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GeForce 256 Tweak Guide (Page 1/6)

Posted: March 7, 2000
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Note - Most of these tweaks work with TNT/TNT2 cards as well!


I was reminiscing while trying to think of what to say here, when the whole Nvidia experience popped into my head. When I went to Nvidia's headquarters in Santa Clara during the summer to see the GeForce 256 in action (with some other webmasters), I knew the product was going to be big. Why else would Nvidia fly us out there just to see it before anyone else? I still remember talking about the product the night before, as we all hiked to Denny's, which was the only place open at 3 AM within walking distance of the hotel we were staying at. Everyone pitched in their ideas on the GeForce, and when it came to me, all I could say was "I can't wait to overclock it!" -- hey, I'm a tweaker at heart. All I could think about was making the fastest video card on the market even faster.

The next day, at about 8 AM, we were in the presence of Derek Perez and some other Nvidia "big names" including Jen-Hsun Huang (the CEO), Michael Hara (vice president of marketing), and Doug Kennedy (marketing manager). After being briefed with the specifications of the GeForce 256, the first question I asked Jen-Hsun was "Can we overclock the GeForce 256?". He responded by telling us a story of how even he, the CEO, overclocked his TNT2 Ultra at home. I think he even said something about a peltier on there!

Anyway, the point of this boring story wasn't to put you to sleep, but rather to demonstrate that everyone, including CEOs of companies, want the best performance and highest speed with their PCs, even if it goes beyond their own recommended specifications. This guide was written to help you ensure compatibility, optimize performance and visual quality with GeForce 256 video cards, in both SDR and DDR varieties.

Here's what this guide contains:
-General BIOS Settings and AGP aperture size
-Super-7 BIOS Settings
-AGP bus speed
-Super-7 compatibility issues
-Removing old drivers and installing new drivers
-More Super-7/Athlon fixes
-Display settings tweaks
-Direct3D/OpenGL tweaks

This guide was originally written January 17, 2000.
The March 7, 2000 update includes:
-Updated AGP bus speed info
-More registry tweaks
-More Super-7/Athlon fixes
-Updated OpenGL performance tweaks
-Updated cooling section
-Included .reg files for all the registry tweaks to make things easier/faster

BIOS Settings

If you've read many Tweak3D tweak guides in the past, you know we take things one step at a time. With the GeForce 256, the first step after physical installation (if you had problems with this, go here) is to setup your BIOS for compatibility / performance.

Rather than a loaded 800 MHz system, we used the medium-powered testbed to test these settings (to see if the tweaks helped significantly):

Pentium II 450 MHz CPU
Abit BX6 motherboard
Nvidia GeForce 256 DDR reference board
Sound Blaster Live
Windows 98
Vsync disabled
Quake3 Arena, Demo1 (to compare performance)

You'll need to restart your computer, and hit either Delete or F10 (or the key that is denoted on your screen) to enter your BIOS setup. If you've never seen your BIOS before, take a moment to explore it (not changing anything) before continuing. This will help you become familiar with changing the settings discussed herein. Some BIOSes may not let you change some of the following options, but if you'd like to be able to play with them anyway, the program TweakBIOS will serve you well. Unfortunately, the program will not save your settings for you unless you buy the program. Therefore, you'll have to reapply them every time you restart.

Generally, if you have no major problems, these settings should be fine. But if you run into problems, adjusting these BIOS settings may help you. It is recommended that you adjust only a few settings at a time, rather than all of them at once. (Write down the original value for any settings you change first!)

These are the settings Tweak3D recommends:

Assign IRQ to VGA (or video) - Enabled or set to "Auto". The GeForce 256 requires an IRQ to operate.

Video BIOS cacheable - Disabled or default. This may cause problems if enabled, and it did not boost performance in our tests.

Video BIOS shadow - Disabled. This may cause problems if enabled, and it did not boost performance in our tests.

VGA Palette Snoop - Disabled. This is an old feature that is not required by the GeForce 256.

PCI Palette Snoop - Disabled. This is somewhat like the feature above. It should not be enabled for the GeForce 256.

C8xxxx-CBxxxx Shadow (where xxxx is any hex #) - Disabled. The GeForce 256 is already shadowed. These can cause problems if enabled.

AGP Aperture size - The AGP Aperture size is the total amount of system memory available to an AGP video card (beyond the card's "local" memory). If your system frequently crashes, set it to 64 MB. If that doesn't help, set it to 256 MB or the default value, regardless of the amount of memory in your system. The test system had 128 MB of RAM and 32 worked perfectly.

If you have:
  • 128+ MB ram: Set to 64 MB or 32 MB
  • 96 MB ram: Set to 48 MB or 24 MB
  • 64 MB ram: Set to 32 MB or 16 MB
  • 48 MB ram: Set to 24 MB or 12 MB
  • 32 MB ram: Set to 24 MB or 12 MB
  • 16 MB ram: Set to 24 MB or 12 MB

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