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Performance Tweaking Through BIOS

David Risley

There are a number of BIOS settings in your system which affect the overall
performance of the machine. When these are tweaked correctly, performance can
increase quite a bit.

• Set Optimal Bus speed settings. This point appears first because it's most
important. The bus speed of the system directly affects how fast it is because
it affects the communication lines between the parts. The processor speed
relies on the bus speed. Processor speed is the result of the bus speed times
the multiplier. A multiplier is the number of times faster the processor is than
the bus. You want to use the fastest bus speed supported by your
motherboard. In order to do this, you may need to lower the multiplier to
relate to the CPU speed. This is controlled by jumper settings on the
motherboard, or in SoftMenu if your board is jumperless. More on this subject
in Overclocking.
• Enable the internal cache. Processors have their own internal cache which
operates at the processor's speed. The newer chips have larger caches.
Always have this cache enabled. This is controlled in the BIOS. It helps
performance quite a bit. If you can't enable it without problems, it is a sign of
a definite hardware problem.
• Enable External Cache. This cache sits on the motherboard and lies between
the RAM and the processor. Some comes on a small card that fits into a short
little slot, but most newer motherboards have the cache built on. Some have
256 KB, others 512 KB or higher. Make sure this is enabled.
• Enable Fast A20 Gating. This is a confusing subject I don't feel like talking
about, but enable it for a small performance boost.
• Enable Global Chipset Features. Enable this BIOS setting for faster
performance. Not all chipsets even have it, so its no big deal.
• Make sure all the RAM that can be cached is being cached. Most chipsets have
the capability to cache up to 64 MB of RAM. Some chipsets, like the 430HX,
can cache more. In any case, enable this option to cache whatever it can. If
this is a problem, there may be a memory or motherboard problem.
• Tweak the Memory Timing. Most BIOS provide an option to set the timing, or
speed, of the memory in the system. Setting this as fast as possible can aid
performance. Most BIOS do it automatically. Its best to avoid setting it too
fast. Most typical RAM has a speed or 60 ns. Whatever yours is, set it to that.
• Finally, if you have flash BIOS, get the latest BIOS version.