How Fast Is It?
First, have you ever heard of 4in1 drivers? If you are using a Via chipset then you need to know about them! They don't get installed when you install Windows. And without them the AGP is disabled – even if it's marked as enabled in the BIOS – which means the performance of the graphics card is drastically reduced. Once installed, I've seen graphics performance triple – yes, triple! It's very devious this absence of Via 4in1 drivers because everything looks fine, both in terms of detail and performance. And if you're upgrading from a much slower system, the new speed of the new computer will still seem impressive and you'll think everything's fine. I've talked to very knowledgeable PC enthusiasts who've never heard of the 4in1 drivers.
The Via 4in1 Drivers are the motherboard chipset drivers for the ABIT KT7A. Any retail purchased motherboard will include a CD-ROM that contains the motherboard chipset drivers it needs. And there will be an even more up-to-date version of the drivers available online.
This NVIDIA FAQ regarding system crashes and lock-ups identifies how and where you can find the latest drivers for the chipset on most motherboards.
To check if your AGP is disabled, download and install a freeware program called "wcpuid". AMD3D provides a download page that includes wcpuid. When you run it, the first screen will look something like this (these screen shots are from WCPUID V3.0f):
Pushing the "Chipset Information" icon on this page (the mostly green icon with a chip looking thing in the middle of it, it's near the top of the page), brings up a screen that looks like this.
Notice the right-hand side of this screen shows the AGP Information. I have AGP Spec. Revision 2.0 and it shows as enabled.
I wonder how many PC users are running merrily along thinking everything is swell and in reality their AGP is disabled? More than a few, I'll bet! Lucky you if you've never heard of them and you're reading this! I include a link to the drivers later! Again, they are only for Via chipsets.
With this vital bit of information out of the way, let's get on to the benchmarks. Download SiSoft Sandra Standard Edition. It's a free download, but it took me a while to puzzle out exactly what to download. It seemed to go by different names on different pages so let me share them with you to help you narrow down the field. Naturally the version and varieties may change somewhat by the time you read this. The download with 2.3MB in size and came as a Zip file.
SiSoft Sandra Standard 2002 SP1
Package 2002 (2002.6.8.97 aka san897u.zip).
Windows 32-bit x86 (Intel Compatible) Platform - Unicode Character Set
The version I downloaded installed like this. Double-click on the downloaded file to invoke the Zip utility. Extract the files into a directory, but this will not be the install directory. One of the files extracted is named Setup. Double-click the Setup file to install SiSoft Sandra Standard. I used whatever default installations options it offered.
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