Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide

[Page 4] Tidying Up



Before we move on to tweaking the Forceware drivers, let's do some cleaning up and optimization of the system in preparation for more specific tweaking. These steps are important so try to do each and every one of them each time you install a new Forceware version.


Delete Installation Files


When the new Forceware drivers have installed, and you've rebooted your system, it is now perfectly safe for you to delete the temporary installation files which were created in the directory you specified during installation. These are simply the unzipped contents of the Nvidia driver installation package which were used to install the drivers elsewhere on your system - they are not the actual driver files being used by Windows and are no longer needed. Delete them all.


Remember to also either delete or backup the latest Forceware driver package which you downloaded earlier. You probably won't need to use it again given the frequency of new Nvidia Forceware drivers, but if you know you may need to do a reformat/reinstall of Windows soon, it may be worth saving them somewhere for future use. Try not to keep lots of older driver packages as these are readily available for download (see the links at the top of the previous page) and I generally recommend against installing older driver versions as they can be problematic in newer games and software.



Disable Unnecessary Services & Startup Items


When the Forceware drivers install on your system, they install new Services and startup items. Some of these can be removed or disabled, depending on your circumstances. If you're unfamiliar with how to disable a Service, or how to find and temporarily or permanently remove startup items, see the Services and Startup Programs chapters of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.


  • Nvidia Driver Helper Service - As of the 260 Forceware series onwards you should keep the Nvidia Driver Helper Service set at its default, or set it to Manual, because if it is Disabled it will prevent the Nvidia Control Panel from opening.


  • NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Driver Service - This service is only useful if you have specific hardware to use the Nvidia 3D Vision functionality. Since most users do not have this hardware, then this service is best set to Disabled as it is not required for normal 3D graphics functionality. The best option however is to remove this component altogether, which can be done by going to Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs in XP or Control Panel>Programs and Features in Vista & 7, selecting the 'Nvidia 3D Vision Driver' item and uninstalling it. This will remove the Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Driver Service as well as the relevant driver components, which again are not necessary for normal gaming, and are only used if you specifically have Stereoscopic 3D glasses and 120Hz LCD monitor.

  • nTune Service - This service is installed only if you install the older Nvidia nTune Utility which added several performance and stability monitoring functions to your Forceware Control Panel. Note that nTune is now out of date - it has been replaced by Nvidia Systems Tools, the latest version of which can download by clicking the 'Nvidia System Tools with ESA Support' link at the bottom of this page.

  • The Forceware drivers may also install up to three additional startup programs which load at Windows startup: NvCplDaemon, NvMediaCenter (sometimes called NvMcTray) and Nwiz. Depending on the functionality you use in the Forceware drivers you can remove some or all of these from your Windows startup, speeding up startup times and reducing background memory usage:


  • NvCplDaemon - Relates to the Nvidia System Tray icon and related functionality. If you don't use the System Tray icon to access the Forceware Control Panel settings - and it's certainly not necessary - then you can remove this item. Note however that if you're overclocking your graphics card using the Forceware Control Panel (See the Overclocking section) then you need to keep this item in your startup.
  • NvMediaCenter - Relates to certain Multimedia functionality in the Nvidia System Tray icon and once again it is recommended you disable this item as well. However if you find particular games don't function correctly with this disabled - which should be rare - re-enable it.
  • Nwiz - Relates to nView functionality in XP (See the nView Desktop Manager section), and unless you use nView you can safely disable it.
  • nTuneCmd - If you've installed nTune, this item is added to your startup. Once again it should not be removed if you use nTune, as it can cause issues with the Forceware Control Panel working properly. Even if it is removed, it seems to recreate itself as a startup item regardless, so it is best left untouched.

  • If you have any doubts, or experience any issues, reset all of the above back to their defaults. If you've permanently removed a startup item by accident, you can get it back simply by reinstalling the graphics driver. It is not critical that you disable or remove these items if you don't feel confident in doing so, but it can speed up startup time and prevent problems if done properly.



    Remove Unused Devices


    This is a slightly trickier procedure, but it won't be harmful if you follow the instructions below. If you've had several Forceware versions installed on your system in the past, or even an ATI graphics card installed previously on the same Windows install, not to mention any other previous items of hardware which you no longer use, then this tip lets you remove them completely from the Registry and help prevent problems.


    To view unused devices in Device Manager, do the following:


    1. Open a Command Prompt by going to Start>Run in XP, typing cmd and pressing Enter, or in Vista or 7 type cmd in the Start>Search Box, then right-click on the cmd.exe item and select 'Run as Administrator' to open an Administrator Command Prompt. Once the Command Prompt is open, type the following lines, pressing return after each:


    Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1


    Devmgmt.msc


    2. In the Device Manager window that opens, go to the View menu and select 'Show Hidden Devices' - this is very important if you want to see the unused devices. Now expand each of your devices and look through all the sub-components listed. You will see that some of the devices are shown in a lighter grey color.


    3. For the purposes of this guide, what we need to look for are entries under the Monitor and Display Adapter device categories. Under Monitor there should be at least one darker monitor entry for each monitor on your system. If there are any greyed out entries, you can remove them by right-clicking on the entry and selecting 'Uninstall'. Do this for all greyed out entries under the Monitor device.


    4. Under the Display Adapter device, if you find two entries - a main one, and another one which has 'Secondary' next to it - these just indicate that your graphics card is capable of two separate outputs to two different display devices. You should keep both of these. Do not attempt to uninstall the dark entries under here. You can however uninstall all other greyed out entries under the Display Adapter device list, especially those which relate to previous graphics cards you had on this system.


    5. If you're feeling game, you can go through some of your other device entries and delete greyed out devices which you know for certain are no longer connected to your machine, or are traces of a device which has been moved around a few times. For example, under Human Interface Devices you may find multiple greyed out entries for a mouse which you may have moved from one port to another. As long as there is a solid entry for the device when it is still connected to your system, you can uninstall the greyed out ones. However I do not recommend uninstalling devices which you are not sure about. Most importantly, do not uninstall any greyed out Microsoft (or other Codec) entries under the Sound, Video and Game Controller device, and be extremely careful about entries under the Non Plug and Play Drivers, and Network Adapters device list. If in doubt, do not uninstall a device.


    If you do happen to uninstall a device which is still connected to your system, it's not the end of the world. Windows will usually re-detect it upon reboot and look for drivers to reinstall it. If not, then remove and reconnect the device, and/or reinstall its drivers.



    Refresh Rate Fix


    Windows XP has an issue in which the screen Refresh Rate resets to 60Hz (60 times per second) for every resolution by default whenever you install a new graphics driver. This isn't a problem for LCD monitors, but is far too low for CRT monitors. Most CRT monitors can easily exceed this refresh rate, especially at lower resolutions. Most people notice a flickering effect with a 60Hz refresh rate on CRT monitors, and it is indeed very unhealthy for your eyes to view for long periods. If you want to override this tendency for Windows XP to default to 60Hz, there are two simple ways you can do this:


    1. Use Refresh Force. Download this small utility and run it, then click the 'Auto Populate' button and it will detect the correct maximum possible refresh rates for each supported resolution on your monitor. You can also view and manually change the refresh rate for any resolution (be careful to make sure your monitor supports the new refresh rate entered though), and even specify additional display resolutions. Click the Apply button and the fix is done. It won't run again at startup, or sit in the background, it just changes some registry settings. You will need to use this utility again every time you install a new driver, so keep it handy.


    2. Use RivaTuner to alter your refresh rates and/or add, edit or remove particular resolutions and their associated refresh rates. Details are in the RivaTuner area of the Advanced Tweaking section.


    If you want to know more about altering or creating custom resolutions and refresh rates, see the Forceware Control Panel section.



    Defragment


    This is a simple but very important step which should never be skipped. You should defragment your hard drive - but not an SSD - each time after installing/copying/deleting/patching any application, game, driver or large file. Any time files, particularly game files and system files (like drivers) are added to or deleted from your hard drive they can become 'fragmented' meaning portions of them may be spread over several physical areas of your drive. This fragmentation increases loading times and more importantly often results in greater stuttering, especially during games. Details of both the built-in defragmenting utility in Windows XP, Vista and 7, as well as third-party defragmenters, is in the Drive Optimization chapter of the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Defragmentation can make a substantial difference in reducing stuttering in games in particular, so it should not be overlooked, especially after a new driver installation.



    The next section looks at all the settings in the generic Windows Graphics Control Panel.