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I have a Sony VAIO NW20EF which I originally purchased a few months ago for personal use. As it happens I'm now involved in a development project with some off-site work and I'd like to use the VAIO rather than buy another laptop. Problem is it compiles SLOW. It's running 3 GB RAM and 5400rpm hard drive.

I'd link to stick around £200 worth of performance enhancing parts in.

I'm thinking a 7200rpm hard drive and 4 GB RAM stick making 6 GB RAM total (2ram slots currently 1x1 GB and 1x2 GB) I don't know which brands are the best for these parts.

I'll be running Visual Studio 2008 and 2010. Also SQL Server 2008.

Initially I was looking at a Scorpio Black with Freefall. Regarding installation do I simply take out the old, put in the new HD and run the recovery disks I made when I have bought the laptop?

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closed as off topic by KronoS, Journeyman Geek, Canadian Luke, slhck, Randolph West Jul 19 '12 at 4:23

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3 Answers 3

Your laptop is slow at compiling because of its Pentium T4300 processor, which is a crippled Core 2 Duo with only 1MB of cache. There's nothing you can do about that.

The most effective solution would be for you to sell it and buy something with a C2D or preferably an Core i5 or i7 (take note that the Core i5 is often the faster processor in laptops). I recommend a ThinkPad T400 or T410, but a higher-end VAIO would be good if you prefer them.

Selling your laptop on eBay could get you a good price if you present it well and end the auction on a Sunday afternoon.

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Jason, I have since purchased a high-end VAIO running an i7 processor and 8gb RAM for the reasons you mention. Thanks for your comment. –  Chris Sep 29 '10 at 11:10

Though a faster hard drive will decrease access times, I doubt that it will significantly decrease compile times, since the limiting factors during compilation are almost always CPU and, to a lesser extent, RAM. Another point to consider with a laptop is that the faster hard drive will noticably decrease battery life. Assuming you have enough disk space, my advice would be to leave the hard drive alone. If you decide to get a hard drive anyway, then go with Seagate or Western Digital. In my experience they are much more reliable than hard drives from other manufacturers.

More RAM will have a larger effect on compilation times, but before you drop money on it, make sure it's really a part of your problem. Run some kind of system monitor while you compile something and watch memory usage. If it's all in use, then adding RAM will probably help. On the other hand, if you're not using all 3gb now, then increasing the amount available will just increase the amount of unused memory, without speeding up compilation at all. Also keep in mind that the maximum amount of memory recognized under a 32-bit OS is 3.75gb. The OS simply can't address anything more than that, so unless you're running 64-bit there's absolutely no reason to put more than 4gb in.

Whatever you decide, Newegg is the best place to buy computer parts online. Check the ratings first, and have fun upgrading!

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I'm running 64-bit and Windows7. I've just run ResourceMonitor and when I compile a small program the graphs go up but i've no idea which graphs I should be looking at. –  Chris Jul 19 '10 at 13:18
    
If you open the task manager and click on the "Performance" tab, it will show you two graphs. The top one is CPU usage. The vertical bar graph next to it will likely be pegged at 100% while compiling. The line graph on the right will reflect this. The bottom "Physical Memory" graph is RAM usage. Again, the vertical graph on the left will show you how much RAM is being used, and the line graph on the right will show the same information in a different format. The higher the line is, the more resources the compile is using. –  Brian Kintz Jul 19 '10 at 14:09
    
The CPU usage goes up to %80-100 on compile while the memory just remains constant at around 1.95gb. This is just for a small application. Ill try running something bigger. –  Chris Jul 19 '10 at 14:28
    
With a larger application the cpu usage is the same as before only for longer(the 1st was about 1 sec, This time about 3-4 secs). Cpu usage goes up by about 0.10gb. –  Chris Jul 19 '10 at 14:34
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Your memory use may go up when you compile something larger, but I doubt that it will use an additional 1gb. Unfortunately you are CPU limited (which is normal for compiling). Though swapping in a faster hard drive and adding more RAM, they won't to much for your compilation performance. If possible, look into enabling multi-threaded compiling in whatever IDE you're using (assuming yours is a multi-core CPU...most are these days). That and/or tweaking the compile options a bit are the only ways you're likely to see an improvement. –  Brian Kintz Jul 19 '10 at 14:37

Well, first you should benchmark the compile and see what makes it slow. Is it running low on RAM? Is it swapping/paging? -> more RAM

Is disk access slow? -> faster harddrive, or more RAM, which will let the OS cache more stuff in RAM. How large is your working set? This will decide whether "more RAM" is a viable solution.

Maybe it's something else entirely (such as DNS lookups timing out, or something silly like that)?

Unless you first find out what is slowing things down, you risk blindly spending money and time for nothing.

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Sleske, The CPU usage goes up to %80-100 on compile while the memory just remains constant at around 1.95gb. This is just for a small application.With a larger application the cpu usage is the same as before only for longer(the 1st was about 1 sec, This time about 3-4 secs). Cpu usage goes up by about 0.10gb –  Chris Jul 19 '10 at 14:36

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