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Total War Heaven » Forums » Technical Help and Bug Reporting » FAQ: Upgrading graphics cards
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Topic Subject:FAQ: Upgrading graphics cards
Duan Xuan
Legionary
posted 26 December 2006 03:05 EDT (US)         
Things that you must find out first are:
  • current graphics card/chip
  • graphics interface
  • power supply unit (PSU) wattage


  • How do I find out what's the graphics card/chip that I currently have?

    Start -> Run
    Type "dxdiag" without the quotes, then go to the Display tab. Take note of the chip type (eg. Radeon X1600 Series AGP) and google around a bit (or simply ask in the forum) to get a rough idea its performance. This will help you decide on what to upgrade to.

    However, this method provides extremely vague information. For instance, my dxdiag tells me that I have a Radeon X1600 Series. It does not tell me the exact model (Radeon X1600 Pro). To double check, here's what you can do. If your system is a custom-built one, look at the invoice/receipt and see what it says. If yours is a pre-built, branded one like Dell or HP or whatever, google for your PC model and see what graphics card/chip you have.


  • What about the graphics interface?

    Upgrading your hardware isn't as simple as spending some money and assuming that it'll work in your system. If you try your luck at that, it probably won't. Therefore, knowing what graphics interface your PC supports is extremely important.

    I would recommend first downloading a nifty little program called CPU-Z. Decompress the downloaded file and simply open the program. There, click on the Mainboard tab and look at the bottom of the window where the Graphic Interface section is. Take note of the Version.

    PCI-Express
    This is the newest graphics interface, and is definitely good news. It means that your system is capable of supporting any new graphics card (but you still need to consider other factors). You are likely to have this if your system is new (bought in the past two years) To double-check, open up your casing at look at the part of the motherboard with a lot of slots like these:

    The two long slots are PCI-Express slots, easily identifiable by the location of the notch on each slot (it's closer towards the rear of your PC's casing).

    AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port)
    This is an older interface, replaced by PCI-E a couple of years ago. Although AGP graphics cards are gradually being phased out, it's still better than nothing. If CPU-Z tells you that the version of your graphics interface is AGP 3.0, then you've got this. Any version of AGP that's older than 3.0 is slower, and you might want to ask in the forums about this, because extremely outdated AGP slots may not support the newer AGP cards. Again, to double-check, here's how an AGP slot looks like (it's the brown one):

    [JPEG, (90.21 KB)]

    PCI
    If CPU-Z grays out the Version entry, it means that you have neither AGP nor PCI-E. However, all PCs have PCI slots (usually white in colour). They are still used extensively for various expansion cards (such as TV tuner and sound cards). Here's how PCI slots look like:

    If you have only PCI slots, you currently either have a PCI graphics card (which sucks) or no graphics card at all (which sucks even more). The latter means that you are currently on an integrated graphics chip, which doesn't cut it at all for proper gaming. The bad news is, most people who require graphics upgrades are those who are currently on integrated graphics. The options available for those without AGP or PCI-E slots are extremely limited, because there are no PCI graphics cards that are capable of running the latest games at decent settings. It might be better buying a whole new PC altogether, since upgrading the motherboard might be too complex.


  • Why is it important to know what PSU I have?

    While happily giving advice on what latest graphics cards to get, many people forget to ask about the power supply unit (PSU). It's one thing you'd better not forget to check.

    Basically, the newer and more powerful graphics cards demand more power fed to them, and PSUs with higher wattage are thus required. Older systems tend to come with weaker PSUs. Pre-built systems (Dell etc) are even worse because the PSUs that come with their systems are often low-wattage as well (presumably to prevent you from upgrading parts yourself).

    So, why bother knowing all this? It's quite simple, really. If the PSU is unable to supply enough power to your hardware, it may permanently damage them ("them" as in, not only your graphics card). Wattage isn't the only thing to find out. The brand of the PSU matters a lot as well. No-name PSUs put your hardware at higher risk of getting fried, so be sure to get a good one.

    Unfortunately, the PSU is the only piece of hardware that cannot be checked via software. If your system is a custom-built one, just dig out the invoice and see what it tells you. If your PC is a pre-built one, I guess it's safer to just get a new PSU.

    [This message has been edited by Duan Xuan (edited 12-26-2006 @ 03:07 AM).]

  • AuthorReplies:
    Duan Xuan
    Legionary
    posted 26 December 2006 03:06 EDT (US)     1 / 9       
    RESERVED FOR NEXT PART

    GoS, could you sticky this thread please? Thanks.

    Zufios
    Legionary
    posted 16 November 2007 00:24 EDT (US)     2 / 9       
    I'm currently using a Ge-force 7600GS with an Intel Core 2 Duo (2.13, I've also got 2GB ram). This pretty much deals with most things and allows me to run almost maximum graphics settings on most games. I've just got my hands on M2TW and it runs fine until I really go for it in a custom battle with a big city and full armies of varied troop types, then it starts to lag, only slightly, but enough to make me want to do something about it. I'm on a bit of a budget and was looking at getting my hands on the 8600GT and putting an extra Gig Ram in there. Will this give me the extra power I'm likely to need to run this game full blast? Z
    SubRosa
    Legionary
    posted 16 November 2007 00:49 EDT (US)     3 / 9       
    I do not think the 8600 GT is going to give you a whole lot more. It has the same amount of memory, and the same memory interface size. If you are going to get a new video card, get at least some flavor of 8800, they have twice the memory and memory interface (if not more) than your current card.

    The extra ram will probably help. It never hurts.
    Zufios
    Legionary
    posted 16 November 2007 01:11 EDT (US)     4 / 9       
    So do you know what the differences are in real terms between the 7600 & the 8600? I read the specs & it may as well be egyptian hieroglyphs for all the sense it makes to me...Z
    SubRosa
    Legionary
    posted 16 November 2007 02:03 EDT (US)     5 / 9       
    Basically from a long time using video cards for gaming and reading articles and reviews on them.

    How Stuff Works has a decent article that gives you the basics on video cards here. It is a good way to get off the ground when it comes to learning how video cards work.
    Duan Xuan
    Legionary
    posted 21 November 2007 18:53 EDT (US)     6 / 9       
    I concur with SubRosa. The 8600 has only an insignificant performance increase over the 7600. They're both considered mid-low range cards. Basically, they're going to get murdered by the latest games in the market.

    You're better off spending more for an 8800 graphics card. It offers you much better value-for-money, IMO.
    darude
    Legionary
    posted 17 April 2008 16:28 EDT (US)     7 / 9       
    K, im looking to upgrade my graphics card, and i was wondering wat to go for.
    I currently have a geforce 6200SE turbocache 256MB

    Ive also got an AMD 64Athlon 3700+ and 1GB of RAM

    I want to spend ideally less than 100, so is the 8600 GT a good buy, anyone no wat settings ill be able to play on on MTW2. Thx guys

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    Mythic_Commodore
    Ministerialis
    posted 17 April 2008 16:57 EDT (US)     8 / 9       
    I am currently thinking about upgrading my graphics card. However, my computer only has an AGP 8.0x slot. I currently have a Nvidia Geforce 6800 XT with 512 MB of RAM. What is the best card that I can get that supports this feature? I would prefer to stay with Nvidia. I am also thinking of getting a lower-quality card for SLI support, which is when you can hook up two cards to get the equivalent of a better card, however, I have qualms about my current power supply - it is under 400W. Would upgrading my power supply increase performance at all? What would you recommend? Will I be able to run Med2 on high settings with minimal lag? (2.79GHz, 1GB RAM, 1536MB virtual RAM). Thank you for all replies.

    Cyclohexane - it's what's for dinner!
    johndevid4
    Legionary
    posted 25 February 2019 00:32 EDT (US)     9 / 9       
    In today's date most of the spambots still don't realize that they shouldn't post on this forum.

    [This message has been edited by General Sajaru (edited 02-26-2019 @ 08:41 PM).]

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