To guide others I'll write down here some of my experiences with the tweaking the system to get better scores in 3DMark200x. Important factors and things to remember before one starts tweaking one's system:
Test System 1: Epox EP-8KHA+, AMD Athlon XP1700+ (1467MHz), 256MB Elixir (Generic) PC2100 RAM, Gainward Geforce 3TI200 64MB (175MHz Core / 400MHz Memory) - CPU Around 42-46°C - Starting 3DMark2001SE Score: Less than 7000
System 2: ASUS A7V133, AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz 200FSB, 768MB PC133
(Generic), ATI Radeon 7200 32MB DDR (164MHz Core / 333 MHz Memory) -
CPU Around 52-58°C - Starting
Less than 2700
Easiest way to get noticeable increase in 3DMark2001x benchmarks is to update your graphics card drivers. I have to say nVidia has done remarkable job developing their driver, what comes to ATI I just have to say they blow ass. Also important thing is to have current AGP drivers from motherboards manufacturer since without that using expensive graphics card is just waste of money. In my recent test I had 1.3GHz Athlon system score 2000 3DMark2000 marks with Geforce DDR card, I installed latest AGP driver and score jumped to 7000 so it pretty much gives you an idea how important this driver is.
But software can just do that much and some hardware changes are needed to achieve faster speeds.
Find out was to check out systems temperatures and SiSoft Sandra 2002 was perfect for this job, some motherboards have hardware monitors built in but you can only check out the temperature in start up. I guess the most important is the CPU temperature, my opinion everything under 60°C is somewhat bearable, even thou it's quite high and I think our Test System 2 needs definitely more cooling.
Next check out Motherboards BIOS what you can tweak, problem with AMD Athlon XP is that it's multiplier locked so you can't change multiplier unless you physically unlock the CPU (too daring for me!). So I reached conclusion that I can only change FSB and memory timings on the motherboard. Notice that when you change FSB it affects ALL components on the board including AGP/PCI/USB busses and cause problem with some devices. I don't know other AMD processors which suffer from this "problem", in our Test System 2 I changed multiplier from 12.0x to 13.0x achieving 1300MHz. I think because of systems high temperatures FSB can't be raised on this system higher than 105MHz, which is quite sad, but with multiplier it gives you 1365MHz.
For Test System 1 I picked Gainwards Geforce 3TI200 Graphics card just because it was rumored to be great overclocker and that it is from 175c/400m to 255c/551m which makes it actually faster than Geforce TI500 cards! Card comes with nice ExperTool overclocking software, but it only allows you to clock it to 250c/544m so I used NVMAX 4.00 to get it higher (which also gave nice VIA AGP boost). Test System 2 comes with "old" ATI Radeon 7200 DDR card which I was able to find Rage3D Tweak program which I can use to overclock the card.
The whole process is very time consuming, every time you change something you got to run the test to see is system still able to run through it. If you set up FSB too high system usually gives you very good clue. I could set mine up to 137MHz and anything above that and system died on Windows XP boot up.
I figured from day one that my problem in Test System 1 was my generic quality memory chip and it warming up. So I bought active memory cooling kit, one hard drive cooler (not used for HDD) and 2 x 80mm low noise high CFM output fans in fan bracket on top of Graphics Card. After the memory cooling kit was installed I was able to push machine up to FSB 146MHz. Also other cooling helped system to stay very cool even when it was running at 1614MHz (FSB146), only 1-2°C change. I bet I could push the FSB even higher if I just had some higher quality memory chips like PC2700/CAS2/DDR333. On Test System too I need to get my company to buy some more cooling fans etc. (Yes, Test System 2 is my work computer :)
Huge difference was also made when I changed the memory settings in Test System 1's BIOS from Normal factory setting to Turbo. Even more when I was also able to find Beta BIOS for my motherboard which allowed very aggressive manual memory timings. Same issue with Test System 2, more aggressive memory timings seem to play a role getting your system to achieve better results.
Installed KingMax PC2700 DDR333 CAS2 chip and tried getting FSB higher, no luck! Can't go over FSB146. Processor cooling? Power Supply? BIOS? I have to find out if guys at AMDMB.com has clue why I can't get the FSB higher. Still Windows XP is much faster with 512MB.
Installed new VIA 4.10b AGP driver, no change in speed
Also rumors say that Detonator 28.32 are much slower then 23.12 so I won't bother installing them.
Took out all PCI cards and was able to get the FSB up to 151MHz (1707Mhz), but 3Dmark2001SE would crash as soon as one would start it.
Seem Like it's new PSU or no go! Might take a while before I invest money on that since I've been buying stuff for my car.
Installed Detonator 28.32 drivers since it seemed that they provided more performance in some 3DMark2000SE tests. No improvement. Tried also NVMAX's side-banding and VIA AGP driver, no improvement.
Also I have determined that the problem is my power supply since my voltage values are super low, getting quote for 400W Antec PSU. (Ordered $80)
Nice thing thou, I have fastest 1614MHz machine with Geforce 3Ti200 card in madonion.com.
Got new Antec 400W PSU and latest BIOS, no change, simply won't clock any higher. Also got XP unlocking kit, but damn thing just won't work, I might try this.
Test System 1:
- Unlocking XP
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