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Fixing a slow Acer laptop for a work colleague


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#1 bilcliff

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:24 AM

I cant exactly remember how i roped myself into fixing this laptop for a workmate's kid.

Long story short, it was a hand-me-down from her sister and she wants all her sister's docs & pics etc off it and onto an external HDD and she wants the thing "speeding up". The kid's probably only going to use it for youtube / internet and homework (as if :lol:)

so after i run msconfig to disable a few things from startup like sidebar, skype, live messenger etc. i pull up task manager and the thing was sitting at 90% memory. i've killed a few more things in task manager and its sitting idle atm at 60% mem usage.

So i ran cpuz to check what kind of power the thing is packing. sufficient to say not much :doh:
Intel celeron 530 1.73GHz
2x512MB (1GB) DDR2 5300 (333Mhz)
64GB HDD partitioned into 32GB C & D Drives
Vista home premium :glare:

So tomorrow after work I'll go out to buy an external HDD for to back it up on.

I'm wondering if its worth ripping it open and chucking in 2x1GB DDR2 6400 or 1x 2GB DDR2 6400. to up to memory speed and total availability. I can pick up either of those from a computer store for about $40AUD. Now i've never played around with installing laptop hardware before. I'd imagine it would similar to changing memory in a desktop. But i'm terrified of frying / bricking what isn't mine. I mean for the sake of $40 is it worth risking bricking the laptop? Or is it just worth saying its a ~5yr old hunk of crap i've got all your junk off it, i've done the best i could to clean it up. go buy a new one if you want something that performs better.

Edited by bilcliff, 12 April 2012 - 02:26 AM.

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#2 Muchoman1

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:36 AM

most laptops have a slot inthe underside for easy access to the ram.

laptop ram is installed in a similar way to desktop ram, but it slots in from the side, not the top.
the ram has a clip holding it down, after undoing this clip, the ram will pop up, which then it can be taken out diagonally.

imo, a celeron at 1.73Ghz with even 2gb ram wont ever be able to run vista at anything considered "fast"

i would just do what you have done and inform them that if they want a faster machine to get a new windows 7 one, which can be had for around 500 at dell, for a i3 with 4gb ram 500gb hdd etc, thats what i would do

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#3 Waco

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:21 AM

That single core Celeron is probably holding it back, but going to 2 GB of RAM will help MASSIVELY especially with the dog-slow HDD that's probably in there. It won't ever be "fast" but doubling the RAM is a cheap and easy update for such an aging machine.

I wouldn't bother putting faster RAM in there though - it's not going to run it at full speed b/c of the FSB on that CPU. 533 MHz DDR2 is the max it will go, so if you can get a better deal on some slower RAM do that. I wouldn't worry about getting 1 stick versus 2 sticks - if I were doing the upgrade I'd just do a single 2 GB stick since it's more likely to be able to go in a newer rig sometime in the future (just make sure the laptop can handle 2 GB sticks before committing to it).

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#4 Stonerboy779

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:29 AM

Hmmm my two year old phone nearly has those hardware specs and I want to scrap the thing how can someone want to hold onto a laptop like that?

However yes cleaning bloatware, disabling programs on start up, defragment and a little ram upgrade is about as good as it will get for that lappy. Could probably clean it give it a lick of new tim and make it run cooler and happier at the sea time.

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#5 hardnrg

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:55 PM

Just as a rough guide, that RAM upgrade (in terms of performance difference) will range from:

worst case: unnoticeable
best case: before = painful, after = tolerable

It's not going to turn into an amazing new laptop with 1GB of extra RAM and the difference is going to be very subtle like it will just be *less annoyingly slow*, but not what you'd really call faster... make sure everyone involved is aware of this beforehand, this is the most important step of the upgrade.

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#6 Tjj226_Angel

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 05:37 PM

Best advice is actually to back up everything and install XP on it. Vista needs 2GB to run even remotely well. I honestly couldn't give a crap if people wanted to challenge me on this with the minimum requirement numbers, because we should all know by now that those numbers were a dirty lie from Microsoft. To be quite honest I have done tons of stupid repulsive acer laptops and the only way to make them happy is to make the PC run on XP. Or linux if you want to play with that. If you want to add the 2nd gig, then go right ahead. IT IS SO EASY A CAVEMAN COULD IT IT :woot: :woot: :woot: :lol: . Seriously though it is pretty obvious once you open up the back plate. Even with the extra memory, I would still switch it to XP.


As for the amount of ram being taken up, I would say that it is because of an anti virus program, or a virus itself. Kill both and tell the girl not to go to any weird web sites.

You could also check to see if the hard drive is sata or not. If it is, then you could switch it out for a small sata 2 SSD. You can get a small capacity one for pretty cheap, and if all she is doing is youtube stuff, then the only performance she needs out of her PC is from her boot drive (after you install XP of course) .

#7 SpikeSoprano

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:39 PM

I'd go with what tj said, Vista should never have been installed on that machine, throw xp on it with sp3 and just leave the ram where it's at, should run a lot quicker with xp .
edit- forgot to mention, if you do decide to put xp on it make sure you can get the xp drivers downloaded to a usb drive, some of these qem laptops with vista didn't put out drivers for xp for the mouse pad and such and can be a real pitb to get.

Edited by SpikeSoprano, 12 April 2012 - 06:49 PM.

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#8 Waco

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:42 PM

I can't agree. Vista and 7 both run just fine on 1 GB of RAM. Hell, my grandpa's machine has 768 MB and an Athlon64 single core and it runs 7 just fine. More RAM would help but it's not worth dropping back to XP...

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#9 bilcliff

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 01:40 AM

Installing XP would be a no go. i haven't got a copy and its pointless given support ends in 2yrs or so.

i explained the situation to her today. she said just back it up to an HDD and do the best i could to uninstall all the crap on it. she said the high school he's going to next year, the entire curriculum & assesment etc is all on ipads so he'll only really need this for internet / itunes beyond this year.

it will be a struggle to get that memory usage down though. rebooted last night after disabiling a ton things from startup in system configuration and RAM usage was up around the 80% mark :doh:. Anyway we'll see. now back to looking for all the hidden pr0n :lol:

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#10 Daragh

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:43 AM

Edit:Saw your post above, covered what I was saying.

Edited by Daragh, 13 April 2012 - 06:44 AM.

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#11 IVIYTH0S

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 05:58 PM

OP, definitely try the memory (but like Waco said if you can find 533mhz for cheaper do it, but if not just get the faster memory if it's compatible). If only you could find a dead laptop with an OEM XP key to swipe haha, that system would be tolerable with the RAM and that. But Vista.... good luck lol

I can't agree. Vista and 7 both run just fine on 1 GB of RAM. Hell, my grandpa's machine has 768 MB and an Athlon64 single core and it runs 7 just fine. More RAM would help but it's not worth dropping back to XP...

I'd agree with you if this was 7, but vista is a whole different glutton at 1GB. 2GB might be ok, but if OP could get 7 it'd be good.

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#12 Waco

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 06:37 PM

I'd agree with you if this was 7, but vista is a whole different glutton at 1GB. 2GB might be ok, but if OP could get 7 it'd be good.

I didn't have too much trouble with Vista on 1 GB of RAM aside from the initial bootup being slow for a few minutes as it chewed away at the HDD. 2 GB would certainly be a huge improvement though.

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