Morrowind Tweak Guide - IntroductionIntroductionMorrowind is a game ahead of its time in many respects. The freedom you have to choose your path through the game is mind-boggling. The graphics are astounding in their detail and atmosphere, especially for an RPG. The sheer size of the game world is incredible. The storyline - if you choose to involve yourself in it - is immersive and complex.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - BASIC MORROWIND OPTIMISATIONPART 1 - BASIC MORROWIND OPTIMISATION1. Installation/Uninstallation of Morrowind:Install Morrowind in the straightforward way described in the manual. I highly recommend choosing to install the TES Construction Kit as well, as this will be needed later to fix an error with the plugins. I would also recommend installing Morrowind in the directory suggested by the program. Usually this is C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind.If you don't have WindowsXP, you will need to install at least DirectX8.1 as well (if not DirectX9.0b). A copy of DirectX8.1 is on the Morrowind CD. I recommend installing DirectX9.0b (more information in my System Optimization Guide). You can download the latest DirectX from Microsoft DirectX Homepage.If for any reason you wish to uninstall and cleanly reinstall Morrowind - for example for troubleshooting purposes - the best way to do so is:1. If you want to keep your saved games, copy the contents of the SAVES folder under the \Morrowind directory, as well as the Journal.htm file in the Morrowind directory itself to somewhere safe.2. Go to Control Panel>Add/Remove, select "Morrowind" from the list and choose "Change/Remove" to uninstall.3. Go into Windows Explorer, to the directory where you installed Morrowind, and manually delete the entire directory, including the Bethesda Softworks entry.4. Download a program called RegCleaner and install it. Under the Software tab, look for entries by Bethesda Softworks and place ticks next to them, and choose "Remove Selected" at the bottom. Next, still in RegCleaner, go to the Tools menu and choose Registry Cleanup>Do Them All to clean out your registry of redundant entries in general.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Morrowind "No CD" Patch4. Morrowind "No CD" PatchAs of the 1st Official Morrowind Patch, it seems Bethesda have removed the Macrovision Safedisc protection system from Morrowind, hence providing some performance improvement without needing any No CD patches. However they've retained the simple CD check, which checks to make sure you have the Morrowind CD in the drive while playing. Now I'm against piracy and I urge you to buy Morrowind and not play using a pirated copy. (Ed note. TweakTown does not endorse pirated or cracked software - Go out and buy the game.) However the CD check is annoying and I much prefer to put my original Morrowind CD safely away and play without it in the drive.If you have previously used a No CD patch or hack of any kind for Morrowind, before patching, make sure you have replaced the original Morrowind.exe and/or Morrowind Launcher.exe files in your Morrowind directory, and the cracked versions are removed. If necessary, you may have to reinstall Morrowind (follow procedures in 1 above for uninstalling/reinstall Morrowind) if you don't have the original .exe files anymore. The patch won't work properly on the cracked versions, and even if it does, you may run into problems later on.If you have a fresh install of Morrowind, or you're sure that all the original Morrowind files are there, and you've installed the latest official Morrowind Patch, then: 1. Go to either the Morrowind, Tribunal or Bloodmoon sections of Megagames, or the GameFix Morrowind section. Note the patch may be in a compressed .ace or .rar file, in which case go to WinAce or WinRAR and download the latest version of these free utilities to extract it.2. Once extracted, you'll typically find a Morrowind.exe file which has been modified to remove the CD check from Morrowind. Go to the \Morrowind directory and rename the original Morrowind.exe file to something like Morrowind.RealExe, and copy the new "No-CD" Morrowind.exe file into the same directory.3. Next, copy the VIDEO directory and its entire contents from your Morrowind CD to under your \Morrowind directory. This is necessary otherwise you may get errors on startup.Once this is done you can now run Morrowind exactly as if you had the CD in the drive, but without the annoyance.Alternatively, if you can't find a No-CD EXE file for your version of Morrowind from one of the sites above, you can try this general method which should work for all versions:1. Download this Generic Morrowind No-CD Patcher and extract the contents to an empty directory.2. Copy your Morrowind.exe from the \Morrowind directory into the same directory where you extracted the No-CD patch. Leave the original Morrowind.exe in the \Morrowind directory, but rename it (e.g. Morrowind.REALExe) and keep it as a backup.3. Run the Runme.bat file and it will patch the copy of Morrowind.exe you've placed in the same directory. It will now be called mw.exe. Rename it back to Morrowind.exe, and place it in the \Morrowind directory.4. Make sure you copy the VIDEO directory and its entire contents from your Morrowind CD to under your \Morrowind directory. This is necessary otherwise you may get errors on startup. Alternatively you can use the VIDEO directory which comes with the No-CD patch, and which contains the relevant files to avoid errors (but no movies).You should now be able to run Morrowind without the CD, and the above method should work for all versions of Morrowind.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Optimising Morrowind Settings5. Optimising Morrowind Settings- Resolution The resolution in Morrowind doesn't play a major part in performance. I compared the three resolutions from 1024x768 to 1600x1200 and performance was almost identical in my case. In particular, any resolution from 1024x768 upwards shows almost no difference in framerates, so choose a higher resolution (if your monitor supports it) to achieve a smoother picture - instead of running Anti-aliasing (FSAA) for example, which will show a small performance hit. NVNews recently did a "Benchmark" of Morrowind at different resolutions and came up with the same conclusion. - Real Time Shadows Real Time Shadows are only cast by people and creatures. Turn off Real Time Shadows completely (slide to full left) for a noticeable performance improvement. Most of the time they're cast badly and sometimes you can see shadows of people or creatures a level above you through the floor, which can be a bit of a "cheat". In any case, turn them off and you'll still have all the lighting effects such as torchlight on people, light shining on your blade and armour, etc. - View Distance The View Distance determines how far you can see. The lower the setting, the more "fog" you walk around in on a sunny day. Keep the View Distance at a reasonable length. However, you will get a noticeable decrease in fps if you set it above 80%, and any lower than around 50% and you're wandering around in fog all the time. I have mine at 80% and I would recommend it as a good balance of realistic viewing and performance.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - ADVANCED MORROWIND TWEAKS/TROUBLESHOOTINGPART 2 - ADVANCED MORROWIND TWEAKS/TROUBLESHOOTING1. Morrowind.ini TweakingMany of Morrowind's "hidden" settings are in the Morrowind.ini file found in the \Morrowind directory. This file can be opened and edited with the simple windows text editing utility Notepad. However, before doing any editing of this file, make a copy and call it something like Morrowind.RealINI.Here are some Morrowind.ini settings I have experimented with. I would recommend making the changes one at a time, saving, and checking the results in Morrowind. I personally only ended up keeping the altered Cellbuffer and MaxFPS settings and haven't implemented the rest of these changes permanently:Max FPS=100 this setting determines the maximum frames per second you can see in Morrowind. On first impression you'd think this setting would be best at its default 240 or even higher, so that there's no cap on your framerate. However ideally you should set max fps lower (e.g. at your monitor's maximum refresh rate, or a moderate figure like 60) to maintain smoother graphics. The higher the max fps, the more "jerkiness" and "stuttering" you may experience as your framerate fluctuates a lot more.ShowFPS=1 will show your frames per second in the lower right hand corner during the game Screen Shot Enable=1 will allow you to take in-game screenshots by pressing the Print Screen key. The screenshot will be placed in the Morrowind directory.Screen Shot Base Name=ScreenShot changing this name will change the name of the screenshot file Screen Shot Index=0 this is the number of screenshots you've already taken, and the number that'll be added to the name of the next screenshot. DontThreadLoad=1 will get rid of some of the smaller loading delays in the game. You'll get longer loading delays, but they'll happen less often. Interior Cell Buffer=64Exterior Cell Buffer=128 With 512MB of RAM I raised these buffer values from their original settings of 10 and 32 respectively. I've also tried higher values, but it seems with my memory these settings work best in smoothing out fps. If you have less memory, try lower values of around 32 and 64 respectively. UseLinear=0 will switch off Linear, and in place of it you can: UseQuadratic=1 to switch the light method. This may improve fps, however the change in lighting may not be to your taste. Number of Shadows=6 change this number (only works if you have Real Time Shadows on) Maximum Shadows Per Object=1 can also be altered to taste SurfaceFPS=25 this value (if Pixel Shaders are ON) can be altered to get a balance between visual quality/performance There are many other settings which can be played around with, and you can experiment if you like, however there are no "magic" settings which will suddenly increase your fps or smooth the game out dramatically. Read 3 below to understand why Morrowind runs slowly on most machines. 2. Morrowind Console CommandsYou can bring up the Morrowind Console - and close it again - by pressing the ~ key (top left corner below ESC). I don't know much about the Morrowind console commands, but apparently a full list of them is available in the TES Construction Set Help file.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Morrowind Game Engine3. Morrowind Game Engine - One Reason Behind Low Frames Per Second (FPS)In layman's terms, the graphics "engine" - the core programming code which provides all the graphical effects for the 3D Morrowind world - is such that it currently requires a great deal of processing power (both CPU and GPU) to run. Now there are ways in which it could perhaps do more with less, however the fact of the matter is that it is not fully optimised at the moment, and there is probably a great deal of work involved in "fixing" it to run faster. So everyone will experience slower framerates than we are used to with other games. The sad fact is that when a graphics engine is less than optimal in performance, the best we can do is use the tweaks in guides like this one to get the most out of our system and wait for a possible fix. It can only be fixed by the developers. People have complained a great deal about this situation and nothing's been done so far, so more complaining won't achieve much. The Morrowind developers are aware of the situation. I personally have Morrowind running quite smoothly on my modest machine (P4 firstname.lastname@example.org/GF3@240/540), so I'm sure if you tweak your system like I have, you'll get it running much more smoothly. However if you're running an older or weaker or unoptimised system, don't expect miracles, and don't blame everything on the engine. After all, a GeForce2MX card is not going to have enough power to render the beautiful Morrowind graphics at high fps no matter how good the engine or your CPU. The better the graphics in a game the more powerful the hardware you'll require. If it looks fantastic you can bet it needs a lot of powerMorrowind Forums, and in the readme.txt file found in the \Morrowind directory. On the topic of game bugs, there were several that were resolved by the Official Morrowind Patch. A "Fanfix" patch is also available, but I would strongly recommend against installing it because it's a workaround and not a fix, and it's not fully tested. I've noticed on the Morrowind forums that a lot of people wrongly think that certain game features or reactions or situations are "bugs". For example, choosing Dispose of Corpse will put all of the corpse's contents into your inventory. This may seem a little annoying, but it's a feature described in the manual and hence not a bug. Other apparent bugs are actually the result of memory corruption or bad installs of the game, or even fan plugins which conflict with the patch. The bottom line is do a search on the official forums first, read the manual again, make sure you've installed the game as suggest above with all the tweaks/optimisations listed here. Ideally, if you're not too far progressed, start a new game if your character was created before the new patch was released (as I did) to ensure there are no conflicts between the versions. If all of this fails then you may have actually encountered a bug, but in my experience, as a level 50 character I have encountered perhaps two actual bugs in the game - and I've completed all the Mages Guild, Fighters Guild and Redoran quests not to mention a whole bunch more. Don't be so quick to jump on the bug bandwagon - do a little reading and some more searching around beforehand.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - WINDOWS-SPECIFIC TWEAKS/OPTIMISATIONSPART 3 - WINDOWS-SPECIFIC TWEAKS/OPTIMISATIONSWhat follows are some optimisations/tweaks for Windows which should improve your computer's performance in all areas, not just for Morrowind. If your system is not optimised, doesn't have the correct drivers or the right settings then you can expect problems. A game like Morrowind will highlight these weaknesses because it pushes your hardware and software hard, and if your system is less than optimal or stable, you'll get lockups, crashes, errors and bugs. It's in your best interests to learn how to tune up and maintain your PC properly to get the most out of it, and to reduce frustrating crashes and problems.Note that the following is specifically for WindowsXP (Home and Pro), but should also broadly apply to Win9X/ME/2K.Note: The following system optimization information and links are well out of date. For the latest version of this information see my System Optimization Guide which is always kept up to date.1. The Latest Drivers/FirmwareIt is absolutely important that you have the latest drivers for your graphics card, sound card and motherboard chipset, as well as the latest BIOS for your motherboard. Even your monitor, CD/DVD ROM, and hard drive have drivers or firmware you should find and install. I will list the links for some common pieces of hardware, but basically all you need to do is go to a search engine like Google and type in the precise name and model of your hardware to find the drivers. Nvidia Graphics Cards - The latest drivers for Nvidia cards can be found at The Official Nvidia Website. Currently the latest and greatest version is 40.72 and they're well worth installing, providing up to 25% performance increase over older detonators. Older and newer Detonators (including betas) can be found at Gurud3D.com and Abitboy's Website. Ideally however, you should at least install the latest 40.72 detonators for bug fixes and stability sake alone. VIA Motherboards - The latest 4-in-1 drivers for VIA-based motherboards can be found at The Official Via Website - VIA Arena. The latest version is the 4.43 4-in-1s and they should be fine for most systems - especially newer Via chipsets like the KT400. I recommend the 4.40 4-in-1s for greatest stability on all via chipsets. For more information on how to install drivers for VIA motherboards, which to install, how to check version numbers, and all download links, check my Via Driver Guide here at the Tweaktown VIA forums.Intel Motherboards - Check the Intel Tech Support website, and enter your motherboard model. SoundBlaster Sound Cards - A commonly used brand of sound card, you can download the latest drivers for these from The Official Creative Website. Note in particular if you have a newer SB Audigy sound card, you must install the AudigyXP drivers because XP doesn't have native Audigy support. If your sound card doesn't support DirectX8.1 (e.g. older sound cards) then this will not meet Morrowind specs and hence you may have problems. BIOS - Go to your motherboard manufacturer's website. If you're not sure which motherboard/chipset you have, download SiSoft Sandra 2002 which is an excellent and commonly-used benchmarking/system information utility. Run the "Mainboard Information" module, and check the manufacturer and chipset.this site, just to make sure everything's up to date. Hard Drives - While the hard drive "driver" is actually the motherboard software for the IDE controllers, if you have an IBM drive you can (and should) update the firmware to prevent them from eventually becoming unusable. The failure rate on 75GXPs for example is quite high. You can download new firmware for these IBM drives here For any devices or manufacturers not listed here, search around and make completely sure you have the latest drivers for your device. That may not solve the problem, but it does make sure that your device is completely up to date (and it's the first thing tech support will ask you to do anyway). Finally, it's important that if you're installing non Windows-certified (WHQL) drivers, that you change the Digital Signing option in Windows so you can install them without problems. If your settings block the installation of drivers which aren't digitally signed (basically most of the new ones such as beta detonators and some 4-in-1s aren't because of the ridiculously high cost Microsoft impose on charging - $10,000 US per version of driver) then they won't install on your system even if it looks like the driver install ran fine. To view and adjust this setting, go into Control Panel>System>Hardware>Driver Signing and I would recommend you select Warn - Prompt me each time to choose an action. That way the system will warn you whether the drivers are signed or not, and in each case you can choose to continue or stop the install. In 99% of cases, installing a digitally unsigned driver is perfectly fine. If you're really paranoid, make a System Restore point before installing so you can wind back if you encounter problems.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Hard Drive Optimisation2. Hard Drive OptimisationOne of the most important but overlooked areas of system performance is your hard drive. If this is not running properly, it will be a bottleneck in your system regardless of how fast your CPU and graphics card is. You need to make sure your hard drive is running as fast and as smoothly as possible to improve performance. Here are the most important tips: - UDMA Go to Control Panel>System>Hardware>Device Manager>IDE ATA/ATAPIControllers>Primary IDE Channel (and the same for Secondary IDE Channel)>Advanced Settings and make sure that for every device that's actually connected it says "DMA If Available", and that the DMA mode is the highest your device can run. For example, for ATA100 hard drives on an ATA100 compatible motherboard, the highest mode is UDMA 5. For IDE CD/DVD ROM and CDRW, the highest mode possible is UDMA 2.Cacheman, a utility which helps you set the various cache sizes on your machine. You only need to run it once, then under the Show Wizard menu, select All and follow the instructions to set the right cache sizes. Next, go to the Options button and make sure the Load Cacheman at Windows Startup box is unticked. We don't want it to load every time at startup - it only needs to be run once and the settings saved on exit. Reboot to activate the new cache settings. - Swapfile/Pagefile/Virtual Memory Size Now, you'll need the optimal swapfile size. The swapfile (or pagefile or virtual memory) is often misunderstood and confused with the disk cache (see above). The swapfile is an area of the hard drive where windows will swap information from the physical memory (RAM) into the virtual memory (pagefile) and back - in effect giving you more actual memory than you have physically installed. To optimise the size and use of the pagefile, go to Control Panel>System>Advanced>Performance>Settings>Advanced>Virtual Memory>Change and select Custom Size. Now the more memory you have, the less virtual memory you'll need. And if you make the minimum and maximum the same size, Windows will use fewer resources to continually calculate and resize the thing, and more importantly you will reduce CTDs. On my system with 512MB, I found that Morrowind needs around 768MB min/max pagefile to work without any crashes or problems. With less RAM you should set more virtual memory. Ideally make sure your RAM + Virtual Memory = around 1.1GB. If you have 1GB of RAM for example, set Virtual Memory to 100MB (but don't set it to 0 as some games need virtual memory to be present). Once done, click on Set. - Defragmenting Correctly Defragmenting your drive. Another misunderstood area of disk behavior, when information is written to your hard drive, over time individual files will be "fragmented" all over various areas of the actual drive, and this can slow the computer down in reading the entire files. By running the defrag utility you defragment the files. The best method of doing this is to first follow the steps in the item above, however this time select No Paging File and click Set. This deletes the swapfile for now. Next make sure all the main programs you want to use on your computer, including Morrowind are installed and all the large files you want on your hard drive are all there. Next, run the Defrag utility. Then once everything is defragmented, go through steps above again and reset your swapfile size to the size you chose. This will make sure that the swapfile is not itself fragmented (because defrag can't defragment the swapfile and will show it as "unmovable files" - so we have to use this method). It's best to run defragmenter straight after you copy/delete/create large files on your drive, and once a week to keep things running smoothly. Having done all of the above, you can test your hard drive speed using a utility like George Breese's HD Speed Utility. As a benchmark, my ATA100 7200rpm 40gb drive with all the optimisations above does around 89MBs/39MBs on HDSpeed.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Graphics Card Optimisation3. Graphics Card OptimisationThe following is a guide to optimising an Nvidia graphics card (especially GeForce cards). Sadly I don't know the best settings for other cards. Go to Control Panel>Display>Settings>Advanced>[Name of Card]>Additional Properties screens. There are 5 main screens by default: 3D Anti Aliasing OpenGL Direct3D Overlay Controls Desktop Utilities If you've enabled the "coolbits" tweak in your registry, then you'll also see the Clock Frequencies tab. If you haven't enabled coolbits, then follow our Beginners Guide to Overclocking nVidia Video Cards to see how and why you should do it. It's not a "hack", it's just hidden functionality on your GeForce card which Nvidia doesn't usually show because it doesn't want kids messing around with it accidentally. You can also use RivaTuner to change the clock speeds and other settings far beyond those mentioned here. - Clock Frequencies I won't cover the Clock Frequencies tab because it's covered in the above "coolbits" guide. Just remember with Morrowind the higher you overclock your card the better your framerates, but you will also experience more stuttering, lockups and crashes to desktop. See 6 below for more on overclocking problems.- Overlay Controls (won't be covered as they're fairly self-explanatory). - Desktop Utilities (won't be covered except to say untick both boxes - neither are necessary). - 3D Anti Aliasing Full Screen Anti Aliasing (FSAA) is a way in which the drivers attempt to "smooth" the jagged edges of the 3D items rendered on your screen, especially at lower resolutions. Graphics looks better but at the cost of lower performance. Set this to "Allow applications to control the Anti-aliasing mode". If you want to be 100% certain Anti Aliasing is not running in any games (for maximum performance) select the second option and set it to off. - OpenGL Of no relevance to Morrowind whatsoever (as Morrowind runs only under Direct3D), I'll include the optimal settings for this API here just for reference. These settings should be optimal for most people, and I won't go into lengthy explanations here.Performance and Compatibility Options Of the five boxes, only have the first two ticked. Default color depth should be set at "Use Desktop color Depth" initially. Best if color depth of desktop matches that in game. Buffer Flipping Mode Auto Select Vertical Sync (Definition covered below) Off by default or Always off for best performance...depends on taste and monitor. Anisotropic filtering disabled for best performance, successively higher settings will increase image quality and reduce performance by varying amounts based on graphics card and detonator version.Amount of Memory in PCI mode leave at default. Has no impact unless you have a PCI graphics card. Most people have AGP cards nowadays. - Direct3D This is the graphics mode in which Morrowind runs, and you'll get noticeable differences in Morrowind when changing these settings: Enable Fog Table Emulation: Definitely tick this box. Display Logo when Running 3D Apps Untick this box - Totally unnecessary. Mipmapping The settings range from Best Image to Best Performance, and do exactly what they say. Best Image - the top selection in the box - is the ideal setting. Any lower and graphics quality falls, but fps rises. The choice is yours but I prefer Best Image. PCI Texture Memory Size leave at default. Has no impact unless you have a PCI card. Most people have AGP cards nowadays.More Direct3D button under this button are several choices (especially if you've installed the coolbits entry): - Texel Alignment leave this at default (3) - Vertical Sync (VSync) is basically where your graphics card waits for your monitor before it refreshes the screen. That means your frames per second (how fast the screen refreshes) will be capped at how fast your monitor can refresh at the chosen resolution. For example, some monitors can refresh 85 times per second at 1280x1024. This is shown as 85Hz @ 1280x1024 in your monitor specs. That means with VSync on, your fps will be limited to 85 at most. Now, turning VSync off will allow your fps to increase over this limit(e.g. indoors in Morrowind, I'll get 120fps at times, but my monitor can only refresh 75 times per second at 1600x1200) but the downside is - depending on the monitor - you may see the image "tear" in parts as you look around quickly. This won't damage your monitor, but it can be annoying to some. Turning VSync off also has the advantage that it actually allows your overall fps to increase a little bit, even if they're not in excess of the monitor's refresh rate. So in Balmora you may go from 18 to 21fps. Try turning it to "Always Off" and see what you think. - Render Ahead Leave at default 3, unless you have real problems with mouse/joystick lag in which case lower it. Remember though that Morrowind already has mouse lag normally due to the slow cursor, especially at high resolutions, and in places where your fps is low, and this setting doesn't change that.If you can't see the Vertical Sync or Render Ahead option, you need to enable coolbits (see above) or use a tweaking utility like RivaTuner. - GeForce FAQ If you want to troubleshoot problems with a GeForce graphics card, you can't go past this definitive GeForce FAQ. It will answer all your GeForce-related questions in an easy-to-find way. - Refresh Rate Fix Under Win2K/XP, there's a problem in which the refresh rate (see VSync above) is stuck at 60Hz (60fps) at all resolutions, despite the fact that most monitors can exceed this, particularly at resolutions of 1280x1024 and below. This can cause eyestrain not to mention it's simply annoying if you have good hardware capable of much more. The solution can be found in a variety of fixes, but the most reliable one I've found, which works with all the latest detonator versions on Nvidia cards is RivaTuner. Download and install this utility, and once run, select the Customise button under the Driver Settings area on the Main screen. Then simply click the 60Hz button which appears, and then click the first tick mark at the bottom (for all resolutions), click the multicolour button with the lock (for all colour depths), select the double forward arrow button to choose the maximum refresh rate supported by your monitor for all these resolutions and colour depths. Select Install to run the fix and reboot as requested.A universal fix which works with all graphics cards and detonators can be also found here.
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Optimal BIOS Settings4. Optimal BIOS SettingsTo get into your BIOS, you usually press the DEL or F1 key immediately as the PC is booting up. Look at the bottom left corner of the screen just after your monitor has switched on and you'll see which key. Now there are several different BIOS types, many settings and various names for the same settings, so I won't go into much detail here. The best way to check your BIOS settings and optimise them is to follow the Definitive BIOS Optimisation Guide which is excellent. Each BIOS setting is indexed alphabetically and explained quite well. If you really want to get the most out of your system, and improve stability and performance you'll have to correctly set up your BIOS. There's no way around it. I'll comment on the settings most relevant to Morrowind: - AGP Aperature Size The common myth is that this should be ½ your RAM size. This is not true. Read the BIOS Guide above to find out why, but for people with 256MB of RAM or above I would recommend choosing a 128MB aperature size. Don't allow your aperature size to be below 64MB as this turns off AGP Texturing. And don't set it to anything above 256MB. - AGP 4x/2x If you're running AGP4x on your system and it's not a new system, try AGP2x. AGP4x was known to be quite unstable on most systems up until very recently when both the graphics cards and motherboards have had better implementation of AGP4x which is very stable. The speed difference between AGP4x and AGP2x is almost non-existent. - Sidebanding Turn off sidebanding if you have it on. It's another cause of instability, and the speed difference is effectively nil. - Fast Writes Fast Writes is another cause of instability with a minute speed difference with it on. Turn it off to ensure greater stability. Note that setting AGP4x, Sidebanding or Fast Writes in the bios does not guarantee these settings will run at 4x or be enabled in Windows. You should use RivaTuner or similar tweaking utilities to check and alter these settings to ensure they are on or off as required. I would highly recommend that if you're having problems you stick with AGP2x, Fast writes off, Sidebanding off for maximum stability. - RAM Timing Settings These are many and varied, but for safety and stability, initially set these to 'Auto' or 'By Spd' to ensure they're not too fast for your RAM. Also, if you have two or more different brands/speeds of RAM in your system then run the RAM at the setting supported by the slowest RAM stick. Even then, this can still be a source of problems, so attempt to have all your DIMMS the same speed and brand for optimal stability.5. Windows Tweak GuidesAbsolutely essential to getting the most out of your machine is tweaking Windows. I've written two comprehensive WinXP Tweak Guides which bring together all the major performance settings and tweaks. I recommend you read and follow them from start to finish:WinXP Tweaking: From Reformat to RelaxWinXP Tweaking: From Relax to RighteousThe following tweak guides are also excellent and I highly recommend you read and follow them too:Our WinXP Tweak Guide - Part 1Our WinXP Tweak Guide - Part 2WinXP Services Tweak Guide
Morrowind Tweak Guide - Overclocking and Conclusion6. Overclocking I've already mentioned how to enable the tools for overclocking your graphics card above. However, the concept and necessary details on how to safely overclock your PC are lengthy and would fill several guides. So I'm simply going to address overclocking from a troubleshooting point of view here. Basically if your system is overclocked, you are running your machine beyond specifications. This can create several problems. First of all, individual components such as the CPU and graphics card (and even the hard drive) will build up additional heat for which their stock cooling may not be adequate. It can sometimes take quite a while for heat to build up in your case, and even with the case sides off, heat may still be building up and not dissipating fast enough from the immediate area around these components. This results most commonly in system crashes, lockups and even data corruption. In fact, almost every lockup is due to heat or hardware failure of some sort. If you're experiencing any lockups then first of all try taking the case sides off, then try putting a normal desk fan facing into the case and see if that reduces the lockups or increase the length of time before you get one. If so then heat is the culprit. The only option you have is to buy better cooling for your PC, and in most cases, to also reduce the overclock. Crashes to desktop are similarly often caused by overclocked components (particularly RAM and CPU) simply not coping with the overclock. Even if cooled properly, there's a limit to which a component can be overclocked and still remain stable. So wind back the overclock and see if it helps. Finally, I personally value stability over speed. I mean there's not much point to having a fast system if you keep crashing every 30-60 minutes. You might impress people with your 3DMark2001 score, but generally gaming is frustrating on such machines. Most importantly, even if you crash in one game or app, or under rare circumstances, then you still have an unstable system. In the case of Morrowind in particular, it really stresses system components. Even if all your other games run fine on your overclocked machine, Morrowind will probably crash it 9 times out of 10 simply because it's so demanding, whether through unoptimised code or whatever. Reduce your overclock dramatically and if you get a reduction in crashes then you know where the fault lies. And on the topic of 3DMark2001, you can download it from here. It's a graphical benchmark which will give you a numerical result. The best way to use it is not so much to impress the opposite sex, but to see if the tweaks you're doing will increase your graphics performance (the 3DMark result increases) or decrease it. It's also a good stability test, because you can leave it to loop continuously for several hours as a simulation of intense graphical gaming and if you get a crash then your system is not stable enough. Gaming section of our forums!
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT
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