Download of the Week: GMABooster

By on September 3, 2009, 5:54 PM
Usually when we think of gaming, and more specifically PC graphics, two industry giants come to mind: ATI and Nvidia. Curiously this market is dominated by Intel, though, thanks to its nearly-ubiquitous integrated graphics chips. Although it's a well known fact that these chips are too slow for most games or other graphics-intensive tasks, many budget-conscious buyers are stuck with no other option for their entry-level laptops and netbooks.

GMABooster is a useful little tool that allows you to overclock Intel's GMA 900 and 950 graphics cores found in the majority of these devices. More specifically, the application boosts the clock speed from 133/166MHz to a full 400MHz, or the same as the non-low voltage chipset found on standard laptops. The interesting thing about this is that it seems to be a simple instruction set sent to the chipset; it doesnít change any voltage levels and it isnít pushing the clock speed higher than it is designed to go.

The performance gains are actually pretty decent -- about 25% in pure GPU tests. You won't be playing Crysis on your netbook anytime soon, but the improvement could very well make the difference between being able to play a game or not. Obviously, you should expect to take a slight hit in battery performance as a result.

The software is "donationware" with a catch -- your free copy expires every week so you are forced to download a new version in order to continue using it. That said, if you like GMABooster and use it often, there is also the option of making a voluntary donation and in exchange receive a serial number to permanently disable the expiration date check. Interested? You can download GMABooster here.

Requirements include having .NET Framework version 2.0 or higher installed and a system running the 32-bit version of Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. Mac OS X and Linux versions are also available here.

User Comments: 5

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Guest said:

GPU-z reported my clock was set at 400 MHz already. I should've listened to it, but instead I read this misinformation (below) from the site, and downloaded / installed it anyway, just to see no change (400 MHz -> 400 Mhz = 0% gain). Now I wasted time both downloading/installing/uninstalling, AND making this post. Thanks GMABooster! ;-)

"Q.: On my laptop a popular diagnostic utility GPU-Z reports that I already have GMA 950 running at a speed of 400 MHz. Do I still need the GMABooster?

A.: Well, GPU-Z detects GMA 950, but does not read its actual clock. This is a known issue. Please note that there are no devices built on Intel® 945GM/GME/GMS/GSE or 943/940GML/GU Express chipset which have GMA 950 running at a default clock of 400 MHz. So, an answer is: yes, the GMABooster is still needed."

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've actually been using this for a while, and I also get about a 25 % performance increase. Does anyone know why this is? Is is limited by the memory bandwidth?

To the Guest:

GPU-Z will not report any change in GPU speed. When you launch GMA Booster, it will tell you the speed your GPU is actually running at.

To see if it is actually working, you can test it with a GPU stress test, such as this

Using GMA booster, I increased my fps from 16 to 20

Guest said:

When I first used GMA Booster, I found it to be a miraculous utility which improved performance dramatically. What I soon discovered is it turns off "unneeded" services, services which are actually needed, to increase performance. The result was having to go to Admin in the Control Panel and reset over 20 services. Maybe the program has changed, but I wouldn't recommend it to any user.

Guest said:

Man, what are you talking about? I've been using this program since April or so, and it never touched even a single service. All is does is reprograms the PLL, allowing higher graphics core clock. I play Sims 3 and Trackmania on my old Macbook, and I can confirm that the performance boost IS there. Isn't it clear that avg. 30% of extra FPS cannot be achieved by shutting down the services? Furthermore, in 3DMark 2006 the raw GPU performance is 86% higher, that's not only my observation, e.g. see the following old review

T77 T77 said:

this piece of software seems interesting,nice for all those integrated ones!

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