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Sunday, June 15, 2003
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BX Chipset Tweaking - Page 1/3
Guide Date: July 29, 2001
Guide By: Robert Richmond




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Intel's 440BX AGP chipset is the most widely used Pentium-based chipset ever.  The BX architecture supports a wide range of processors, ranging from the original Celeron to the latest Pentium III Coppermine.  The BX is also widely known for its superior memory performance with SD-RAM, even as compared to the latest VIA Pro133a and Intel i815 offerings.  The only detracting feature associated with this workhorse is no official support for the 133 MHz front side bus, as the BX can not properly divide the AGP interface speed at this level.  Still, the BX is often the chipset of choice for those with 100 MHz compatible processors.

The largest market currently using the BX chipset is the value-oriented segment.  The BX is readily available at extremely low costs, thus is often employed in a variety of entry-level OEM systems.  Even large vendors like Compaq and IBM are still building a variety of BX-based computers, especially within their portable and notebook divisions.  Sadly, many OEM vendors choose not to implement any form of advanced BIOS option support.  Without the ability to tweak various hardware settings, these BX-based solutions usually offer only moderate performance at best.

AGPset Configuration Utility

AGPset is an advanced chipset registry editing application provided by Andrey Grushin.  This freeware utility allows for a variety of BX chipset performance tweaks for the memory, PCI, and AGP subsystems.  Just a small sample of the configurable options include  CPU pipeline queue depths, SD-RAM mode selection, AGP transfer rates, PCI bus latencies,  memory timing states, power control options, programmable memory segment operations, and DRAM throttling adjustments.  AGPset is offers a powerful software tweaking alternative, especially for those having motherboards with limited BIOS support.

System as Tested

OEM System Model Compaq Presario 1800 Notebook
System Processor Intel Pentium III 650e Coppermine
System Memory 64 MB Compaq PC-100 CAS-2
AGP Video 8MB ATI Rage Mobility M1
Disk Storage  - 6 GB Hitachi ATA-33
 - 8x Toshiba DVD-ROM
Operating System Windows Millennium
Benchmark Utility SiSoft SANDRA 2001te c5.8.11 Pro

Settings of particular interest include "Host Bus Fast Data Ready", "CPU Pipelining Queue Depth", "AGP Sideband Enable", and various memory timing values.  The upcoming series of graphics represent the recommended configuration for a system utilizing CAS-2 SD-RAM memory and an AGP 2x video card.  Memory latency settings should always be set to the lowest stable values.  Other configurations should be similar, with the only major changes needed for those using ECC memory or those with 4 full memory slots.  In these cases, minor adjustments need to be performed in the "Host Bus and ECC Control" sections.  Most settings should be understandable for those with moderate BIOS tweaking experience.  Additionally, be sure to read through the program's help text before using AGPset.

Recommended Settings

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