OK one of the things that always irked me about the built-in Task Manager in Windows was that it only let you shut down applications. I am a huge multi-tasker and start one task and have another running in the background (some claim its the way my brain is wired for parallel computing others think I have ADD, it may be a combination of the two), what I really want from Task Manager is more granular control over what programs have focus and get the majority of processing power. This became an even larger concern when I started using my P1610 for the majority of my computing needs, granted I generally flip-flop between two or three computers and even have a few RDCs (Remote Desktop Clients) and virtual PC images running as well, but when I am out of the Office the P1610 is my main PC. The problem is that it only has 1GB of memory, (which if the BIOS can handle it I may upgrade to 2GB) and only a Intel Core Solo processor at 1.2 GHz, when running always seems to be maxed out at 100% when I seem to be doing normal stuff like having Outlook open (yes I have a large PST file), an Excel spreadsheet, MS Project file, OneNote, and Visio. All of which work fine on my Ferrari Laptop, but slows down the responsiveness of my P1610 to a crawl especially when switching between applications or using a dual monitor display.
I had upgraded the hard drive to an SSD drive, which improved some of the response time and battery life, but this free application called Process Lasso did much more. This program saved me from upgrading my P1610 to the P1620 (for the meantime anyway), to my kids dismay and made my P1610 much more usable again.
Here it is before and after with normal applications like Outlook, OneNote and a browser with a few tabs open. How did it do it?
Well Process Lasso monitors the processor usage from Task Manager and Resource Manager for applications and limits how much they are allowed to use at a limit set by default or that can be set by you. The main screen monitors CPU usage in red as well as responsiveness in green. As well as giving you all the information you would find in Task Manager and Resource Monitor.
Installing the program takes up minimal space on your hard drive clocking in at a nice small 1.2MB, which I like (MS, Apple, Adobe, Google, Java, please not the small application size.)
I found that worked pretty well with the default settings(pictured above) after you first install the application) and tweaked it even further for my own needs.
At the top of the application you have few things to tweak and change. First you have Actions, which is simple control how you interact with the application with the ability to shut it down to really see how well it works. Trust me you will turn it back on.
File is pretty cool in that if you have a configuration that works well on one PC and you want to carry over your customizations of Lasso over to another PC you can! You can also save and choose different configuration files to see what settings work for you and your computer.
View just lets you turn the color legend of CPU and Response on and off.
Under Options is where you make the biggest changes in the program. Here under General Settings you can choose how fast Process Lasso works, I went with the default Normal at first then opted to go High. You can actually see the polling going on in the graph and table data. Here you can also set Process Lasso to startup when you start Windows and to check for updates.
The next option is the Out-of-control restraint settings that pop up on the install here you can make further changes if needed like totally stopping programs from launching as well as setting priority levels for programs.
Under Edit Default Process CPU Affinities you can choose, which applications run under each processor.
One thing for me that was great was the ability to turn on Foreground Boosting not only for the application, but for threads as well.
There are some more advanced options as well if you really want to tweak.
If you mouse over the application running in the Taskbar you will see which program is consuming the most CPU usage as well as your CPU usage and responsiveness in percentage. Something great for the anal retentive, I mean detail orientated.
To put it to the test I ran the Zune Encoder, which generally brought my system to a crawl while it ran in the background encoding downloaded video podcasts while I tried to work. Running Process Lasso I didn't even notice it running in the background even though my CPU usage was pegged at 100%. It brought a nice smile to my face. I was pretty impressed!
I also ran all the applications I normally run with no problems. The big test for me is rotating the screen with all these applications open. Before it used to take FOREVER now its doesn't take as long, but it is still slow. I think this has more to do with the physical memory on board as well as the performance of the video card and the fact that it is a single core processor. The P1620 may have resolved this issue for me. On my older Fujitsu Tablet PC that has a slower processor, older video card, but has 2GB of memory has no problem in rotating screens with the same applications and files open. So I am leaning toward the rotation lag being a physical memory issue. For the amount of money I could plunk down on a 1GB memory upgrade I would be a 1/4 of the way there of picking up a new 1620. So the jury is still out on this one.
I haven't run this with Vista SP1 yet on my P1610 and made comparisons in performance. I was going to do benchmarks, but to me that doesn't really matter if you PC doesn't "Feel responsive" all the benchmarks in the world mean squat.
On a dual processor laptop (AMD) and computer (Intel) both running Vista 64-bit, I placed it on I was able to target applications to run off a particular processor enhancing my response time tremendously. While compiling some code I was able to target one processor for doing so in the background while still being able to work with other applications on the other processor with no lag. I also did the same playing a video of a DVD I ripped to MPEG and I was able to dedicate a processor to it solely while using the other for other applications.This really impressed me.
If you don't believe me try it yourself. To read up on the documentation head here.
Hey you can't beat free! If you really like the program, please donate to keep development of this great product alive!