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23% Performance Boost – No overclocking

Posted by briandh on December 24, 2006

It has taken a while but I have finally got this system nailed, Oblivion is running like a dream my 3DMark06 score has jump from 8686 to 10686 and I am one happy bunny. I also managed to claw back 600Mb+ of system RAM that was swallowed up (still 1.4Gb missing in action).

I haven’t even had to overclock a single component.

How was this masterful feat accomplished? Simple – just don’t trust a PC manufacturer to be able to set up a system optimally.

Since I have been working and playing with PC’s for more than 20 years, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and wade into the BIOS – I’ve even been known (shock-horror) to open the case now and then. Those that don’t have the experience or confidence to do this could be wasting a significant amount of their systems true capabilities.

In my particular case there were several factors which contributed to the boost. I did not keep track of specifically how much each one influenced the final result, sorry, but they included:

  1. I needed a BIOS update. This gave me my memory back by allowing me to turn off the option which was attempting to be helpful by remapping my memory above 4Gb thus leaving space for the PCI bus to use the bit in between. Unfortunately I was not using a 64bit operating system so the bit above 4Gb vanished. Now I lose a large chunk to PCI but get some of it back. If and when I switch to 64bit I can turn it back on.
  2. I turned off every physical device that I was not using via the BIOS. The motherboard comes with about 4 networks and I use none, plus an on-board sound card and a couple of other things. Speeds up the boot time and claws back a fraction of the above memory. Might reduce overlapping / conflicting IRQ’s and boost performance a wee bit too.
  3. I researched the part number for my RAM chips and found the optimal timings and set them explcitly in the BIOS. For some reasson the auto-cofig in the BIOS was not getting these right. Note that I am not overclocking these – just setting them up as per the manufacturers specifications. I believe that this was the largest factor in my performance boost.

I did play around with some other settings, none of which had any significant impact and so were returned to their default settings.

I’m off to play some more super-smooth Oblivion …

[Added]

… and it is super smooth. An easy 40fps out in the grassy open with all settings almost maxed out and at 1600×1200, HDR, 2x AA, 8x HQ AF.

I ran some Half Life 2 benchmarks (the HardwareOC ones – not just the stress tests) and I have to max out absolutely everything (HDR, 14x AA, 16x HQ AF) to get the frame rate to drop just below 60fps in Lost Coast. All other tests are well into the silly figures.

[Even more added]

I have spent parts of tonight (when not wrapping presents) running more tests.  The net effect of my changes are far more than I had originally thought.  I must have cleared a major system bottleneck.  Half Life 2 and every game I have tried that pre-dates it now runs easily with maximum AA & AF settings at frames rates usually easily exceeding 60fps.  This is far more than the 23% suggested by the raw 3DMark06 score – based on previous tests.  The whole system also feels much more responsive.  I’m downloading th x3-reunion demo and we will see how that fares.

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2 Responses to “23% Performance Boost – No overclocking”

  1. […] 23% Performance Boost – No overclocking […]

  2. […] 23% Performance Boost – No overclocking […]

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