If you have had a computer for about a decade, you will realize it isn’t as fast as some of the latest models. Apart from the excessive files weighing the system down or bugs in the operating system, there are several features that make modern computers faster than older versions. So, what makes a computer fast?
There are many components in a computer that help make it faster and more powerful. The CPU and motherboard are major components contributing to the computer’s speed and overall performance. Other reasons a computer can be either fast or slow include the hard drive, RAM, video card, cache, and even operating system.
Note that some parts of a computer, like the hard drive, RAM, and operating system, are easily upgradable. However, components like the CPU, motherboard, and video card are either not upgradable or hard to upgrade depending on the type and model of the computer. Keep reading to learn more about how these features influence the speed of a computer.
Features That Influence a Computer’s Speed
If the performance of your computer is slow, the experience can be frustrating, and you wouldn’t like it. In this section, we discussed several aspects of a computer that can impact its speed.
Reason #1: CPU – Clock Speed
The CPU or Central Processing Unit of a computer is like its brain. It is a small computer chip that sits on the computer’s main circuit board. Every CPU has a clock speed, which measures the number of cycles the CPU executes every second. The clock speed of the CPU is often measured in GHz.
The higher the GHz of a computer, the faster the CPU can process data. Hence, a fast computer can execute more instructions every second. Most average computers come with a 1.0 or 2.5 GHz of clock speed. But computers with clock speeds between 3.5 and 4.0 GHz are generally considered fast.
Reason #2: Cache
While the CPU of computers can process billions of instructions per second, the processor often waits on those instructions. Because the RAM and hard drive are much slower than the CPU, computer processors use cache to transfer data between the memory, processor, and other components.
So while you may have your eyes on the CPU’s clock speed, also have your eyes on the cache size of the CPU. Since cache memory is a faster type of memory, computers with more L2 cache, L3 cache, or even L4 in some cases tend to store more instructions than those with less cache memory. Hence, a computer with more cache memory can run smoother and faster.
Reason #3: Motherboard
The motherboard may be the last thing you may have thought could influence your computer speed, but it does. There is something on the motherboard called the bus speed that affects the rate at which the computer transfers data between all hardware on it. For example, a motherboard with a front-side bus of 66 MHz will be slower than a computer with a front-side bus of 400 MHz.
Although today, most computers with intel processors, for example, don’t use the front-side bus but QuickPath Interconnect. Note that between QuickPath Interconnect and the front-side bus, the earlier is faster than the latter. Also, the motherboard with AMD processor uses HyperTransport, not the front-side bus, which is also better and more efficient.
Reason #4: Hard Drive
The most common factor everyone is familiar with that can make a computer fast or slow is the hard drive. There are different hard drives with different read and write speeds. The traditional Hard Drive Disk (HDD) is much slower than the more modern Solid State Drive (SSD).
A standard HDD has a read and write speed of about 80 MB/s to 160 MB/s. An SSD has a read and writes speed between 200 MB/s and 550 MB/s. Also, older computers often have EIDE (ATA) ports and cables connected to the HDD, but they have a slower transfer rate than the SATA ports and cables on newer computers with SSD.
If you have an HDD on your computer, you can consider swapping it for an SSD.
Reason #5: RAM
The RAM or Random Access Memory is a form of computer memory that stores machine code and working data. Having more RAM on a computer improves speed than when you have less RAM. The reason is that when you don’t have sufficient RAM on your computer, it sends some unused data to the hard drive, which is a slower form of memory, thus slowing down the computer.
Besides having more RAM space on the computer, the type of RAM also matters. Different types of RAM have different transfer rates, influencing how fast the computer handles operations. For example, a typical DDR3 RAM has a transfer rate between 8.5 GB/s and 14.9 GB/s, while a DDR4 RAM has a transfer rate between 17 GB/s and 25.6 GB/s.
Most computers come with two RAM slots. Take full advantage of both slots by including a second RAM stick of the same size to increase the RAM storage on your computer.
Reason #6: Video Card
Another thing that can make a computer fast or slow is the video card. Some computers come with an integrated graphics card, while others have a dedicated one. Generally, the integrated graphics card on some computers is sufficient to handle basic video processing needs such as loading a web page, playing a video, and so on.
However, computers with dedicated graphics cards are ideal when handling more serious graphics processes such as video editing, 3D rendering, or gaming.
Reason #7: Operating System
In addition, a computer’s operating system can also influence its speed. Having the latest operating system as well as hardware that supports that operating system can have a significant impact on the overall speed of the computer.
For example, a computer running on Windows 10 is much faster than a computer running on Windows XP. The reason is that a computer with Windows 10 has the latest hardware and is more optimized.
In conclusion, computers that use the latest technologies tend to be much faster than those using an older technology. For example, a 4th Generation Core i5 CPU cannot compete with an 11th generation Core i5 CPU, as the 11th generation CPU is faster.
Similarly, SATA SSD computers are faster than those running on an IDE hard drive. So, whether you are planning on upgrading your computer or buying a new one, know what to look for.