|"My current video is an AGP 512mb Radeon 2400"|
So you do have a card. That's a decent chipset for an economy card - it supports DirectX 9, runs most recent games well - but almost all newer mboards do not have AGP slots.
I have the PCI version.
"Running W7 taskmanager without any programs running at at 43% memory usage."
I neglected to notice, or forgot, you are running W 7 - so you could probably see a benefit from more ram.
However, "....without any programs running ...."
That's without YOU running any extra programs, but that doesn't necessarily mean you don't have programs that load automatically that you do NOT need to have running.
- anti-malware programs, especially anti-virus programs, are often already set up to scan your whole computer automatically at some set time during the day when you install them - depending on which one, that can bog down your system a lot while that's running. If you start up your computer after the set time on a particular day, that runs automatically when you first start up the computer. A full anti-virus scan, e.g., can take a half hour or longer. Take a look at settings in those. I recommend you disable that, unless you're paranoid about malware, and only run a full scan when you suspect you might have malware. They're often running in the background in any case otherwise to check for suspicious activity (they have (a) resident module(s)).
- if you have Microsoft's AutoUpdate set to default settings, it checks for update downloads periodically automatically, and if updates are available, it downloads them in the background immediately. There is a load on your computer while those are being downloaded - for a slower system like yours that can be quite significant. I recommend you set your AutoUpdate settings to check for updates, but don't download them - have it notify you that updates are available - then you can install the updates when you choose.
- Windows Search (Windows Desktop Search) is an add on that can be installed in XP and 2000, but in Vista, and I assume Windows 7, it's built in.
Windows Search is supposed to make indexes of the files on your computer to make searches faster. You can either take the time to have it do that by deliberately telling it to do that - it takes quite a while - or by default it does that in the background when you're supposedly not actively using the computer. The problem with it is once it starts making the indexes automatically, it often does not stop itself automatically for quite a while when you resume actively using the computer. It uses considerable cpu time while running.
I recommend you either
- take the time to have it make the indexes by telling it to do that - it takes quite a while
- or - disable Windows Search in the Services list. It only makes searches a small amount of time faster once the indexes have been made in any case.
- Startup Programs
When you install programs, they often install one or more components that are added to the startup progams that run when the computer first loads Windows - some load and then unload, which only adds an extra load for a short while when you first start up the computer, but many of them run all the time. Most of those programs DO NOT need to be loaded - whatever feature they enable can be loaded elsewhere when you choose to, the only difference being it will take a small bit of extra time to load them.
Click on the Windows 7 icon bottom left (Start) - type: msconfig in the Search box.
Click on the Startup tab.
De-select the programs you don't need to load when the computer starts up. You can always re-enable them if you find you need them.
Click on OK - you are prompted to reboot - you can do that then or later.
Glitch - entries for programs that are disabled from loading are not removed from the Startup list when you un-install the program. Try to remember to re-enable those before you un-install the program package that installed them.
Some entries will re-appear automatically because they are actually loaded elsewhere, either after a short time, or after you reboot. No point in disabling those.
If you end up with one or more entry(ies) that has(have) been disabled and an identical one that that has been enabled, or more than one disabled identical entry, if you enable all of them, after you reboot only one enabled entry will be listed.
How do you know when there are programs running in the background that don't need to run (unless you chose to run them)?
Of course, the hdd activity led is flashing when you're not actively doing anything, and at the same time, the programs that are running are showing activity in Task Manager.
When you first load Windows, especially for the first time that day, when you do nothing actively, it takes at least several minutes for the hdd activity led to stop flashing, rather than that stopping in a short time. If e.g. a full anti-virus scan is running, it may take a half an hour or more for it to stop flashing.