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NVIDIA System Utility Preview - Page 1 Of 4

INTRODUCTION

NVIDIA’s nForce2 series of AMD platform chipsets since its launch, has gained massive popularity for people preferring an AMD platform. nForce2 solutions popularity arose not only because, did the nForce2 chipsets offer (through a combination of the SPP and MCP2 chips) an excellent platform for AMD solutions, which included Dual Channel support at various RAM ratings, 400MHz DDR FSB (with the nForce2 Ultra 400), Dobly Digital onboard sound (with the right MCP rivaling even Creative Lab’s Audigy 2) but, also because, nForce2 motherboards generally are stellar overclockers. Recently nForce3 chipset motherboards have been launched catering to a new AMD x86 64 bit platform. The nForce3 chipset market is still in its infancy but, if you go by past records, NVIDIA’s nForce3 solutions will also gain popularity as NVIDIA nForce series motherboards are synonymous with performance.

It hasn’t been long since nForce3 motherboard launch and hence very few reviews and public feedback have been generated on them. As for nForce2 motherboards, they are generally friendly for overclockers due to the plethora of settings available for tweaking through the BIOS that most OEM will allow for overclocking. In fact, overclockers today are spoilt for choice in what settings to tweak to get maximum overclockabilty. These days not only can you can change clock speeds and voltage levels on just about anything but also tweak memory timings. When overclocking, it’s always calculated risk because, you are changing the default recommended settings to what you think might work for a desired effect. This can be from increasing the CPU FSB, to increasing voltage for the CPU, to hopefully enable the CPU to run at higher clock speeds, or to changing clock multiplier settings or a host of other combinations. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t, with disastrous consequences. You have to fiddle around with a host of settings, from memory timings to CPU voltage to memory voltage in order to get a stable overclock. Tweaking through the BIOS is also not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be cumbersome, nudge the FSB up 1 MHz, or nudge the CPU voltage up .05 V or, change the memory timing settings and then, save and reboot and hope that everything works all right. It can be time consuming to get the perfect setup right.

However, there are some programs that let you tweak FSB within a windows interface. In fact there have been a number of these programs. There was SoftFSB by H. Oda which has since been discontinued. With it, you could overclock the FSB on certain motherboards which was amazing when it came out in 1999. CPUFSB is also another utility that lets you overclock your FSB within windows. However, none of these utility programs will let you tweak anything besides the CPU FSB. That’s about to change, long overdue (it has almost been 1 year, since the nForce2 chipsets first launched), NVIDIA today launches its own tweaking utility for nForce2 and nForce3 based motherboards, the NVIDIA System Utility.

We preview NVIDIA’s NVIDIA System Utility or NVSU for short. The NVSU we used to preview is a generic form of the utility. This means on certain motherboard certain functions of NVSU will not be available as was the case with my motherboard. NVIDIA is working with OEM partners and it will be the OEMs who will customize the NVSU to make NVSU work to its full potential.

This is a quote from the user guide.

About NVIDIA Systems Utility;

NVIDIA System Utility is a full-featured application for easily modifying system settings and testing them without the need for rebooting your system.

With NVIDIA System Utility, you can;

  • Modify system performance settings, such as bus speeds, CPU voltages, fan speed, and other system performance options that are supported by the BIOS
  • Save the modifications to a profile so that you can quickly apply settings to suit specific application environments
  • Monitor hardware temperature, voltage, timing, and fan speed
  • View other information about your system, such as hardware and software revisions and other capabilities

System Requirements

  • Windows® 2000, Windows® XP, Windows® Me, and Windows® 98
  • nForce2 or nForce3 System
  • Some features require BIOS support from the motherboard manufacturer
  • This utility program is a powerful collection of tool for enthusiasts with nForce2 or nForce3 motherboards. (There is no support for nForce motherboards). In short, NVSU lets you tweak and change various settings within a windows interface to eek out the performance overclockers crave. NVSU will let you overclock FSB, tweak voltage settings (including CPU, AGP, and RAM), even some memory timings, or even change fan speed on the fly within a windows session thereby negating some tweaking through the BIOS. The utility changes some of the settings without writing to the BIOS and thus leaves the BIOS intact. That means in some cases, the settings you change “only apply to the current windows session” and so, if you are rather excessive on the tweaking and your system crashes, the BIOS is left intact and therefore, you will be able to boot up windows (provided the windows files aren’t corrupted) with the original settings you had in your BIOS. Furthermore, like Motherboard Monitor or CPUCool, you will also be able to monitor CPU temperatures, fan speeds and voltages and like WCPUID and CPU-Z, you will be able get information on the CPU and memory and all this, through 3 interfaces available within NVSU. Do note however, some advanced configurable settings are only set after rebooting.

    *However, a word of warning, the NVSU’s full potential can only be realized through BIOS support from the motherboard manufacturer.

    What is NVSU?

    Let’s get into the details.

    NVSU supports the following list of chipsets and CPUs;

    NVIDIA Chipsets Supported

    NVSU will support the following NVIDIA chipsets:

  • nForce 2 SPP and all MCP2 versions
  • nForce 2 IGP and all MCP2 versions
  • nForce 2 400 and all MCP2 versions
  • nForce 2 Ultra 400 and all MCP2 versions
  • nForce 3 150
  • nForce 3 Pro 150
  • NOTE: NVSU will not support any nForce 1 chipset combinations.

    Processors Supported

    NVSU will support the following processors:

    • All AMD FSB 133 (266 DDR) MHz style processors
    • All AMD FSB 166 (333 DDR) MHz style processors
    • All AMD FSB 200 (400 DDR) MHz style processors
    • AMD Athlon 64 processors
    • AMD Athlon 64 FX processors
    • AMD Opeteron processors

    The NVSU –GUI Primer

    The NVSU is available in zipped file and within it is an installer program, drivers, NVSUOEM.ini file, user-guide and various other bits. The installer program will install the drivers (depending on which Windows OS you are using) needed for NVSU and also its front end GUI. NVSUOEM.ini file is for OEM’s to configure how NVSU will work their products. Most of this article is based on documents made available by NVIDIA and the NVSU’s user guide as my motherboard’s manufacturer had not released a BIOS upgrade that would enable me to access the advanced section of the NVSU. Below is a screen capture of the NVSU.

    NVSU GUI
    NVSU GUI

    The GUI is rather simple, stylized and intuitive. Users should be able to begin their overclocking/tweaking adventures in a flash. All settings can be adjusted through sliders or by selecting new values through drop down boxes. The NVSU comes with a toolbar linking to various functions available within it.

    I will explain what purpose the buttons in the toolbar serve;

    This is the switch to “Overclocking – Basic Button” - Used to switch to the “Overclocking – Basic” page. The user can make performance modifications dynamically from this page, which take effect during the current session

    This is the switch to “Overclocking – Advanced Button” - Used to switch to the “Overclocking – Advanced” page. The user can make performance and specific BIOS modifications that take effect upon the next boot from this page

    This is the switch to “Information Button” - Used to switch to the “Information” page. This page displays in-depth system hardware and software revision and capability details

    This is the “OK Button” - This button will apply all changes made and exit the application. The User will be presented with a dialog with the following selections:

    • Yes – This will apply all the changes made since the last application and exit.
      • If the user has made changes to voltages, and additional warning message will appear.
    • No – This will abort all the changes made since the last application and exit.
    • Cancel - This will abort all the changes made since the last application and return the user to NVSU.

    This is the “Apply Changes Button” - This button allows the user to apply all changes made. After the values are applied the application will remain open at the current active tab. The User will be presented with a dialog with the following selections:

    • Yes – This will apply all the changes made since the last application and return the user to NVSU.
      • If the user has made changes to voltages, and additional warning message will appear.
    • No – This will abort all the changes made since the last application and return the user to NVSU.
    • Cancel - This will abort all the changes made since the last application and return the user to NVSU.

    This is the “Revert All Changes Button” - Revert all changes made since the last application and exit the application. The User will be presented with a dialog with the following selections:

    • Yes – This will cancel all the changes made since the last application and exit.
    • No – This will return the user to NVSU without reverting the changes made.

    Note: Revert will not return the system to the original defaults. It is recommended that users create a “default” to return to defaults at any time.

    This is the “Load Profile Button” - Load values from a saved profile.

    This is the “Save Profile Button” – Save current settings in a profile.

    This is the “Toggle Graph View Button” - Toggle the performance-tracking pane to view progressive temperature, voltage, and bus status

    Next Page: Working With NVSU - Basic Oveclocking

    Last Updated on October 28, 2003


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