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Netbook graphics given a boost

Netbook graphics given a boost

The GMABooster application is available for Windows, Linux, and MacOS - although you have to keep installing it each week unless you register.

Netbooks are great – well, I think they are – but nobody's ever accused them of being fast in the gaming graphics department, largely down to the common usage of Intel Graphics Media Accelerator GPUs. However, a new package promises to give gamers' netbooks a bit of a boost.

A new tool by Vladimir Plenskiy called GMABooster – via jkOnTheRun – promises to unlock the hidden performance of your Intel GMA950 graphics chip on the common 945GM/GME/GMS/GSE and 943/940GML/GU chipsets, without draining your battery too quickly.

The application works by changing the clock speed of the ultra-low voltage version installed into netbooks of 133/166MHz to the standard desktop speed of 400MHz. As the graphics chip is designed for these speeds, there's little or no risk of anything crashing or overheating – at least, according to the developer.

The application only affects the clock speed, and doesn't change the voltage level – meaning that battery life and heat output shouldn't be affected too much. Ben over at UMPCPortal ran some tests on two netbooks – the HP Mini 1000 and the Sony Vaio UX180 – and reported a increase in Crystal Mark scores of around 22 percent.

The application is available for both Linux and Windows – and even MacOS X if you've created yourself a little portable hackintosh – and is described by Plenskiy as “donorware.” Although it's freely to download, the software will stop working after a week – with nothing to stop you re-downloading it and re-installing it should you so choose – unless you donate and receive a serial number.

Even with the GMABooster tool, you're unlikely to be playing Crysis on your netbook, but it's still a pretty clever hack to squeeze that little bit extra performance out of the miniature marvels.

Tempted to give GMABooster a go on your own netbook, or is overclocking a device that is designed for portability over power perfectly pointless? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

27 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Gunsmith 30th April 2009, 11:41 Quote
requires .net 2.0

theres got to be a more eficient way of hacking clock speed then installing .net
Saivert 30th April 2009, 14:32 Quote
Just install it. There are lots of apps that are developed using .NET framework today. It's a more managed secure way to make programs. They tend to be more reliable.
It's only Windows XP that doesn't come bundled with it. Even ATI Catalyst Control Center requires .NET Framework 2.0 to install and run.
AndyFielder 30th April 2009, 14:41 Quote
works great for me!!

more wow at work :P
AstralWanderer 30th April 2009, 14:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saivert
Just install it...
You do know that .NET Framework adds over 1.2MB of data to the Windows Registry, right? (a 12% increase compared to a new Windows install). Since registry size affects startup time (it has to be loaded into memory) and memory usage, keeping "registry bloat" under control is a key factor in maintaining a tidy (and stable) Windows installation.

As for Catalyst Control Centre, that is not only the most inappropriate example of .NET usage I have seen, but also excellent marketing for ATI Tray Tools - or Nvidia Forceware.
DirtyH 30th April 2009, 16:12 Quote
oh my god, 1.2MB...

we're all going to die
steveo_mcg 30th April 2009, 16:29 Quote
And what of the rest of the .net frame work, if your working with an 8gb disk every little helps.
zimbloggy 30th April 2009, 16:31 Quote
I used to have the 945G chipset on my desktop (well, I still do, but I got a decent graphics card). There were some people who modded the 965 (a better intel integrated chipset) to get better framerates and compatibility.

If you have a netbook with these chipsets this group would probably help you: http://groups.google.com/group/intel9x-gaming?pli=1, but it's mainly for XP and Vista users.
thehippoz 30th April 2009, 17:15 Quote
yeah the writer of that program is on the msiwind forums.. these guys use setfsb and that gmabooster to oc their netbooks to hell XD some up to 2.1ghz and claim youtube 720p video runs without issues- I dunno seems aweful high without stability issues

this little mini pci device looks cool http://shop.ebay.co.uk/items/_W0QQLHQ5fPrefLocZ2QQ_dmptZUKQ5fComputingQ5fComputerQ5fComponentsQ5fGraphicsQ5fVideoQ5fTVQ5fCardsQ5fTW?_nkw=pci-e+hd+decoder&_sacat=0&_fromfsb=&_trksid=m270.l1313&_odkw=pcie+hd&_osacat=0

would replace your wifi card though.. but this in a cheap netbook, just use the wired lan and setfsb for the youtube.. I dunno call me crazy but > nvidia ion?
Clo_UD 30th April 2009, 20:23 Quote
Wow, I'm very interested. I just found 3D Mark charts with GMABooster enabled and without it. http://www.hardware.info/images/news/gmabooster_screenshots_550.png
Twice faster pixel shader rendering! Twice faster texture processing! To good to be true... Though this is a well-known german site and I doubt they have been kidding or lying :)
The question is: why has Intel degraded GMA 950 on netbooks? Is it a commercial trick to make netbooks incomparable to even low-end laptops?
wuyanxu 30th April 2009, 20:42 Quote
if no voltage change yet increase clock speed by more than 200%, surely that would introduce instability?
Turbotab 30th April 2009, 20:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
yeah the writer of that program is on the msiwind forums.. these guys use setfsb and that gmabooster to oc their netbooks to hell XD some up to 2.1ghz and claim youtube 720p video runs without issues- I dunno seems aweful high without stability issues

would replace your wifi card though.. but this in a cheap netbook, just use the wired lan and setfsb for the youtube.. I dunno call me crazy but > nvidia ion?

Did those guys running @ > 2 GHz, post any temp readings?
500mph 30th April 2009, 20:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clo_UD
Wow, I'm very interested. I just found 3D Mark charts with GMABooster enabled and without it. http://www.hardware.info/images/news/gmabooster_screenshots_550.png
Twice faster pixel shader rendering! Twice faster texture processing! To good to be true... Though this is a well-known german site and I doubt they have been kidding or lying :)
The question is: why has Intel degraded GMA 950 on netbooks? Is it a commercial trick to make netbooks incomparable to even low-end laptops?

Battery life, that is all.
perplekks45 30th April 2009, 20:56 Quote
Astral... are you serious?
You don't install .NET because it slows down your boot times? And, no offence, but I wouldn't call .NET registry bloat as it actually brings you some nice additions and support for a lot of programs/tools you might find useful.
Running Vista with .NET 3.0 [no SP1 installed yet, thanks to crappy mobile broadband being the most unstable thing since W95A] I can't see it being unstable at all, or booting too slow.

Well, each to his/her own I guess...
thehippoz 30th April 2009, 21:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbotab
Did those guys running @ > 2 GHz, post any temp readings?

here http://forums.msiwind.net/internal-hardware/boost-your-gma-950-speed-166-200-250-400-mhz-t8130-200.html
HourBeforeDawn 30th April 2009, 21:42 Quote
I cant wait to get my EeePC 1000he, so this would also solve the Hulu issues as well I would assume?

Edit: I installed it onto an EeePC 1000HA at work and bumped it up to 400 and so far all the hulu issues we were having with the lag at full screen and at 480p and what not is gone so this is great, we had two of these EeePC get returned for the sole reason that they couldnt handle Hulu correctly, I came up with some work arounds to get it working but this way with the booster its sooo much easier, so ya this is awesome. For the hell of it we are going to install WoW onto it, we did that before and in areas with no people we got up to 17fps and in heavy areas 1-2 fps so it will be interesting to see what the difference will be now probably not to much but ehh still should be fun.
HourBeforeDawn 30th April 2009, 22:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz


this little mini pci device looks cool http://shop.ebay.co.uk/items/_W0QQLHQ5fPrefLocZ2QQ_dmptZUKQ5fComputingQ5fComputerQ5fComponentsQ5fGraphicsQ5fVideoQ5fTVQ5fCardsQ5fTW?_nkw=pci-e+hd+decoder&_sacat=0&_fromfsb=&_trksid=m270.l1313&_odkw=pcie+hd&_osacat=0

would replace your wifi card though.. but this in a cheap netbook, just use the wired lan and setfsb for the youtube.. I dunno call me crazy but > nvidia ion?

huh you think that would work? could be something to consider if you dont need wifi like in a long car ride and wont have access to anything.
AstralWanderer 30th April 2009, 23:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
You don't install .NET because it slows down your boot times?
Boot times are not the overriding concern for me but maintaining a bloat-free system (as much as possible) is. While most other software adds to the Registry, such additions tend to be less than 30KB so if you consider 1.2MB the equivalent of installing more than 50-60 programs, then you have a reasonable idea of its impact.
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
And, no offence, but I wouldn't call .NET registry bloat as it actually brings you some nice additions and support for a lot of programs/tools you might find useful.
Fine, if there is something that you really value that requires .NET then install it. However it is an issue that deserves careful and critical consideration, not a "no-brainer" as one poster above seemed to suggest. And companies that require it for necessary system utilities (looking at you ATI) or install it without user consent (yes, Obsidian, that means you with NWN2) deserve criticism.

Since the trademark of .NET software tends to be extremely slow load times (e.g. Stardock's Impulse initially took more than 10 seconds to start up on a well-specced system) I would always look for an non-.NET alternative that, to be frank, shows more consideration for user time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
Running Vista with .NET 3.0 [no SP1 installed yet, thanks to crappy mobile broadband being the most unstable thing since W95A] I can't see it being unstable at all, or booting too slow.
.NET's inclusion by default in Vista is likely to be one of several reasons for Vista's poorer performance and higher resource use compared to Win2K/XP.
perplekks45 30th April 2009, 23:25 Quote
Vista performs poor? Haven't noticed this for quite some time. Yes, it wasn't the fastest OS on the planet and it might be slower than XP/7 sometimes but overall it's quite fast [now].
And higher resource use? You mean the SuperFetch and that stuff that "uses" your RAM? I thought we finally settled that discussion a long time ago. :p

But I agree with you that it shouldn't be used for system utilities, especially given the download size of new versions and SPs and yes, it should be handled as a crime to install ANYTHING without user consent [listen carefully, Sony!].
cyrilthefish 1st May 2009, 01:01 Quote
that was odd, tried it on my ultraportable and it actually made it slower when allegedly overclocked

3dmark03:
default: 687
400mhz: 595

:?

might be a compatibility issue with windows7 tho
Boogle 1st May 2009, 10:51 Quote
LOL 1.2MB "bloat". Oh the humanity!

If anyone is so obsessed over performance they should be using DOS. Afterall with Windows you've got numerous copies of C++ libraries (MS VC++ runtime, VC++ 2005 runtime, other compiler's runtimes, the various C runtimes to go with the C++ runtimes, zip libraries, etc. etc.), games users will have 10+ copies of DX libraries and a few copies of 3rd party libraries like Bink. Every large OS is much the same - it's to ensure apps work without requiring all apps work with the very latest version of these libraries. If anything, .NET possibly has a smaller long-term cost since ALL apps use the single shared instance of the Framework rather than having their own copies.

Sure some .NET apps are slow, but that's because the application itself was written wastefully. I can't see a small utility like this bogging down a netbook and making boot times take hours. In fact it improves performance so...

As for slow .NET startup times, that's an unfortunate side-effect of a design decision with .NET. Of course with every price you pay, you get something back - in this case it means theoretically faster run-time performance and lower total RAM usage. Basically .NET apps are compiled to machine code at bootup. This is for two major reasons: 1. The app is then optimised for maximum performance for your specific PC (aka. if you have SSE3 support, SSE3 will be used where possible - even though it wasn't available when the app was first made). 2. It means generic code can be written by the programmer, and then compiled when necessary reducing memory footprint and increasing performance (native code, rather than lots of boxing/unboxing).

I would humbly suggest that if anyone is so scared about something affecting performance, they should go back to an extremely lightweight OS like Linux with command line only, or even DOS. A GUI is far too much overhead and will kill performance due to it's 100s of MB of overhead.
Boogle 1st May 2009, 10:56 Quote
Just a quick follow-up to a single comment:

".NET's inclusion by default in Vista is likely to be one of several reasons for Vista's poorer performance and higher resource use compared to Win2K/XP."

If the library isn't being called/used, then it's taking up 0 CPU time and 0 RAM since it's not being used. If I don't use the Calculator in Windows, then it's only cost is the HD space the exe file takes up - the app isn't loaded up so it isn't using CPU time or RAM. Same with the .NET framework - if no apps use it, then by extension there's no way it can do anything but use up HD space.
perplekks45 1st May 2009, 13:41 Quote
Couldn't have put it better...
HourBeforeDawn 1st May 2009, 20:33 Quote
is no one just happy anymore that someone bothered to even do this to begin with, stop the bitching and be happy that you have at least an option to even consider doing this.
dtom2444 1st May 2009, 23:12 Quote
can anyone please tell me how to install this on Ubuntu? the readme says through a terminal but i still have no idea how that's done. thanks.
Gareth Halfacree 2nd May 2009, 00:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtom2444
can anyone please tell me how to install this on Ubuntu? the readme says through a terminal but i still have no idea how that's done. thanks.
First, extract the ZIP file somewhere - your home directory will be fine. You'll end up with a directory called GMABooster_Linux_09b.

Launch the Terminal. Do the following:
Code:
cd ~/GMABooster_Linux_09b
chmod +x GMABooster
sudo ./GMABooster
You'll be asked for your password and then the app should run.
Boogle 2nd May 2009, 18:04 Quote
So ummmm... can you play games with GMA Netbooks now?
AstralWanderer 3rd May 2009, 05:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle
...Afterall with Windows you've got numerous copies of C++ libraries...
Which have zero impact on resource usage until they're loaded. The Windows Registry, on the other hand, has significant portions loaded into memory all the time, so anything that increases its size greatly will have a measureable impact. Why else do you think Windows-based setups tend to run slower over time?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle
...in this case it means theoretically faster run-time performance and lower total RAM usage.
Very theoretical indeed. See The Coming .NET World – I’m scared, .NET World Follow Up and Managed Code Controversy for more considered analysis of the overheads involved.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle
...if anyone is so scared about something affecting performance, they should go back to an extremely lightweight OS like Linux with command line only, or even DOS.
To take the converse (and equally silly) view, you'd be blissfully happy at paying unnecessarily on upgrades to regain previous levels of functionality, as long as your bloat of choice had lots of dials and widgets to play with?

The views you have espoused simply serve to excuse sloppy, idle and incompetent work by those software developers who persist in thowing unwanted kitchen sinks on users' systems.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle
...Same with the .NET framework - if no apps use it, then by extension there's no way it can do anything but use up HD space.
I take it you weren't aware that portions of Vista (e.g. Task Scheduler, Management Console, Event Viewer) use .NET then?
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