a) Several very important and final notes about Solid State Drives: SSD units are designed for a SATA-III interface, most of these drives will also support SATA-II, but only a few will support the original SATA-I interface. In addition a SSD needs to do garbage collection or “Trim”. Windows 7 and 8 support TRIM but XP does not. Some SSD drive manufactures provide a utility which when installed will allow XP users to manually run garbage collection. This should be run periodically to keep your SSD performing at top speed.
b) Not all Solid State Drive manufactures have a model that is backwards compatible with a PC that has a SATA-I interface.
c) Not all Solid State Drive manufactures have a utility that allows you to manually maintain drive performance as “TRIM” is not supported in XP and without such a utility you should look for a make and model that does.
I called 3 SSD manufactures and only Samsung’s 840 series (840, 840 Pro and 840 EVO models) support all 3 SATA interfaces (SATA-I, II and SATA-III). They also have a software utility to help you maintain top performance on an XP based computer.
I decided to verify Samsung’s claim and found the drive works perfectly when connected to a SATA-I interface. The other two vendor either did not support SATA-I or did not have that all important software utility necessary for XP based systems.
Early XP computer may have only been equipped with only a CD reader or CD Read/Write drive. If you still use your CD drive it’s time to upgrade to a DVD Read/Write drive which can use both CD and DVD media. Again as with hard drives these CD or DVD drives can have either a PATA (IDE) or SATA interface. Make matters worse the front panel on some Dell models required a bit of skill to get the replacement drive to fit properly.
Early XP desktop computers used what is called an AGP interface slot and connector on the motherboard to connect your graphics card. AGP cards are obsolete having been replaced by PCI and more commonly PCI Express interface, may not support DirectX 10 and not recommended for gaming. Note that some entry level computers didn’t even include an AGP slot, the manufacture choose to use an integrated graphics controller to keep the cost down, so there is no means of upgrading to a better graphics card.
If the graphics performance of your computer is acceptable for your needs I’d stay away from upgrading the card. If you are one of the few lucky ones who have an XP desktop PC that came with a PCI Express card and a good performance processor (CPU) and you wish the graphics were a bit better an upgrade might be worth the expense as long as you power supply can handle the extra power (wattage) required.
7) Power Supply:
Some computer only came with a 300 or 350 Watt power supply. This may be fine if you don’t plan to upgrade your graphics card but if you do upgrade then be certain that your existing power supply has the wattage necessary to meet the power demands of the new graphics card. It’s not uncommon for some graphics cards to draw more than 300 watts under heavy load such as when playing some high performance games. Even at idle the card can draw 100 watts.
Also note that some Dell and possibly a few other computers brands used a non-standard wiring arrangement on the connector that mounts to the motherboard. If you purchased an industry standard power supply and then connected it the motherboard, the connector would fit just fine, but due to the changed wiring (which is non standard) the second you turn on the PC, your motherboard will go up in smoke!
To extend the useful life of your PC the most effective changes are:
1) Replacing your existing hard drive. Test the new drive (see part 3 of this article). Then perform an image backup of the old drive, remove the old drive and restore the image backup to the new drive. Keep the old drive in a safe place; don’t format it as it is your ultimate backup.
2) Keep up with the times and replace that old CD drive with a newer DVD drive. You can still use you existing CD media or use DVD media to store more than 4 times what can fit on CD.
To improve performance:
1) Again a new hard drive or Solid state drive can have a big impact on how fast Windows boots, load programs and other tasks.
2) Increase your memory from 256 or 512 MB to 2 GB, you will notice a measurable increase in performance.
3) Install a newer and better graphics card, but only if you need to. If you are satisfied with how your existing graphics system displays 2D and 3D graphics or other applications then no need to spend more money.The above recommendations are relatively easy to do with a desktop computer; laptops of the XP era may be limited in what you can upgrade and most likely replacing your hard drive is your only option.
The above recommendations are relatively easy to do with a desktop computer; laptops of the XP era may be limited in what you can upgrade and most likely replacing your hard drive is your only option.
March 17th, 2014
Hard and Solid State Drives:
Utilities, Benchmarks, Testing tools and Screen shots: ----->