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AGP Aperture Size Examined (Page 1/4)

Posted: August 29, 2002
Written by: Kayron James Mercieca and Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy.


Tweak3D prides itself in being one of the few sites online that never says, “Enough is enough.” Our PCs are never fast enough, and we always question how we can make them even faster. We always say, “Hey, what does this setting do?”, or “Hmm, I wonder if my house will burn down if I turn the speed up a little bit.” No, we don’t think there’s such a thing as too much computing power, and our video cards are no exception.

Video cards offer so many features these days that it’s often easy to overlook a couple. Sometimes we might miss important features that are right in front of our eyes, and this is where we came up with the idea to tweak that golden nugget in our BIOS setup, the “AGP Aperture Size”, which from here on out, we’ll refer to as “AAS”.

The Confusion and Mystery Behind AGP Aperture Size

There are many rules of thumb regarding this setting (that we admit, we’re guilty at times of encouraging). But at one point, someone at Tweak3D said, “has anyone tested this recently?” and a silence fell across the lab.

The reason for writing this guide is that many people still ignore the importance of AAS or set it incorrectly. Generally measured in megabytes (MB), AAS is the amount of system memory (RAM) shared with an AGP graphics card in order for it to have more memory to process textures and other visual data.

Some people think that the more RAM you share with the graphics card, the larger the performance boost. In some cases, this might be true. In others, it might result in a performance drop. There are two common outcomes from setting the AAS too high: (1) If you share too much RAM with your graphics card and an application takes advantage of that, you will have less RAM for other functions of the software, and possibly for background applications. (2) If the graphics card does not utilize the memory, it is not taken from system memory. In this case, there are no problems with AAS sucking all of your system RAM, despite its setting in the BIOS configuration utility. The latter is the most common case, since most people have enough memory now to compensate for a high AAS, and most applications would not take all of the memory anyway.

We decided to test the actual performance of the different AAS values to see if (other than available system memory), it affected performance and system stability.

The AAS setting is located in your BIOS setup from your motherboard. To access it, while booting up your computer, press the designated key for setup (usually Delete). Here, you will find motherboard settings, including the “AGP Aperture Size”. Warning, changing settings without knowing what they are may cause damage to your system, minor or severe.

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