nTune vs. RivaTuner
If you don’t like the ergonomics of RivaTuner, or you’re wary of a utility written by independent programmers, you can take a look at nTune, published by Nvidia. As its name indicates, nTune lets you "tune" your system. It’s most useful with a PC equipped with a motherboard with an nForce chipset. nTune lets you adjust the overclocking of the CPU and the RAM, monitor the overall state of the system, etc. But even on our reference system with an Intel X38 chipset, nTune let us tweak the graphics card.
nTune has the advantage of integrating fully into the ForceWare driver control panel. After you install it, the Performance tab sports new options, including "Adjust GPU Settings." There, as with RivaTuner, you’ll see two cursors – one for the GPU frequency, the other for the memory frequency. Nvidia won’t let you desynchronize the shaders.
Faults in common
nTune is nicely integrated into the ForceWare drivers, and that avoids having several programs resident. But aside from that, it offers fewer functions than RivaTuner, and doesn’t correct the latter’s faults. For example, while both programs offer the possibility of changing the regulation of the fan speed, it had no effect on our reference GeForce 9600 GT. Its fan obstinately kept spinning at 35% of its maximum capacity – a speed at which it was relatively quiet. Also, the overclocking generated via these two programs is transient – you lose it when you reboot. To avoid having to readjust the settings at each boot-up, you need to take an additional little step. In RivaTuner, you have to remember to check the "Apply overclocking at Windows start-up" box. With nTune, you need to save your overclocking settings in a profile. Then you need to go the "Adjust Custom Rules" tab and set it up to load the profile when Windows starts up. The process could stand to be a bit more intuitive.
Finally, we were disappointed with the energy management possibilities Nvidia provides. Even running the Windows desktop alone in idle state, the card was at maximum frequency, consuming energy uselessly. A 2D/3D mode would have been a good idea. RivaTuner lets you define three different sets of frequencies: "Standard 2D," "Low Power 3D" and "Performance 3D." But those settings wouldn’t work with our GeForce, which was a shame.
If you’re comfortable with all these drawbacks and caveats, you’re ready to go on to the next stage: changing the BIOS of the graphics card to make the overclocking permanent.