In the Forums...
Posted: September 26, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan and Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
CD-ROM tweaking is a tricky subject. There isn't a lot of information out on the subject, but the few tweaks that are around can boost performance significantly.
The first step to successfully tweaking anything is downloading the newest drivers. For the ones you need, check out the Drivers Headquarters. Click the CD-ROM link on the left and it should be easy to find them. Note that most CD-ROM drives do not require drivers, but updating firmware can help fix bugs. This site will give you links to firmware as well.
Enabling DMA and Other Settings.
Enabling DMA (direct memory access) will not give you a huge increase in speed, but will take load off your CPU. Not all CD-ROMs can enable this, or use it successfully, so results will differ. After enabling it try some games out. If it seems to take less time to start reading and the games seem to be running faster then it is working fine. If the CD-ROM is not working correctly then you should disable it.
To enable DMA on your CD-ROM drive:
Right click My Computer on your desktop, choose Properties. Click the Device Manager tab. Click the + next to CDROM. Double click on your CD-ROM drive (which should be shown next to CDROM). Click the Settings tab at the top. Check the box that says DMA. While you're at it, try to enable "Sync Data Transfer" as well. Now reboot. If it didn't work like you thought then you can disable it.
Some people set their cache small, but I like to set it high. Your CD-ROM may already have a big cache set, so check and make sure. To troubleshoot some games, you may need to change this setting back. Keep in mind that you have adjusted it if you have problems.
Right click My Computer on your desktop, choose Properties. Click the Performance tab. Click the File System button below. Click the CD-ROM tab at the top. Make sure your Cd-Rom is set to Quad-speed or higher, even if it's not. This will just let you use an extra big cache. Now, make sure your Supplemental cache size is the largest it can be. It should be 1238 KB.
CD Quick Cache
CD-Quick Cache is a great program for optimizing cache of your CD-ROM. At first I doubted it, but after trying I was amazed. Making changes to your cache is faster than ever because the program resides in your system tray.
Check this program out.. it is well worth your time. Do some benchmarks yourself if you don't believe me, this program is great.
Download Cd-Quick Cache.
Winboost 2000, by Magellass, also includes settings to optimize your CD-ROM drive. Select the "Optimize CD-ROM Speed" setting, set the Cache size to large, and then choose the appropriate speed for your drive. This should dramatically increase the speed of your CD-ROM drive.
Note: You only really need to use either Winboost OR CD-Quick Cache - using both won't do you any good.
Other Miscellaneous Tweaks
Particularly if you have an older computer, make sure that your CD-ROM drive isn't on the same IDE channel as your hard drive. Sharing of IDE channels can dramatically slow down CD-ROM and hard disk access. Also, make sure that the drive is configured as the 'master' on it's IDE channel, instead of the 'slave'. This can increase access time by allowing the CD-ROM drive to pre-empt other traffic on the channel.
Also, using a CD lens cleaner on your drive can speed it up dramatically, because any dust or other junk that touches the laser lens will slow down its access time, just like scratches on CD media will. And while you're at it, clean the CD tray and your CD's as well - every little bit helps, particularly if you are playing a game that you've had for a while.
These tweaks should speed up your CD-ROM drive to its full speed. However, be advised, messing around with the IDE channels can cause problems, so only do it if you are confident that you know what you are doing - and more importantly, how to change it back if there is a problem. Good luck!