Hardware help (HL2-related)

I’m having HUGE load times (like 2+ minutes), a lot of huge slowdowns, and generally a pretty sucky experience on HL2. I’ve got my resolution set to the lowest available, and all the graphic upgrades down to the lowest possible as well.

Here’s the basic specs I’m running off of:

AMD Athlon 2200
256mb of RAM
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT

I have 3 questions:

  1. What would be the best upgrade to run HL2 better?
    I’m on a tight budget, with all these games, holidays around the corner, I just don’t have a lot of spending money. Now, I’m hoping simply buying another stick of RAM (a 512mb piece) would do the trick.
    Only reason I’m running off of 256mb of RAM is because my 512mb piece got fried. So basically this question could also be “If I added 512mb of RAM, would that increase my performance quite a bit?”

  2. Would a GeForce 4 Ti4200 (64mb RAM) work better than what I have now?
    I’ve had mixed results so far.

  3. Should I look into Overclocking? I have a utility to overclock my video card (came with the software), and I believe I can increase my CPU speed as well from BIOS, but thats getting a little risky for someone as inexperienced as myself.

Thanks in advance.

Yes, definitely get more RAM first-- 256MB isn’t enough to run windows comfortably, much less a game like hl2.

Your videocard is a piece of crap but the ti4200 is roughly the same.

Overclocking would obviously help as well, if you get it to work.

yeah, get more RAM.

Yes, I’m aware of that. What I do with video cards, which is kinda stupid, is every year I buy about a $100 video card - so it keeps up in terms of rendering techniques and whatnot - just not speed (all the time). However, I didn’t do a lot of research before I purchased the FX 5600, and I kinda ended up with a shitty card. Oh, fuck.

However, I was already planning to get another piece, because it can’t even run a game like Rise of Nations without sitting through a 2 minute loading time and even slowdowns when I’ve got 7 computers going at it.

Anyways, will RAM solve my problems, basically giving me a bit faster loading times and maybe at least a decent 800x600 resolution without many slowdowns?

It’s hard to say it will solve them all–hard drive speeds and fragmented hard drives will also impact load times–but the extra RAM should work wonders.

RAM, RAM, and more RAM. Windows eats up at least 100mb on startup so you are left with 156mb to play games with which wasn’t enough 2 years ago much less now. What is happening is your hard drive is being used for memory and that is at least 10x slower than actual RAM. Grab a 512MB stick of whatever your machine uses, probably pc2700 or pc2100 and you will see things run smoother. Also, defragging your hard drives wouldn’t hurt for load times.

– Xaroc

It’s hard to say it will solve them all–hard drive speeds and fragmented hard drives will also impact load times–but the extra RAM should work wonders.[/quote]

Ah - my harddrive could be causing some slowdowns. I haven’t fragmented this baby in ages… I should probably start doing that every time I log-off for the night.

As for RAM, sounds like its a plan. I’m probably going to purchase it from Crucial, simply because they’ve got some awesome prices and they’re suppousively a great company. Still - I’ll probably be done HL2 before I get my piece of RAM. D’oh!

With defrags - get a program that does schedualing and schedual separate pertitions to defrag at certain times once per week when you’re not going to be on the computer ( For me that’s around 2am ). That’s what I do, and in the instance where I do happen to be on it takes less than two minutes to finish.

I played HL2 on

Athlon 1600+ (1.4 Ghz)
512 meg of RAM
GeforceFX 5200

I had hardly any slow down - except for at the start of levels and when enemies ‘spawned’.

Kingston, in my experience, is every bit as good; I generally buy from whichever’s cheaper of the two of 'em (and there’s often a significant difference; never know which one it’ll be, though).

Okay, I’ll check out Download.com for a disk management program or something like manages my defrags.

I noticed the more I played, it added about 10 seconds to the loading time for each level. So it started being around 1 minute loading times, at by the end it was almost 3 minute loading times (just finished the boat sequence, and the lab was under attack). Don’t know what was up with that. The really huge slowdowns are after a level just loaded, and it takes about 15 seconds to level out, however theres still moderate slowdowns throughout whenever its showing off any decent piece of physics (ie: when that huge pipe fell over on the airboat sequence).

As for Kingston, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll definately check that out as well.

You’re right, that is kinda stupid. :P

However, I didn’t do a lot of research before I purchased the FX 5600, and I kinda ended up with a shitty card. Oh, fuck.

And now you know why! ;)

Honestly, I think all of ATI and nVidia’s low-end budget cards have pretty routinely sucked ass for years; they just make too many performance compromises to hit that sub-$100 mark. You’re usually better off either buying a mid-range card from the previous generation; or saving up for something in the $150 - $200 range.

For instance, if you’re looking for a new card now, I’d recommend you look at the 6600 or 6600GT (once the AGP versions are out). Those look to offer some pretty solid performance for the price.

As for RAM: yeah, pretty much what everyone else said. Add at least 256MB, more if you can afford it.

You’re right, that is kinda stupid.[/quote]
It’s different priorities, not stupidity. I do the same thing as Mattc0m, although I spend $125-$150 each year. I’ve currently got a Radeon 9600 Pro (128M). I’ve never had a problem running a game, although obviously I can’t max out the graphics eye-candy on the most current games. After 3 years, I’ve spent about $400 on cards.

I’m certain the folks here who regularly recommend purchasing $400-$500 cards are not keeping them for 3 years. Over time, they spend more on video. They’re willing to pay a premium to keep up with technology. I’m not going to call them stupid from a financial standpoint; it’s just different.

Different strokes for different folks and all that, but trust me, you can be perfectly happy as a PC gamer with an annual videocard budget of $100. If you’re going to go the route of cheap bastard, I recommend pushing it to the max, and not buying games until a year after release, so you can get them for $20-$30. That way, they’ll run better on your slightly older video system. :-)

Did you miss my smiley? [Errr…“tonguey.” Whatever that one is called.]

Trust me: I’ve spent anywhere from $75 to $350 on a video card over the last several years - with a similarly wide spread on every other component in my continually mutating PCs - so I know all about the vagaries of one’s budget and trying to make the most of what you can afford. And I’m certainly not one of those who insists you have to stay on the bleeding edge of technology in order to remain “in the game” of gaming, as it were.

My point was - and I probably should’ve made this clear, rather than just being flippant about it :wink: - is that you need to do your homework before shopping for a video card, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You can’t just go out and buy the first thing you find for X bucks. Sometimes spending an extra $30 - $50 makes a huge difference in your video performance; likewise, sometimes certain “features” aren’t worth the extra expense. Sometimes the “latest and greatest” cards actually lag behind an “obsolete” video card; e.g., my GF4 Ti4200 pretty well dominates the newer FX5200 - and in certain benchmarks the FX5600 too.

Ah, the Ti4200, the best piece of budget hardware I’ve ever bought.

That, but more importantly you won’t be mocked endlessly, experiencing the geek version of bullying.

{Psst, that guy has only 256 megs of RAM.}


Downgrade to Win98se. It uses way less RAM than XP, and is just about as fast if not exactly the same. Cheaper than any other option.

That, but more importantly you won’t be mocked endlessly, experiencing the geek version of bullying.

{Psst, that guy has only 256 megs of RAM.}


I know, I know! I wanted to upgrade anyways, now I just have reason to. But - I wanted to know if that was going to solve my problem, or if there was something else I was overlooking.

walks away with his head down

Yes. Coming from 256 Megs your speed will defo go up if you upgrade to 768 at least.