Help an idiot upgrade their laptop

Idiot

New member
Hi all,
Trying to get my home studio in some kind of usable state and would love some advice on spec to minimise spend.
I have an old laptop that I use for a DAW, and its performance is awful. It is old, but it has *always been sluggish since new* despite my having spent on an i7 chip, which makes me suspicious that I messed up when speccing it at purchase. I've used Reaper, and am currently using Tracktion 6 and performance has been the same for both.
I record direct via an MAudio Fasttrack interface, and use Addictive Drums and a combination of various guitar amp VSTs including Guitar Rig, and a mixed bag of other plugins for EQ, compression etc. The ceiling for everything seizing up and the sound dropping out is pretty low, say, 6 tracks with up to 5 plugins on each.

Applications take a long time to load, web pages and tabs are excruciatingly slow. I completely reloaded windows and removed all bloat that I could (it's just the DAW and the web for file transfer, plenty of diskspace) but performance didn't improve at all.

I'm running Windows 7 on:
HP Pavilion dv6 Notebook PC
Product No. LZ436EA#ABU
I7-2630QM CPU @2.00GHz
Slot 1 2GB SODIMM 1333MHz Hynix
Slot 2 4GB SODIMM 1333MHz Micron Tech

I have a recollection that I can only bump the RAM TO 8GB maximum (no idea if this is true), and I'll be delighted to do this if an extra 2 will make a tangible difference, but I'd love some advice on anyhing else that might help:
- is faster RAM a thing? Would that help?
- would an SSD help? Are they cheap? ;)
- Windows upgrade?
- is the whole thing just unupgradably screwed for the modern world?

Your advice on cost effective improvements would be gratefully received.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Whether you can benefit from faster RAM is determined by the processor and motherboard. Looking at Intel's spec for that processor, they state DDR3 1066/1333, so you're maxed out there. Adding 2 GB more RAM might make a tiny difference in speed. HP specs that computer's max RAM at 16GB for Intel versions. Maintainence and specs manual . Maxing out the memory will help with running programs. At the least, replace the 2GB stick with 8GB.

Converting to a SATA SSD will make a huge difference in the loading speed. SSDs are getting cheaper. I just bought a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda 120 SSD yesterday for $99 at Staples. 500GB drives run about $55. I have a Samsung EVO860 in my recording machine.

I didn't find Win10 to be any faster than WIn7. Some say it is slower, my old I5-2540 laptop runs about the same with Win10 as it did with Win7.
 

Idiot

New member
Whether you can benefit from faster RAM is determined by the processor and motherboard. Looking at Intel's spec for that processor, they state DDR3 1066/1333, so you're maxed out there. Adding 2 GB more RAM might make a tiny difference in speed. HP specs that computer's max RAM at 16GB for Intel versions. Maintainence and specs manual . Maxing out the memory will help with running programs. At the least, replace the 2GB stick with 8GB.

Converting to a SATA SSD will make a huge difference in the loading speed. SSDs are getting cheaper. I just bought a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda 120 SSD yesterday for $99 at Staples. 500GB drives run about $55. I have a Samsung EVO860 in my recording machine.

I didn't find Win10 to be any faster than WIn7. Some say it is slower, my old I5-2540 laptop runs about the same with Win10 as it did with Win7.
That's incredibly helpful, thanks. Sounds like it isn't a lost cause just yet. I'll start with more RAM and see where that gets me.
 
Hi,
Upgrading the amount of ram will only make a different if you're actually using all the current memory.
That's how it works - Upgrading from 2GB to 192GB will make no difference if your system only ever uses 1GB.

You can monitor memory usage in control panel (somewhere) so the next time your machine is sluggish and struggling, check to see how much memory is available.
If there's free memory then you know there's no point buying more.

I7-2630QM isn't an impressive chip. It should be adequate but there's a load of i3 and i5 chips which beat it...a lot.

If your machine has a mechanical hard drive then yes - moving to SSD would most likely make a huge difference when loading applications and reading/writing media.
CPU power is still important but mechanical drives have been left for dead by SSDs.
They aren't all that expensive, particularly with m2 becoming much more popular,
and if aren't too hard to replace on your model of laptop - There are removable access panels.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Task Manager in Windows will tell you what resources are being used, memory, CPU, disk and network statistics. I'm only using Firefox, and my memory usage right now is 3.8-4.2GB out of 8.

The big delays happen when Windows starts to use the swap file. On a 5400rpm drive, swaps take up a lot of time.
 
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