NVIDIA GeForce (1/2/3/4) videocard tweaking

NVIDIA Graphics cards are widely (& rightly) regarded by most people as being the most technologically advanced Graphics cards you can buy for Gaming today. They are also one of the more configurable Graphics cards around, with literally dozens of settings available to set in the Drivers, some selectable in Display Properties, others via the registry or 3rd party Applications.

This guide will take you through using one such utility to configure your NVIDIA Graphics card as well as other troubleshooting/BIOS information to get it all running stably.


Drivers/Troubleshooting/ BIOS Settings

Initially you should ensure you have the latest Drivers installed for your Graphics Card. You can find links to Manufacturers of such Graphics Cards on our Drivers page, although should you wish to stick with reference Drivers then go to NVIDIA Driver page instead. To a lesser extent you may also want to check into getting any available BIOS update for the Graphics card, although these only fix certain issues.

Be sure you have installed Microsoft’s have DirectX 8.1 as well.

It is also highly important to have the latest Drivers for your Motherboard installed as well, particularly the AGP Drivers (If you have an AGP Graphics card of course). You can find links to updated Motherboard Chipset Drivers on OS Updates. Installing any available BIOS update for your Motherboard may also be of some help.

In the system BIOS it is recommended to disable the following settings, if available - Hidden refresh, VGA palette snoop, DAC snoop & any Caching/Shadowing options, e.g. Video BIOS Shadowing. The Video Memory Caching Mode should be set to UC (UnCacheable) rather than UCSW (UnCacheable Speculative Write-combining) also.

For further information/tips check out the GeForce FAQ, which covers other potential issues/queries you may have or contact your Manufacturer for Technical support.


Configuration Utilities

For adjusting NVIDIA Driver settings I’d recommend using one of the many 3rd party Applications available to do so. These will not only give you access to all the settings available (Or at least far more than the Drivers display) but are usually a bit more convenient to use as well.

I’d recommend downloading & using NVMax as in my opinion is the best one out there (Though lacking in Help, but this Guide should cover all that ;)).

Select the system tab then the AGP option from the drop-down menu.

AGP Transfer Mode. You’d probably be best off leaving this set to Auto, though if having problems it might be worthwhile specifying the AGP mode you have set in the BIOS, e.g. 4X.

Fast-writes. In an ideal world Fast writes support is a great thing to have Ticked – it allows the CPU to send data to the Graphics card without having to go through RAM, making it a far more optimal approach. That said in reality most benchmarks done on this have shown it to be of little actual benefit, in some cases performing slower, not mention on other systems it causes stability problems. As a result you might want to run a few benchmarks before choosing whether or not to leave this enabled or not. When Grayed out Fast-writes support will be automatically determined, though should you wish to force it be sure to Tick this option & be sure you have set 4X AGP & enabled Fast Writes in your BIOS. NOTE – On some systems this can cause stability problems.

Side band addressing. Side band addressing (SBA) enables AGP to use 8 extra (Side band) address lines in addition to the 32 main ones to transmit requests for data, which should further improve AGP performance. Those of you with PCI Graphics cards can ignore this option, or even Untick it altogether. When Grayed out SBA support will be automatically determined, though should you wish to force it be sure to Tick this option. NOTE – On some systems this can cause stability problems.

VIA 4X AGP. If you have a motherboard with a VIA Northbridge & wish to use AGP 4X be sure to Tick this option, although if you have already installed the latest VIA 4-in-1 Driver (Or separately available AGP Driver) you can ignore this option, as can those with motherboards that don’t feature a VIA Northbridge.

VIA side band addressing. Those with older motherboards with a VIA Northbridge might find that if the previous Side band addressing option fails to correctly enable SBA, you should try also Ticking this option. Those with new VIA Northbridge supporting motherboards should ignore this option, as may those with motherboards that don’t feature an older VIA Northbridge.

AMD 2X AGP. Similar to the VIA 4X AGP option this will be of most use to those with older motherboards &/or Drivers. Should you have an old AMD Athlon supporting motherboards that use the AMD 750 Chipset & are only able to use 1X AGP then Ticking this option should allow you to safely use 2X AGP on such systems. Those with non-AMD Athlon (Or newer ones) motherboards can ignore this option.

AMD side band addressing. Those with older AMD Athlon supporting motherboards & find they cannot enable SBA support should find that Ticking this will enable such support correctly (Newer Drivers may also fix this too). Those with newer AMD Athlon motherboards, or non-AMD CPU systems can ignore this option.  

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