Author: Frank Stroupe
nVidia Enthusiast System Architecture
For most of us, monitoring and tweaking our systems is one of the most important part of being a PC enthusiast. Whether you are an overclocker, gamer, or just want the most efficient system you can get, you need to see what is going on inside your case. Temps, voltages, clock rates, fan speeds, memory timings, flow rates on water systems, S.M.A.R.T. data from hard drives, all are relevant information that most of us like to know at one time or another, some of us want to know these things at all times.
But what a pain it has always been to get this information. Generally you had to use third party software to get what you could, or a combination of third party software and motherboard manufacturer’s utilities. Other information has been available only in the BIOS. CPUZ is definitely the most popular software to tell you the relevant clock information about your CPU and memory. There have been a number of utilities over the years to tell you temperature and fan information, Motherboard Monitor 5 was popular during the Socket A era, more recently CoreTemp and SpeedFan are popular programs for that purpose. I have generally liked the motherboard manufacturer’s monitor utilities, Abit’s AbitEQ and Asus’ PC Probe have served me well over the years. Many motherboard manufacturers have started adding overclocking capability to their monitoring utilities, most of which seem to add instability to a system, which is a shame.
And that’s just the motherboard and CPU sensor information. What about video card information? I’ve usually used ATI Tool on Radeon cards, which both monitors and overclocks graphics cards, and recently it was expanded to work on nVidia cards. Unfortunately it no longer works for ATI cards, the Overdrive function in the Catalyst Control Center takes care of that. The nVidia Control Panel has usually sufficed to monitor my geForce cards, and more recently I’ve used it for overclocking too. I received an nVidia overclocking utility with my first geForce card, I think it was called nBits, and I used it with the next few geForce cards. Though I guess the manufacturers’ utilities are popular, most people I know use RivaTuner for GPU monitoring and overclocking, a third party utility for that purpose. I’ve used a couple of other ones over the years, but I don’t recall the names.
And where do you monitor S.M.A.R.T. information for your hard drive. Currently, Everest is the only software I can think of offhand, and maybe Sandra. How about information about your liquid cooling? Yeah, right.
Anyway, you get the point. Wouldn’t it be nice to find all of this information in one place? Launch a single utility for a one-stop shop to do all of your monitoring, and be able to tweak GPU, fans, water pump, etc. Even overclock your CPU if you would rather do it in the Windows environment.
Well, the guys at nVidia though so too. Working with their partners, they have come up with a system providing a portal into your rig providing all of the aforementioned information and then some. They call it “ESA” or Enthusiast System Architecture. Over the past couple of months, our friends at Thermaltake have provided three ESA-compliant items to enable us to put together a system in preparation for an ESA article. Read on to get the lowdown on ESA!
What Does ESA Do?
ESA gives you information from your entire system via the nVidia Control Panel. You already had some of this information from other software, such as CPU, memory, and GPU info. Now, you get S.M.A.R.T. info via the SATA controller, and chassis, power supply, and liquid cooling data via USB. Of course, to get this information you have to use ESA-compliant hardware.
Not only do you get monitoring information in the Control Panel, you also have the capability of tweaking. Overclock your CPU, memory, and GPU. Adjust fan speeds. Adjust the flow rate of your water pump. Never before has an enthusiast had the capability to do so much in one place.