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Is it worth upgrading to a better Graphics card?

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by plado, Jun 2, 2009.

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  1. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    I've been having trouble with graphics speed when taking screen shots of stills from home made mpg avi files using Screen Camera software where the movie slows to a halt while it sorts out memory use (CPU ?)
    Also Google Earth keeps crashing when doing Street level views of photos.

    I got latest drivers for the SiS 661 FX/GX Mirage 64mb card but that didn't improve a thing.

    So I upgraded my puny 512mb RAM as my next trick, and bought an extra 1Gb card from Crucial. I fitted it and now I have 1.43 Gb of RAM and the memory seems to have a lot more headroom. I say seems to have, but it's made no difference to Google Earth or the freezing of the video when taking screen shots. It also has a bad time as I try to save each of the still shot jpgs to file, as the program is still trying to write the photo information and it's obviously out of puff completely.

    I had hoped the bigger ram would cure this but should I upgrade the graphics card? Or would this be putting good money after bad?
    The PC is an ACER Aspire SA80 G97Z not a brilliant bit of kit but a kind of El Cheapo Comet Warehouse special. Perhaps I should ditch the whole shoot and buy a better PC? I'd be glad of expert's advice on this.
    Thanks
    --
    Plado
     
  2. Officer Dibble

    Officer Dibble

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    Make sure your pagefile has been increased to 1.5 x your fitted memory.

    Defrag your hard drive and run the usual www.malwarebytes.org and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware checks.

    Working with graphics is always heavy on resources, if you are going to do a lot of this then it might be wise to consider that your 'not brilliant' system needs to be relegated to some sort of back-up system or donated to a good cause for the purpose of getting something more fit for purpose. But that bit is entirely up to you and your finances.
     
  3. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    Get a decent card, that is complete crap you are using, sorry to say.
     
  4. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    Thanks to both of you for that well reasoned reply.
    I need to ask a bit more of each reply due to my rotten ignorance.
    Officer Dibble:
    With increasing page file size, which value do I change, Custom:
    Initial: Maximum: System Management Size: and do I make it exactly 1.5 x my 1.43Gb of RAM (ie 2.14 Gb Page file)
    My Hard Drive is partitioned C: 35gb NTFS 25.1 used so far)
    D: 35.5 gb NTFS used 23.3)
    Defrag was done 2 weeks ago.
    Spyware scans done regularly too with Ad Aware. Spybot and A-Squared scanning.

    Rich-M: Can my system stand a bells-and-whistles graphics card upgrade - and isn't it overkill for a system that needs scrapping ?

    I'm inclined to try what Officer Dibble says and then if that fails buy a new PC. The cost is not an issue. I have been upgrading PCs and renewing since 1993 and by the time I got to a 486 I was doing graphics stuff with Paintshop Pro 4. and now I'm still doing graphics but nothing like 3-D but plenty of photo handling and sizing cropping enhancing and generally tinkering with photos. I also use the same computer for all the Sound and Video Media handling like .wav recording and mp3 and the occasional burning of DVDs - and I have discovered that no computer I have yet owned has been superb at multi-tasking, so I have at least learned not to make it do too much at once when the memory is really struggling to cope with just one thing.

    Now with my new 1.4 gb of RAM it only seems to be really struggling when doing a Search for a file.

    Thanks again for your help. I really must know what the correct value to change is so i'd be glad of that advice and then I'll start tinkering again.
    --
    Plado
     
  5. Officer Dibble

    Officer Dibble

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    You know your stuff Plado. :)

    As for your pagefile, yep, that would be about right. Set to custom with both fields as no more or less than 2.15GB.

    Looking at your HDD size and free space, do you have a rock solid back-up solution? Considering the restricted size of your drive I am assuming it is getting along in years now? Also, the fact that you do so much media editing I am assuming you have quite a bit of images, etc, on there you wouldn't want to lose?

    If it is struggling to do a search, which to some degree is understandable with current resources and the fact that it has so much media to pass through, there is good reason to think you have a bottle-neck somewhere, whether it is you HDD speed, processor, sheer volume of data, etc.

    Some of the spyware scanners you have mentioned are good, but I would also strongly urge you to download and run www.malwarebytes.org.

    However, all this said, I feel you have reach a significant conclusion. The current architecture of your current system is no longer fit for purpose. If Michelangelo had limited himself to working on pebbles we would never have seen "David."
     
  6. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    OK Officer - nice directive thanks very much, I'll go straight to the malwares sit you suggest and grab that scanner. My A-Squared found a bunch of tracking cookies and on Trojan virus which I immediately quarrantined but looking into the Quarrantine folder now the scan is complete on both partitions I can't find the Trojan it pulled for me. But never mind, it has at least cleaned one out that was worth being rid of.

    I'll now do a defrag on both C and D partitions. I managed with your help to set the remaining Swap file minimum on the C: drive to 2mb and max to 50mb and moved the page file to D:\ and set the values to 2145 mb for min and max based on your directive for 1.5x RAM ie 1.5 x 1.43 Ram size. Then Rebooted making a note of the Page file setting values as they were before I changed them all !

    It seems to be steaming along a good bit faster since doing just that.
    Oh and you asked about backups. Sorry for making this reply long winded, but precis was never my strong point!
    I used to have a Western Digital My Book which failed on me due to some confusion between Firewire and a faulty USB 2 configuration on my earlier computer. So after I failed to make it run again I wiped it and configured it for use on my spare computer Apple MacBook 13 laptop and that seemed to talk happily to the MyBook so that has been relegated solely for that. But as regards my Acer Aspire desktop I've now got a Buffalo 300 gb backup drive where I keep all of my pictures; movies; music; documents; jokes; recipies and old cleared out email folders etc etc. But I think you're right I could do with clearing out more of the stuff that is taking up precious space from C: and D: so I'll do that today and leave behind empty folders on the main PC so I can start filling them up again !

    I've never kept large VOB files from DVDs on the hard drive as they are so wasteful of disk space. It does make sense to clean a load more out and so I'll do that next, and then when it's been emptied of all the clutter, I'll then do the defrag on both partitions. Even though Windows XP home always tells me I don't need to - I always disbelieve it and do a defrag anyway.

    Thanks again for your help I'll drop back here and report how it went as soon as I've finished the job !
    Regards
    --
    Plado
     
  7. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    I think if you want to buy some time yes it can handle the ones I posted.
     
  8. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    Rich-M
    I take onboard what you're saying, but what cards did you post as recommendations? I didn't see any.
    And to all who replied especially officer Dibble - another big thank you.
    I've done the whole lot now apart from run the Malwarebytes scanner program. I'm going to do that next.

    Done a defrag of both partitions C and D. Moved all my Movies; Photos; PPS Slide shows; DVD Videos; off to the Backup drive.

    One thing may be relevant to mention, my C and D partitions are NTFS converted by me when I got the PC new. The G: Buffalo external backup drive is still FAT 32 - Does that matter? Will it cause any conflicts?

    Space now on the system is as follows
    C Drive 35Gig Capacity 13.6 Gig free.
    D Drive 35.5 Gig Capacity 26.7 Gig free.
    Buffalo backup drive has 208Gig free space on a 300 gig capacity.

    During the backing up of photos and deleting the originals I hit one problem. A file called Re_Stephens New Website that has no content or size (zero bytes) and has no extension refused to copy and it wouldn't delete as it Advised it couldn't find the file.

    I tried shredding it, and it said there was a problem.
    I tried altering its attributes and it refused.
    I managed to get it into the Recycle Bin but then the bin refused to empty until I restored the bad file and then I could empty.

    The file remains in a folder on the D drive. It caused a COPY process to fail in half the sub-folders of my photo backing up so I had to box clever and copy things either side of it manually.
    Finally I got the folder into the Backup G: drive and so I'm hoping all is well.

    Quick test shows everything working faster.
    Reboots create desktop icons faster.
    Taking 17 still snapshots from a .wmv movie file and stacking them up in the Screen shot program no longer crashes the movie as it's playing.
    The final resulting photos all save easily without crashing during the save to folder process.
    So I think you've managed to crack it.
    Thanks very much to all.
    I still think it's on the cards to try a better graphics card so I really would like Rich-M to advise on what will be compatible with my system. I don't do video games beyond MotoRace and I don't watch many full length DVDs but I do play about editing movie files and Burning stuff to blank disks and so forth.

    Any advice gratefully received.
    All the best
    --
    Plado.
     
  9. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    Sorry I was thinking of another post...I can't see anything on your pc in English so again I am not sure but it looks to me like you can use any pci-express 16 cards if you can find out if there is a pci-express slot which from one picture I saw I believe you have.
     
  10. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    Right ok then. I've just posed a question with Acer company themselves online, to see if they'll tell me if there's a pci-express slot.
    One problem is I can't find the wretched serial number on it. They may tell me, but while I'm waiting should I take the side panel off and take a flash photo of the insides and send you the jpg? Would you be able to tell from that or would the wiring harness be in the way of where you need to look?
    I'll gladly do that if I can post up a jpg here or send it to you in a message.
    I really am ready to search for a better Graphics card. I know what the main cards look like, ie Sound Card; Modem, USB slots, Network but I don't think I've ever spotted the graphics card, it must be one of them, plugged into the Motherboard.

    If an upgraded graphics card helps to beef it up then I've done all I can to improve it. But if not then I've only wasted about 80 uk pounds on one and I'll write it off to bad experience and buy a better PC. Thanks for your help.
     
  11. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    I've just found what I think is the User Manual for the Motherboard in this Acer. The MBD is an ASRock P4145GV The Specification list shows
    PCI Slots 3 with PCI Specification 2.2
    1 AGI ASRock Graphics Interface Slot
    1 Slot supports ASRock MR Card optional

    It says there's a caution. The AGI ASrock Graphics interface slot is a special design that only supports AGP VGA cards, supported AGP VGA card list shows ten ASUS AGP cards
    2 GAINWARD GF3s
    An inno3D GeForce MX400
    5 Leadtek Winfast cards
    An MSI GF4-MX 440SE
    PROLINK MX 440
    Sparkle ditto

    Then ATI liststs three type Gigabyte GV
    Powercolor Radeon 9000
    Transcend TS54M
    finally
    SiS Synnex GCM SiS315

    I would put money on most of those being out of date now.
    I don't know if that was the list I am looking for but I'll be guided by you if you think this is useful information.
    Thanks
    --
    Plado
     
  12. bbearren

    bbearren

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    AGP cards are dated, but you can get some really good buys online. I recommend either nVidia or ATI chipset; both are good. I'm using a Diamond Steath/ATI Radeon 9550 AGP 256MB and it is quite stable.
     
  13. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    Ah thank you heartily.
    I'll go look for a good deal on one like that. This is just the information I'm looking for. Also the stability is a strong issue so I expect your model will do the job nicely.

    I'm hoping this will be a case of Unplug existing card and plug the new one in and boot up, and it will recognise itself. Knowing my luck the graphics card that came with the Acer will be built in to the motherboard but I expect I can find where the new one will plug in.
    I think Acers are a bit further ahead than the Gateway Computers Windows Millenium nonsense that used to be turned out for el cheapo sale.
    Many thanks for the tip.
    Regards
    --
    Plado
     
  14. daniel_b2380

    daniel_b2380

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    if this is any help,
    P4i45GV R5.0 [it's an i [eye] rather than a 1 [one]]
    specs
    http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=P4i45GV R5.0

    downloads
    http://www.asrock.com/support/download.asp?Keyword=P4i45GV+R5.0&Socket=

    http://www.asrock.com/support/download.asp?Keyword=&Socket=478&Model=P4i45GV+R5.0&OS=XP

    from the specs page:
    - ASRock A.G.I. 8X - VGA upgrade slot, (AGP8X/4X compatible)

    you have the agp 8x / 4x which is the last agp spec made - [that agi part is confusing] - [never used that brand mbs, so don't know anything about that]

    make sure you DELETE the existing vid card drivers BEFORE shutting down to remove the old card
     
  15. plado

    plado Thread Starter

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    That looks to be a very useful bunch of links. Thank you.
    I've copied them to a notepad and I can work through them one by one.

    It's all good handy advice - especially the bit about the drivers.

    Can I ask one last question?
    How do I find the related drivers for the existing videocard to delete them? I'm not sure I know their location.

    Device Manager hardware profiles as far as I remember only have Roll Back Update drivers and uninstall drivers commands.

    Did you mean "Delete" the drivers or just uninstall them before plugging in the hardware please?
    Thanks
    --
    Plado
     
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