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xRobert Richmond

nVIDIA Reference BIOSs

What exactly are they good for?

July 2000

Read the disclaimer before proceeding

Part 4: Which Reference BIOS to Choose?

Now comes that first part, actually using the new BIOS. If you look at the filenames, you will find many confusing abbreviations. It actually is a pretty simple process in selecting the right file to support you card's particular functions. Here's the breakdown of the file names:

TNT2: If you don't have a TV-Out, just use the BT version that matches your card.

GF-256 Options: SM=No TV-Out, DDR=DDR Memory

TV-Out Encoder: CH=Chrontel 7003, 7004, 7005, 7006, and 7007, BT=Brooktree 868 and 869

New TNT2 Options: C=Creative Lab's AGP Wizard Support (compliments of me)

New GF-256 Options: SBA=Side Band Addressing Enabled (thanks to Zoiah for the SBA tutorials)

Creative Lab's AGP Wizard:



GeForce 256 BIOSs:


Part 5: What is VGABIOS?

To use your new BIOS you have two options. The first is VGABIOS, a small DOS tsr BIOS load program. It will allow you to test the new BIOS without having to actually flash your card. The only drawback is that you must run Win9x or lower in order for this to work.


The configuration is straightforward, and should be rather simple for any experienced DOS user. First, you will have to download the actual BIOS and VGABIOS files, then unzip them to the same directory. I recommend C:\VGABIOS if you want to follow my examples. Now you will have to edit your c:\autoexec.bat file in order for VGABIOS to load at boot time. Just add the following lines with a text editor (i.e. Notepad):


Just use your BIOSs filename in order for this to work. I also recommend the lh command, as it will try to load VGABIOS into the upper memory blocks to save on conventional memory. Now just reboot your system, and watch what happens. After VGABIOS loads, you should get a blank screen followed by a new screen indicating that you are now using the Reference BIOS. This means that your system will at least boot with the new BIOS. If your system crashes, you can always boot to safe mode DOS (ctrl for Win98, F8 for Win95) and remove or change the autoexec.bat entry. When you get to Windows, it will re-identify your card, and possibly prompt you for new drivers. You will have to use the nVidia reference drivers, as your card will no longer be detected as a particular brand.

nVidia Reference Drivers:

Now you can attempt to test out your new BIOS. The first thing I recommend is running a few games or benchmarks. If everything goes well, you can move onto overclocking your card. Several methods exist for overclocking, but I recommend TNTx users try TNT-Clk, and that GF-256 users use the coolbit registry hack. Here are the downloads:

TNTClk v1.2:

GF-256 Registry Tweaker:

As when overclocking anything, be very careful. Also, make sure you have enough cooling. Cooling can range from small CPU fans to even replacing the card's heatsink/fan combo. Just make sure your chipset gets a steady supply of fresh, cool air. Take the jumps at 5MHz increments, and benchmark between each change. You can better determine stability and performance issues by observing each mark. After you get errors or a crash, you will know the limits of the card. You can then fine tune your settings based on the limits. Also, just because you have a cheap card, it doesn't mean you can't overclock it far. As I stated earlier, I'm running my cheap TNT2 (did luck out by getting SG-RAM) at 165/249, a very nice change from its 125/150 default. Run your new BIOS for a few days under VGABIOS to make sure everything is working properly.

Continued . . . (Part 6)


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