Flap's Flap 10 - You, Your Graphics Card, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 And Overclocking
By John J. Thuot II (27 July 2005)
Hello fellow flight simmers! I’m back with the 10th edition to my Flap’s Flap series. I must say that this one I feel is a somewhat touchy and iffy topic, and actually thought twice about running it. I thought about it though, why not.
Okay, we all know how the spiel is, we go out and by a graphics card, and realize it’s not to the best of our liking after we spent the money on it. What can we do about this? Well, I’ve been doing some experimenting with what is called “overclocking” on my graphic card. There are several ways you can go about doing this, but I’m going to suggest the easiest way. I use a handy little utility that allows you to modify and tweak your nVidia Graphic Card via the driver’s interface called Rivatuner that I have downloaded from another website Guru3d.com; you can find all sorts of goodies there from “hacked” drivers to applications that let you modify your particular graphic card settings. However, as I continue on with this brief lesson on the Rivatuner, bear in mind my little spiel on the end about the “Light Legal Stuff” and that I hold absolutely no responsibility to anyone who has been careless or wreckless with the overclocking process and fry their video cards. That’s right - you can actually fry your card by doing this, so proceed with EXTREME caution.
The first thing you will want to do is go to the Riva Tuner main screen. Here you can set up your FS9.exe to be related with Riva Tuner, and from what I gathered, means that those settings will be applied only to Flight Simulator rather than to the whole computer. I had done some postings before using Riva Tuner on Guru3d.com’s forums, and David16K explained it to me this way: “When over clocking, start off going up on the Core Clock and System Clock in about jumps of 10 points from where the clock was before. Do that about 3 or 4 times, and if you start to get artifacts or glitches on the screen, you need to back up a little. He also stated for him, it doubled FPS performance on games like “Helo.”
When you open Riva Tuner, you will see this screen first:
What you want to do from there is go and create your FS2004 program settings. This is what I did...Click on the green plus sign, and type in under Application Profile, Flight Simulator 2004. Now click the Browse button and find your FS9.exe icon.
The next thing you will want to do is roll up your sleeves and start off with the next step: click the drop down arrow and choose the settings for the Personal Settings for Flight Simulator 2004, and then click Customize. This screen will come up, and basically, the first two areas of the menu will be where most of us spend our time trying to tweak our video cards to be just right.
After you click on Customize, this next menu will come up, and you will want to choose System settings. Once System Settings have been selected, a screen will come up that shows “Core Clock” and “Memory Clock.” This is what you will want to adjust in jumps of 10 points at a time, and remember, after jumping, always “Test” the new settings with Riva Tuner’s test button. It will tell you if you exceeded the driver’s safety limits.
I’ll point out a few other good tweaks to set that will help increase performance. Other than that, I’m afraid you will be “on your own.” The next thing you will want to do is set the Mip Map LOD Bias setting. I have mine set to .08, but I think I will return to the negative side. I have read somewhere that changing to the positive can have good results, but I didn’t really notice any, so you may want to set yours at -1 or -1.5. This will help reduce stutters and sharpen textures while in flight.
You will then want to adjust your Pixel Shaders. I find that forcing a 1.1 works best for me, and it only holds settings your graphic cards can support. You can fool around with the Pixel Shader to find out what works best for you, but I’d leave the bottom one alone. I did that and I believe it off centered my FS2004 splash screen, so I had to go back to defaults and start all over again.
The next thing you will want to do is to go over to the antialiasing menu, and as you can see, mine is on one of the higher settings now, 8x. Again, it will vary for you and what your exact system settings are.
I have pretty much left everything alone. My stutters are now gone for the most part with Flight Simulator, and the performance is fantastic even with dense scenery and heavy clouds.
Performance on computer systems will vary so please don’t email me about my FPS too slow if I mention them on mine. Computer system for this article and all others of Flap’s Flap is the following:
I have successfully over clocked my video card to 300/454, before going on this little adventure, it was at 250/400 for default settings.
I’m sure you will be more than capable of finding what setting works best for you, but do be careful - you can fry out your card if you are not cautious with this little activity, so you will want to make sure you heed all cautions that Riva Tuner advises you on. Riva Tuner works only with Nvidia cards, so you will have to go through and look and see what’s available at Guru3d.com for ATI or what other brands you may have.
Have you been inspired by this article? Please email me - I love to hear from my readers!
If you happen to come up with some tips on your own, please feel free to email them to me for future publications in my Flap’s Flap articles - Be sure to include your real name so I can give you proper credit as well.
Now, for some light legal stuff:
Flap’s Flap does not accept any responsibility for varied performance in systems. Please note my system specs and the display properties work fine with MY system. Set your display properties accordingly to your computer. Also, with any How To items that are given in these articles, please use at your own risk! I will hold no responsibility to any damage done to your system. And, as always, remember: Back up your files before changing them!
John J. Thuot II