Speeding Up A Windows 7 Computer

Everyone wants a fast Windows 7 computer. This is especially true of people who play games. So the question is what makes a Windows 7 computer fast? How can you speed up your Windows 7 computer without paying an arm and a leg to increase the speed.

Several things make a computer fast. The most important is keeping it clean. A new Windows 7 computer is like my 2 car garage in 1985. At that time it help 2 cars no problem. Today is holds no cars. There is no room because other stuff has been stored there.

The same is true of most computers today. When they were purchased they were fast because they were empty of software. Over time software accumulated in the computer. The most egregious software is memory resident software. Often we use programs for a short time and then never again. However, these programs often have memory resident components that slow down the computer. A clean computer is a fast computer. How to clean is computer is the focus of another article.

In this article the focus is on what makes Windows 7 fast. So the first step is to measure Windows 7 speed. There are benchmarks and diagnostic programs that measure performance and speed. While they do a good job, they are not the measure on what a computer user considers fast. To me fast is responsive. Windows 7 has a responsive measurement tool called the Windows Experience Index. It is a measurement scale ranging from 1.0 to 7.9 currently. Newly purchased computers typically score in the range of 3.4 to 4.5.

To find the Windows Experience Index, click on START, then point to COMPUTER, click the right mouse button (the other mouse button), and use the normal mouse click to open PROPERTIES from the bottom of the menu. the overall rating is displayed smack dab in the middle of the display. A click on the Windows Experience Index to the right of the overall rating number should reveal the rating for each of the Windows Experience Index categories.

The Windows Experience Index measures Processor speed, Memory speed, Graphics card desktop performance speed, graphics card 3D gaming and business performance, and hard disk transfer rate. It rates the overall performance of the computer as the lowest score in any of these categories.

Many computers today have quad-core processors running at 2.5 to 3.2 GHz with DDR3 memory. Such systems typically score in the 6.9 to 7.2 range for CPU and memory speed. Generally, CPU and Memory are not a major consideration in making a Windows 7 computer fast. My laptop running an Inter i3 dual core 2.13 Ghz CPU and memory performs in the 5.9 to 6.1 range.

Disk drives in computers are Serial AT Attachment (SATA) drives. They rotate at 7,200 rpm. This is typically twice the 3,000 rpm at which automobile engines cruse. Laptop drives may run at 5,400 rpm. High performance drives operate at 10,000 rpm. So why the focus on rpm speed. A large part of disk performance is the time it mechanically takes to move the disks read/write mechanism. Part of that mechanical performance is the rotational speed of the drive. So 5,400 rpm drives are slower than 7,200 rpm drives. Most SATA drives have a Windows Experience Index of from 5.6 to 5.9.

What remains is the graphics card performance. That is the area which makes the Windows experience index run in the 3.4 to 4.5 range.

How do we make our Windows 7 computer more responsive? Changing processor and memory are costly. They are likely the fastest components already. Changes there make no sense. With Windows XP, increasing the computer’s memory size from 256 MB or 512 MB to 3 GB or 4 GB noticeably improves performance. Most Windows 7 computers today come with 3 GB to 6 GB of memory. Windows 7 64-bit Edition can use more than 6 GB. My computer has 16 GB of memory. However, application programs mostly are written to use no more than 4 GB or memory. So most of the 16 GB memory is unused. Right now my computer seems to be using 10 GB of memory. Increasing memory size in a Windows 7 computer is not likely to result in a noticeable improvement in responsiveness.

It is possible to improve responsiveness with a faster disk drive. This requires disk drive replacement. Two drives can improve performance: 1. Solid State Drives (no moving parts) and 2. High RPM drives (10,000 rpm). Both types of drives are expensive with Solid State Drives (SSD) being the most expensive. Solid State Drives also wear out over time (several years) depending upon use. The smaller the SSD, the quicker it wears out. SSD are the fastest drives because there are no mechanical parts.