Improving my Vista Experience, Part 2

vistaperformanceIn Improving my Vista Experience I explained my decision to upgrade my graphics card and increase my RAM to improve the performance under Vista of my 4 year old but still serviceable Dell Dimension 8400.

I used the July 4th holiday to install the graphics card and RAM. There is a reason my brother is a surgeon and I am not. Nevertheless, installation was (relatively) uneventful.

I then ran Vista’s Windows Experience Index tool. It detected my hardware had changed and invited me to refresh the settings. Surprisingly, the tool hung the first few times I tried it. Googling solutions, I learned many others shared my pain, but only a few claimed cures, ranging from deleting the existing experience index information to sacrificing chickens (just kidding). Finally, by trial and error of the recommended solutions, and perhaps the mercy of the Vista gods, the tool finally completed. Here are my scores (red indicates changes):

Component Old Value Old Score New Value New Score
Processor Pentium 4 3.6GHz 4.2 Same 4.2
RAM 2GB 5.3 4GB 5.3
Graphics Radeon X300 128MB 2.0 Radeon HD 2600 XT 512MB 5.9
Gaming Graphics 895MB available (767MB shared system) 3.0 1791MB available (1279MB shared) 5.5
Hard disk 317GB free 5.3   5.3

Unsurprisingly, the improved graphics card substantially improved the Graphics scores. Somewhat surprisingly, the increased RAM did not improve the score for memory operations per second. Then again, the prior RAM score, 5.3, already was quite high. It also appears that the extra RAM was utilized partly to increase available shared system graphics memory. 

Of course, the whole point of this exercise was not to improve my Windows Experience index. Rather, it was to improve the performance of my desktop under Vista. Did it work? Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, or a desire to justify my expenditure, but yes, performance does seem better.

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