Memory Tweaking On The 440-BX Chipset

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The 440-BX is perhaps one of the most popular (and most long-lived) motherboard chipsets of all time. Although there is newer technology out today, you will still find this chipset in many current computers.

This guide is mainly intended for people who have a computer system (desktop or laptop) from one of the major box makers like Dell, Compaq, HP, Gateway, etc or someone who has a motherboard that allows very little tweaking (or none at all).

If you have one of these systems, you’re probably not able to overclock your CPU but hopefully this will allow you to squeeze out a little more memory performance.

A big assumption here is that your system is set to run the memory at CAS 3 (3-3-3). A lot of manufacturers will probably just set the memory at CAS 3 by default to avoid any stability problems.

If your system is already set to run at CAS 2 (2-2-2), you might get a small performance increase by changing some of the other settings but any increase will probably be minimal.

Another big assumption is that your memory will be able to handle the faster settings. Due to limitations (which I will explain later in the article), I was not able to achieve true CAS 2 (2-2-2) settings but was able to get 3-2-2 to work.

The 3-2-2 settings (along with a few other changes) will probably give you about a 15-20% increase in memory performance while if you were able to run 2-2-2 settings you probably would have gotten a 25-30% increase.

My main purpose for doing this was to tweak my laptop which is a Compaq 1800T with PII 400 (66 MHZ FSB-256K on die cache). The BIOS gives no memory tweaking options at all. These tweaks can just as easily be used on other laptops or desktop computers as well.

However, the system must use the 440-BX chipset(440-ZX chipset or other 440 variants might work as well). If you’re not sure what chipset you have, you can use SiSoft Sandra or WCPUID to find out.

First you will need to download the following programs and then put each one in to their own folder. You can name the folders whatever you would like.

You can get WBXtune ver 2.3 here and WPCRSET here

Second, I would like to thank Visionary at http://www.vr-zone.com/guides/wpcredit/, whose article gave me the foundation necessary to write this.

Third, try these tweaks at your own risk. I did not have any trouble using them but your results could vary. As long as you do things correctly, you shouldn’t have a problem.

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To use WBXtune, you simply need to unzip the file and then run wbxtune.exe. This is how my settings originally looked.

Figure1

If you look closely at the figure, you will notice that the SDRAM CAS LATENCY can’t be changed.

In previous versions of this program, I believe you were able to make this change. I believe the author disabled it in this new version because it will almost always lock your system up if you change it while running Windows(and I don’t believe there is a way to change it before Windows actually starts).

However, I did not get any lockups changing any of the other settings. The DRAM REFRESH RATE was about the only setting I did not tinker with. I don’t believe it will have that much of an effect on performance.

All you need to do is change the appropriate fields within the program and then click the “update” button.

If you want to take the easy route, you can just try the settings that I used below:

Figure2

Although I believe these settings are pretty optimal, I’m unable to explain what some of the settings mean but that’s not really the purpose of this article. If your system locks up after implementing the changes, all you have to do is reboot and then try the settings one by one to see which one(or ones) caused the lockup.


You may also want to test these settings out for an extended period of time just to make sure everything is stable.

You will notice above that this figure has a print of Windows Notepad on the left-hand side. The file above is actually wbxtune.ini and is created (in the same folder that you have WBXtune) the very first time you hit the “update” button. It is changed every time thereafter whenever you hit the “update” button.

The five settings you see listed under [Sdram Configuration] are actually the system registries that the program modifies to change the memory settings. The number of settings you see (as well as the values) may vary depending on what changes you actually make.

The significance of the wbxtune.in file will be shown a little bit later.

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What would this article be without actually showing some results? Well, look at the figures below for before and after.

Figure3

Figure4

That works out to over a 20% improvement. Yes, I know…these scores suck, but this system is only running on a 66 MHZ front side bus. I’m desperate for any improvements I can get. If you have lemons, at least make lemonade.

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You’re probably saying…”I’ve got these nice new settings but do they start automatically every time and if not, what do I have to do to have them start automatically?”

If you look at the “Option(O)” drop down menu in WBXtune, you will see that there is an option for “Automatic Start” but it is grayed out (you can’t chose it).

You actually need to enter a registration code for this option to be selectable. However, in this particular case, getting the registration code is not very feasible. I believe you have to make payment in Japanese yen.

Don’t worry about that, though, because we can use another program to implement these changes every time you boot up. This program is WPCRSET.

What we are doing is using WBXtune to find the optimal settings and then using WPCRSET to have these optimal settings start every time your computer boots. You could have used WPCREDIT to find the optimal settings, but I’m sure that most people familiar with WPCREDIT will agree that using WBXtune is easier.

You should have already downloaded WPCRSET. What you’ll need to do now is unzip the downloaded file and this will create several new files. In order for this program to work correctly, you need to run “instdd.exe”. This actually sets the program up properly and it will only take 10- 15 seconds.

Next, you will need to run the Wcprset.exe file. At this point, you will also want to bring up your wbxtune.ini file and have it side by side with WPCRSET so that you can see them both.

Your wbxtune.ini file should look something like the one I showed in the left-hand side of Figure 2 above.

At this point, click on the “Add” button on WPCRSET. It may look a little bit confusing at first but the “Register” and “Data” fields are the only fields you will need to fill in.

Take a look at your wbxtune.ini file. The numbers directly following “adr” correspond to the “Register” field in WPCRSET and the numbers/letters following the “=” sign (in wbxtune.ini) correspond to the “Data” field in WPCRSET.

For instance, if we take a look at the first line in my wbxtune.ini file you will see this: adr52=04 You simply take the 52 and put it in the “Register” field and then take 04 and put it in the “Data” field. Then click OK. Simply repeat the process for all the other lines in the wbxtune.ini file.

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This is what WPCRSET looked like after I entered in the 5 lines from my wbxtune.ini file:

Figure5

Finally, click on the “Start” button in WPCRSET, then click “yes” when it asks you to reboot. WPCRSET will now enter the settings whenever you start your computer. If you ever have freezes or hang-ups during the booting process, start the computer in “Safe Mode” and then either press the “stop” button in WPCRSET or change the setting that is causing the problem.

For those curious, I tried using WPCRSET to change the settings to true CAS 2 (2-2-2) but I kept on getting lockups about half way through booting.

At first, I thought that maybe the laptop memory just couldn’t handle the faster settings. I then tried the same 2-2-2 settings using WPCRSET with my P3B-F (I changed the settings to 3-3-3 in the BIOS) desktop motherboard and everything froze at the same point in the boot process. I know the memory was not the problem so I can only guess that the settings would probably have to be changed earlier in the bootup process to avoid causing a lockup.

You should be all set now. Please let me know what kind of improvements you get.

Email James

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