System Utility and Overclocking
The NVIDIA System Utility is probably one of the most overlooked products that was released in the past year. NVIDIA created this system for PC enthusiasts and overclockers to use, but they are having a difficult time getting motherboard manufacturers to implement the necessary bios tags to support the software correctly. A motherboard’s bios needs to have certain, but minor, modifications made to enable the user to change many of the settings of the motherboard while running the Windows application. Asus is one of the few that are implementing the options, but even they are only doing a half-hearted attempt at it. I think it would be wise for more of them to do so.
The utility itself is getting increasingly better as each version is released. I’ll cover some of the most interesting features here in some screenshots.
This is the basic screen from the utility and you can see that you have the ability to change the system front side bus, AGP bus, voltages and RAS/RCD/RP memory timings. This screen is important because each of these settings can be changed and modified without having to reboot the system for the changes to take effect. By using simply drag bars and drop down menus, NVIDIA is making overclocking extremely easy!
Here are some of the advanced overclocking options. These require a reboot of the system in order to take effect. You can see that this utility is designed for the nForce3 platform as well with options like HT frequency (HyperTransport) in here as well. As our test system used the nForce2 platform, these were of course not available to us. But you can see the potential here if only the motherboard manufacturers and bios engineers would take the time to implement it.
Finally, we have a look at the System Information screen that the System Utility offers. You can get a very detailed look at your Processor information as well as your specific DIMM data. Notice here that I have overclocked this Athlon XP processor to 420 MHz DDR for a resulting frequency of 2.31 GHz, all without having to reboot the system.
As you can see, there is even more in the System Utility than I have shown you here including temperature and fan speed monitoring and the ability to save and load “profiles” that allow you to quickly change a lot of settings in your system. If you have one setup for when you are surfing the net that is cool and quiet and another that overclocks the system for intense gaming, you can change this quickly by loading a saved profile in the utility.