Optimizing a PC is the Holy Grail for NLE workstation owners. They spend hour upon hour adjusting and tweaking the machine so that it runs silky smooth and problem free. The trick, of course, is to spend more time editing. If you follow the basic optimizations tips I describe in the next couple of sections, doing so should be possible.
The optimization of a PC is split into two sections: optimizing Windows XP and optimizing the hardware. Both are complementary, and you'll have more success delving into both rather than just the one. However, a word of warning: always make sure you set a Restore point using the built-in function you find in XP. This, at least, allows you to reset any changes that have screwed up your system beyond usability.