The Gamers Handbook to CMOS BIOS & System Optimization
(This index will appear on our Technical System
Informational Pages for Easier Access)
(main) PC Complete System Tuning - Optimization, Calibrations Etc...
BIOS Setting - Tech Terms Information
GAMERS AWARD BIOS 1
BIOS Optimization - Tutorials about your BIOS
GAMERS AWARD BIOS 2
BIOS Optimization- Our Favorite BIOS Settings
BIOS Flashing - Tools /Utilities /Downloads /Information
Calibrating Video Displays - Gamma /Color /Free Software
Increase Speed - Cable /DSL /Modems /Updates /Software /Testing
INTERNET SPEED TESTING
Internet Connection Speed Test - Test Cable/ISDN /DSL /Modems
HIGH TECH FORUMS
High-tech Forums - Benchmarking / Help / Hardware /Software
TWEAKS & TUNING
High-tech Programming Tools - CPU, FSB, RAM, Tech Programs
HARD DRIVE SPEED
Jumpers & Transfer Modes - Helpful and Thorough Information
RAM CHIP MODULES - DIMMS/SIMMs
Examples of RAM - View modules used in today's Computers
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The Registry & Title Definitions
Description of the registry
The Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition, defines the registry as:
A central hierarchical database used in Microsoft Windows 9x, Windows CE, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 used to store information necessary to configure
the system for one or more users, applications and hardware devices.
The Registry contains information that Windows continually references during operation, such as profiles for each user, the
applications installed on the computer and the types of documents that each can create, property
sheet settings for folders and application icons, what hardware exists on the system, and the ports that are being used.
The Registry replaces most of the text-based .ini files used in Windows 3.x and MS-DOS configuration files, such as the Autoexec.bat and Config.sys. Although the Registry is common to several Windows operating systems, there
are some differences among them.
Registry data is stored in binary files.
Information about editing the registry
To edit the registry, Microsoft recommends that you follow the steps in the Microsoft documentation only. If you can, use the Windows user interface instead
of directly editing the registry.
You can edit the registry by using Registry Editor (Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe). If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft does
not guarantee that problems that you cause by using Registry Editor incorrectly can be resolved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk. For additional information about the differences between Regedit.exe and Regedt32.exe, click
the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
- Open or selected folder just as you would see in Windows Explore
- Closed folder just as you would see in Windows Explorer
- String Value allows you to place certain values to certain aspects of a program such as a version number.
- Binary Value allows you to set attributes to a particular application, values are in binary.
- Dword Similar to the binary value allowing you to set attributes however done in binary and hex.
To Open and Examine Your Registry Settings:
Click START, Scroll to RUN and click, When the RUN window appears type in REGEDIT and hit enter.
The navigation area of Registry Editor displays folders. Each folder represents a predefined key on the local computer. When you access the registry of a remote computer, only two predefined keys appear:
HKEY_USERS and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. The following table lists the predefined keys that are used by the system. The maximum size of a key name is 255 characters.
Editing or addition of keys are required to tweak. Keys are values stored in the right hand pane of the registry editor and are of course
dependent on which directory you are in
currently in regedit. The following table lists the data types that are currently defined and that are used by Windows. The maximum size of a value name is as follows:
|Contains the root of the configuration information for the user who is currently logged on. The user's folders, screen colors, and Control Panel settings are stored here.
This information is associated with the user's profile. This key is sometimes abbreviated as "HKCU." Contains information specific to user currently logged on system. Data such as logon name, profiles are stored
(rarely manually edited)
|Contains all the actively loaded user profiles on the computer. HKEY_CURRENT_USER is a subkey of HKEY_USERS. HKEY_USERS is sometimes abbreviated as "HKU." (Related to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER)but contains data for all users on the system.
(rarely manually edited)
|Contains configuration information particular to the computer (for any user). This key is sometimes abbreviated as "HKLM." Contains data concerning hardware, software and
variable settings on a machine irrespective to who is logged on.
(most tweaks are applied here)
|Is a subkey of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software. The information stored here makes sure that the correct program opens when you open a file by using Windows Explorer. This key
is sometimes abbreviated as "HKCR." Starting with Windows 2000, this information is stored under both the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER keys. The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes key contains default
settings that can apply to all users on the local computer. The HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes key contains settings that override the default settings and apply only to the interactive user. The HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
key provides a view of the registry that merges the information from these two sources. HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT also provides this merged view for programs designed for earlier versions of Windows. To change the settings
for the interactive user, changes must be made under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes instead of under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. To change the default settings, changes must be made under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes.
If you write keys to a key under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, the system stores the information under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes. If you write values to a key under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, and the key already exists
under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes, the system will store the information there instead of under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes. This is to do with core aspects of the Windows Operating System. Drag
and drop, file associations etc.(rarely manually edited)
|Contains information about the hardware profile that is used by the local computer at system startup. Stores current hardware configuration
(rarely manually edited)
|Contains most of your network and connection information. (rarely manually edited)
Long values (more than 2,048 bytes) must be stored as files with the file names stored in the registry.
|Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP: 16,383 characters
|Windows 2000: 260 ANSI characters or 16,383 Unicode characters
|Windows Millennium Edition/Windows 98/Windows 95: 255 characters
This helps the registry perform efficiently.The maximum size of a value is as follows:
Note There is a 64K limit for the total size of all values of a key.
|Windows NT 4.0/Windows 2000/Windows XP/Windows Server 2003: Available memory
|Windows Millennium Edition/Windows 98/Windows 95: 16,300 bytes
A registry hive is a group of keys, subkeys, and values in the registry that has a set of supporting files containing backups of its data. The supporting files for all hives except HKEY_CURRENT_USER
are in the Systemroot\System32\Config folder on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003; the supporting files for HKEY_CURRENT_USER are in the Systemroot\Profiles\Username folder. The file name
extensions of the files in these folders, and, sometimes, a lack of an extension, indicate the type of data they contain.
|Raw binary data. Most hardware component information is stored as binary data and is displayed in Registry Editor in hexadecimal format.
|Data represented by a number that is 4 bytes long (a 32-bit integer). Many parameters for device drivers and services are this type and are displayed in Registry Editor in binary, hexadecimal,
or decimal format. Related values are DWORD_LITTLE_ENDIAN (least significant byte is at the lowest address) and REG_DWORD_BIG_ENDIAN (least significant byte is at the highest address).
|Expandable String Value
|A variable-length data string. This data type includes variables that are resolved when a program or service uses the data.
|A multiple string. Values that contain lists or multiple values in a form that people can read are generally this type. Entries are separated by spaces, commas, or other marks.
|A fixed-length text string.
|A series of nested arrays that is designed to store a resource list that is used by a hardware device driver or one of the physical devices it controls. This data is detected and written
in the \ResourceMap tree by the system and is displayed in Registry Editor in hexadecimal format as a Binary Value.
|A series of nested arrays that is designed to store a device driver's list of possible hardware resources the driver or one of the physical devices it controls can use. The system writes
a subset of this list in the \ResourceMap tree. This data is detected by the system and is displayed in Registry Editor in hexadecimal format as a Binary Value.
|A series of nested arrays that is designed to store a resource list that is used by a physical hardware device. This data is detected and written in the \Hardware Description tree by
the system and is displayed in Registry Editor in hexadecimal format as a Binary Value.
|Data with no particular type. This data is written to the registry by the system or applications and is displayed in Registry Editor in hexadecimal format as a Binary Value
|A Unicode string naming a symbolic link.
|Data represented by a number that is a 64-bit integer. This data is displayed in Registry Editor as a Binary Value and was first introduced in Windows 2000.
In Windows 98, the registry files are named User.dat and System.dat. In Windows Millennium Edition, the registry files are named Classes.dat, User.dat, and System.dat.
|Sam, Sam.log, Sam.sav
|Security, Security.log, Security.sav
|Software, Software.log, Software.sav
|System, System.alt, System.log, System.sav
|System, System.alt, System.log, System.sav, Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log
|Default, Default.log, Default.sav
Note: Security features in Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 allow an administrator to control access to registry keys.
CMOS Viewer by Benjamin Johnston
The CMOS or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor is an on-board semiconductor
chip. Which requires very low power generated from various types of CMOS
batteries which are shown below. This chip is used to store important system
information and configuration settings while the computer is off and on.
Making changes to the CMOS setup is not a complicated process. Compared to
Mapcon CMMS management software products which may require specialized
training, anyone can make changes to the CMOS setup.
Types of CMOS Batteries
The picture above is a listing of the types of batteries found in computer to power the CMOS memory. The most common type of battery is the Coin cell battery (Lithium Battery)
the coin cell battery is the size of a dime, as shown above.
Life time of a CMOS battery
The standard life time of a CMOS battery is around 10 Years, however this amount of time can change depending on the use and environment that the computer resides.
ENTERING CMOS SETUP
Unfortunately with all the different computers and BIOS chipsets. Entering the setup can be different. The following is a listing of the major ways to enter the CMOS setup
and or the BIOS setup.
New computers are commonly using one of the four keys to get into the computer setup
F1 during the boot process.
F2 during the boot process.
Esc during the boot process.
Del during the boot process.
Ctrl + Alt + Esc during the boot process.
Ctrl + Alt + Ins during the boot process.
Ctrl + Alt + Enter during the boot process.
Ctrl + Alt + S during the boot up process.
Page up during the boot process.
Page down during the boot process.
Some older systems such as early 486, 386, 286 Desktop computers actually required a floppy disk to get into setup, usually refereed to as a ICU / BBU/ SCU disk, this would
have to be obtained through your computer manufacturer.
While most laptops use one of the above keys to get into CMOS some older laptops get into CMOS by pressing the F1 / F2 at a flashing block / cursor as the computer is booting
Older IBM Systems
Press and hold both buttons on the mouse as the computer is booting up.
BIOS Dump - Creates a Text file listing your BIOS settings
AMI BIOS BEEP CODES
The following are AMI BIOS Beep Codes that can occur. However because of the wide variety of different computer manufacturers with this BIOS the beep codes may vary.
AWARD BIOS BEEP CODES
- 1 short DRAM refresh failure
- 2 short Parity circuit failure
- 3 short Base 64K RAM failure
- 4 short System timer failure
- 5 short Process failure
- 6 short Keyboard controller Gate A20 error
- 7 short Virtual mode exception error
- 8 short Display memory Read/Write test failure
- 9 short ROM BIOS checksum failure
- 10 short CMOS shutdown Read/Write error
- 11 short Cache Memory error
- 1 long, 3 short Conventional/Extended memory failure
- 1 long, 8 short Display/Retrace test failed
The following are AWARD BIOS Beep Codes that can occur. However because of the wide variety of different computer manufacturers with this BIOS the beep codes may vary.
1 long, 2 short Indicates a video error has occurred and the BIOS cannot initialize the video screen to display any additional information.
- Any other beep(s) = RAM problems.
*If any other correctable hardware issues, the BIOS will display a message.
Preparing Yourself to Make BIOS Changes: Please pay close Attention as your reading.
Please Read Before Entering
into Your BIOS: Remember Before Entering Your BIOS Setting Menu. Long Stays in this Area will Increase the Temperatures of the CPU. It will NOT Go into a MELT DOWN unless you are
a Crazy Over Clocker, but keep in mind that even a subtle change can have an effect on system circuitry. It is wise to make a few changes and note them as you go. This will also help you to familiarize the effects of your changes.
Have your Favorite Benchmark Software available for checking updates.
With new systems today, many manufactures use temperature reading sensors and fan rpm sensors. If you have a newer system and are not sure if yours has this ability, we suggest contacting the manufacture. There's software available
to detect and display these sensor readings on the internet, one being The Motherboard Monitor. To see if MBM
can detect your systems hardware, check here.
All versions of WINDOWS are
compatible with Motherboard Monitor.
system problems with stability and slowness can be rooted to the BIOS if not setup
correctly. I will give you the best settings that work for me and benched tested. First of all, I will say right now, "all systems work differently and not always the same changes will effect 2 systems exactly the same". Making
a BIOS change can be a simple project, but if you don't know what your doing then I suggest that you click out from this page and go on to the site. From here on out I am not responsible for you screwing up your system by not
following information exactly.
While not exactly related to Windows, tweaking your BIOS can really improve computer performance.
This can get a little tricky, so if you're kind of squeamish about getting geeky with your deep-down computer settings, you might want to pass. BIOS stands for "basic input/output system" software on your motherboard that describes
what kind of hard drives are in your system, how fast your memory is, the speed of your busses, how communication ports should act, etc. Describing how to tweak your BIOS is difficult, since there's a good deal of variety in
how they're organized. It's also a little dangerous messing up something in your BIOS might cause instability or crashes, but it shouldn't stop you from being able to access the BIOS again to undo your changes. To get to your
BIOS, you'll have to press a key during the initial stages of your boot-up sequence (the part where it checks through your RAM). Generally, you press either the delete key (not backspace) or F1 just after powering on your computer do
it after your video card information flashes up on screen but before Windows starts to load.
Once in the BIOS, look around for your AGP aperture setting. This describes how much base memory can be used as AGP graphics
memory by your AGP video card. It's a good idea to set this to about half your system memory, but anything above 64MB should work fine. You may also find settings to alter the wait state of your AGP bus, usually labeled "AGP
master 1 WS read/write." Setting this to 1 wait state (or "enabled") may slightly improve performance, but 2 wait states (sometimes "disabled") may improve reliability. If you have the ability to change between AGP 2X,4X and
8X set it to 4X or 8x, depending on your cards compatibility. You may need to fall back to 2X if you experience problems. If there's an option to enable "fast writes," you should try it both enabled and disabled. Enabled should
improve performance, but only if your video card supports fast writes. If there are options to enable or disable the L1 and L2 cache for your CPU, make sure you have them enabled. You may also see settings labeled "Video BIOS
cacheable" and "Video BIOS shadow." Unless you use DOS mode almost exclusively, these should be disabled. The setting that reads "Legacy USB support" is used to enable access to USB keyboards and mice in DOS or when using operating
systems that don't have USB drivers. If your BIOS allows you to adjust RAM speed parameters, you might be able to squeeze out a good deal of extra performance. Your RAM speed, in MHz, should match the RAM in your system (if
you have 133MHz RAM, make sure it's set to run at 133 MHz). If you can adjust the RAM timing in nanoseconds, you may want to fool around with this number a bit. The default is often 10ns, but modern RAM modules can usually handle
8ns or even 7ns. If you see settings for CAS or RAS latency timings, these will usually be set to either 2 or 3ns. Lower values are faster, but demand higher-quality RAM. Experiment for speed and stability.
Many BIOS's allow you to tweak the bus speed and/or clock multiplier of your processor. Increasing these values is called
Over-clocking and it generally voids the warranty. Even when it appears to work just fine, it can often shorten the lifespan of your processor. Adjust those settings at your own risk, but we don't recommend it. BIOS optimizations
are a bit tricky, since they can cause your system to become unstable in often strange or misleading ways. It's best to make changes one at a time and test your system for a while before making another change. Using benchmarking
tools or programs that can detect subtle changes in system performances are extremely useful with BIOS settings testing.
*Are You Still With Me? :.)
In addition to BIOS tweaks, the single most important thing you can do to make sure your games work well and run as fast as possible is to make sure your Direct X drivers are up to date.
DirectX System Signed Drivers
If you have a pre-built computer from a major vendor, you should check the support section of their site first for driver updates. Otherwise, check for drivers at the web pages for the individual component vendors. A good one-stop
shop for the latest drivers is windrivers.com. Make sure you don't forget mouse and joystick drivers. Here's a sampling of driver download locations for popular hardware.
RLC Help Page
Microsoft's System Updates Online Check
Scandisk and Defrag Settings
Remember to Scandisk and Defrag regularly, Here are the settings for operations of Win98x system maintenance programs. The should also be available for other Windows Operating systems as well.
|1st. Scandisk Advanced Settings:
|2nd. Defrag Settings:
|Type of Test: Standard-Its not mandatory to scan your drives surface unless you have problems.
Automatically fix errors: Yes
Display Summary: Yes
Log File: Replace
Cross-Linked Files: Delete
Lost File Fragments: Free
Check Files For: Yes to ALL 3 boxes shown
Check Host Drive First: Yes
Report MS-DOS Mode Name Length Errors: Yes
|When Defragging HardDrive
Rearrange Files so My Programs Start Faster: Yes
Check the Drive For Errors: Yes
I Want to Use These Options
Every time I Defrag My Hard Drive: Yes
Feeling brave yet? Let's make some speed adjustments...
AGP Aperture size: Set this to half of your system memory.
AGP 4x 8x mode: Set this to highest Enabled if your graphics card supports this mode.
AGP Master 1 WS Read: Enabled, this changes the default from a 2ws to a 1ws which will increase AGP Reading.
AGP Master 1 WS Write: Enabled, this changes the default from a 2ws to a 1ws which will increase AGP Writing.
Bank Dram Timing: Set this to Turbo for best performance. This may cause some instabilities if you do not have quality ram.
CPU to PCI Write Buffer: Set this to Enabled to improve PCI performance.
CPU L2 Cache ECC Checking: Set this to Enabled. This checks your L2 Cache for errors and attempts to fix them.
CPU L1 Cache: Definitely set this to Enabled.
CPU L2 Cache: Set this to Enabled also.
Fast Gate A20: Set this to Enabled. This is a faster than normal method to access memory over 1mb.
Fast Writes: Set this to Enabled. This will increase performance on graphics cards that support this.
IDE HDD Block mode: Set this to Enabled for best performance.
PCI Concurrency: This allows more than one PCI device to be active at one time. Set this to Enabled to improve performance.
PCI Master 0 WS Write: Set this to Enabled.
PCI/VGA Palette Snoop: Set this to Disabled.
Read Around Write: Set this to Enabled. This is a DRAM optimization feature.
SDRAM Pre-charge Control: This should be set to Enabled.
SDRAM Bank Interleave: Set this to 4-Bank for better memory performance.
SDRAM CAS Latency: Set this to 2 for better memory performance. This may cause some instability if you only have CAS3 RAM.
Spread Spectrum: Set this to Disabled.
System BIOS Cacheable: Set this to Disabled. This is not used much after boot up.
Turbo Frequency: This is only used for 66MHz & 100MHz FSB systems. This will increase the FSB causing a "safe" overclock.
Video BIOS Cacheable: Set this to Disabled. This is used for DOS
Video BIOS Shadowing: Set this to Disabled. This is also used for DOS.
Video RAM Cacheable: Set this to Disabled.