9. Change memory Latency times
If you do not intend
to overclock your system much or at all,
but would still like to squeeze out a little extra performance from your hardware, it's
time to look at changing the latency settings of your memory. These
affect the 'turnaround' time of your memory, how long it
takes for the memory to prepare to send and receive data.
Understandably, lower latency
times equal better memory performance, which in turn equals better system performance.
Lowering latency times puts additional stress on your memory though,
and may lead to system instability, especially if combined with overclocking.
the higher the speed a memory module is rated for, the higher its latency will
be. Hence, memory that is designed for overclocking will often have higher
latency settings than 'normal' memory. There are four significant latency
settings for modern DDR memory, listed here in order of significance:
(Column Address strobe) Latency:
The time between a data request and the data being made
available. The most important value for SDRAM memory
RAS-to-CAS latency: Delay
incurred by activating a new 'row' of memory addresses to read from. More
important for DDR memory.
precharge: How long a row of
memory is held 'open' (powered) so that data can be read from it.
to precharge delay: There are some things even us "experts" don't know
- this is one of them ;-)
values are often displayed as a set of four numbers illustrating the latency
timing of the memory: for example, 2-2-2-5 (with the first number representing CAS latency.) These are either listed
in the same order as presented above, with CAS latency leading, or
with ACT to RAS precharge as the second number.
memory settings are available in your motherboard's BIOS, they should be in the
'advanced chipset options' section. Test your memory with lower latency values
and benchmark if stable. For a slightly more in-depth look at the kind of memory
you may need to have in your system to take advantage of CAS settings, please
see PCstats article on Memory
and CAS Latencies.
10. Set the correct AGP mode
Ensure that your motherboard's BIOS is making correct use of
the capabilities of your video card by checking which AGP mode
Depending on whether your video card is an AGP 2x, 4X or
8X compatible card (most recent cards are either 4x or 8x), find the AGP mode
options (usually within 'advanced chipset settings') and enable the one matching
11. Update your
In order to ensure that you get the maximum performance
and stability out of your system, it's a good idea
to make sure that you are using the latest version of your motherboard's
Motherboard manufacturers periodically release updated
BIOS versions for their products, which are designed to be
written over the older software. Traditionally, the process of BIOS
'flashing' involved using a bootable floppy to start the computer in
DOS, then using the motherboard companies BIOS programming software in
combination with the newest BIOS version that you had acquired to update the
manufacturers now offer more user friendly BIOS updating methods, some working
within Windows itself. Check the website of your motherboard manufacturer
for updated BIOS versions and the software to install them, which will include
The current version number of your
motherboard is available both on the POST screen and within the BIOS settings