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Graphics Performance Tips

Free software tweaks and tips

  Windows tips

  1. Run Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter to clean up the operating system. This may not give a noticeable performance increase, but it definitely doesn't hurt.
  2. Optimize your disk cache if you use Windows. Use a free program like Cacheman to find your computer's optimal settings.

  General tips

  1. Run benchmarks to optimize your system. Adjust your driver settings and rerun the benchmarks until your system is delivering maximum performance with good quality. The correct driver settings can make a huge difference and they vary depending on the video card being used.


  1. Get a lot of ram. 512 megabytes is fine for most people, but if you're using graphics applications like 3ds max or Maya get 1024 megabytes. Also make sure you have room to upgrade later if necessary.
  2. Purchase a video card geared to your applications. Read magazine reviews or visit newsgroups and ask what cards have provided good results for other users. Video cards are important to get quick viewport performance to aid in modeling, but they won't help you in the rendering stage.
  3. Of course getting the fastest processor is always a good idea. If you're getting ready to buy a new machine you might want to get one that is dual processor capable. Remember, Windows XP Home cannot take advantage of dual processors. Windows NT 4, 2000, and XP Professional support dual processors. If you're using a non-Windows operating system check the manual. Also, you won't take full advantage of the second processor if your program isn't multithreaded. Most high end programs like 3ds max and Maya are multithreaded. If you really need to increase your rendering speed upgrading your processor will probably make the most difference of any method mentioned here. One thing to note is that two 1 GHz processors are not as good as a single 2 GHz processor.

Upgrade tips

Deciding what component to upgrade can be tough, but here are a few tips. First, definitely upgrade your ram if you don't have at least 512 megabytes. If your main concern is speeding up renders in an application like 3ds max then upgrade the CPU.

If realtime operations like games are slowing you down then the decision is more difficult. To determine if the CPU or video card is a significant performance bottleneck you'll need to run some benchmarks. The key to benchmarking is understanding what the numbers are telling you.

First, lower the benchmark resolution to 640x480. Using a low resolution like this will reduce the impact of the video card on performance. If a game is unplayable at 640x480 you might need a new CPU and video card, but you don't have enough information to know yet.

Now run the benchmark at 1024x768 resolution. Compare the results between resolutions. If the numbers are fairly close you probably need to upgrade the CPU because it isn't fast enough to stress the video card. If the performance drops significantly as you increase resolution a new video card will help. If the numbers scale well between resolutions upgrading either component will help and it will be hard to tell which component will have more of an impact.

Testing with other resolutions will give you more data to work with. Just remember the basics. High resolutions tax the video card more than low resolutions, so low resolutions usually isolate the CPU.


Tweaking Links

Ars Technica - there is even an article on tweaking Windows NT 4.

Outer Technologies - the creators of Cacheman.

Tweak3d.net - has a fairly comprehensive list of tweak guides.

Black Viper - details and tips for optimizing your Windows services


3D Benchmarking Links

3DMark - benchmarking software.

Tom's Hardware has an informative article on accurate 3D benchmarks. Find out what really matters and why some benchmarks are better than others.

If you know any useful tips send an email to .


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