IBM Thinkpad slowness and memory upgrade?


Using an IBM R40 Thinkpad. Celeron 2GB processor. 256MB RAM. Windows XP Professional OS. About 2 years old. Purchased in Taiwan. Connected to ADSL.

The computer has been much slower recently. Slow to the extent that I have to wait on Windows OS “windows” to display, and things that traditionally loaded at tolerable speeds no longer do. Sometimes, wihen navigating OS menus, I have to wait for the next sub-menu to display for a couple of seconds. That, in my experience, is unusual.

I have done routine maintenance items and scanned for viruses/adware/spyware. There are now anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software packages running at all times.

While I do not know for sure, I am beginning to suspect that nothing is broken, but the computer, as configured, is simply overloaded. Not enough horsepower.


  1. Would you agree with my analysis?

  2. Do you think that adding RAM would, all on its own, improve the speed of applications and display rates of windows, browsers, etc?

  3. The specs say that the computer has two memory slots, comes with 256MB in one slot, and can hold a maximum of 1GB. How much RAM would be needed to see a difference in performance, all things considered?

  4. Price of RAM modules these days?

a) 256MB SIMM?
b) 512MB SIMM?
c) 768MB SIMM (Is there such a beast)?



OK you want more then 512 ram, for sure! Second you should run a through scan disk on it(will take a couple of hours) then defrag the hard drive.

Defragging is good as it puts your files back in a better order and can make it run more smoothly. I have never seen a 768mb chip so your best bet is to buy a 512mb and have a total of 768, or go with 1 chip of 1g. I do not know the prices.

hit ctl-alt-del and see what is using CPU. and see if you’re running low on memory and starting to page. Paging is glacially slow, especially on a 4200rpm laptop drive. I’d just slap in another 256MB SoDIMM myself, unless I had a specific reason for more. The 7200 rpm Hitachi notebook drives are nice, and now the 2nd generation is out. Though in taiwan we’ll have to wait a few months for them and pay more.

7200rpm might cause too much heat for a laptop though. But good advice on seeing whats running, if your unsure what the program is just google it. Then you can do a bunch of things to change what programs start up at boot and stuff. etc

I use Perfect Disk to defrag my drive every night and it does a great job. A real difference. 256MB of RAM is not enough. For some reason with only Firefox open I am using 214MB right now. Windows loves memory. And it loves to page shit to disk unnecessarily too. So I wouldn’t get more than 512MB as Windows will refuse to use it all. But the HDD will be the real bottleneck, I reckon.

more memory is good. I have 2 gigs myself (on my Powerbook) and it’s great. :slight_smile: I usually have a minimum of 10-15 apps open.

I’ve run XP before with 512 and its not too great. Even for normal office usage.

[quote=“gary”]more memory is good. I have 2 gigs myself (on my Powerbook) and it’s great. :slight_smile: I usually have a minimum of 10-15 apps open.

I’ve run XP before with 512 and its not too great. Even for normal office usage.[/quote]

10 to 15? Good lord! When I have more then 5 open I go crazy, too much crap. What can you possibly be doing with that much open (hopefully porn related)

Thanks everyone for the good info. I know how to do / check for most of this stuff without further instructions. Although I understand paging at a simple level, I don’t have any idea how to check to see if my system is excessively paging (causing slowness).

Also, the dark recesses of my mind tell me that some rule of thumb exists about the size of area on the hard disk that a user sets aside for a swap file. Too small is bad, but I think I remember that too big is bad also.


are you talking about virtual memory? I think the rule of thumb is 1 and 1/2 or twice the size of how much memory you have.

Yes. Hard disk space allocated to temporarily hold screen images, etc.

If you’re right on the rule, I’m ok. Have 384MB of virtual memory for 256MB of RAM.

Nobody knows the going rate for RAM in Taipei?

I picked up my gig sticks for less than 5k. I have a 512 meg PC2700 I’ll sell you.

OK, I’ve done a few of these suggestions (not extra RAM yet) and learned a few things:

  • Windows XP has a tested “sweet spot” for most non-technical uses of 512MB of RAM. Less, which would follow Microsoft’s recommendations, has a large negative impact on performance, and more has very little effect for most uses.

  • There are several other OS adjustments that can be made to XP to improve performance, such as display options (menus, icons, screens, etc). … -us;308417 … 25448&rl=1 (especially Article # 2)

The laptop is still pretty slow. Need to do a few more things, but some questions first please:

  1. Do the following numbers, considered together, paint a picture of any kind?

Total Physical Memory: 256MB
Physical Mem. Available: 62MB
(when nothing is running)

Total Virtual Memory: 880 MB
Available Virtual Mem: 467 MB

Page File Size: 626 MB

  1. What is the best way to determine compatibility of new RAM with existing RAM? Specifically, if I currently have one PC2100 DDR mem module, do I need to get another PC2100 type of module, or could something else work, like a PC2300 or PC2700 type?

  2. Is an IBM Thinkpad easy to pop open to get access to the empty RAM slot?

  3. I have looked in Start->Programs->Startup. Cleaned it up, but other things are still getting loaded that are not present in that Startup folder. In Windows XP, where are all the possible locations of auto-loading programs (Startup, etc)?

  4. I saw someone post that he/she does a disk defrag every night. While that is tidy, and probably keeps everything at top speed, it is very heavily drive R/W intensive. Wouldn’t that tend to reduce the life of the drive, significantly?