TechSpot

Need help upgrading my video card

By Jasta2
Mar 14, 2010
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  1. Hello, my first time here. I bought a new Flight Simulator for radio controlled airplaines named REAL FLIGHT BASIC. It will not run on my computer because my video card does not support 'shaders'. Not sure what shaders are. Here are the details on my computer. H.P. P-4, 2.8Hz, with HT,512 DDR SDRAM expandable to 2.0 GB, 160.0 OGB ultra DMA hard drive. It has a NVIDIA MX 440 AGP 8X video card. Audio listed as a 'Intregrated AC 97'. From this info can a upgraded video card that uses the same slots be suggested and maybe a better sound card? Also whatever is suggested installed while the computer is open.
    Regards,Bill
     
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,869   +697

    You can certainly upgrade the AGP video card to one that supports pixel shading.
    Depending where you are, if you have access to etail, availability and power supply requirements I would suggest something along the lines of :
    AMD ATI HD 4650 (128-bit, 512Mb) ($71 inc shipping)
    The HD 4670 is the next step up and about as good as it gets in AGP, but at $117 represents quite a step up in pricing.
    Both these cards require a PCIe 6 pin power adapter. There are adapters that can convert one or two molex 4 pin plugs to one PCIe 6 pin (these often come bundles with the card).
    It is suggested that a 400 watt power supply be used, which may necessitate an upgrade.
    Buying a card of a lower power consumption (if your PSU is of a lower specification and you don't want to upgrade) probably leaves the HD 3650 128-bit 512Mb card as your best alternative - bear in mind it offers lesser performance for the same price as the better cards (in this case).

    Sound cards are available that use the PCI slot/s on your motherboard - Asus Xonar and Creative's many Soundblaster products being prime examples.
     
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,735   +894

    The manufacturer's driver (software) support for you current video card has ended. You may or may not still be able to find them elsewere. "pixel shader" is version specific, (IE' V 1.0, 2.0 etc), and I don't know if there would be a driver up to date enough any way.

    Is this the "Great Planes" RC simulator you're speaking of? If so, let us know how you like it. If it is this software, I think it's been recently rewritten for new hardware and the Vista and Windows 7 (?) OSes. When these rewrites occur, they tend to take advantage of the new capabilities of current hardware.

    I keep meaning to grab that one, but spend my money on computer hardware instead.

    I suppose I should welcome you to the "conundrum". You can't afford the flight simutator if you buy a new computer, but you really do need a new computer to run it effectively. At least that's how it's worked out for me.

    But really, it is time for you to replace your computer, sorry to report. That flight simulator might even run off the new Intel integrated graphics, they are, believe it or not, better than the video card you have.

    When all is considered, a new video card, a new PSU, and additional RAM, you would be over $150.00. I'm not trying to be hurtful, but the machine you're dealing with isn't worth that. I have a 5 year old Emachines, and I wouldn't spend that kind of money on it. So I would in fact, do as I say.

    This question makes me a little bit nervous. Yes you obviously must install another video card with the computer "open", but is that what you meant? I think you need to collect a bit more know how, before you go diving into the insides of your computer
     
  4. Jasta2

    Jasta2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    New Computer you think?

    MMM??? If I were to buy a new computer, I am not exactly sure what I should get. I do not mind spending a couple hundred bucks on this one, but maybe I should concider a new computer. Is there a brand equiped you would recommend? I mainly use my computer for some word processing, storing and printing pictures, looking about the internet and a couple of older flight simulator games, so any new computer I take would do this fine, but just need the more up to date, better video/sound cards. I did own a early 'Staples' computer that I replaced the video and sound cards on. Then I was surprised how simple it was. Removed the computer case, unpluged the original cards and the new cards pluged right into the old slots. I also increased it's memory in the same fashion. I take upgrading my current computer with a better video card would not be so easy to run this R/C flight simulator. I am not that savey with computers when it comes to all the tech stuff. Adaptors,clock speeds, ect. With a new computer, I take it would be quite tough to transfer all my current documents/pictures over to a new computer.
    Bill
     
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,735   +894

    Well, I like most of the members here tend to build our own. Or rather "assemble" since it has become that easy to do.

    The AGP graphics interface is for all intents and purposes dead, as illustrated by the lack of drivers available for your card. DBZ has found a couple of adequate cards, should you decide to go that route.

    Your installed memory is really bare bones minimum, for this day and age.

    Any modern day motherboard will have superlative sound, without the need for an add in card..

    Maybe you might peruse this discussion; http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic133075.html Before you decide one way or another.

    The fact does remain, you can build a pretty slammin' up to date machine in the $400.00 price range. and have something you can upgrade without putting money into an old machine.

    This supposes that you are happy with the keyboard, mouse, and monitor you already have. But, doesn't include the cost of a copy of Windows, which would set you back $110.00 or $140.00 bucks, depending on whether you choose home or pro version.

    As to the older flight sims, M$ "Flight Simulator 2004" will even run well with integrated graphics, but the newer "Flight Simulator X" is quite a load.

    So, figure the costs for what you'd like to upgrade, then decide what you'd like to do. I think you need a video card, a PSU, extra RAM, and perhaps a sound card. Even on sale, but assuming you buy new, this is about $200.00.

    I don't have your bills, so it's easy for me to say replace it, but if what is holding you back is uncertainty rather than funds, you'll get plenty of help here to work through that. Maybe even too much.
     
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