Improve video without an upgrade?

By Goofy Newfie ยท 79 replies
May 13, 2002
  1. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Thanks, Arris. I guess the main reason I wanted a video upgrade was the damn Star Trek Bridge Commander demo on this month's Maximum PC sampler CD. It hooked me, but I knew I needed better performance. Now that I know what my needs are, I will look around for some cheap second hand stuff. Thanks again for your advice.
  2. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    You should be able to pick up a Geforce 2MX 400 PCI card which would blow away the onboard graphics...
    You may even be able to get a Geforce 2 (non MX card) for the best performance...
  3. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

  4. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    I own that card. It is a good card & about the best you can get (rea$onable) for a PCI. I thought prices had come down more than that, but a few searchs say that is the best price on that card. Lotsa places don't even have anymore. ;)

    I like the VisionTek lifetime warranty! I also have STBC Demo & have the graphics turned all the way up & get ~20 fps in the 'Quick Battle' w/10ships. Not 'killer', but darn good for the $$$ spent, IMO. :grinthumb

    The only 'better' card is the GF4 MX420 64mb PCI for $67 by VisionTek here: ,IMO.

  5. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    Thanks, Jav. I agree that this seems to be a good deal for the $.
  6. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    My pleasure. :cool:

    If it is like mine: there aren't any RAM heatsinks nor is there a fan. The RAM is 6ns & won't take a lot of overclocking. With 'Riva Tuner' I have oc'd the 'core' from 200 to 207.6 to 211.2 safely & the 'memory' from 334 (166.7) to 373 (186.1) to 386 (193.3) safely using the 29.20 Detenator Driver. The lower you stay: the better for the card. I also have a 'case cooling' fan blowing across my card to help keep it cool. :grinthumb

    207.6 & 358 (179.0) is a 'safe' place to start/stay, IMO. Adequate cooling is the key. ;)

    HTH, have fun & if I can help further ... I'll be here. :)

    PS: consider that GF4 MX420: for only $67 ... I sure am!
  7. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    C$ suck!

    Jav, you must realize that $67US is actually over $103 in Canadian dollars. That's more than I am willing to part with at the moment. We get killed with a low currency here.
  8. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    testing sig....

    testing signature
  9. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    I'm not sure if anybody is still monitoring this thread anymore, but if you are, I wanted your opinions on the vid card I bought. I picked up an AOPEN nVidia TNT2 M64 32MB video card brand new for about $45US. It should be miles better than my 8MB onboard graphics chipset. What do you think?
  10. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    It will be much better than your onboard graphics. For the price though, you may have been able to get something better.

    I'm not famliar with many PCI cards, but has a 32mb DDR ATI Radeon 7000 (Much faster than your TNT) for 40 dollars. It is AGP though.

    But as I said, it should be a HUGE improvement. It still may not be adequate to play new games with detail however.
  11. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    He can't have an AGP slot unless he upgrades the Mobo.:(
  12. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210

    Better yet: Tell us what you think. :grinthumb

    That way we can all learn from your experience rather than our opinions. :D OK? [Then we can all 'tweek' our opinions, he he] :approve:

    Lotta views on this thread, so ppl are interested. ;)
  13. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    I have not installed the card yet. I am waiting for my new hard drive and memory, and will then install everything together. I had to get the PCI card, as there is no AGP slot on my mobo, and it is a recent upgrade. The price was good for me because I was able to buy it locally from a company I trust to give me good service if I have problems; if I had bought it through mail order or Ebay, I was not guarunteed that. As I am not a 'serious' gamer, I am comfortable with the card I bought. I'll be sure to let you all know how it all turns out when I finish the installs and try out my brand new Star Trek Bridge Commander.:D
  14. ComradeNachaev

    ComradeNachaev TS Rookie

    Needing PCI based Graphics card upgrade

    I'm pretty much in the same boat as Goofy Newbie. Although my mobo is, I believe, a bit better to start with.

    Currently I have an onboard NVidia Aladdin TNT2 that uses 16MB of RAM. I've got 256 SDRAM installed.

    I've got the same problem of only being able to upgrade with a PCI video card.

    I've already upgraded to a Sound Blaster PCI 128 sound card from the original on-board CMI-8738 chip, so that leaves me 2 PCI slots.

    I've read over this thread carefully since it pretty much covers the situation I came here to ask you'all about, eh? :cool:

    Also, like Goofy Newbie, I'm a rather impoverished Cannuck, so I like the VisionTek XTASY GeForce2 MX400 64MB PCI. If I could snatch it for around $80 Can. I would be smilin'.

    I think I would prefer to stay with NVidia based cards rather than ATI Radeon. Not certain, but I've heard questionable things about the ATIs. So, unless there's real convincing pro-ATI arguements:p

    Thus, my 2 questions:

    Would you expect that the GeForce2 MX400 card (or very similar one) would provide me with significant improvements over my present TNT2 making it well worthy of the expenditure?

    Can anyone provide a listing of the top PCI graphics cards (or a link) in case what's locally available is somewhat spotty?
  15. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210

    Comrade N,

    2 ways we can do this: Go to nVidia, VisionTek or PNY & click on "Analyze my system" & the program will show you a graph of available cards & the % improvement over your present card &/or go to & download "Fresh Diagnose" & run the "Display Adapter Benchmark" & post it here. I'll do the same on my GF2 MX400 & we can compare your TnT #'s against my MX400 #'s. :D

    I'm running a 500Celeron & 320mb SDRAM on an Intel 810E mobo & you have ... ? :cool:

  16. ComradeNachaev

    ComradeNachaev TS Rookie

    Here's my Display Adapter Benchmark results ...

    First off, thanks for pointing me towards the Fresh Diagnose tool. Wow! When it creates a report it REALLY creates a report! :eek:

    Okie dokie, since you offered ... here's the results of the Display Adapter Benchmark test.

    Benchmark Result
    Random Pixels 633 KPixels/s
    Lines 130,000 Lines/s
    Circles 9,154 Circles/s
    Rectangles 26,383 Rectangles/s
    Texts 360,591 Chars/s
    FloodFills 4,211,200 KPixels/s
    Draw 14,301 KPixels/s

    Benchmark Info
    Device Name NVIDIA Aladdin TNT2
    Device ID \\.\Display1
    Benchmark Mode 800 x 600 pixels
    Color Depth 16 Bit

    And below is my current Computer Profile Summary according to Belarc Advisor program:

    Operating System System Model
    Windows Millennium Edition Manufactured and supported by: MDG COMPUTERS Inc.
    Asset Tag: 0123ABC
    Processor a Main Circuit Board
    900 megahertz Intel Pentium III
    32 kilobyte primary memory cache
    256 kilobyte secondary memory cache Board: Acer Laboratories Inc. ALi 1631 1.0
    Bus Clock: 100 megahertz
    BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. 62710 07/15/97
    Drives Memory Modules
    20.40 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
    8.01 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

    Generic floppy disk drive (3.5")

    SAMSUNG SV2042H (20.41 GB) [Hard drive] -- drive 0 240 Megabytes Installed Memory
    128 Megabyte Module Size - 2 Installed
    One Memory Socket is Empty
    Local Drive Volumes

    c: (on drive 0) 19.58 GB 7.72 GB free
    d: (on drive 0) 813 MB 288 MB free

    Network Drives

    Controllers Printers
    Standard Floppy Disk Controller
    ALi M5229 PCI Bus Master IDE Controller
    Primary IDE controller (dual fifo)
    Secondary IDE controller (dual fifo) Acrobat PDFWriter on LPT1:
    APOLLO P2500/2600 Series on \\Debbie\apollo

    NVIDIA Aladdin TNT2 [Display adapter]
    Plug and Play Monitor
    Bus Adapters Multimedia
    ALi PCI to USB Open Host Controller Creative Sound Blaster PCI128 (WDM)
    Gameport Joystick (no joystick connected)
    Communications Other Devices
    SiS 900 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter
    Network Card MAC Address: 00:D0:09:6E:5F:50 Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural Keyboard
    HID-compliant mouse
    Microsoft USB IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 (IntelliPoint)
    ATM LAN Emulation driver
    USB Root Hub

    Of course I am interested in obtaining better graphics overall. However, what I'm most interested in is upping the fps of my graphical display which presently hovers around 20-30 fps during online play of Day of Defeat Half-Life mod over cable. I play in 640x480, OpenGL mode.

    It will definitely be interesting to see a comparison of these results with those of your GF2 MX400. Much appreciated. Cheers! :grinthumb
  17. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210

    Comrade N,

    Glad you like it! For such a small program: it rocks, IMO! Pass it on, my friend. :cool:

    Here's my MX400 specs on a Celeron 500 @ 66mhz:

    Benchmark Result
    Random Pixels 433 KPixels/s
    Lines 314,666 Lines/s
    Circles 4,828 Circles/s
    Rectangles 13,066 Rectangles/s
    Texts 192,956 Chars/s
    FloodFills 2,872,480 KPixels/s
    Draw 19,046 KPixels/s

    Benchmark Info
    Device Name NVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400
    Device ID \\.\Display1\U0
    Benchmark Mode 800 x 600 pixels
    Color Depth 16 Bit

    You're ~1/3 more on random pixels, but 2/3 less on lines. Almost dbl my circles & do dbl my rects. Text (who cares, no one can read that fast) is more & your flood fills are 1/3 more. Draw is ~1/3 less tho'. Hmmm.

    I'm just now seeing others results & haven't reached any definative conclusions, but I'd say your card is pretty good in comparison. I don't know if a MX400 would be worth the $$.

    Your P3 is much faster than my Celeron, it also has the SSE2 & SIMD extensions I don't have & the 100mhz bus. How much that is making a difference, I'm really not sure.

    My thoughts: GF4 MX 420, consider clocking that P3 to 133mhz (many P3's run 133) & provide adequate cooling. There is a link in this thread for a $67US GF4 MX420 that you might consider.

    I have plans for a P3 900, so this matters to me too. :D I recently dl'd BelArc, also. Small world, eh? ;)

    Whatever you decide: plz stay in touch here & let us know how it is working. :grinthumb

    PS: My card is oc'd & I'm a little :eek:
  18. ComradeNachaev

    ComradeNachaev TS Rookie

    I am very surprised...

    I did not expect to see better results for my card in any category, so I am very surprised and a tad happy.

    But I would imagine it isn't my card per se that is responsible, but my faster processor and some other factors, as you point out.

    So that begs the question, "Would I have gotten higher scores across the board if I had the same graphics card as you?".


    I really appreciate you doing this comparrison. I feel a little :blush: too because I had thought my graphic performance was probably quite substandard (thus giving me an excuse for my substandard game performance). Now it looks like I'm going to have to accept greater personal responsibility for my lousy playing.:blackeye:

    Hmmmmm (again) - I'll look for the GF4 MX 420 link and if it is compatible with PCI slot, that would definitely be at the top of my list (would work out to be around $115 Can. with tax).

    Of course, I wonder how much performance loss results from having to use a PCI-based card as opposed to and AGP?

    Here's the blurb on the GF4 MX 420 from Comp-U-Plus:
  19. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210

    Comrade N,

    My pleasure & thank you for taking the time to BM your card & post the info here. I'm trying to get some others to do the same & then more of us can 'see' the differences & we'll know whether a vid card, CPU, mobo &/or RAM will be the best purchase for each of us. ;)

    I added 192mb of PC-133 to my system 2 days ago (512 total now) & re-BM'd the card. I can't break the 433/k random pixels, but I have achieved (small) increases on all the others: floodfills is over 3mil now. I also increaded my FSB to 74mhz (lost my sound @ that setting) and the CPU clocked to 558 & the vid card #'s went up. :)

    I'm pretty sure a P3 @ 100/133 will give me big improvements & that is the plan.

    PCI vs AGP: I've spoken to PNY, VisionTek & Pine & all 3 told me the Ti cards are optimized for AGP & that is why there aren't any PCI Ti cards. Added hardware *could* make them PCI, but the costs associated would make the cards $$$. The MX cards are basically equal (PCI vs AGP) according to them. Creative/3DLabs makes 'professional' PCI cards (Oxygen) & they are supposed to be the best for CAD. I've 'heard' they have the best drivers in the vid card business too. :grinthumb

    I recently spoke to PNY & was informed that they plan on a 'High Performance' PCI card after the release of the 'new' nVidia chip (NV30) & to look for its release in the 4th quarter of this year. I was told it would be comparable to an AGP in both price & performance.

    "Greater personal responsibility", he he :p I know what ya mean on that one. LOL! Looks like I can use that excuse tho'. :blush:

    Have a good one & if you get a chance: look at "CPU bottlenecking?" here. Shaft has a P3 1ghz w/Ti4400 & his #'s aren't very impressive at all. He should smoke us both, but he isn't. Any ideas? :confused:

    I agree on the Hmmm's. Now to figure out why.
  20. ComradeNachaev

    ComradeNachaev TS Rookie

    I will keep an eye out from improved PCI cards

    I think it's a great idea to create a comparison database.

    I actually enjoyed doing the benchmarking. I'm not very knowledgeable in this area of tech specs, but I'm glad to be learning.

    I would imagine a faster processing chip would enable you to start using the graphics card in a way that starts making use of its potential. Obviously a graphics card can't do it alone, so to speak.

    Glad to hear that "MX cards are basically equal (PCI vs AGP) according to them [VisonTek, etc.]" - that is certainly reassuring. I think I will try to get a GF2 MX 420. If/when I do I will certainly report back here with updated benchmarks.

    It will be interesting to see how much improvement. At least I sure hope there will be some dang improvement. Now if I could just raise the fps about 25 frames per second I think I'd be fairly contended - for the time being;)
  21. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199


    Display Adapter Benchmark
    This module performs display adapter benchmark in your system.

    Benchmark Result
    Random Pixels 333 KPixels/s
    Lines 41,333 Lines/s
    Circles 11,879 Circles/s
    Rectangles 36,146 Rectangles/s
    Texts 383,027 Chars/s
    FloodFills 790,240 KPixels/s
    Draw 27,067 KPixels/s

    Benchmark Info
    Device Name NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Model 64
    Device ID \\.\DISPLAY1
    Benchmark Mode 800 x 600 pixels
    Color Depth 16 Bit

    Last Benchmark Wednesday, Jun 19, 2002 12:53 am

    It seems that the performance of my setup is not what it could be. I am running a Celeron 1.0GHZ w/256MB 133MHZ SDRAM. Could the monitor affect results? (I have an old, crappy monitor that is about 7 years old)
  22. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    Hmmm. Looking at Comrade N's card & yours ... :confused:

    Your systems are very similar: yet your #'s aren't. I'd of thought your 32mb compared to his 16 would give you a slight edge all the way around. I can see my 500 & 66mhz FSB is limiting my card, but you both have 100FSB's. His P3 is better than our Celerons, but you're a tad faster @ 1ghz than his 900mhz. I expected the trade off there would even out the 16mb vs 32mb issue.

    I honestly think a little oc'ing could get you 400 random pixels, 100,000+ lines & at least dbl your flood fills. Nothing major, just a 5-8% oc. :cool:

    That is, naturally, your choice: but if you'd like to do it & want a hand ... I'm willing to share my 'Riva Tuner' experiences w/you. :)

    How does STBC Demo run? Much better!? :grinthumb
  23. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    I'd be willing to give oc-ing a go, provided it doesn't do any damage. I would appreciate any help you could give. STBC Demo worked so well, I bought the game. I also upgraded my memory from 192MB pc100 to 256MB pc133, and I have ordered a new hdd, 18GB WD @7200rpm to act as master to my slightly older 10.2GB WD @5400rpm, which I will now slave when I get the new drive. Both are ultra 66. I know this system doesn't hold a candle to most of what the guys have here, but it is all I can afford. What do you think?

  24. JAV

    JAV TS Rookie Posts: 210


    Go to Intel & get the "Application Accelerator" & the upgrades for your i815 board. You'll need to dl the 'Software installation tool' also & run it 1st. It will help your present hdd perform faster. I have aslo seen a Western Digital driver that is supposed to speed it up more. I believe it was at "Windows Update". :grinthumb

    'Riva' is available at

    Enable overclocking: 'Control Panel'> 'Display'> 'Settings'> 'Advanced'> 'TNT 2'> 'Additional Properties'> 'Clock Frequencies': check the 'Allow' box & the 'Apply at startup' box. Detect & restart.

    Now open 'Riva'. What is the driver #'s in the bottom box? Click on the bottom (driver) 'customize' button. Click on the 'card' pic (1st one). What are the 'stock' speeds for 'Core' & 'Memory'? I need to know both the driver # & the stock core & memory #'s before we go further. :D

    Overclocking too far can damage the card. I personally haven't experienced it tho'. 'Riva' has a 'safe zone' & *if* one goes too high (I had to test it), power off & on restart it returns to a safe level.

    Heat is the enemy. As I stated in an earlier post: I have an case cooling fan blowing across my card. I'd suggest you do the same. Don't use a 'non-magnetic shielded' fan (normal house fan) unless it is placed a few feet away. Until you get a fan: we'll keep the ocing low. ;) Does the card have a fan or heatsinks?

    Run FD on the disk drive & then install the Intel progs & run it again. I think you'll see big improvements. Have you run the 'Jedi Knight' demo or the 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein' demo? Excellent graphics on both. My 56k connection made 'em both an all night (me asleep) dl, but they are worth it. :cool:

  25. Goofy Newfie

    Goofy Newfie TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 199

    First of all, I am not running the Intel chipset, as I was quoting specs that were from my previous system. I am now running the VIA Apollo PLE133T AGPset chipset.

    As for my vid-card, it has heatsinks only, but I have a case fan that blows directly on it. I am not concerned about too much heat.

    I will implement the changes, run another benchmark and post the results here on this thread.

    Let you know when it's done.

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