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Super hardware noob here. My wife and I were installing a game on our laptops last night, from an installation file (not a disc). The game takes up about 7.6GB of HD space. My laptop installed the game about twice as fast as hers. We both have Windows 7 64-bit OS and a 2.53GHz processor. The only difference I notice is the processor type: I have a i3 CPU M 380 @ 2.53GHz and she has 2 Duo CPU P8700 @ 2.53GHz. I thought her processor was really good.. what makes mine install software so much faster? Is there anything else that would affect installation speed?

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The clock rate says little to nothing about the actual speed of a CPU. In many aspects, any Core i3 will be much faster than any Core 2 Duo. See also: Megahertz myth – Dennis Apr 20 '12 at 18:58
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Hard drive speed can make a huge difference. I recently install Microsoft Visual Studio on two laptops of similar specs, except for the hard drive. Installation on the 7200 rpm was far faster than on the 5400 rpm disk.

Disk fragmentation should also be looked it.

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Ah yes, probably a factor for sure. How can I know my HD RPMs? +1 – Nick Rolando Apr 20 '12 at 20:58
Check the maker and model number and find the info online :) – bryan Apr 20 '12 at 21:34

It could be hard drive access, read or write speeds that differ between the two laptops.

It's also worth remembering - as another answer mentioned - that just because both CPUs have the same clock speed it doesn't mean that they are both equally efficient at the same tasks, as the i3 is a newer generation of processor architecture than Core 2.

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Lots could affect the speed. If the files are needed to be extracted from some archive, the processor could play a role.

However, it is also likely to be hard drive and CDROM drive slowing you down.

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This - the processor may not even be the primary bottleneck. (In fact, I'd be willing to bet it's not.) – Shinrai Apr 20 '12 at 19:14
Thanks. It installed from a file, not a disc. I updated my post. – Nick Rolando Apr 20 '12 at 19:16

Three things:

  • Hard drive speed - 7200 vs 5400 significantly affects installation time. I dont know of a tool to reveal RPM's of a drive, but you can look it up at the manufacturers web site. The following command, run from command prompt, will give you info for searching:

    wmic path win32_diskdrive get model, caption, size

  • Hard drive fragmentation rate and available continuous space.. 7.8g is a pretty big file. It contains some number (from just one to thousands or more) of installation files. Your hard drive will need to work more if these files are in peices, or are spread out across the hard drive. You can analyze your fragmentation rate at command prompt:

    defrag c: -a

Higher percentages generally mean a harder working hard drive

  • Resource Contention- Other than installing the program, what else was the computer doing? Did your wife have open an old multi-tab firefox session which was using over 1g in memory and swap (and growing because it leaks....)? How about itunes or another resource hogging program? Her computer could have been stopping and doing housekeeping calculations all of which adds to the time any one thing takes to complete. You can see what resources are available use by launching the TaskManager.
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Thanks for the informative answer. It was the install destination folder that came out to 7.6GB. She did have one FF tab open, but we closed when we noticed the lag. We both have 4 gigs of RAM so I didn't the space was an issue. – Nick Rolando Apr 20 '12 at 21:49

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