Question Upgrading from AMD Phenom II x3 720

Dec 30, 2019
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Hello!

I want to help my cousin. He noticed that when he is working with video editing software his computer randomly freezes and unfreezes. I think his CPU is a little bit too slow for this task. Here are his PC's specs:
  • Asus M4A78T-E (AM3)
  • AMD Phenom II X3 720
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1TB HDD
  • Gigabyte Radeon RX560 4G
I think it would be the best to upgrade the current CPU (AMD Phenom II X3 720) to something better. In my local market (I'm from Poland) the only CPU I found for AM3 was AMD Phenom II X4 955 (used, for 120 PLN). I know it's a dead platform, but switching to AM4 (even to oldest gen of Ryzen 3) and finding a MOBO for it that would be cheap and good is kinda hard, if not even impossible.

I was also thinking of switching both MOBO and CPU to something that is AM3+, but here it gets a little pricy for us. The same applies when I was looking through i5 2500k and MOBOs offers, but it's even more high in price (i5 2500k + DH61 = 375 PLN).

He cannot really specify his budged, he just says "as little as possible". I feel that maximum what he would be able to pay is 200-250 PLN (ZŁ).
Any help and advice is appreciated.

EDIT: Budget changed to 400-500 ZŁ.
 
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Dec 30, 2019
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PCPartpicker.com pricing is blank for Poland at the moment. What website(S) would you be shopping from? Can you buy from German sites?
Sorry, forgot to mention it. I use Allegro, as most of the shops don't sell outdated parts and the Allegro is the only place to find them. I don't think my cousin is willing to shop from German sites.
500 ZŁ = 110 Euros?
According to Google, but bank vendors have their own fees so you know - it might differ. But when using Allegro you're shopping in PLN.

Meanwhile I found after some more searching Phenom II X4 965 for 120 PLN. I don't know if SSD is a must have since he edits videos mostly recorded by his phone so I don't suspect that much load on the HDD. We even checked the load and most of the time it didn't go over 10-20% in Task Manager.
 
Dec 30, 2019
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An X4 965 is probably a better choice at 120PLN. It's a dead end after all.
I sent it to him. I don't think we can find anything better for this price. I also looked at the X6 but I was wondering if the (probably stock) cooling and his current PSU will handle it.
What are the characteristics of these "system freezes"?
He says that when he works in the video editor mouse pointer still moves, but interaction with the system or the software is frozen. I said to him to check the temps but no reply from him.
More memory might help as those system freezes may be swapping. The cpu upgrade can't hurt either.
You mean the virtual memory (swap)? I don't know how much he has allocated to the virtual, but I bet it is on default.
 
You mean the virtual memory (swap)? I don't know how much he has allocated to the virtual, but I bet it is on default.
No, actual memory. Swapping may actually be causing the issue.

As mentioned above, an ssd can also help alleviate the issue since swapping to an ssd is much faster than a hard drive. But more memory that would prevent swapping would be an even better way to solve a swapping problem.
 
Dec 30, 2019
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Ok. Thanks for all the tips! He will buy the CPU for sure, for an SSD I think it's better to wait for some discounts as they are kinda pricy right now. Thanks again!
 

mitch074

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Ok. Thanks for all the tips! He will buy the CPU for sure, for an SSD I think it's better to wait for some discounts as they are kinda pricy right now. Thanks again!
Before that, you may want to check if unlocking the 4th core in the BIOS wouldn't help. Replacing the thermal paste on such an old machine wouldn't hurt either.
 

mitch074

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No, actual memory. Swapping may actually be causing the issue.

As mentioned above, an ssd can also help alleviate the issue since swapping to an ssd is much faster than a hard drive. But more memory that would prevent swapping would be an even better way to solve a swapping problem.
Not so much on these old motherboard that use SATA 2.
 

mitch074

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There is one possibility for the freeze: the graphics card could be the one crashing, and the freeze would be the time it needs to reinitialize. Try removing it and using the integrated graphics for a while. The HD3300 is nothing to write home about, but it's enough for desktop use and video payback.
 
There is one possibility for the freeze: the graphics card could be the one crashing, and the freeze would be the time it needs to reinitialize. Try removing it and using the integrated graphics for a while. The HD3300 is nothing to write home about, but it's enough for desktop use and video payback.
This is a great way to diagnose this too. If the crashing stops, it could just be a video card/driver issue.
 

mitch074

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Any ssd is faster than a hard drive regardless of the interface since the seek time is eliminated. Sata 2 isn't slow either.
I have an AM3 system with a SSD too (the one I'm typing this on, actually is a L3-enabled Athlon II X4 620, very close to what the OP tries to fix) - while a SSD has much lower seek latency, swap is usually much more sequential in access and the difference with a good mechanical HDD shrinks when bottlenecked by the interface. So yes, a SSD would be an improvement, but in that precise case not so much if at all.

On another note, Asus motherboards could unlock extra cores by enabling ACC - an extra cpu core is nothing to scoff at, so you should try that. Since al X3 CPUs are actually quads with a disabled, but often functional core, getting 33% more performance for free is worth a shot.
 
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On another note, Asus motherboards could unlock extra cores by enabling ACC - an extra cpu core is nothing to scoff at, so you should try that. Since al X3 CPUs are actually quads with a disabled, but often functional core, getting 33% more performance for free is worth a shot.
If I were him, I would try it. But I'm not and I don't know if he will be willing to do so as he isn't really into the I.T.

Any ssd is faster than a hard drive regardless of the interface since the seek time is eliminated. Sata 2 isn't slow either.
I second that, used SSD in my dad's PC, but after the fact I forgot to check what interface his MOBO has. Nevertheless it's still faster than HDD in his case. But that's kinda an off-topic.

There is one possibility for the freeze: the graphics card could be the one crashing, and the freeze would be the time it needs to reinitialize. Try removing it and using the integrated graphics for a while. The HD3300 is nothing to write home about, but it's enough for desktop use and video payback
This is a great way to diagnose this too. If the crashing stops, it could just be a video card/driver issue.
I generally understand your troubleshooting way, but as he mentioned that freezes only occur during the video editing so I wonder if he will be able to edit videos after removing the GPU.
 
I generally understand your troubleshooting way, but as he mentioned that freezes only occur during the video editing so I wonder if he will be able to edit videos after removing the GPU.
He still would be able to video edit. It might be slower since there's no gpu assist, but if it doesn't crash, it tells us something. Even if it does crash it tells us something (it's not the gpu!).
 
Reactions: mitch074
Dec 30, 2019
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He still would be able to video edit. It might be slower since there's no gpu assist, but if it doesn't crash, it tells us something. Even if it does crash it tells us something (it's not the gpu!).
Alright, it's worth giving a try. Thanks!
 
I have an AM3 system with a SSD too (the one I'm typing this on, actually is a L3-enabled Athlon II X4 620, very close to what the OP tries to fix) - while a SSD has much lower seek latency, swap is usually much more sequential in access and the difference with a good mechanical HDD shrinks when bottlenecked by the interface. So yes, a SSD would be an improvement, but in that precise case not so much if at all.

On another note, Asus motherboards could unlock extra cores by enabling ACC - an extra cpu core is nothing to scoff at, so you should try that. Since al X3 CPUs are actually quads with a disabled, but often functional core, getting 33% more performance for free is worth a shot.
True in terms of seek, but that's only if the swap file is permanent and contiguous on the disk, and since ssd sustained transfer rates still exceed even the best hard drives by 2x, an ssd will still be a huge improvement.

That extra core is a great idea. But how would one test that the core isn't 'bad'?
 

mitch074

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True in terms of seek, but that's only if the swap file is permanent and contiguous on the disk, and since ssd sustained transfer rates still exceed even the best hard drives by 2x, an ssd will still be a huge improvement.

That extra core is a great idea. But how would one test that the core isn't 'bad'?
by loading it - if you do video compression on it and it does not blue screen, then it is good enough.

as for the swap file, Windows always allocates a big chunk of it at install time and it doesn't move much. provided you haven't filled your hard disk drive and not always swapping, it shouldn't be much of a problem.

However, there is one case where putting in a SSD will help : a failing HDD. Windows can, and wil, freeze if HDD I/O encounters a problem. If it is the original HDD, then 10 years of use makes it ripe for bad sectors or failing head. This thread contains good advice: https://superuser.com/questions/353641/checking-history-of-hard-drive-events-on-windows
 
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by loading it - if you do video compression on it and it does not blue screen, then it is good enough.

as for the swap file, Windows always allocates a big chunk of it at install time and it doesn't move much. provided you haven't filled your hard disk drive and not always swapping, it shouldn't be much of a problem.

However, there is one case where putting in a SSD will help : a failing HDD. Windows can, and wil, freeze if HDD I/O encounters a problem. If it is the original HDD, then 10 years of use makes it ripe for bad sectors or failing head. This thread contains good advice: https://superuser.com/questions/353641/checking-history-of-hard-drive-events-on-windows
Gotcha. Does amd have any type of official test that can be run on the chip? That would be a really good way to test it.

Windows will allocate a swap file, but it's temporary--it's not a fixed size. So it will get fragmented and whatnot with use unless it is changed to a permanent swapfile. I'll typically set this to permanent and the same size as the system ram. Same trick worked all the way back in windows 3.1.

A failing hard drive is problem on its own. It definitely wouldn't be a bad idea to run a quick test on it.
 

mitch074

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Gotcha. Does amd have any type of official test that can be run on the chip? That would be a really good way to test it.

Windows will allocate a swap file, but it's temporary--it's not a fixed size. So it will get fragmented and whatnot with use unless it is changed to a permanent swapfile. I'll typically set this to permanent and the same size as the system ram. Same trick worked all the way back in windows 3.1.

A failing hard drive is problem on its own. It definitely wouldn't be a bad idea to run a quick test on it.
 

mitch074

Distinguished
Nope, nothing official - but a video encode is one nice test, running a Folding@Home client for a while another. Or, good old SuperPI for half a day.
Yes, Windows will allocate more clusters if the swap file grows, but the base file isn't deleted on each boot and does have a tendency to be rather contiguous from the get go. In case of doubt, use a tool like defraggler that is able to defragment system files at boot - including the swap file. Indeed, creating a static swap file and then defragment it is best, but as long as it doesn't go past a dozen fragments leaving it dynamic should not impact performance that much.
As for a potentially failing hard drive, the Windows logs will show a bunch of errors, or at the very least a S.M.A.R.T. test report should.
 

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