Here are some of my favorite tips after about eight months of owning a system based on an Asus P7P55D-E. Some of the tips are applicable to all systems, not just Asus-based ones.
Re-program the power button to “sleep.”
If you’re like me, you rarely need to shut your PC down completely. Instead, it’s quick and efficient to put the computer into sleep mode, enabling you later to almost instantly resume where you left off.
You can take this really easy to do in everyday life: use the Windows Control Panel to re-map the power button to "sleep" instead of shut down the computer. Now, when you’re done using the computer, just hit the power button and walk away. Sleep is an almost instant low-power standby mode — mine uses only about 7 watts during sleep, which translates to around $7 per year in energy costs.
The main benefit is that you can resume right where you left off. I typically have a lot of browser windows open, and I like to be able to leave them open and pick up where I left off, instead of closing them all during a shutdown cycle. (Another benefit is that if you have young kids whose curious fingers might find their way to your computer’s shiny power button, the worst that can happen is that they’ll sleep the machine instead of shutting down in the middle of whatever you were doing.)
Lastly, it almost never makes sense to hibernate a modern machine. (Hibernation is like sleep, only the system state is written to disk and then turned off completely, using no power.) With today’s RAM sizes, it takes a sizable amount of time to read and write the entire memory state – 2 to 8 GB for instance — to and from disk. There would appear to be no benefits over sleeping – or just shutting down completely.
For faster boots, disable Asus Express Gate.
Asus Express Gate is a “splashtop” – a BIOS feature that provides quick access to e-mail and the web without needing to boot the main OS (e.g. Windows). But if you’re like most of us — ahem – you set your PC to sleep instead of turning it off, so you have pretty much instant access anyway to browsing, email, etc. And the fact that I have an SSD in a Core i7 box means that booting to the full OS takes only about 20 to 25 seconds, anyway. Turning off Express Gate – it’s on by default — will shave 5-10 seconds off your boot, since the BIOS waits for some seconds to give you a chance to launch it.
Fancy, neat, and… totally unneccessary
Overclock to a reasonable speed.
Use the included software to overclock to something reasonable and safe. You should know that with properly balanced components (CPU, HD, video), even a stock Core i7 running at just under 3 GHz is pretty awesomely snappy.
I used the Turbo Evo autoclocker included with the Asus motherboard to tune up to 3.36 GHz; I also installed a heat sink . Pushing the auto-tuning envelope, the system can hit speeds of 3.6GHz and higher. But with more overclocking comes the risk of system instability. If you can do it, more power to you; but if not, there are at least two other subsystems that greatly affect overall system performance: hard drive and video card.
Really want your system to snap? Invest $200 in a boot SSD. Aggressively overclocking a Core i7 (or other modern processor) while it’s still chained to a 7200 RPM hard drive is just plain foolishness.
TurboV EVO running “crazy fast” on my system
What are your favorite motherboard or system tweaks? Share your insights in the comments.