SYSTEM TUNING 101

    These days we can build desktop systems into various forms and shapes. However, despite the difference in size, specification and look, these systems may not have been optimised to their full capacity for any number of reasons. This guide will cover key tuning tricks to make an immediate improvement to the various aspects of your desktop; you will be amazed how much you can improve your system with some simple PC tweaks.

    MINIMISE FAN NOISE

    Fan noise is the most irritating part of the desktop system usage experience. To minimise this effect, one has to first attempt to put all airflow to best use. Here are some principles to keep in mind.

    1. Minimise anything blocking airflow.

    Some modern chassis feature cable holes along the top and sides of the motherboard. Make good use of these holes to route large cables to the back of the motherboard to prevent blocking your airflow. Consider dividing the system into various thermal zones, utilising thermal dividers such as TUF Thermal Armor, cooling components down separately if the blockage of airflow cannot be prevented.

    2. All warm air must leave the system.

    Active airflow driven by additional fans can help to quickly remove the warm air inside the chassis.

    3. Naturally, the warm airflow moves up, while the cold moves down.

    4. Using intake fans.

    Introduce cool airflow directly onto the heat critical components such as the water cooling radiator, CPU power module, CPU cooler, and chipsets can help to cool these locations down more effectively than interior circulation of air.

    5. Utilise minimal airflow to achieve the above, in order to minimize fan noise.


    ASUS Fan Xpert 2 and TUF Thermal Radar 2 are unique software solutions that incorporate fan calibration capability, as well as taking into consideration the effect of different fan locations, or even turn some fans completely off when additional airflow is no longer needed.

    MINIMISE SYSTEM BOOT UP TIME

    The system boot up time is the time it takes from the moment the power button is pressed, to the very moment a user can begin to actually use the system. We can break this down into two key areas of concern,namely BIOS Load Up Time, and OS Load Up Time.

    • The BIOS Load Time is dependent on the device initialisation time of all installed devices, and the loading time of each BIOS module. While Option ROM, UEFI driver, and the backward compatible Legacy Compatibility Support Module enable a system to support various function and devices prior to driver load, they will also extend the BIOS Load Up Time as the tradeoff. One can consider disabling all Option ROM that the system will never attempt to boot from to minimise the system load up time. The CSM (Compatibility Support Module) can also be disabled if the system does not need to boot from any legacy device. Other device initialisation processes such as additional SATA devices, PS/2, onboard LAN, or even USB can also be bypassed during the POST stage to speed up BIOS Load Up Time; after all, they will still be initialised by the OS anyway. Finally, in a single storage device setup, one can consider upgrading to an SSD to save a couple more seconds of device initialisation time, as spindle-based HDDs have a relatively lengthy initialisation time compared to SSDs.
    • The OS Load Up Time is dependent upon the device and driver initialisation time of all installed devices, the load time of all startup software (including AV software), and of course, the time it takes to load up the OS itself. That’s why the OS loads quicker upon a fresh installation, and gets slower as you install more devices and software onto it. To speed up the OS Load Up Time, avoid installing unnecessary software, install no more than one Anti-Virus/Internet Protection software package in the same system, and conduct regular virus scans under Safe Mode to prevent the extension of OS Load Time. Microsoft Windows 8 or above features the advantage of needing less initialisation process during OS load stage as compared to previous Microsoft operating systems. One can consider upgrading to Windows 8 or above if OS upgrade is an option. If hardware upgrade is also an option, upgrading the OS drive from a spindle HDD to a SSD can easily improve the OS Load Time thanks having a relatively faster random access performance.

    IMPROVE SOFTWARE LOAD TIME


    This is the time it takes from the moment an application is clicked or double clicked, to the moment a user can begin to use the software. Modern Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 7 or above feature the ability to cache software into DRAM after each execution, provided DRAM space is sufficient, and such space does not need to be released anytime before the next execution. Software will execute extremely fast if it is loaded up for the second time upon entering the OS. However, if an immediate performance improvement is desired, one can consider upgrading the storage medium hosting the software to one with faster random access performance, such as an SSD, a SSD RAID, or even RAMDisk to improve the first-time software load up time.

    MAXIMISE DISK I/O PERFORMANCE

    Though disk I/O performance can already be noticeably improved by upgrading to an SSD or even SSD RAID array, there’s still room for further improvement with a few tweaks to the BIOS options. Go into BIOS setup screen, and disable options with the keyword “ASPM” (Active State Power Management), “LPM” (Link State Power Management), and configure “Package C State Support” to “ C0/C1”, for an instant I/O performance boost.

    MINIMISE POWER DRAW


    Modern ASUS motherboards all feature the latest generation EPU design, which divides the system power management into four separate usage models, namely the “High Performance” (maximise performance), “Auto” (balanced between performance and energy consumption), “Max Power Saving” (minimum power draw, with configurable CPU power draw in one watt increment), and “Away Mode” (ideal to leave the system to do background tasks while the user is away from the machine). Use these four modes wisely they can save you some power bills by the end of the year.