Tip

Configure BIOS correctly for better desktop performance

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Everyone wants

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their machine to run faster. The great thing is you can disable most of Windows XP's user interface "candy" and increase performance! Rather than interface tweaks, I like to focus on settings that improve the performance of Windows XP. The tip below is designed for Windows XP both Home and Pro. Make sure you have at least 256 MB of RAM -- any less and your machine will lag due to use of the hard drive as memory (512MB is preferred). Please note: Backup your system before attempting modifications!

One way to improve performance is to ensure that you have configured your BIOS correctly. The BIOS is software embedded on your motherboard that loads and configures hardware before the operating system. Failure to do so can easily slow down CPU and disk performance. Consult your computer or motherboard's manual to ensure that all CPU caches are enabled, memory timings are set correctly, and that IDE data transfer modes are set correctly.

You can speed up the boot process by enabling "Rapid BIOS Boot" or "Fast/Quick boot." Also, turn off auto detection of IDE devices and detect them manually. Set System and Video BIOS Cacheable to OFF as well as Video RAM cacheable to off, as these are legacy operating system DOS settings.

You can test CPU performance with PC Magazine's benchmarks. You can test drive performance with HDtach benchmarks.

This was first published in June 2005

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