NVIDIA makes some of the most popular graphic accelerators and churns out one extremely successful product after another. NVIDIA video cards are used by many worldwide and their long running GeForce line of cards is more configurable than ever. Thanks to NVIDIA's world class Detonator drivers one can go deep into the heart of your card and configure many features; however, there are more that remain unseen which is why we will employ the help of Rivatuner.
Rivatuner is not the only NVIDIA tweaking program out there. NVmax is another excellent package that is now unfortunately defunct although you can still find news and reviews on the latest 3D technology on their website. A number of other, simpler ways to tweak can be found adding additional options to your existing NVIDIA driver package. An excellent example is a registry tweak such as Coolbits, which adds software overclocking support to all NVIDIA cards.
The refresh rate lock is one the most frustrating issues plaguing nearly all video cards on the Win2K/XP systems. The problem is such that Windows has the nasty habit of forcing a 60Hz refresh-rate in all games in hopes of greater compatibility. Fortunately there are a number of simple programs available that can force Windows to use any refresh-rate you wish in each resolution.
Our favorite program for this task is NVRefresh Tool 1.0. This program is no different from many of the others available, other than it is religiously updated, and unlike some, we have never had any compatibility problems with newer drivers. If you would rather not deal with a program that modifies drivers to fix the refresh-rate problem, then you may want to take a look at RefreshLock. RefreshLock resides in the system tray and will intercept the drivers' false refresh-rate call, and apply a refresh-rate fix, bypassing the drivers entirely.
NVIDIA generally does a very good job at providing a number of ways to tweak the visual quality and speed with various tabs in their drivers. After we take a brief look at what we can do with NVIDIA's standard drivers, we will take a look at Rivatuner for some extreme tweaking action.
NVIDIA's driver tabs can be accessed by right clicking on the desktop, navigating to the settings tab, and clicking the advanced button in the lower right-hand corner. Finally for the advanced options, we need to click on the tab labeled with the model of your video card, then click on the additional properties button.
This tab, as the title suggests, deals with the configuration of anti-aliasing in 3D applications and games. You can set the drivers to look for anti-aliasing settings in games, or can manually force various levels of anti-aliasing. There are four different levels of anti-aliasing that can be applied, 2X, Quincunx, 4X and 4XS, the latter of which can only be applied to Direct 3D Games.
The "best" anti-aliasing setting really depends on personal preference. If you're running a GeForce4-based card, 2X is nearly free in all games so it's always a good idea to run with at least that level enabled. If you want a smoother screen than you may want to try Quincunx which provides 4X level anti-aliasing with the performance impact of 2X. However, Quincunx tends to blur textures and text unlike traditional 2X or 4X, so if you plan on running Quincunx you may want to try some Anisotropic filtering at the same time in an attempt to cancel out the potential for blurring.