in ALL respects, and the improvement (which may still be
    partially "placebo effect") isn't due to SATA per se, but to the fact
    that (for example) these drives are 7200 rpm drives with 16 meg cache
    and fast servo systems, and that, in fact, equivalently fast IDE drives
    would be as fast.
    Barry Watzman, Oct 20, 2005
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