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Tweaking Rant


For several years, I have been advising people on how to tweak their systems for performance. I have also been challenged many times over my advice. In 2007, I am sure this will be no different after I finish posting my Vista information. Sometimes people laugh, cry or plain get angry over my recommendations… but in all instances, they are looking at it from the wrong perspective.

The issue

This is a good example of “way after the fact” information being posted: Anandtech forums. For another example of “way after the fact” is this rant you are reading as the original post is dated September 1, 2005.

Now, lets look at some facts. From the Microsoft web site:

The minimum hardware requirements for Windows XP Home Edition are:

  • Pentium 233-megahertz (MHz) processor or faster (300 MHz is recommended)
  • At least 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM (128 MB is recommended)
  • At least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk

The minimum hardware requirements for Windows XP Professional include:

  • Pentium 233-megahertz (MHz) processor or faster (300 MHz is recommended)
  • At least 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM (128 MB is recommended)
  • At least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk

I posted my Windows XP Services information on July 1, 2001 (I had an MSDN subscription to test the OS’s before retail release). XP was released shortly after in October 2001. At that time, a computer with more than 512MB of RAM (and “more than” = 1GB+) was rare and considered high end. Yet, on the post listed above, the posters “low end system” is actually running 2.5 times more memory then the minimum required and 25% more then the recommended. Now lets look at a bit more…

From the Microsoft web site for Vista requirements:

Home Basic:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 512 MB of system memory
  • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space

Premium, Business and Ultimate:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of system memory
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space

Now, taking into consideration what the original poster had in mind on Anandtech forums… it means that in 4+ years, 2GB RAM modules will be… cheap, and systems sold in 2011 will be more then qualified to run Vista vice systems as we see them today. So based on the post, a Vista system built today would perform better with 1GB (2 times recommended for Home Basic) or 2GB (2 times recommended for the other flavors) of memory vice the Microsoft recommended value of 512MB/1GB? Duh? Wow, nice news flash there, yes? The poster even admitted the system was poor at running XP… but that is the configuration Microsoft recommended… and I posted tweaks for, not a system that was going to be built 4 years later with 16 times the minimum memory amount.

I put my Windows XP configurations online in 2001 and in 2007 with a dual core CPU and 4GB of memory standard… they are not valid and not needed? Duh? However, take that over clocked 300Mhz system they used as a “low end” benchmark and knock it back to 233 and hit it up with only 64MB of memory… then my “savings” for disabling unneeded services using 12MB to 70MB would be very important. The forum post showed that upon fresh install, the OS was using 90MB of the 160MB… more than 50% of the memory for the OS… Just like the example coming up!

I tested a system with Vista Home Basic and upon first boot, the OS was using 350MB of memory. It was knocked down to around 205MB or so after being on for several hours. Now… wait… lets just say “256MB” for easy math and a good average number. So, that means that the OS is using 50% of the memory available on a 512MB system? Using XP as an example, that would mean XP on a “recommended” system would only use 64MB out of the 128MB… that sounds pretty good to me! The forum post verifies that fact with a memory usage from 85-90MB down to 57-66MB. However, if you throw 3+Ghz CPU and 2GB at the OS, it will increase the performance of the system… another “duh?”

Price wise, it is correct to throw more memory at the system. However, back when 300Mhz systems were mid range, 1GB RAM modules were not $89.

Checking out like the original poster did… I see 2GB modules for around $150-$200 each… so to fill a system with 4 slots and 8GB, it would cost $600. In a fit of irony, I cannot even find any 4GB Ram Modules to even price compare those (to go in line with my 16x recommended value above for Premium, Business and Ultimate). Would you rather save a few bucks and tweak your 1GB system down a bit in memory use or wait 4 years because 2GB modules will “be the norm” and go down in price… only you and your wallet can choose.

Also, upon the release of Service Pack 2 for XP, I put up this message:

Saturday, October 16, 2004 @ 7:03 PM PST

I have updated my Windows XP Services Configurations and Windows XP Services Information pages to include additional Service Pack 2 information. I still have several more pages to place online before I can call it complete. However, I wanted to provide another update of my findings. All dependencies have been updated and are accurate.

For the most part, Microsoft took 3 years to create a “default” configuration for Windows XP Services that took me only one month to test and post on July 28, 2001. Several services that I previously recommended to be disabled are either gone or disabled by default after the installation of Service Pack 2.

So it sounds to me that my “Safe” setting with lots of crappy services (such as messenger service) was the right choice in 2001 but lacking in “performance value” in 2005? Duh again?!? Maybe because after the installation of SP2, the “Safe” and default were really close… so the gap closed? Yeah, I thought you would agree with me. 🙂

These recommendations also were coming off the heels of a reader dumping Windows 98/ME (*shudder*) and skipped Windows 2000 due to being marketed as a “business” OS. Those same 98/ME systems did need help in getting the memory down a bit to a reasonable level.

Also, my “Safe” configuration turned out to be the one that SP2 uses? Why not “Bare-bones” you ask? Because for a dedicated system doing specific tasks as the Bare-bones was fully capable of, does not equal a “general purpose computer system for the masses.” That, of course, is once again: “Safe.”

I have since removed my “Power User” and “Bare-bones” service recommendations for XP:SP2 (SP1a is still there though) as they are way out of date and no longer required as SP2’s “Default” is pretty good, but “Safe” still can do better. Also, I am no longer using XP as my desktop OS so I cannot use it daily to confirm the do’s and don’t or what services are “required” for daily, normal use.

I state many times throughout my information the pros and cons of performing speed modifications to a system. I post “Power User” and “Bare-bones” not because they are for everyone, but only for reference because that is the configurations “I” used! Me! BV! This is also the reason I always recommend “Safe” for everyone else. I know what it is like to break a system and the frustration of getting it back. I have worked with Windows Services for many years and fielded thousands of E-Mails with regards to the information I posted. I know what each does and their value pertaining to me. In no way can I possibly predict what is good for you. That is why I list the “Safe” configuration and recommend it beyond all others.


Anyway, I would love to be able to predict the future and “tweak” my systems OS performance for something built 4 years later that will still be valid, but my crystal ball is broke…

I am not here for a pissing contest. If you do not like my tweaks, feel free to not use them.

Until next time a rant is placed online about me, maybe benchmarks will be done on systems “in the now” and valid benchmarks at that and not almost 4 years after the fact. I will, however, tweak Vista for systems built today, and not for systems built in 2011.

Black Viper

March 23, 2007

Revision History:

March 25, 2007: Cleared up “minimum” and “recommended” settings. Changed “180MB” to “160MB” as the original poster stated.

April 1, 2007: Corrected a typo.

Posted in Articles, The Rant

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