How To Benchmark

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Tweaking settings to optimize benchmarks – John Smith

When I started to benchmark, I noticed that there was a problem with all of my settings: there were too many of them to set and unset everytime I went through 3DMark 2001. In addition to that, there was the constant reinstall of Windows 2000 Pro because I was attempting to run the PCI bus speed too high and it caused corruption on my cheap WD hard drive.

Thus the benchmarking OS was born.

Most of you who read this will probably not consider doing this. For everyone else, this will get you upwards of 2000 more points in 3DMark 2001. If you aren’t sure this is for you, then read on to find out.

This is a separate installation of your benchmarking OS of choice. I recommend getting it set up properly at stable speeds, then boot back into your main OS installation and make a winrar or winace file of the entire installation, including the documents and settings folders.

This guide is intended to help people who use windows XP as a benchmarking platform. Most of the items I include can be done on windows 2000 and some of them on Win9.x.

Now that that is taken care of, I would like to start with a small list of items to check for the basics on tweaking your OS for benchmarking.

1. Set a constant swap file size. I have a 512 MB single stick of ram and I set my swapfile size to 1024 MB minimum and 1024 MB maximum. As long as it is sufficiently large, I have not noticed any large difference in scores by changing this.

2. Install all of the latest or best drivers for your chipset and video card. To find which ones are best, you will probably have to ask around and just test lots of them out. I have not had time to test out the 40.41 drivers from nVidia, but seeing how I went from about #4 to #24 in the ti4400 group and falling in 2 days since their release, I think they are best for GeForce4 ti series and GeForce 3 series.

If you have an earlier card than those, I would not take it for granted that they were the fastest, however. My GeForce 256 sdr and Pentium 3 975 MHz system is fastest with the detonator 27.42 or 28.32 drivers. Just test around to find out.

3. Download TweakXP and install it.




4. Download Cacheman and install it.




5. Download Rivatuner and install it.


Setting the LOD bias to 3.1 seems to give the best results for my current setup. You can change it per test to possibly gain points, however. When I was on my older Geforce 256 SDR however, I got maximum points with LOD around 6.5 or so. I almost forgot: if you think LOD is cheating, this article is NOT for you.

John Smith


Set the anisotropic filtering level to 0. Sometimes this doesn’t seem to help out much, if any, over bilinear, however. Try it on your computer to see. Also untick the 8bit paletized textures.


Setting the texel origin to 7 seems to give a few points. Also turn off fog table emulation.



6. Download your favorite benchmarking software and install it as well.

7. Go to the control panel, then system. Click on the advanced tab. Set the performance button settings to Best Performance. On the System Restore tab, turn off System Restore. Turn off Automatic Updates and the Remote Assistance.



John Smith

8. Right click on the Start menu bar.


9. Start – Run – type in msconfig press enter. Disable everything that is in the startup section.


10. If you want to set the registry values manually for nVidia drivers, then run regedit and go to


Have fun with that one 🙂 I’ll leave it to you to figure all the different keys out – I don’t feel like sharing the other registry items right now; maybe in another article or a follow-up to this one, I will. Messing with your registry without knowing what you are doing can cause your computer to not boot or operate properly. I take no responsibility for problems you may encounter by doing this.

11. Open up the services control thingy (Start – Programs – Administrative Tools – Services). Here are my personal settings – they don’t work for everyday use, so don’t try it.



12. Set your background to some color that is easy to see artifacts on. Don’t use any wallpaper. Set the bpp to 16bit and 60hz refresh rate. 1024X768 resolution.

13. Delete all of those icons on your screen. Get rid of the pretty *cough* bulls***t *cough* colors that XP comes with. I’m not sure if it actually slows down the bench, but it just looks like crap.

14. Uninstall all of the help stuff and accessories that were probably automatically installed.

15. Disable the network connection.


16. Disable all of the nonessential system components.

17. Directly before you bench, hit ctrl-alt-del and leave only these running. If you turn off a certain wrong process, you will get a message telling you that your machine will reboot in 60 seconds. DO NOT DO THAT. It makes it hard to bench like that. I dunno, maybe you can bench with it rebooting. If done properly, you will have 28 MB of RAM used prior to benching.

John Smith


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