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SLi Guide (Installing, Troubleshooting + Increasing Performance)

Discussion in 'Alienware' started by Stone825, Dec 28, 2007.

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  1. Stone825

    Stone825 Notebook Virtuoso

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    NEW GUIDE (SLI and NON-SLI)

    This guide is written for people who are getting poor performance from their computer, or for people who want to try some new drivers to get a few extra 3dmarks. This guide used to be written for SLI users primarily but this new updated guide will be written for both so people with older Alienwares (or any other computer for that matter) or the M15x can install drivers with ease. For the record this guide was written on a Vista system so while most steps will similar, there might be one or two errors.

    Before you start​
    1) What kind of bad performance are you having? Is it *A* because you cannot enable SLi without the computer crashing? Or is it *B* because your performance in games is just not what they should be / Single GPU runs faster than SLi setup?

    -If your problem is *A*, follow **Guide A**
    -If your problem is *B*, follow **Guide B**

    **Guide A**

    1) Check your drivers. To do this, right click on your desktop. Look on the bottom left of the window for "System Information", and click that. In the white text area, it will say "Forceware Version: 1xx.xx" (In my case this would say "Forceware Version: 169.25")

    2) Now that we know what drivers you have, we can proceed to select a new set of drivers. I used to recommend drivers but now that the school year has started I cannot recommend drivers week to week. Here is how to get the newest drivers possible though. First, go to www.laptopvideo2go.com and you will be on the home page of course. Next, change the drop down menu from version to date to get the newest ones possible. Check off the system that you have (XP 32 or 64bit, Vista 32 or 64bit). If you own a M15x, M9750, or M17x, (or any older Aw laptop) you will know if you have 64 bit as AW did not ever sell a 64 bit operating system on any of the laptops listed.

    3) There are two files that you must download for the driver you choose. First, you must download the driver. Second, you must download the modded INF file.

    4) Once these files are done downloading, you can extract the driver. I would make a folder with the driver name on it and extract it to that folder, because some drivers from this site extract in the folder you currently have open. This has bugged me a few times when I extract something and my desktop fills up with files

    5) Now that the driver is extracted, DON'T install it yet, we have to prepare our notebook.

    6) First, we should download driver sweeper, which will delete any remaining driver information that the uninstall misses, very handy tool. To download this, go to --> Driver Sweeper Setup

    7) We have to uninstall our current drivers. (( Start : Control Panel : Click Classic View on the left : Device Manager : Display Adapters : Right Click the top 7950GTX : Click uninstall driver : Check in "Delete the software software for this device". )) After this is done, restart your computer, then we want to run driver sweeper.

    8) (( Go to Start : All Programs : Driver Sweeper. Click Nvidia chipset, and hit the single arrow ">" to move it to the other side. )) Do the same thing with the Nvidia Display as well. Now that those are both over on the right side, click the broom, and wait for it to finish (should be very quick). Now that this is done, restart your computer.

    9) We are going to install the new drivers now. Remember that INF file we downloaded? We need to drag and drop that INF file into the driver folder so it overwrites the older INF file. This will let you install the driver without any problems. If you are using Vista, just click the Setup.exe file in the driver folder, and do a regular install, clicking continue anyway and restarting the computer when the drivers are installed (it may take awhile to restart). If you are using XP with SLi, follow these steps of this SLi guide written by Grey728 + Chaz. HERE or read the text below
    Quote:
    7. Install 1 card only. When the driver asked you to install and you click 'Continue Anyway' Do this only once!
    8. Cancel install for second card. This cancels out install process
    9. Reboot
    10. GO to Devicde Manager, and select 2nd card that didn't install. (Most likely called 3D Hardware and not recognized as a video card, I can't remember exact name)
    11. Update driver and select folder you unpacked in step 4.
    12. When the driver installs, click "Continue Anyway"
    13. Reboot and done!
    10) Thats it, you have installed new drivers for your system. You can use laptopvideo2go.com to find/install other drivers if you do not like these.

    11) If errors such as: Flickering on non native resolutions / Screen turning black when SLi is enabled are gone, and you are still experiencing game slowdowns, follow part B to optimize your SLi drivers.

    **Guide B**​


    This is a continuation of "Guide A" if you still don't have good performance, but the main issues such as flickering/black screen/blue screen are gone.

    1) Make sure SLi is enabled

    This may sound dumb, but after installing new drivers, I sometimes forget to turn SLi on. (( Right click on your desktop : Nvidia Control Panel : Set SLi Config. tab : Enable SLi technology : Hit apply. ))

    After you have enabled SLi, it will ask you if you want to close the needed applications. Hit "yes" and then don't click anything for 30 seconds. Some programs will close, the screen will go black. After it goes black, it will come back on again, and you will see a black screen with the "-" in the upper left hand corner. After that your desktop should come back, and it will ask you "do you want to keep these settings" click yes.

    2) Make sure SLi performance mode is on the right setting.

    By default, my card was set to "Single-GPU" I believe this means that only 1 GPU does the rendering, which I didn't want. This is something that I didn't notice until Brks pointed it out to me. (( Nvidia Control Panel : Manage 3D settings : Global Settings tab : SLi Performance Mode --> "Force alternate frame rendering 2" )). This will make it so that every other frame will be rendered by one card, and the other frame will be rendered by your other card. I have tried multiple modes, and I find this mode to be the best for stability/performance.

    For high end games like Crysis, brks did a test. If you are experiencing poor performance with games like crysis, change "Force alternate frame rendering 2" to "Split Frame Rendering"

    3) Make sure that your vitrual memory is working correctly (eightd wrote about this).
    Quote:
    1. Control Panel => System and Maintenance => System => Advanced System Settings (Left side or just the System Properties Dialog)

    2. Advanced Tab = > Performance (Settings Btn) => Advanced Tab => Change...

    3. Uncheck "Automatically Manage...." and Select Custom Size. Mine is set to Init. = 200, Max = 10000
    4) Will add when more things come up

    **Goodies Guide**​


    This section is to let you guys in on goodies that are pretty helpful in some cases. I do not know many as of now, but I can always add more.

    1) Change Flat Panel Scaling

    I found this and I am very happy with it. Usually when I run 3dmark06, the screen stretches across my whole display, which makes everyone "fat". This setting will make it so that it will put it in 4:3 aspect ratio which will leave black boxes on either side of the screen. This is also helpful if a game is not compatible with a certain resolution and you don't want to stretch the screen.

    Go to (( Nvidia Control Panel : Change Flat Panel Scaling tab : Click "Use Nvidia scaling with fixed-aspect ratio" : Click apply ))

    2) Set the desktop to its native resolution

    Maybe you were playing with your resolution for your desktop, and accidentally set it to a lower resolution and didn't realize it. This would make things a little less quality, and would waste that real estate you paid for This is easy to fix though with Nvidia control panel.

    Go to (( Nvidia Control Panel : Change Flat Panel Scaling tab : Click "Change to native resolution" : Click apply ))


    Special Thanks To:
    Chaz
    Grey728
    eightd
    brks

    ***Complete (may add new content at any time)***

    Update History:
    01/01/08 - Added brks' suggestion for Split Frame Rendering (SFR) *#2 in Guide B*
    01/01/08 - Added more drivers (169.09 for XP32/64, 167.43 Vista/XP) *#2 in Guide A*
    03/08/08 - Quoted EightD's drivers.
    05/26/08 - Removed EightD's drivers and submitted the new 174.74 drivers.
    06/03/08 - Added the 175.63 Tweakforce Drivers.
    11/19/08 – Re-wrote and added to guide
     
  2. KockM

    KockM Notebook Evangelist

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    Great Guide! Worked for me. Got 8200 for 3dMark06.
     
  3. KockM

    KockM Notebook Evangelist

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    Just updated to the 169.21 for XP and my performance from stock to these has jumped like 50%. Its unreal how well Crysis runs now. I am running on most high settings and a few medium, and I have no lag.
     
  4. bobeer86

    bobeer86 Notebook Geek

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    !!Sticky that!!

    great guide Stone825!
     
  5. Stone825

    Stone825 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Thanks everyone. I'm writing another section "Part B" soon which will give a few hints to people that are still not getting the performance that they are looking for. It will be done soon.
     
  6. Stone825

    Stone825 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Finished the guide. May add more

    Oh Chaz would you mind if I posted this in the guides section of this forum. Please don't move it though, as I wrote it primarily for M9750 users, but I'm sure anyone can use this info.
     
  7. zeppelin420x

    zeppelin420x Notebook Consultant

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    Part B Rocks! Thanks Stone! May I asking what virtual memory does?
     
  8. Charles P. Jefferies

    Charles P. Jefferies TG Lead Moderator Super Moderator

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    Fantastic guide Stone, sticky granted. :) I changed the title for you, let me know if you need anything else.

    If you don't mind I would like to link this into the Driver Update Guide in the Gaming forum.
     
  9. brks

    brks Notebook Consultant

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    Great guide stone825 and thanks for the mentions. I advise everyone new to SLI setups to have a good read of this guide - it's an excellent start point to getting your rig rough and ready for todays games.
     
  10. Asylum

    Asylum Notebook Geek

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    Thanks Stone. I've had the best success with the 94.23 stock Alienware drivers so far - but when I get home from work I'll try this guide out. Hopefully I get an increase in performance :D
     
  11. Loggie

    Loggie Notebook Evangelist

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    Good guide, but I am still not getting game performance improvement with SLI even after following the recommendations in your guide (Vista 32 Home Premium). That includes trying all the recent drivers from LaptopVideo2Go. The single most helpful post that improved game performance for me was the Virtual Memory option (allocating the amount of HDD space reserved for virtual memory).

    Also, I wish people would post game fraps instead of 3dMark06 scores when comparing performance with SLI for different settings. 3DMark06 is meaningless.
     
  12. Stone825

    Stone825 Notebook Virtuoso

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    @Chaz - I don't mind if you link it there, sounds good.
     
  13. Stone825

    Stone825 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Hmm Loggie. What games are you looking at for SLi performance increases? UT3 doesn't like SLi too much, but like CS:S loves it.
     
  14. Grey728

    Grey728 Notebook Evangelist

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    Great guide man ^^
     
  15. Loggie

    Loggie Notebook Evangelist

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    I have tested Crysis (Demo), FS X, TombRaider Anniversary, Doom3 to name a few. The Crysis game has two built in benchmarks that I used to compare fraps with and without SLI enabled-no difference. I have tried all three SLI settings-
    Split Frame, AF1, and AF2 and I don't see any difference in game performance.
    I get good performance with just one 7950 so I can wait until Vista SP1 which will hopefully fix the SLI problem.
     
  16. KockM

    KockM Notebook Evangelist

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    Hey Stone I followed your guide B and tried out Alternate Frame Rendering 2 instead of Single GPU and had an increase in FPS in games, but a lower 3dMark06 score. I had a 8200 with single gpu and a 7900 with the AF2
     
  17. KockM

    KockM Notebook Evangelist

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    I just got the 169.09 drivers for Win XP SP2 and my score improved 200 pts on 3dMark06. I think you should link those drivers instead of 169.21 for XP. They seem to be not that great.
     
  18. brks

    brks Notebook Consultant

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    The .09 drivers are well regarded and widely acknowledged as being the best drivers for SLI in XP.
     
  19. Inkjammer

    Inkjammer Notebook Deity

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    I will concur on this. They also seem to be the best on average with Vista as well for overall performance and compatibility. I've been running them for Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3 and Call of Juarez with excellent performance in both XP and Vista (I've tested all my games in both my OS partitions to see performance differences. The XP/Vista differences still amaze me).
     
  20. Grey728

    Grey728 Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm playing Bioshock a lot lately, and it seems like EVERY driver beyond 169.01 makes the game stutter like mad.. like caching within the level. I do get better performance with 169.09 with other games but if you're like me and are playing Bioshock at the moment, try 169.01.
     
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