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Please recommend me on the best option

By the_dude_has_spoken ·
Hi,

I'm currently thinking of changing my display card. At the minute, its only an SiS intergrated Display card and doesn't work well with this new MMORPG game, Horizons: Empire of Istaria, which i have lately been playing. I was wondering on what would be the best Display card to get but still at a reasonable price. The system requirements of the game are as follows:
*Pentium 4 1.4 ghz or amd anthlon 1.4ghz
*512mb ram
*2GB of free hard drive space
*8X Speed Drive or Faster
*GeForce 3 Video Card recommended^
*Windows 98/Me/2000/XP Compatible Sound Card^
*DirectX 8.1 or higher

^ = Indicates device should be compatible with DirectX

I was searching around and found a "Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/780 TV/DVI - Graphics card - GF FX 5600 - AGP 8x - 256 MB" at ?90. Which doesnt seem a bad price and seems powerful but im not an expert on video cards... Please Please help me out! :)

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Start with a check

by TheChas In reply to Please recommend me on th ...

Most motherboards with Built-in video do NOT have an AGP slot.

You need to verify if your motherboard has an AGP slot, and if so, what speeds are supported.

If you do not have an AGP slot, you are limited to a PCI graphics card.

Even if you do have an AGP slot, you may not be able to use an 8X card.
Most 8X AGP cards require a 3.3 volt power supply. Most 1X and 2X AGP slots only have 5 volts available.

Next, which version of Windows are you running?
I would NOT install ANY software that requires 512MB of RAM on a W98 or Me system.
Further, I usually try to have at least 2 times the minimum hardware requirements.
Remember, the minimum requirements usually run the application very SLOW.

That said, Gainward is a vendor that has reasonable prices on Nvidia based graphics cards.

Chas

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Cheaper cards

by Oz_Media In reply to Start with a check

Assuming your system meets the requirements for an AGP card as explained by Cas:
I have found there are quite a few REALLY inexpensive cards available with the NVidea GeForce chipset.

The BIG price drop seems to be on the GeForce MMX cards. They may not offer the extreme frame rates of the highend cards, but the hughend cards do generally suit new systems with high speed AGP ports. I've tried a couple of VisionTek GeForce MMX cards and they are great for MOST games, and if the game has very high frame rate reqiorements, a resolution drop to 800X600 will usually get a lower cost card to perform acceptably although not flawlessly.

But before buying ANYTHING: follow Chas's guidelines above because when it comes to hardware, HE is right, always.

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by the_dude_has_spoken In reply to Start with a check

im running Windows XP Professional. I think my computer has 512mb Ram. If you could tell me how to find out if i have an AGP Slot? i could check that out too

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Machine type

by Oz_Media In reply to

If your computer is an OEM or retail box, you can post your model # and manufacturer here and I'll look it up for you.

OM

or if it isn't a Compaq, HP etc. and you know what motherboard is inside, that will help to.

Easiest was to see if you have ANY AGP port is to open the PC and the motherboard will have the standard PCI slots for the sound card, ethernet dacr etc. and one wil have a funny looking green plastic clip surrounding the slot.

This will tell you IF you're AGP compaitible (probably are if you're running XP) but not the acceleration of the slot.

You may see this listed under System Information too.

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Computer Specs

by the_dude_has_spoken In reply to Machine type

From System Information:

OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Version 5.1.2600 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name JAMES
System Manufacturer SiS
System Model 730S
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 6 Model 8 Stepping 0 AuthenticAMD ~1526 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. 062710, 15/07/1997
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Windows Directory C:\WINDOWS
System Directory C:\WINDOWS\System32
Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume1
Locale United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "5.1.2600.0 (xpclient.010817-1148)"
User Name JAMES\User
Time Zone GMT Standard Time
Total Physical Memory 512.00 MB
Available Physical Memory 92.27 MB
Total Virtual Memory 1.47 GB
Available Virtual Memory 864.49 MB
Page File Space 1.03 GB
Page File C:\pagefile.sys

I don't particularly like opening my computer up, too much messing around, instead is there some computer site that just gives quick and easy information which i will be able to hand over to you? i did find some place like that but i forget the name of the site... Thanks

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Open the case

by TheChas In reply to Computer Specs

You can get a few more details using the free utility from www.belarc.com

Still, unless you have a very detailed system manual, you will need to open the case to verify if you have an AGP Port available.

You only need to be able to see the top of the motherboard.

ISA (old technology) slots have black connectors.
PCI slots have white connectors.
AGP slots have brown connectors.

If you do NOT have a brown connector, you are limited to installing a PCI graphics card.

Chas

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Re specs

by Oz_Media In reply to Open the case

Thanks for offering your specs but more importnatlly WHO made the machine and what's the model number. ie Compaq Presaio 2100, HP Pavillion. If it's a NO name white box, you will need to open it up, NO NEED TO REMOVE OR CHANGE ANYTHING just take the cover off.
The motherboard will have a model number on it, eg. 'ASUS XXX' where XXX is the board's model number.

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New System Specs

by the_dude_has_spoken In reply to Open the case

By the utility from Belarc, it showed this:

Operating System System Model
Windows XP Professional (build 2600) Asset Tag: 0123ABC
Processor a Main Circuit Board b
1.53 gigahertz AMD Athlon XP
128 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache Bus Clock: 66 megahertz
BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. 062710 07/15/97
Drives Memory Modules c,d
40.01 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
23.99 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

ATAPI CD-RW CW4801 [CD-ROM drive]
SONY DVD-ROM DDU1612 [CD-ROM drive]
3.5" format removeable media [Floppy drive]

ST340810A [Hard drive] (40.02 GB) -- drive 0, s/n 5FBBDZ3P, rev 3.99, SMART Status: Healthy 448 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot '0' has 512 MB
Slot '1' is Empty
Slot '2' is Empty
Slot '3' is Empty
Local Drive Volumes

c: (on drive 0) 40.01 GB 23.99 GB free

Controllers Display
Standard floppy disk controller
Primary IDE Channel [Controller]
Secondary IDE Channel [Controller]
SiS PCI IDE Controller SiS 630/730 [Display adapter]
CMO A150X1 [Monitor] (15.2"vis, May 2002)
Bus Adapters Multimedia
OPTi 82C861 PCI to USB Open Host Controller
SiS 7001 PCI to USB Open Host Controller
SiS 7001 PCI to USB Open Host Controller MPU-401 Compatible MIDI Device
SiS 7018 Audio Driver
Standard Game Port
Communications Other Devices
SiS 900 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter
Network Card MAC Address: 00:0A:E6:77:B2:7E
Network IP Address: XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX / XX hp psc 2100 series
Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
Microsoft PS/2 Mouse
USB Composite Device
USB Printing Support
USB Root Hub
USB Root Hub
USB Root Hub

I'm not much of an expert but by the information its giving off it looks like a PCI one.

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A little better

by Oz_Media In reply to New System Specs

Well your existing card (SIS) is definitely a PCI card but what I'm afraid of is that your system report only reports on installed hardware and wouldn't neccessarily list if you had an open AGP slot unless something was installed to it.

Judging by other specs, your PC seems new enough to have an AGP slot, most do nowadays.

Who made it, that is the important question.

If it is an HP or Compaq, you can find the system specs online as to what adapters are supported.

If it is a white box or no name, you will need to identify the motherboard, this is another reason why I tend to avoid white boxes, support can come from many different places depending on what's wrong.

Sorry, but someone is either gonna need to open the box and identify the AGP port, or the motherboard manufacturer and model for me to help.
I don't know if Chas or someone knows but all I see is some generic specs and hardware that doesn't really help identify the AGP port or motherboard. Without further dtails, I cannot help. Sorry.

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PCI Only

by TheChas In reply to New System Specs

It does sound like your on-board video is PCI based, and as such, you do not have an AGP controller or slot.

If you desire to run high end games, I seriously recommend that you save your money, and get a whole new system.

You might be able to limp by with a good PCI video card and another 512MB of RAM. But, in the long run, a new system that has a discrete AGP video card is the way to go.

Chas

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