Weekly quickTIP

More on Hacking WEI

Improve your score and get access to all the Vista goodies.

Peter Bruzzese had a great article in the March issue of Redmond Magazine that talked about how to hack your Windows Experience Index score. His technique can be used to enable the Aero interface and all the other visual goodies that come with a high score on otherwise unallowed systems.

In talking with Peter recently, I learned there's so much more to the internal conversation that goes on when the Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT) is launched. You can analyze your resulting log file to reverse engineer out of the results why you were given the score you got. That log file is stored in the location %systemroot%\Performance\WinSAT\DataStore and is titled with the date and time the WinSAT process is run.

So as to generate a really poor operating environment that would illuminate where WinSAT would give up some of its secrets, I built a Vista machine inside a virtual environment with not a lot of resources. Running the WinSAT process there with all the limiting virtualization hardware drivers showed that WEI automatically downgrades some of your scores based on system parameters.

This section of the file told an interesting story:

<LimitsApplied>
  <MemoryScore>
    <LimitApplied Friendly="Physical memory available to
    the OS is less than or equal to 1.5GB - limit mem score
    to 4.5" Relation="LE">1610612736</LimitApplied>
  </MemoryScore>
  <GraphicsScore>
    <LimitApplied Friendly="Limiting DWM Score to 1.0 - no
    DX9 capeability">NoDX9</LimitApplied>
  </GraphicsScore>
  <GamingScore>
    <LimitApplied Friendly="No DX9 capeability - limiting
    D3D Score to 1.0">NoDX9</LimitApplied>
  </GamingScore>
</LimitsApplied>

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It appears that system RAM must be at or above 1.5GB to eliminate a memory score limitation and that DirectX9 supportability on the part of the video card will force the graphics and 3D gaming score way down.

If hacking XML files isn't your cup of tea, you can interact directly with WinSAT via the command line by typing winsat {parameter}. To get a system overview type winsat features. To kick off a full formal test, you can type winsat formal. What's interesting here is that by doing it at the command prompt, you can watch the tests as they start and complete.

Greg Needs Free Tools (He’s Cheap!)
Always in the lookout for new, neat, and no-cost tools for Windows Administrators, Master Toolsmith Greg Shields would like to hear about your favorites. Tell us the ones that make you happy, help you leave early on Friday afternoons and generally make the life of a Windows administrator that much easier.

The best free tools may make their way into a future Redmond Magazine feature article or into Greg’s popular TechMentor session, "The Best Free Tools for Windows Administrators."

So, if you’ve got a tool that you love and you want to share it, please drop a comment in the comment field below. Or, drop Greg a line at gshields@redmondmag.com. All e-mails will get a response!

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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