The older of my PCs is a 1.7 Ghz Celeron with an Intel 845GL chipset and a 512Mb of RAM. It also has an
old ancient Diamond Viper 550 (now owned by NVidia) graphics card in it, which under Windows 2000, it had seemed pretty zippy. Under XP, it’s not. It’s slow. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the XP drivers just aren’t up to scratch.
Over the weekend I got into the BIOS settings and switched back to the integrated graphics, with the frame buffer set to the max (8Mb). XP couldn’t figure out what it was looking at, so I had to go to the Intel web site and find the drivers. As it happens, up to that point I wasn’t even sure precisely what chipset it had (the manual has long been lost) but I figured out it was the 845GL just by looking at the initial prompts as the PC booted (and pressing Pause at the right time to jot down the precise details — which I later worked out I didn’t actually need).
In short, under XP, the integrated 845GL graphics whomps ye olde Diamond Viper 550. Suddenly scrolling the browser is back to a decent speed, and MAME doesn’t jutter. And incredibly the PC now boots up into XP faster than the newer 3 Ghz monster next to it — the latter has more software installed, including SQL Server.
The next test will be to see how 3D games perform with it, but general use looks much faster, so I’ll stick with it.
So while I had been considering putting more RAM and/or a new graphics card, I’ve just achieved what looks like a significant speed boost for $0 outlay. W00t!