Improve video without an upgrade?

By Goofy Newfie · 79 replies
May 13, 2002
  1. I have what you would call an economy-driven rig, which my wife and I only use for e-mail, word-processing, and the occasional game or two. While this system is great for our NEEDS, it falls short in my WANTS categories. While I like the occasional game such as the Star Trek sims, I get really chippy video, which often freezes and skips. Is it possible to enhance the capabilities of my rig WITHOUT having to upgrade(ie. software enhancements/tweaks)? We cannot afford any more upgrades for a while.

    Here are my system specs:

    Celeron 1.0GHZ Processor
    Intel 815 Series Chipset w/onboard Audio
    Onboard Trident Blade 3D Video-8MB
    192 MB PC100 SDRAM
    10.2 GB Western Digital ATA 66
    2.1 GB Fujitsu
    ACER 50X CD-Rom
    AOPEN 12X10X32X CD-RW
    WIN-XP Home

    P.S. As you can see, I am not an avid gamer like most of you folks(No GE Force 4's here).:(
  2. Top_gun

    Top_gun TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Yeah, the only way to improve performance witout adding new hardware is to overclock the following:
    Video card

    A not about overclocking, its dangerous to go over 10% of the normal clock witout adding cooling fans or heat sinks. Try to keep it 5%. Unfortunaly, if something does happen, your warrenty will not cover it. If you r worried bout overclocking, dont be worried, lots of people do it, even on hardware reviews and they show how far it can be overclocked.
    For utilies for overclocking, go to
  3. Top_gun

    Top_gun TS Rookie Posts: 59

    However, for $100 you can get 256 P133 SRAM which can improve the performance even better.
  4. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    I know of what you speak. You are asking a lot of that 8mb on-board chip especially when the audio is on-board too. :rolleyes:

    You can go to Intels' website & download the "Application Accelerator" & the i815e updates & the audio updates, but for games that have lots of graphic details & sfx audio files ... :dead:

    I tried to 'software' boost mine. It helped very little. I understand the lack of $$$ for these things too. I wish I had a download solution for you, but ... I had to budget for a GF2 card for $70. NOW the GF4 MX420 is $70!

    Here's a 32mb DDR Radeon for only $33! That (hopefully) is w/in your budget & will improve your video better than anything else I can think of. :cool:


    PS: that i815e & the 1Ghz Celeron *should* handle PC133 SDRAM quite nicely. When the time ($$$) comes ... :grinthumb
  5. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    I agree with JAV - you're gonna need a video upgrade badly. Pretty much anything that you can buy today (even budget) will be tons better than that on-board video card you're running. Sorry man, but you won't get decent 3D with what you've got.

  6. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Yeah, I pretty much figured that I was limited with my options. My mobo came with an overclock utility on the driver CD, but the damn thing never worked. I'll try out this one. Also, is it very difficult to disable the onboard video chipset in order to run a card? Thanks for all of your replies. I need a JOB! University budgets suck!
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Try getting the newest video card drivers available for your system. This may increase performance a bit, especailly in some games.

    I have to say though, that video card is what is holding you back and probably the reason for your choppy video. Your CPU speed is fine.. Perhaps some more RAM would help, although I don't think it will help much with your Star Trek games, but it will greatly improve general performance.
  8. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Thanks again, Rick.
  9. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    I think the true is, ultimately if you want the sort of performance increases you are talking about you have have to put your hand into your pocket, even if its to get just a budget AGP Geforce 2 MX card or something....
  10. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    As Rick said: I think your CPU speed is fine also. Your RAM is marginal: Win XP is 'taking' 128, so you're left w/64. Video is taking 8 & audio prolly 4, so you're down to 52mb for 'other stuff'.

    Disabling the 'on-board" video chip: "Control Panel", "System", "Device Manager" (view devices by type), "Display Adapters" & 'highlight' the 815 Chipset Graphics Driver & click on the 'Properties' box. Check the:'Disable in this hardware profile' & uncheck: 'Exists in all hardware profiles'. Click OK & OK & reboot.

    Upon reboot Windows will detect the new card & install a driver (not the 815 driver). Run the 'driver' program for the new card & follow its instructions. That's it. :D

    If you do a Ctrl/Alt/Del & 'manually' select/ shutdown all the programs you don't need (connection manager, virus program, firewall, etc) to play the games (off-line) then you will free some system memory & resources. I'm not familar with what you *can* shutdown in XP, but kill everything you don't need. ;)

    That Radeon 32mb DDR can't be beat for the $33! I'd venture you get 300-400% improvement & you'll free up 8mb for 'other stuff'. :grinthumb For $70 a GF4 MX420 will rock your world & with the eventual 256mb PC133 RAM: your computer will 'come alive' & you'll experience its true potential, IMHO.

  11. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Thanks. I'll keep everything in mind that you all have suggested. I'll just have to put up with the glitches until I can afford to do some upgrading. I doubt that there is a whole lot I can disable in Windows that will make an appreciable difference to the performance of my rig's video. I wil have a look at some vid cards on e-bay later to see if I can find a deal. My thanks to all who posted replies to this thread. :grinthumb
  12. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Hi Goofy,:)

    You still should disable your integrated VGA in the BIOS. A certain amount of RAM is allocated to the Video chip on startup, even before the OS boots. Disabling it in the BIOS could help you gain a few extra MBs of free memory.
  13. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    pricewatch has some excellent deals on cards like a gf2mx which will play sims without a problem.
  14. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Thanks for the tip, SNGX. I check them out.
  15. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    PCI or AGP

    Are AGP vid cards any better than PCI? I just realized that my mobo has three PCI slots, but I'm not sure what AGP really is(remember, I use this thing to write papers). Could somebody shed some light on my technological ignorance?
  16. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    Check this out:

    "Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) technology provides a dedicated, high-speed port for the movement of large blocks of 3D texture data between the PC's graphics controller and system memory." [From Intel site]

  17. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    If you have the option to get an AGP or PCI card, definitly go with AGP. Recent games ( even games from 3 years back ) are really texture intensive so the more bandwidth they can get the better.

    It's probably harder to find a PCI VGA card then an AGP anyways these days.
  18. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Do all mobo's come equipped to handle AGP? How do I find out if mine is? Is this a good deal?

    32 MB AGP
  19. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379


    See the dark brown slot above (to the right of) the PCI slots (white slots). This is an AGP card slot. If you have one of these you should be able to use an AGP card. The difference is in the AGP standard. Current is 2.0 as far as I know. You should check with the Motherboards manufacturer to see what AGP standard it supports. Either install SiSoft Sandra (do a google search for Sisoft Sandra download) which reads a lot of information from hardware and may be able to tell you your motherboards manufacturer and model or open up the PC and have a look round the board. There should be a brand/manufacturer and model marked on it somewhere. When you find this search for the manufacturers website if you don't already have a manual with the information in it ;)
  20. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    TNT2 Ultra is a bit outdated.
    Since that card Nvidia have released:

    -geforce 256
    -geforce 2MX 200
    -geforce 2MX 400
    -geforce 2
    -geforce 2 GTS
    -geforce 2 Ultra
    -geforce 3
    -geforce 3 Ti200
    -geforce 3 Ti500
    -geforce 4 MX420
    -geforce 4 MX440
    -geforce 4 MX460
    -geforce 4 Ti4200 (soon)
    -geforce 4 Ti4400
    -geforce 4 Ti4600
    -Plus the Quadro range of professional card....

    You should be looking to pickup at least a geforce 2MX 400 for that price. Or as JAV suggested a cheap deal on a 32Mb ATI Radeon card. Both of these should beat the performance of a TNT2 Ultra by some amount! :D
  21. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    After checking, I was able to determine my mobo type, and that it does have the AGP slot. I am enclosing a pic. If I am mistaken, please, somebody, let me know.


    Thanks for the info. Once again, I have to comment on how helpful the members and moderaters here at 3DS are. Thanks, guys!
  22. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199


    As a post script, here is the info for my board.

    VIA Apollo PLE133T AGPset


    Universal socket 370 supports Intel® FC-PGA/FC-PGA2 Pentium® III (CopperMine/Tualatin)or other compatible processors
    Auto/66/75*/83*/100/112*/124*/133/140*/150* MHz FSB
    AUTO detect CPU voltage

    VIA VT8602 (PLE133T)
    VIA VT82C686B
    Chipset with Built-in enhanced graphics
    AC97 codec
    Realtek RTL8100(L) controller

    2 168-pin DIMM sockets
    Supports PC-100 / PC-133 SDRAM and VCM SDRAM
    Supports up to 1.0GB DRAM
    Supports only 3.3V SDRAM DIMM

    1 x AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot (optional)
    3 x PCI slots support 33MHz & PCI 2.2 compliant
    1 x ISA slot

    2 x UDMA ATA 33/66/100 Bus Master IDE ports on board
    1 x FDD, 1 x COM, 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
    1 x VGA (DB15), 1 x Joystic, 1 x Line-in, 1 x Line-out, 1 x MIC on board
    2 x USB ports on board
    2 x USB & 1 x COM port by cable (optional accessary)
    IrDA TX / RX header ready
    1 x LAN port

    ATX power connector
    Supports USB device wake-up
    Power-on by LAN, RTC, Modem & switch
    Power-off by Windows® 98/2000/ME/XP shut down & switch

    Micro ATX , 4 layer PCB (24.4 x 19.4 cm)

    CPU/System fan revolution detect
    CPU/System temperature detect
    System voltage detect (Vcore,VDD ,Vcc,+12V)
    CPU overheat shutdown detect

    2Mbit Flash RAM
    Award BIOS with enhanced ACPI feature for PC98/Win98/Win2000/WinME/ XP compliance, Green, PnP, DMI, INT13 (>8.4GB) & Anti-Virus functions
    IDE#1~#4, SCSI, LS120, ZIP & CD-ROM bootable
    AC recovery ON/OFF control
    Auto-detect & report system health status

    Supports Wake-On-LAN (WOL)
    Supports Internal/External Modem Ring on
    Includes 2 fan power connectors
    Poly fuse for keyboard over-current protection
    Supports Gigabyte EasyTune III™

    Gigabyte Windows Utility Manager
    VIA 4 in 1 service pack utility
    Trident 8500 VGA driver

    I thought I had Intel chipset, but I was obviously mistaken.
  23. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Unfortunately that is not an AGP slot for a video card.
    But an Audeo Modem Riser (for connecting sound and modems)

    If you check the image I posted you will see that the AGP slot is a longer slot than the one on your board. So your graphic upgrade would have to be a PCI video card.

    The AMR is not of much use but there may be products out there that can be used with it similar to the devices available from Hercules for use with Intels CNR Riser (similar slot/port).

    Edit : hehe you posted the Postscript while I was still finishing my post.... You have an Intel graphics chipset on your PC but a Via North and South bridge... (Controls IDE, Buses, Ports USB etc...)
  24. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    So basically, I got screwed over by my computer dealer. This is a new upgrade I purchased a month or two ago, and he said that it would support AGP. AGP is in the board description, for Pete's sake. Guess I should have known when I saw the ISA slot that this mobo had a lot to be desired. But it was cheap!:rolleyes:
  25. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    AGP probably refers to the fact that the onboard graphics chipset from Intel probably interfaces via AGP. Its just that there is no AGP slot for an expansion card. If you bought this because he told you it could take an AGP card I would go back to the dealer and complain. See if you can moan enough to get something done about it (motherboard swapped, cheap deal on a PCI video card, full refund and buy another motherboard) :mad:
    Hope you get some graphics solution sorted out ;)

    Its easy to be ripped off (even just by the sales person being uninformed) as it happened to me not that long ago. I got ripped off by PCworld in the UK when I bought a PC without checking out the components first and ended up with a Gigabyte GA-7IXE4 which has an AGP slot that doesn't support anything over a Geforce2MX (which I found out after splashing out on a Geforce3).... I emailed Gigabyte to find this information out. Technical explanation that I found myself was that the board has a linear power regulator rather than a switching one which meant it couldn't supply peak power for the card which caused lockups/freezes and therefore meant I had to reboot constantly.
    Kinda put me off gigabyte products... :rolleyes:
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