Brand new self-assembed i5-8400 system seems slow

Jun 3, 2018
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Afraid that the notion of "slow" is going to be a bit abstract and subjective (not surprisingly), since I've not run any benchmarks and not aware of many benchmarks that are easy-to-setup and run on Linux.

Yes, the new build is running a flavour of Ubuntu Linux (LXDE based one, called Lubuntu). It has been a distribution of my choice for several years. This flavour of Linux is super lean-n-mean. It is lacking all modern bells-n-whistles, but on old, low-spec'd systems gets the job done amazingly fast. I have a Intel Pentium Dual-core (yes, some 8yrs old, with 2GB ram) laptop, on which Lubuntu loads applications like word-processor (LibreOffice), video-editing software (Kdenlive), loops-centric DAW (LMMS) reasonably fast, and they are usable (although the video rendering is expectedly super-super-super slow, and audio-recordings via external USB interface, drop samples).

Compare that with my brand new i5-8400 build, which is still an entry-level i5 build but is expected to be exponentially faster than that old Pentium Dual-core laptop, doesn't feel much faster, and in fact a bit of a disappointment. First, the configuration:

CPU: i5-8400, with stock cooler
Mobo: MSI H310M-VH (pretty entry level, with entry-level i5-8th gen ready chipset H310)
Ram: Crucial DDR-2400 8GB single-stick (and single channel, dual-rank UDIMM, 1.2V, CL17) -- installed in slot#2 of mobo as slot#1 is faulty.
HDD: 1TB Seagate Barracude 7200rpm SATA (yes, in the age of m.2 SSD, I know...)
PSU: Crucial VS450 (450W, Bronze cat)
Discrete GPU: None

This new build is also running Lubuntu 18.04 and while kernel compilation is blazing fast, and video rendering is much-much faster than on my laptop (indeed exponentially faster), and audio-interface is not dropping samples... it is the application launch, and general "responsiveness" of all graphical applications, that has left me disappointed. I am wondering if I really made a big mistake by not going for a B360 based mobo (with option to add intel Optane stick -- since it's USP seems to be significant speed-up application loading) ? But, the laptop with a 8yr old processor, and 5200rpm drive, with tiny caches... doesn't feel that much slower in terms of application startup speed and general responsiveness, than an i5. Why ? Is it that I had to tweak certain BIOS settings ? Or is it that I had misplaced (too high) expectations ?

TIA
 

Ilya__

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Jan 7, 2016
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"I am wondering if I really made a big mistake by not going for a B360 based mobo" - no, your mistake was not getting an SSD drive. Even a SATA SSD drive would make your system feel at least 10x more responsive, an M2 SSD drive would feel 13-14x more.

Your shiny new CPU is essentially sitting/relaxing while waiting for your drive to look things up. Basically, your aren't even using the full strength of your chip in cases of loading applications. You could have gotten an i3 and would probably get the same load times.

Your CPU is plenty fast so that's fine, your mobo is decent enough. But your drive and perhaps single stick of RAM are bottle-necking.
(Ram because you don't get Dual-Channel bandwidth with 1 stick).

I feel 90% of your problem is the drive though. I would rather use a machine with an i5 w/SSD than an i7 with a mechanical, tbh.
 

Ilya__

Reputable
Jan 7, 2016
118
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4,710
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"I am wondering if I really made a big mistake by not going for a B360 based mobo" - no, your mistake was not getting an SSD drive. Even a SATA SSD drive would make your system feel at least 10x more responsive, an M2 SSD drive would feel 13-14x more.

Your shiny new CPU is essentially sitting/relaxing while waiting for your drive to look things up. Basically, your aren't even using the full strength of your chip in cases of loading applications. You could have gotten an i3 and would probably get the same load times.

Your CPU is plenty fast so that's fine, your mobo is decent enough. But your drive and perhaps single stick of RAM are bottle-necking.
(Ram because you don't get Dual-Channel bandwidth with 1 stick).

I feel 90% of your problem is the drive though. I would rather use a machine with an i5 w/SSD than an i7 with a mechanical, tbh.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
If application launch time is what you are most disappointed with, then you really should have gotten an SATA SSD to load your applications from. For the most part, HDD access times haven't gotten much faster in the past 20 years.
 
Jun 3, 2018
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Thanks folks for all the answers. It appears to be fairly unanimous that HDD is the primary bottleneck here.

I think I might add a 120GB SSD SATA (since this mobo doesn't support m.2, not intel Optane) so that's my best bet. When we add a smallish SSD drive, is there a commonly accepted best-practise of what all to put on SSD and what all to put on HDD ?

BTW as an aside, my office laptop is a HP Elitebook 845-G3, with AMD A10-Pro processor (4 application cores, 6 core GPU) with 4GB RAM, and a 5400 rpm SATA disk. Application load times and responsiveness (on Windows 10 Enterprise) feel way faster than similar applications on Linux on my i5. Note that the office laptop, spec-wise is inferior to my desktop, including the RAM being a single stick, DDR3.

 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
People usually put the OS and their most important/frequently used applications on the SSD, less frequently used stuff, archived stuff and large data/media files on the HDD.

Getting Linux to work well can require lots of hand-tuning. Your performance issues could simply be due to generic drivers being used for some of your hardware instead of optimized ones. I haven't dealt with Linux stuff in 10+ years, so I don't know if this is still as bad as it used to be. If you didn't enable the bad/ugly/whatever repositories (whatever they may be called now), you may be missing proprietary optimized drivers that aren't part of the 'clean' repository.
 
Jun 3, 2018
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Thanks a lot. I've not had to do much hand-tuning of Linux systems (using Linux for 20years -- though not as a poweruser), but that's perhaps I've been content with whatever system had to offer. I do see your point about the need however to do such tweaking, and indeed having the high-performance, better tuned drivers is indeed an issue I've faced a couple of times. Even on this PC, the motherboard has a Realtek Ethernet PHY, for which the default kernel module turned out to be not good, and I had to install a different dkms. I'll keep that in mind to see what else might be improved by changing the drivers. Right now, apart from sound, onboard display controller there isn't much else that I think may need specific drivers. Thanks again - very useful thoughts and suggestions.

 

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