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    PlanetQuake | Features | Tech Tips | 11-20-99
   

Upgrading for Survival (Part 2)

Now, about speed or FPS (frames per second). No, weíre not going to have a biology lesson on how many FPS the human eye can see; weíre talking about keeping up with the other players in the room. If your computer is lagging in single player (dragging, jerky video, stop-and-go play) then how will you survive against the guy on a PIII 500 with 256 MB, a $300 video card and a cable modem? And be honest, how many times have you screamed "ZBOT!" at someone because they are moving freely about the room while your pitiful machine struggles to remember what game you are playing?

If youíve covered the RAM and HD space, the next step is making what you see look and move smoother. Review the previous section on how RAM helps to increase performance. Now, if your video card is performing like a jerk - um, being jerky, then you will not see the opponent until you have been railed straight up the arse. Using a better quality video card, especially one with on-board VRAM (video RAM), will allow for smoother play.

Not to endorse any particular brands (insert Disclaimer** here, yada yada yada):

Low Price - Decent Performance
(close to $100 or below):

  • Voodoo3 2000
  • Voodoo2 12 MB or above (needs second 2D card to run)
  • TNT card 16 MB
  • S3 Savage 3D
  • Matrox G200
  • ATI Rage 128
  • Stealth III s540 16 MB
Medium Price - Very Good Performance
($100 & up):
  • Voodoo3 3000 and above
  • TNT2  32 MB (recommend 32 MB, 16 MB available)
  • Matrox G400
  • S3 Savage4 Pro
Price-to-Match Performance
(in other words, really good cards - lotsa cash!):
  • Voodoo3 3500
  • Ultra TNT2
  • GeForce256


Graphics Card Installation Tips

Ok, if you donít do this right, youíll mass email us that your new card didnít work. Not that we donít love to hear from you *cough*, but this we donít want to hear about. So listen up!

Do yourself a favor - go get the newest drivers for your card at the website of the card's manufacturer. The card may be new to YOU, but new drivers come out, sometimes the day after they begin retailing the card. While youíre at the site, check for any compatibility issues (with motherboards or games), special tricks on install, or addendums to the instructions. Get to know what you are about to install! This will prevent you from hating your new card later.

If you are installing on a clean Windows, with no graphics card previously installed - great! Just do it. Read the instructions and make sure you donít need to make any changes to your motherboard BIOS (for AGP cards for example).

For those of you who are about to yank out the old and slap in the new - HOLD ON! First things first: get rid of the old card completely. This means not only removing the card from Start Menu->Settings->Control Panel->System->Device Manager, but making sure you got rid of any programs you installed with it, and any of its drivers that may be left hanging around in Windows.

To make sure there are no ghosts, do a search in Explorer in Windows\System for words associated with your card. For example, if your previous card was a Diamond Monster 3D Voodoo1, then search for the words "Diamond" and "voodoo", and then delete those files. IF you have a Diamond soundcard, WATCH what you delete; otherwise, youíre in for a reinstall of your soundcard drivers.

The next step is the registry. If you have never gone into the No Man's Land of the registry, you probably donít want to do this step. If you do and mess it up, itís going to make your computer look like Y2K already happened and it wasnít ready. Back it up first, just in case.

To back up the registry:

    • Windows 95: Open Windows Explorer, then in "View Menu", choose "Options" and be sure that the box "Show all file types" is checked
    • Windows 98: In "View Menu", choose "Folder Options" and click on the "View" tab, and see that "Show all files" is checked under "Hidden Files"
  1. Be sure the box "Hide MS-DOS file extensions" is unchecked in both Windows 95/98 and hit "OK"
  2. Back in Windows Explorer, go to the Windows folder (probably C:\Windows)
  3. Copy system.dat and user.dat to a separate directory (for example: C:\Backup)

To Restore your Windows 95/98 Registry manually:

  1. Reboot computer to MS-DOS (hit ALT+F5 or CTRL during start up)
  2. At the MS-DOS prompt type: cd windows and hit enter
  3. Type: attrib -h -s -r system.dat and hit enterx
  4. Type: attrib -h -s -r user.dat and hit enter
  5. Type: cd\ and hit enter
  6. Type: copy c:\backup\system.dat c:\windows and hit enter
  7. Type: copy c:\backup\user.dat c:\windows and hit enter
  8. Then restart Windows by typing "win" (without quotes) at the DOS prompt or hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE to reboot

For those brave enough, suit up - here we go. Open "regedit.exe" and do a search for the same examples of files mentioned above. Delete those entries. Once again, be careful - READ before you delete!

Now you are ready to turn that bad boy off, take out the old card, and put the new one in. Windows (hopefully) will identify your card and then prompt for the drivers.

Driver Update links (not all, but good ones)

Otherwise, look in your cardís manual for Manufacturers' website.




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