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 doesn’t change any voltage levels and it isn’t 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.