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Author Topic: General Help for Windows and Games  (Read 40400 times)
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BeosBoxBoy
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« on: March 12, 2006, 05:08:28 pm »

Patience and calmness must be your tool box in this. This is going to be a LONG post, so bear with, and we'll make it through.

The sad and benign truth (figuratively speaking) is that a computer is made of too many moving parts for a machine that has so few moving parts. I have in my room three computers, no two of them are remotely alike when it comes to the parts list. If I have a game issue, let's say like when I tried to install and play The Sims 2, to get it to work - what fixed it on the first one, did nothing on the other two.

When you start down this path to troubleshoot an ailing game install, you first think the godlike voice of the person on the phone at tech support will fix your computer instantaneously. Almost without variation, this proves to be a delusional mindset.

What I usually have to do is set the problem aside for as much as a week (games are rarely mission-critical things), then come back to it after I have calmed down, searched on line for information about game problems of similar nature with DIFFERENT BUT SIMILIAR games, and had at least one good night's sleep so my mind is full of calm and happy.

Then I do that thing which is so like sticking a fork in my eye - I try to fix my computer. That being stated, let us begin to work Doktor von Frankenstein:

I. POSSIBLE PHYSICAL PROBLEMS:

1. DUST BUILD-UP ON THE INSIDE OF THE COMPUTER
To fix this go to a office, computer, or photography supply shop get a can of compressed air (making sure it does not have oil or other lubricants in the mix) — After making sure the computer is turned off and not just asleep/hibernating, disconnect all the various wires, cables, etc from the computer, move the computer to some place where it is easy to work on (say a table) — take off the bonnet/side panel/cover — blow out the dust bunnies, grit, pet hair, and dark matter — replace all the parts & wirey bits. If you are a cautious sort, you may avoid having step 2.

2. LOOSE CABLES
pretty much like step 1 -- only with gentle even pressure press the cables inside the computer, all of them, where they connect to things, there are usually quite a few. They may look/feel solidly connected, but we are taking about millionths of an inch or cm differences which the eye and hand cannot detect.

3. BAD RAM
In these days of mass production without much testing of RAM and other computer components, I have frequently found an inordinate number of bad sticks of computer RAM. I have started testing every computer I am asked to fix for bad RAM first thing, every time.

I use a free piece of testing software called Memtest86, you can read more about it and get it here:

   www.memtest86.com Cheesy

If you find Memtest86 useful and you feel inclined to make a small PayPal donation please do so. Use cbrady@memtest86.com for the recipient — it has saved my bacon mucho mucho mucho, so I urge you to be generous.

4. NOT ENOUGH RAM
Easy, add more

5. NOT ENOUGH VIDEO RAM
Easy, get a new video card. Preferably one that meets the SUGGESTED description on the game box — just remember, it is said rust never sleeps; well, technology ist like rust on crack and too much coffee. The latest, greatest is not always the best choice; shop around, and set your sights on a card that meets the listed settings plus a little more, because you don't want to have to go buy a new card with every tick of the game market's clock.

:ot: *scraping sounds of soap box being pulled out for use* :ot:

   Largely speaking, I prefer nVidia over ATI for a variety of reasons that may not have any bearing on the way you use your computer. ATI has a long history of releasing buggy, unstable drivers which tend to cause system-wide issues; this led me to switch to nVidia for stability after much time as a 3dfx/ATI customer — 3dfx was getting pretty shaky itself in its late release drivers just before its well-deserved corporate death (my Voodoo 5 card MELTED! and destroyed a brand new system, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars in value of data — God, was my boss tweaked).

I currently have a nVidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra with dual monitor support on one of my systems and two widescreen format monitors, this causes a variety of issues with games that has nothing to do with the video card, rather a lack of vision or ability on the part of game-coders. It works great with Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, etc., just gets hinky on most games unless I lie about the monitor set-up.

If you asked me — which you didn't — I would have suggested the nVidia GeForce FX series of video cards on account of their reliablity and performance. I keep track of market trends, so I can say most people in my gaming circle are all nVidia devotees, albeit I do not partake of certain cultish fanaticisms that some of them seem to relish. I am a hardcore gamer, but I am also a person capable of critical thinking, I would perhaps go with a less bloody cutting-edge of technology video card with more solid drivers, but then again I like black & white movies without the applied false-colouring by Turner.


*scraping sounds of soap box being put away*

II. POSSIBLE SYSTEM SET-UP PROBLEMS

1. BIOS
For most people BIOS stands for BIOS IS OLD SATAN, and they regard BIOS as more deadly than cancer or HIV, but it is pretty easy to find something like USE DEFAULT SETTINGS auto-repair in there. People with 2 or more video cards should use a degree of caution here, as there is sometimes a choice of first video, so be sensible and it will work out.

2. DRIVERS

VIDEO CARD DRIVERS
if you have no problems with the rest of Windows, but one game or programme is being the mother of all headaches, then it is most likely one of four things. In order of likelihood:

   See also: ThunkConnect32 Errors at the end of this post

crappy software
video driver(s) conflicts with the software
video memory (usually not enough or not fast enough)
DirectX (either a conflict or a corrupt file)
albeit there are instances where all four together are causing the issue.

This is a fairly common problem when using software that uses digital video information (e.g., Video CD-burning software — especially EasyCD Creator 5 —, games, CAD, and 3-D modelling software) and 3-D intensive games (The Sims 2, Railroad Tycoon 3, Doom 3, etc) with the Microsoft released nVIDIA reference drivers (q.v., Microsoft Knowledge Base for a related and germane issue). Generally speaking — the Microsoft approved and released drivers via Windows Update are enough to view the web and most 2-D multimedia, but games being what they are these days the Microsoft released reference drivers are usually out of synch with the latest software by a number of months.

If your video card is nVIDIA: www.nvidia.com
If your video card is ATI: www.ati.com
If your video card is Matrox: www.matrox.com
If your video chipset is SiS: download.sis.com
If your video chipset is S3: www.s3graphics.com
If your video chipset is Intel: support.intel.com



FYI: A chipset is one of the big, postage stamp sized chips on either your motherboard or a component board (e.g., a video or sound card, or say a old 56K modem, etc.) A chipset controls something and generally requires a driver (some with which Windows already ships, some you have to provide to windows with the manufacturer's CD).

NOTA BENE: If you have more than one game installed you may have to try multiple versions of the driver to keep playability of all the games on your system. Not all games work with all versions of the various graphics and audio drivers. I needed to try four different versions of my sound cards driver in order to have sound in both theSims 2 and Doom 3. Like wise I tried three versions of the nVIDIA driver in order to support both the Sims 2 and Doom 3

DIRECTX
DirectX is the thing in Windows that changes the video & sound to the game world of full screen whee-ha-ness. Yes, it is more technical than that, but did you really want me to founder your brain with a lot of Old High Geekish?

As with all things, DirectX is not everyone's cup of latté. Some extremely sick and dangerous sorts remove DirectX entirely, vote Republican, and run through the house with scissors wearing tatty pink leotards. Go figure. I suggest you check to make sure you have the latest release of DirectX, this may include having to make a foray into updated drivers, which is why it was listed above this.

To check this open a Run box:

Press the Windows Flag Key and R at the same time
Enter DXDIAG into the text window
Click OK
Allow the diagnostic tool to check for WHQL drivers
After testing, you should see towards the bottom of the first page

DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
As of the time of writing (Sunday, 12 March 2006), if you see anything higher than this, something is amiss... unless you or someone else in your household is involved in Microsoft beta testing, then likely without your knowledge.

If you see "9.0" or "9.0b", then head on out to the DirectX home page and pick up the 9.0c version:

   http://www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/

Once there download and install DirectX 9.0c (or whatever version may be the latest release)

III. POSSIBLE DESKTOP ENVIRONMENT PROBLEMS

1. SCREENSAVERS
There are older OpenGL screensavers that just play tommy-hell on a game if they kick in during game-play, even though you can't see them from a game, the world of your game suffers Armageddon. The reason for this lies in the screensaver not being informed of activity in the DirectX area. For more information on DirectX, see my article:

See: What is DirectX and how do I check what version of DirectX is installed on my computer? at the end of this post.

As a general rule, I never use a screensaver, because I recall all too well my mother's words (usually shouted) at me as I stood with the icebox door open or had every light in the house on, DO YOU THINK MONEY GROWS ON TREES? So when I am not using my computer I turn the monitor off.

Other than being pretty, screensavers come from the dark ages of computer dinosaurism, when the button on the monitor was the ONLY power button on the whole computer: Way back then, when drag queens and dinosaurs ruled the Earth, if you turned off the monitor the whole system went *bloink!* so just do the right thing for the environment and turn off the monitor.

2. ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
Some of these hyper-vigilant geeks have decided in their Ivory Towers that we need to have a bit of paranoid hall-monitors on our computer, well like real life — there is considerable variance in the product.

Sometimes, an anti-virus program can vex us almost as badly as the various digital lions, tigers, and bears they ostensibly guard us against. Opinions vary, I only ever manually run my AV software; but then again, I NEVER open e-mail attachments and avoid strangers' e-mail... remember "don't take candy from strangers?" This has been a life saver.

Assuming you regularly update your virus databases and do routine system scans to make sure you are cootie-free: During game-play it harms none if you temporarily disable the AV scanner, just try to remember to turn it back on, ok? I'm trusting you to remember.

3. AUTOMATED SYSTEM ROUTINES
Oy veh! System idle defraggers, automatic system updater, automatic software updater, terminate-stay-ready software (TSR), chat software, on-line this, on-line that, WeatherBug, etc.

Way back in the Middle Ages, anxious Europeans kept watch on the shores of the North Sea. "God save us from the Vikings," they prayed fervently. They had plenty of reasons to be fervent. The Vikings were typically less than polite when they dropped by to visit. Well, now-a-days it is the freebie software we invite into our digital parlour.

Run MSCONFIG and see what you have running at boot, you may be surprised.

To check this open a Run box:

Press thw Windows Flag Key and R at the same time
Enter MSCONFIG into the text window
Click OK
Take a look at the Startup section — mine is empty Smiley
Uncheck the obvious stuff, AIM, Yahoo!, QTTask, RealPlayer, etc
If you don't know what it is, uncheck it, if you bolix it up, then boot to SAFEMODE and undo what you just did. It requires a reboot any way.

Windows 95, NT, and 2000 do not have MSCONFIG, you will have to use more esoteric methods to see what is running at system start-up. Check on NoNags.com for a system utility, make sure it is at least rated 4 out of 6.

4. INSTALLATION WATCHERS
Someone at Symantec decided a long time ago that we couldn't trust program writers to write their own uninstallers, or maybe they just wanted our cash, who knows, but the end result was some sort of hyper-vigillant police-state-minded app that came in a Tide box.

This falls into the same categoy as the Anti-Virus and Automated System Routines. If you REALLY don't need it, ditch it altogether and truth be told, we all have stuff on our systems that we don't need.

5. BONZAI-BUDDY AND OTHER MENACING GEE-GAWS FROM THE PIT
There is a whole order of cute and fuzzy weirdness that claims to “make your computer more useful,” “increase your productivity,” and “deliver what you want right to your desktop;” but instead does nothing but slowly creep fingers of doom into our computers, I remember that first day I got a computer virus that put sheep on my desk-top that started eating icons. Well from this came all other forms of "Oh look! That's so cute!" software. Same can be said for most of the screensavers I have seen, they began life as practicle jokes developed by the idle hands of programmers (ever the Devil's toolbox).

This falls into the same categoy as the Anti-Virus and Automated System Routines... unless you believe in Sanat Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny; in such instances as you believe you need “WeatherBug” or “Bonzai-Buddy,” please leave my site immediately, you obviously cannot understand anything I have written up to this point, you probably have a virus, you certainly won’t be able to follow my instructions (so you will only make it worse and blame me), and, therefore, don’t need, want, or deserve my help.

IV. GAME / SOFTWARE SETTINGS

Here is where life becomes a matter of choices that are directly associated with all the drek I have yammered before this point. If you are here, the system boots, which is good.

As a computer-user for over twenty years, I can tell you truthfully my experience says software companies have about the worst tech support on Earth. My brother can remember a line of business products for the Apple II, & for decency’s sake I dare not quote him here. I have come to depend on this: If you want it done right, do it yourself.

What I have experienced is this: Increasingly, most software companies push products to market before they are bug-free knowing that they will cause system problems. They do this because they want to advantage themselves of our cash before the competition does. My life has been made a shambles more than once when I rushed home with some shiny new cello-wrapped software only to destroy the sanity of my computer... and subsequently myself.

Games, more so that not, are complete crap when they first hit the shelves, in fact, more than once I have seen game software patches on designers' Web sites before the product has even shipped to market. Why? Because they know end users have addictive purchasing issues. Marketing hype and garbage software is increasingly the norm. Our grandparents would call these sorts of businessmen carpetbaggers, snake-oil salesmen, or worse.

In support of my above statement, I offer the PC World online database of software bugs.

Try uninstalling the software and then re-install it to a new folder:

   C:\*some name*\

instead of the default installation location, that way you can determine if it is the programme itself that is wonky. The bottom line is this: if the problem software is the only thing crashing, it isn't your computer that is wonky.

Another thing to check is your power settings make sure they are not set for too short a time, in fact, I would just set everything to always on and never turn anything off. But then again, I turn off my computer when I am not using it.

Another thing is to check to see if you have anything by "Wild Tangent" in the Add/Remove Programs section of Control Panel, their all-but viral updater is a notorious system compromiser.

NEW! • Pagefile Fragmentation, &c

First of all, see this: How to set performance options in Windows XP

Sometimes a pagefile becomes broken into many small pieces, this will cause choppy performance, so setting the pagefile size manually becomes desireable.  The ideas about what is best varies widely.  If you take my middle-of-the-road approach, you won't have much problem if any.

I recommend deleting the pagefile, reboot the computer, defrag the hard drive, the restore the pagefile with an initial size and maximum size of 1024 MB/Mo.  This is neither too large nor too small.

Occasionally the pagefile becomes corrupted, so doing this once a month or so is ideal.

• ThunkConnect32 Errors

This is an issue best known to occur with nVIDIA based video cards. If you have an nVIDIA based video card (onboard or otherwise) I suggest that you update to the latest released version of the driver, also if you are running on an nVIDIA chipset based board (i.e., your computer may have video out capabilities from the motherboard) then it may also require special software & drivers for that (Windows XP Media Centre Edition is a bit crankier than most about this). You may have to try different versions of the driver.

This is a fairly common problem when using software that uses digital video information (e.g., Video CD-burning software — especially EasyCD Creator 5 — games, CAD, and 3-D modelling software) with the Microsoft released nVIDIA reference drivers (q.v., Microsoft Knowledge Base Article ID: 330159 for a related and germane issue). Generally speaking — the Microsoft approved and released drivers via Windows Update are enough to view the web and most 2-D multimedia, but games being what they are these days the MS released reference drivers are usually out of synch with the latest software by a number of months.

This problem is not restricted to nVIDIA drivers, but is best known to occur with older nVIDIA drivers.

Manufactures of cheaper — but still good quality — video cards (e.g., Pine) use a variety of chipsets, so you may have to visually inspect your video card to find out what chipset it uses. In some instances, you may not be able to see the chipset because of a cooling fan, but there is usually text printed on the card somewhere to inform you who made the chipset if nothing else.

• What is DirectX and how do I check what version of DirectX is installed on my computer?

DirectX is a set of multimedia Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) written by Microsoft. It is a collection of Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) that contain functions useful to a wide range of multimedia programmers, but are all almost entirely platform independent. This allows programmers access to fast graphics, sound, and input functions while not needing their apps to test for the capabilities of the computer on which their program is running. DirectX will evaluate these capabilities and if they are not present, DirectX may attempt (in many cases) to emulate the functions in software instead of hardware.

Back in the height of DOS, people like game developers had direct access to the hardware for which they were developing. With complete access to interrupts, sound cards, input devices, and the VGA controller, the developers could usually make the hardware do anything they could dream up. The release of Windows 3.1 did not tempt developers because of the massive overhead that came along with it for game development. However, DOS had its own problems.



With the usual promises of something new, different and better, Microsoft unleashed Windows 95 into the world. Windows 95 had many new things to offer over and above its DOS-based predecessor. “Plug and Play” was introduced in an attempt to make it simple for the average PC user to install the latest hardware. The resource-handling system was completely revamped to make device management easier and device independence more of an actual reality. Unfortunately, Windows 95 lacked the necessary performance enhancements to sway developers interest in the Windows 95 Platform. Consequently, many games ran in a DOS mode or required a reboot of the PC so that they could start up their own DOS-like system. DirectX set out to change all this.



The seemingly simple goal of making Microsoft Windows a desirable platform for multimedia development turned out to be a much greater undertaking than MS probably first thought. It was quickly determined that in order to provide the performance needed, DirectX would need to operate through fast, low-level libraries that allowed the developer to maintain creative freedom over their code.

The next item on the DirectX developers list was to shift the burden of hardware support from the multimedia developer to the hardware manufacturers. This makes much more sense, as hardware manufacturers are more qualified to write the drivers for their products than any application developer. This approach also helped to unify the standard for technology drivers, keeping the essential compatibility aspects in the forefront for all kinds of additional PC components.

Another feature of DirectX is the capability of DirectX applications to run side by side with non DirectX applications without causing any system problems. Lastly, DirectX would have the performance that was capable in DOS while meeting all the other specifications.



What does DirectX do.
DirectX provides a key set of tools and commands to enhance games and other multimedia applications allowing the hardware and the software to "talk" to each other with much greater ease. The API gives multimedia applications greater access to the advanced features of high-performance hardware such as three-dimensional (3D) graphics acceleration chips and uber sound cards. They also control many other lower-level functions; this includes two-dimensional (2D) graphics acceleration; support for the wide range of input devices such as joysticks/joy-pads, keyboards, mice, controls sound mixing and sound output on a vast range of audio hardware, controls networking and multi-player gaming, and control over various multimedia streaming formats. With each new revision, more feature support is added for emerging technology so that developers can begin to use that new technology as soon as possible, and hopefully, bringing the technology to us sooner.

Major Components
The following are the major components (with their related function) that make up DirectX:

DirectDraw - 2D Graphics
Direct3D - 3D Graphics
DirectSound - 2D Sound
DirectSound3D - 3D Sound
DirectMusic - Music
DirectPlay - Network/Multi-player
DirectInput - Input Devices

Do I need DirectX?
If you play almost any game on a Windows98 or later machine, then you will more than likely be using or will require some component of DirectX. Fortunately, if applications require a certain version of DirectX then they will invariably come with the appropriate DirectX installer on the software CD, guaranteeing that you have the required version in order to run the application or play the game. But that's not everything. You can upgrade your version of DirectX even if you don’t actually need it. By doing so, you will implement the latest version of the API’s, which may contain bug fixes and optimizations for certain parts of many programs. This could, theoretically, give you better performance in your game of choice, a better quality of sound for your music or make streaming media play more smoothly. Also, by installing the latest version of DirectX, you may unlock a previously unused feature of your super-duper graphics card (Pixel shader 3.0 in Far-Cry for instance). But you may also need to get later drivers for your sound card, etc, in order to start using the new features to their full extent.

Now I want it, where do I get it? Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP all have support for DirectX. However, the highest version of DirectX that Windows 95 can use is version 8.0a, which can be found here. For everyone else, you can go right up to the latest released version (9.0c), which you can download here. What about NT though? DirectX is also available for windows NT4.0 as part of Service pack 6. Although why you want to run this OS with multimedia applications is a bit of a mystery to me :tongue5:

After installation some drivers show up as not certified. What’s wrong? Driver updates from hardware vendors have to be submitted to Microsoft where they undergo a series of tests before being certified (WHQL). However, sometimes the vendor may simultaneously release the updates to the general public and MS without waiting for certification. Such drivers may offer DirectX functionality but won’t be certified. So, before installing new drivers, you may want to check for DirectX compatibility in the vendor’s release notes.

How do I uninstall DirectX? DirectX is a Windows system component and as with so many Windows system components (like MSN messenger), once it’s on your computer, you will have a very hard time getting it off again. So if it goes wrong or anything like that, you are a bit stuck. Thankfully there are some options. Later versions of windows OS have System Restore points. It is always a good idea to make a System Restore point when installing new drivers or other things like DirectX. Also, there is the DirectX diagnostic tool. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t tell you where it is when you install DirectX, no icon is placed in the control panel or in the start menu listings. To get to it, you have to find it (Windows 9X: windows\system\DXDIAG.EXE -- Win2000 & XP: ...\system32\DXDIAG.EXE). The diagnostic tool allows you to control various aspects of the DirectX API (turn them on, off, up, down, etc.) and it’s also handy to find out what version of DirectX you are currently running. There are also third-party DirectX "uninstallers" around, however trying to uninstall DirectX could trash your box.

What is to come in the future?
At the moment, the latest version of DirectX is version 9.0c. This version has added support for things like Shader Model 3.0. Soon, more and more games will feature the various enhancements of 9.0c.

The next major release of DirectX will bring about even more changes. Microsoft is going to unify the graphical API's of DirectX under the new name of the Windows Graphics Foundation and Avalon, which is planned for release with the new Longhorn version of Windows. DirectX should still exist, but only in name and only for the remaining core components. This means that the next generation of Graphics cards will no longer say that they are DirectX compatible, but instead will be supporting WGF1.0 (or something similar to that). At this time, it is not known if any other portion of DirectX is going to splinter off to form it's own "club." Functions of your controllers and sound cards will still be under the control of the main set of DirectX API's, but Longhorn is still a way off yet and things may change between now and then.

Final Thoughts
While something like OpenGL and the now ancient Glide (3dfx) are graphics only API's, DirectX is a collection of functions that govern sound, video, network communications as well as the graphics. DirectX performs the vital function of interpreting the instructions from software into commands for your graphics and sound cards or allowing you to bind a key to the twenty fifth button on your mouse. Giving greater levels of compatibility between new hardware and old games (and also old hardware with new games). DirectX's chief advantage comes from providing all of these functions while remaining almost completely invisible to the end user.

Contrary to what you may have heard, Windows Media Player 10 does not install DirectX 10, which is in Beta testing at the writing of this article [Sunday, 12 March 2006]. What it does install is support for DirectX 10 in Windows Media Player 10's DirectPlay, DirectSound, and DirectWave components.

Advanced DirectX Troubleshooting

HARDWARE ACCELERATION and SAMPLE RATE CONVERSION QUALITY are located in two different places in Windows. One deals with Windows normal functionality only (in the Windows Control Panel), the other with when DirectX takes control of the computer's video and audio functions (located in the Advanced Troubleshooting settings in DirectX Diagnostic Tool — DXDIAG).

Before you go scampering into the Advanced troubleshooting, you may want to make sure that you know and do a few things.

If your sound or video is garbled or choppy when you play back an MP3 you downloaded off the Internet: this could be from over-zealous Anti-virus software, low system resources, out-dated audio drivers, file corruption, crappy original sound quality from the creation source, or a missing audio codec. To download a package of codecs that cover most needs, go to the Nimo's Codec Pack home page and read a bit — but do it soon, Nimo is about to retire the project. If you don't understand what is being said there, just download the codec pack and install with the playback only settings.

If you already know what a codec is and have a preferred codec pack, check to see if there has been an update to that. In any event, it harms none to give your system the widest range of codecs.

   FYI: A codec is a sort of file compression that uses a mathematical division process to reduce the size of an audio or video file so that it is more reasonable to use on computers. Your computer uses the "decompression" or "playback" version of a codec to temporarily or artificially remove the compression so you hear or see the original file. The reason for this is rooted in the fact that most people do not want to wait hours, months, or years downloading raw audio and text files.

If you still have problems with regular playback (still not game problems), try updating your video and/or sound card drivers. There are too many for me to list all the manufacturers here, so if you do not see the manufacturer listed below, do a search on Google or Driverguide.com. Driverguide.com requires you sign up for this service, but it is free and non-abusive.

Microsoft does an excellent job of keeping some of the drivers pretty much updated through their Windows Update site, but as Microsoft does not manufacture or support other vendor's hardware, you cannot expect Microsoft to do a perfect job. So do yourself a favour and learn how to keep the drivers updated on your system. Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) driver signing is a big plus, that signifies that the manufacturer has actually tested the driver and it has been shown to be stable and work on the broadest category of machines. Drivers that have not passed WHQL-testing and subsequentially do not have a WHQL signature may work fine, but I would say it is a 50-50 chance they will make your system wonky at one point or another.

Your component manufacturer may have several versions of the driver you need, and because of revisions in both drivers and hardware, it is not always a one-size-fits-all thing we are dealing with here. Sometimes an older driver is better for your particular sound or video card because of revisions made in manufacturing. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) vendors like Pine use another company's parts to made a discounted version of components, this means that the original company may have made changes to its product or have discontinued that particular item for it's own brand-name labelling. This means — as a general rule of thumb — that older drivers are generally more reliable on OEM components, so be cautious to download a major company Web site driver unless the OEM's Web site refers you there.

Video Cards:
ATI: http://www.ati.com
Intel: support.intel.com
Matrox: http://www.matrox.com
nVIDIA: http://www.nvidia.com
SiS: download.sis.com
S3: http://www.s3graphics.com

Sound Cards:
AOpen: http://www.aopen.com
AudioTrak: http://www.audiotrak.net
Chaintech: http://www.chaintechusa.com
Creative Labs: http://www.soundblaster.com
Soundblaster: http://www.soundblaster.com
Turtle Beach: http://www.tbeach.com

If you have tried everything listed above and still have problems, try adding system memory, defragging your hard drive, and increasing your swap-file/page-file size. If you have never done that before, then it is best you don't do it now.

If you still have problems, try switching the problem device in a different slot (not all people will have this option due to limited number of slots or the component being built directly onto the main board of the system (this is especially true of laptops).

If you still have issues, now it is time to check the Windows system settings for your Audio and Video. I do this last because of experience.

Audio:
In the Windows Control Panel, you need to open the "Sounds & Audio Devices Properties" element. Once there look for a tab labelled "Audio". Under the Audio panel, you should see "Sound playback", there should be a button labelled "Advanced" in that box. Click it and go to the "Properties" tab. You may have to try various settings to get it to work best.

Video:
In the Windows Control Panel, you need to open the "Display" element. Once there look for a tab labelled "Settings". Under the Settings panel, you should see there a button labelled "Advanced" near the bottom of the panel. Click it and go to the "Troubleshoot" tab. You may have to try various settings on the slider bar to get it to work best. Some older games will only work if you turn Hardware Acceleration all the way off.

Games, Full-Screen Video Players and such:
Run the DXDIAG utility as noted above, this time run the tests on the various pages. If everything passes, then it is ‘for sure’ not the drivers, hardware or windows at fault. Potential problems with games is display refresh rate, this can lead to part of the video being off screen or not square. Game designers bank on a default refresh rate being supported by all monitors, this has stopped being true with the release of true-flat and LCD monitors, yet they continue to release their games with the old 60mHz default. The general rule of thumb these days is 75mHz for most monitors made after 1999. So you may need to override the default DirectX refresh rate to 75 or greater, consult your monitor's user guide or the manufacturer's Web site for exact information.

Other solutions may be selected from the DirectX troubleshooter applet or may require a patch from the software company that made the software that is misbehaving.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 01:28:30 pm by ~Marvine~ » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2006, 05:26:42 pm »

Oh man, you lost me after you put the soap box away. :error: (I totally agree on the nVidia but I bet our friendly neighbourhood Sith will have something to say on that!) But I'm going to have to bookmark this one as it seems like you covered most everything.
 
Thanks for trying to teach the computer almost-illiterate amongst us, but I may have to revert at some future point!!
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2006, 05:43:27 pm »

Hard core, my friend.  I'm going to sticky this.  Great stuff here.  Thanks for taking the time to compose this.
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2006, 06:07:22 pm »

Thank you so much for taking the time to type all this out. I often feel lost when people start talking techie about computers. You explained things real well so even a luddite like me could understand.
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2006, 04:40:36 pm »

Thank you first for writing this, because as someone who is about to overhaul her system to make it even better to play the game, that was very insightful.

Thank you Jase for making this a sticky so it was quicker to see it.

I have one question for the master of this thread though, I have an ATI and its brand new, but it won't fit in my system...do they make patch cords or something that would allow me to attach it to the computer??? or am I s*** out of luck?? I've tried looking online to figure it out but i haven't gotten the answers I want.

Basically my computer is a Celeron (P4 version anyway) so its got pretty much everything, but the RAM I want and the Video card...Im basically using an Intel Chipset...so it pretty much chops my whole game...

If you know about anything like that, help would greatly be appreciated.

-Melissa
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2006, 04:43:27 pm »

How do you mean, it doesn't fit?  There isn't a slot for it?  Or there is a slot for it, but the card is so large it is obstructed by other components in the system?
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2006, 05:11:23 pm »

Quote from: PrincessSkyWalker
Thank you first for writing this, because as someone who is about to overhaul her system to make it even better to play the game, that was very insightful.

Thank you Jase for making this a sticky so it was quicker to see it.

I have one question for the master of this thread though, I have an ATI and its brand new, but it won't fit in my system...do they make patch cords or something that would allow me to attach it to the computer??? or am I s*** out of luck?? I've tried looking online to figure it out but i haven't gotten the answers I want.

Basically my computer is a Celeron (P4 version anyway) so its got pretty much everything, but the RAM I want and the Video card...Im basically using an Intel Chipset...so it pretty much chops my whole game...

If you know about anything like that, help would greatly be appreciated.

-Melissa

If you buy a video card these days they come in 4 form-factors (what slot they fit):

AGP
ISA - very obsolete
PCI
PCI-EXPRESS

these are not interchangable - so no patch cords.

Not all motherboards support all form-factors.  Most have PCI slots, please don't confuse these with PCI-EXPRESS.  Many have AGP slots, and some really new systems have PCI-EXPRESS.

When you are buying a card it is important to know what form-factor the motherboard will support.

I recommend taking the video card back and exchanginging it - take your computer case with you so you can get a match.

hope this helps.


* SlotID.gif (1.62 KB, 240x148 - viewed 3587 times.)

* pci_slot.jpg (290.92 KB, 525x480 - viewed 1558 times.)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2006, 05:18:40 pm by ~Marvine~ » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2006, 10:29:47 am »

Well my husband figured it would just fit into the computer because he works on computers for a job so he would know, but he had never seen a computer do this before. He took the plate off the back and tried to put it in but the card is way to big to go inside it.

I dont know how to explain it other then that, it seems the card is too wide for the slot it should go into.

It's an EMachines system, and for some reason despite what the store that sold it to me told me, I think it is made so that no third party anythings can go into it.

I realize that with a celeron, everything important is stuck to the mother board, but when I bought it, I asked if it could have third party video cards put into it, and apparently you can't.

I mean its not the newest ATI card on the market, but it is one that would work well for the Sims 2...I just don't know why the slot in the back of the system isn't wide enough. EDIT: I will post the ATI card it is and then you can tell me if its not good enough, LOL

-Melissa

EDIT: Now That I've read over Beos's whole post, I understand what he said, so I guess I will talk to my husband and see if he can find out what kind of support we have in the slot department. I think it might be normal PCI not the express, but I will check in with him when he gets back from work and see if there is anything we can do.

EDIT2: This is the name of the card...ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 128MB AGP Video Card
« Last Edit: March 14, 2006, 10:35:03 am by Melissa » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2006, 12:11:42 pm »

You need an AGP slot to use that card (that's the dark brown slot in BBB's photo above).  If your motherboard doesn't have an AGP slot then you won't be able to use that card.
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2006, 12:29:31 pm »

Thanks jase, I will check that out for sure...Smiley

Okay I found some information online...and found two people with my exact system...and they are both using this card...Nvidia Geforce 4 MX440

So I guess what Im wondering now is what kind of slot does this card need? Because most likely, since it seems I found the identical computer to mine, this would be the card I need.

-melissa
« Last Edit: March 14, 2006, 04:28:45 pm by jase439 » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2006, 06:07:23 pm »

i've had the same problem as you, i got the right type of card, but the card itself was just too big to fit into the slot...i mean it fit in it fine but the front part (with all the metal) wouldnt fit because of the case lol
hard to explain but its kinda like as a kid trying to stick the square peg (the video card) into the round hole (the back of the case)...even if i took the metal plate off that front part kept smacking the metal case lol
i ended up having to get a different card...some cards are bigger than others...so even if you get the right kind (agp/pci/etc) it doesnt guarantee that it will fit into your case.
and if your husband works on computers as a job, he should know what kind to get (agp/pci/etc) you just need one that's smaller...if you cant find one at a physical store, you could try shopping online like at newegg or ebay or something
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2006, 06:14:42 pm »

The 9600 should be fine, but you may need the PCI version and not the AGP if its an issue of the card not fitting into the slot.  If it physically does not fit into the case (similar to what Jessica describes), then you may need a larger case or a different card (although most of the decent cards are at least 8 inches or more in length) and usually have beefy heat sinks and fans on them (so you need ample space laterally as well as lengthwise!)
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2006, 06:47:03 pm »

Well because he is always working, its hard to get time to tell him about this computer...and Im pretty computer dumb. I mean when I bought the machine, it did what I wanted it too and the guy at the store said it could take third party cards...so I was hoping it would.

I was kind of hoping since they have always worked in every other system I had that I could get an Ati card, but I will deal with Nvidia if it works and fits!!

Jessica, thats exactly the issue!!! You explained the issue in a nutshell so thanks for at least having the same issue as me. LOL You also gave me something else to look into, so thanks muchers.

K on to Jase...I didn't even know that I can replace the case on my system...I just assumed I had to keep the one it came with...that might also help...as you can see, I dont get much time to talk to anyone about the system my husband included, so thanks Smiley

Listen guys thanks so much for the help and Beos thanks for the Pics and stuff, gave me a view of what to look for.

You guys are awesome Smiley

-melissa
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2006, 12:50:09 am »

hrm - there is also that.  I didn't think about the new various height and depth factors.  especially true of some of those new shoebox and toaster sized cases.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2006, 05:57:27 pm »

I have an e-machines PC and I can change my video card. In fact, when I got it, it was using an onboard type and I got a new nVidia and disabled it, no problem. I have since upgraded the video card twice and am now using a  GeForce 7800 GS (it has a huge heatsink/fan on it).

I know this is an older thread, but I just wanted to add that about e-machines, because they are not like HPs or Dells, where it really is almost impossible to upgrade it yourself. At least my model isn't.
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