In the Forums...
Posted: September 8, 2003
Written By: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
More Tweaks for Performance
In relation to that last sentence regarding disabling programs not required, it is highly recommended that you remove extra OEM programs that might have been installed when the notebook was built. I know my Dell came loaded with junk that I had no use for - audio programs, help guides, AOL, and so on. It is usually fairly obvious which of these programs can be removed, and hence most can be removed from the "Add/Remove Programs" applet in the Control Panel.
One major performance advantage often overlooked by notebook owners is that they generally run faster and cooler when plugged in. When a notebook is plugged in, it usually defaults to the maximum power profile which offers the highest brightness and CPU speed, among other perks. Whenever you're doing some serious work on your notebook, try to plug it in. Even if the battery is fully charged, most notebooks run faster like this.
Like any other PC, notebooks will generally run most efficiently with the newest system software and drivers installed. Check Windows Update frequently (from Internet Explorer, click Tools at the top, then Windows Update). Also, install the latest video drivers from the video chip manufacturer's web site. To find out which video adapter your notebook uses, simply right click "My Computer" and choose Properties. Then check the Hardware tab, and click "Device Manager". The adapter name is listed under "Display adapters".
Drivers play a major role in system stability and one should check for new versions (at least through Windows Update) bi-monthly or more frequently.
Since notebooks are notorious for slow hard drives, system memory is that much more important. Upgrading the RAM on a notebook generally results in a major performance increase. More memory will help those horribly slow load times, keep programs smoother, and might even increase battery life, as the notebook will require less disk swapping.
With Windows XP or even 2000, I recommend at least 256 MB on a notebook, but 384+ is suggested. The difference is more than noticeable, especially if you are used to a powerful PC at home. If you're stuck with 128 MB or less, memory should be the first step in tweaking your notebook.