System not reaching the limit of components.



Hi guys,

I've been meaning to get an answer for this question for some time. Last year I bought the components for a new system and assembled it:

Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 (4 x 2,4 Ghz)
Intel Desktop Board D975XBX2 - aka BadAxe (after a lot of research I found that this is the best mainboard I could buy for a Q6600 CPU)
2 x 2 GB Corsair Dominator @ 1066 Mhz
1 x 120 GB sata WD Caviar
Ge force 6600 256mb by ASUS
Asus Silent Knight CPU Cooler.
Some 450 W power supply and a standard well, actually cheap computer case with 1 cooler in the back, right behind the CPU cooler. Being less than an inch from the CPU radiator, the case fan helps exhaust the cpu air, which flows in the same direction and together they create a pretty strong exhausted air current.

My OS is Vista Ultimate 64 b

When I assembled the system it forkes great, and still does work great. I was very impressed at that time, but then I started asking myself why some applications still don't start or run fast enough. Photoshop CS3 starts in 2.5 seconds, and a lot of other applications run fast enough, but others don't seem to use the hardware resources available to them to the max.

I figure that a system running a process must be as fast as the slowest component involved in running that process, right? Please tell me if that statement is wrong.

Here's a snapshot of the resource monitor while archiving a couple of hundred MB of mixed content.


At an archiving job, I would expect the CPU to throttle to 100% if the rest of the components involved in the process keep up (HDD, memory, mainboard), and as long as the system doesn't overheat.

As you can see, my hdd, which I believe is the slowest component in the system, rarely reaches 100% utilization, the CPU doesn't run at 100% either, so what's keeping them from running as fast as they can? The CPU cooler was still at minimum speed, so there was no sign of overheating.

Does anyone have any idea?
Your expectations are unrealistic. Keeping a hard disk busy at 100% requires far less than 100% CPU utilization. While seeking, the hard disk isn't transferring data. If you transfer a very large file, then you'll keep the disk quite busy, but not at 100%. However the CPU might be almost idle. A CPU is busy while processing, not while transferring data. Run Prime95 and your CPU will be 100% busy.


Thanks for the replies.

ghislaing, 100% is an extreme example, I know it's unlikely that the drive will find only consecutive relevand clusters, even after defragmenting. Isn't the searching considered HDD activity too? Anyway, I know the cpu can do 100% however I would prefer to do those 100% every time I need it. Several hundred short times a day maybe, not just in benchmarking, just for the sake of it.

Johnny, I think you may have a point. It's either that or my system has a "harmony" issue or something

What I am sometimes experiencing, while running installers for example, is almost no hdd activity, the hdd led barely blinks, 15% cpu utilization and no other activity like downloading parts of the installed program etc and still the installer doesn't move faster.

As far back as I can remember, the older systems were stretched to the absolute limit, even if just for a second. Opening something would use 100% of available resources until that task was done.

Here's an example of opening Photoshop after previously opening it, so it's almost completely available in RAM.

I press enter, the HDD runs for half a second, reading all the necessary files, then it goes completely silent and on the program's splash screen I see a list of things (plugins, scripts, interfaces, etc) being loaded with high speed. It takes another two seconds before the program actually starts.

During those other two seconds, each of the CPU cores are used 5%. They're not waiting on the hard drive, and they have everything available in the 10GB/sec dual channel RAM, so why not load those functions faster, at the maximum speed of the CPU? The program was open with all CPUS (approx 5% each) , so the process clearly used multi-threading.

Obviously opening any program in 3 seconds is not much, it's actually quite fast, however I spent $300 on the CPU and almost $1500 on all the parts at that time and something is not doing its job. That is what bothers me and I would like some expert opinion.

Programs often have built-in timers to wait for other processes to complete - waiting isn't CPU dependant, it's time dependant. I understand your point as I own several systems and I have access to quite a large number of systems. A Q6600 is not always faster than a P4 2.8. It all depends on what you're doing and the applications you're using. In other words, if you expected your new system to be x times faster than your old one, then you'll be unhappy. Your new system is much faster when gaming, compiling a large program, etc. But not at all tasks that you'll throw at it.


ghislaing, thank you!

I bought the system for rendering, and it does a hack of a job at that part. The cpus and extra RAM are worth it. I think you hit the nail on the head with the software timers. I had a feeling it was software related. "waiting isn't CPU dependant" Yep, I heard a good one some time ago: all computers wait with the same speed. I opened this thread because I thought there might be something wrong with my configuration. I think I can wait for the software industry to catch up.

Thanks again!