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Video/Graphics Card Problems and Solutions - Page 1

The graphics/video card problems in the form of questions and answers (Q&As) are linked to under the table below that contains useful graphics troubleshooting information.

Visit the Video and Graphics section of this site for graphics-related information on video/graphics cards, TV tuners, etc.

DirectX Diagnostic Tool - This is the graphics and sound diagnostic tool that is provided by DirectX, which is installed on every computer running a version of Windows. You can discover the version of DirectX that is installed by running it. To open it, enter dxdiag in the Start => Run box in Windows XP, in the Start => Start Search box in Windows Vista and the Start => Search programs and files box in Windows 7. Note that the control panel for most graphics cards - accessed from the Windows Control Panel and/or under Start => All Programs (XP/Vista/7) - provides a graphics-card diagnostic program other than the Control Panel => Display item that controls the display settings.

Furmark GPU Stress Test - If your graphics card appears to be giving problems, you can stress-test it with this free utility. Install the tool and run a time-based benchmark for about 500,000 milliseconds (5 minutes), which should produce enough stress to produce a crash if the graphics card is faulty. -

The Open Hardware Monitor - "is a free open source software that monitors temperature sensors, fan speeds, voltages, load and clock speeds of a computer." -

HWMonitor - "HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems main health sensors : voltages, temperatures, fans speed. The program handles the most common sensor chips, like ITE® IT87 series, most Winbond® ICs, and others. In addition, it can read modern CPUs on-die core thermal sensors, as well has hard drives temperature via S.M.A.R.T, and video card GPU temperature." -

Speedfan - "If you need a tool that can change your computer's fan speeds, read the temperatures of your motherboard and your hard disk, read voltages and fan speeds and check the status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes, then you came to the right place." -

GPU-Z - "GPU-Z is a lightweight [free] utility designed to give you all information about your video card and GPU." -

If you problem can't be solved using the problems and solutions on this website, try using various search queries that describe the problem in a search engine such as Bing.


Click the relevant link below to go to that Q&A article. Use your browser's Back button to backtrack

1. - Graphics card problem: When I play any game on my PC there appears a 1-2 second lag or freeze

2. - How to troubleshoot/diagnose video/graphics card and monitor problems

3. - An AMD A8-3870 APU quad-core processor with an onboard graphics chip won't work in CrossFire mode with an AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card

4. - The monitor works fine on another PC, but my Dell Dimension desktop PC won't display video/graphics

5. - I need a half-height graphics cards because my slim Media Center PC uses integrated graphics not powerful enough to play the latest games

6. - Windows Update installed the wrong device driver for my Dell Vostro desktop PC's video/graphics card so that it is not working properly - error message: No ATI graphics driver installed or ATI not functioning

7. - Which is the best way to convert videos in various digital formats into the DVD or Blu-ray format and burn them to discs?

8. - How can I watch the BBC iPlayer or HD video on my TV from my desktop or laptop PC without using a cable?

9. - No sound and the "Full screen" option won't work when viewing videos with Adobe Flash Player

10. - Windows 7 Home Premium doesn't provide a device driver for the ATI Radeon X1650 series graphics card in my Packard Bell iMedia B2216 desktop PC. If I upgrade the card to a more powerful one, will I also have to upgrade the power supply?

11. - How can I output HD audio over an HDMI connection from my desktop PC onboard graphics to a home cinema amplifier. I have tried and failed

12. - How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV?

13. - How can I connect my Dell Inspiron laptop to an external monitor using HDMI if the laptop only has a standard analog VGA output port?

14. - How can I best upgrade my HP Pavilion Elite m9441uk desktop computer's NVIDIA GeForce 9500GS video/graphics card?

15. - The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor didn't find any problems that would prevent me upgrading to Windows 7 Home Premium, but after the installation the my Dell Dimension 3000 desktop computer can only start up in Safe Mode

16. - A video file that I have on my PC won't play. How can I find out which codecs are required to play it?

17. - Can my computer/PC play high-definition (HD) Blu-ray movies?

18. - Why does Windows report half the video memory that my laptop computer's video/graphics card should have?

19. - I bought a PC with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 6.5GHz processor and a 1GB ATI Radeon X1050 Core graphics card, but the Belarc Advisor says otherwise

20. - Should I buy a DirectX 10 or a DirectX 11 video/graphics card?

21. - How can I get a 32" LCD TV to work with a Media Center PC?

22. - I can't get two SLI or CrossFire video/graphics cards to work together in my computer

23. - Can I upgrade the graphics processor of my Dell Inspiron 9000 laptop/notebook computer?

24. - What kind of AGP support does my video/graphics card need?

25. - Windows 98 SE won't install a video/graphics card upgrade in my dual-boot PC running Windows XP and Windows 98 SE

26. - A typical problem with DirectX [The computer keeps booting into Safe mode because of an incompatibility between its video card drivers and DirectX 9.x.]

27. - The voltages used by the different kinds of AGP video/graphics cards

28. - A problem installing adapter cards in a Windows XP system

29. - USB TV Tuners/PCI Tuner cards: What is the easiest and cheapest way to copy VHS video tapes to DVDs?

30. - Using a riser card to overcome a lack of space in a computer's case

31. - A new AGP video/graphics card causes a computer to lock up

32. - A new video/graphics card causes several kinds of distortion to occur

33. - Highly confused about analog, digital, DVB cards, and video/graphics cards

34. - Can you use a VGA-to-DVI-D adapter? and why are DVI-only LCD monitors more expensive than analog LCD monitors?

35. - Is this a video/graphics card problem? - Playing games makes my PC shut down

36. - An installed wireless network card is the apparent cause of a boot (start-up) problem - but it's really a video/graphics card and monitor cable problem

Click here! to go to Page 2 of video/graphics card problems and solutions

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website

Graphics card problem: When I play any game on my PC there appears a 1-2 second lag or freeze

Problem: I have a problem that I can't find the solution to so I'm asking about it here. My PC runs normally but when I play any game there appears a 1-2 second lag or freeze. When i play the game it freezes for a 1-2 seconds an then it continues to run smooth and freezes again and continues normally and so it goes on and on. My configuration is Intel Dual Core E2180 2.0 processor, 1.5 GB RAM, DDR1, Nvidia 8400 GS graphics card, Windows XP.

Answer: The graphics card is not powerful enough to play many or most recent games at an acceptable level.

Read this article:

This page gives good advice on the best value graphics cards:

Best Graphics Cards For The Money -

I think you need a more powerful card.

Apparently, your processor can achieve a 40% overclock successfully, which will add performance. Read the comments on this page:

Questioner: I might go 2.80Ghz when I buy a stronger cooling unit for the processor but in the meantime is it safe to leave it on 2.40GHz as it seems stable, the temperature doesn't go above 55C even under stress? And one more thing about the graphics card, is it normal that the temperature of the GPU is 70C on desktop with nothing on, just like that? The fan is working on the graphics card but I don't understand why the temp. is so high while nothing is stressing it and when I start a game it goes 100C+.

Answer: 55C is all right for the processor, but I like it to be around the 40C mark. I set the BIOS to shut the PC down if the processor goes higher than 60C. The Nvidia site doesn't include operating temps in the specifications of that card, but it has a passive heatsink (no fan), so 70 degrees is all right if you are only doing non-gaming activities, but 100 degrees is probably at the temperature limit, so maybe the temperature is what is causing the problem if you are playing undemanding games. I would make sure that the cooling inside the case is good. But it is four years old now and only has 64MB of memory, so won't be able to play demanding games.

See the specifications here -

Cards with a passive heatsink are not suitable for demanding gaming. You need to get a well-reviewed one with a heatsink and fan, new or second-hand. Tom's Hardware gives good advice. -,review-32586.html

Questioner: Actually it has a fan on top off the heatsink. It's weird because when i do a web search I never see the exact model as mine. They are always shown without a fan.

Answer: So, if you want to keep that card, you could try finding a stronger heatsink and fan unit for it. Measure it and see if you can find a more powerful one with the same dimensions. The name for them is usually GPU or VGA coolers.

Questioner: I will try if I don't find any appropriate sinks or fans then there is one option left - buy a new one. The new one should be 1GB, right, because no point in buying another 512MB card?

Answer: I would get the best graphics card that you can afford - preferably a Radeon-based card. Most of the best-value cards on Tom's Hardware are Radeon-based cards. That way you won't have to upgrade it for longer than if you get a card that is only just adequate now for gaming. This one currently looks like the best value to me: - I always read the purchaser reviews, which are often more helpful than anything else in making a buying decision.

How to troubleshoot/diagnose video/graphics card and monitor problems

Troubleshoot monitor and video card problems -

"Display problems are among the most common difficulties people have when upgrading either Windows or their computers. Here are solutions to some common display problems." - The following page on Microsoft's site says "Applies to Windows Vista", but the information is relevant to any version of Windows.

The following questions are answered:

How do I determine what is causing my display problem?
How do I find out what kind of video card my computer has?
What kind of monitor do I have?
Why does my monitor show only limited resolutions?
Why am I seeing horizontal lines, flickering, or other strange interference on the screen of my CRT monitor?
What is DirectX and how can I troubleshoot it?
I've changed the resolution of my monitor, and now I can't see the display.
Why does the text on my monitor appear blurry?
How do I set up multiple monitors?
Why do I get an error when I use different video cards for multiple monitors?
Can I change the brightness and contrast of my monitor?

On the right-hand side of the page are links to the following information:

Getting the best display on your monitor
Correct monitor flicker (refresh rate)

An AMD A8-3870 APU quad-core processor with an onboard graphics chip won't work in CrossFire mode with an AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card


I have built a PC using an AMD A-Series A8-3870 APU, a quad-core processor that has an onboard AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics chip, making it unnecessary to have a graphics card or a motherboard with an integrated graphics chip, and an Asus F1A75-M Socket FM1 motherboard. I added AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card in the motherboard's PCI Express slot so that it would run in tandem in CrossFire mode with the processor's graphics chip for a significant graphics performance boost. Unfortunately, there is no monitor output from the motherboard's digital DVI-D or its analog VGA graphics port when the graphics card is connected to a monitor and I only get the card's performance. But when the graphics card is removed and the monitor is connected to the motherboard, the system switches to using the processor's integrated 6550 graphics. The Asus technical forum advised setting the default value of the PCI Express slot to x4 Mode for CrossFire in the BIOS, but in the BIOS that my motherboard has there is no such option. Asus support wasn't very helpful. I was asked if my graphics card device drivers and BIOS were up-to-date. I replied that I had updated to the latest versions, but then I got no reply.


AMD's inexpensive, higher-end A-Series Fusion APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) have integrated AMD Radeon graphics chips that support the latest DirectX 11 gaming software and are capable of playing the latest games designed for the PC platform on their own, but performance can be significantly increased by installing a low-end AMD Radeon graphics card, such as the Radeon HD 6450 model installed by the person who provided this problem. This is an inexpensive way of obtaining an excellent gaming machine.

Taking the following action should get CrossFire mode working. Install the HD 6450 graphics card. When a graphics card is installed, the motherboard switches to using the graphics card's output ports (DVI, VGA, etc.) so connect your monitor graphics card. To switch back to the motherboard's graphics ports, the primary graphics adapter has to be changed in the PC's BIOS. Start up or restart from a running PC and press the entry key that gets you into the system BIOS and look for a menu item Advanced BIOS Features or something similar. The BIOS could be one of the new UEFI BIOSes, so you might have to search through the menus for the setting. The monitor being used has to be set as the primary monitor. Look for a setting such as Init Display First and change this to your onboard graphics rather than the PCI Express card, which could be called PEG. Save your changes, exit the BIOS and shut down. Swap the monitor cable from the card's to the motherboard's graphics port (DVI-D or VGA, depending on the cable you are using). Start up. Now you should have a display. In Windows, go into the AMD Vision Engine Control Center and make sure the Advanced View is turned on (using the Preferences button at the top right). Next, click on Performance on the left and then on AMD Radeon Dual Graphics. Make sure that the Enable AMD Radeon Dual Graphics button is selected. If not, enable it and click Apply. You should now have Hybrid CrossFire running.

The monitor works fine on another PC, but my Dell Dimension desktop PC won't display video/graphics


My ageing Dell Dimension C521, upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium, won't display video all of a sudden. The monitor works fine with another PC, the keyboard lights up, the hard drive can be heard whirring and the DVD writer appears to be working properly, so I am led to the conclusion that the low-profile ATI X1600 graphics card with analog VGA and S-video ports is probably responsible. I need to access my files urgently. Is it possible to use the S-video port to output a video signal to a TV? Or can I install the hard drive in another desktop PC?


If you have a spare PCI or PCI Express video/graphics card, try removing the existing card and installing it. If it works, then the graphics card is responsible. All of the fans, particularly the fan cooling the graphics card, if it uses one, which your ATI X1600 card does, and the processor, which all use one, must be working. If the fan used by the processor's cooling unit has failed, the PC will shut down and fail to boot automatically before it can boot to protect the processor from destruction by overheating, so it has to be replaced.

Here are a few other troubleshooting tests to perform:

1. - Press the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys on and off. Do the corresponding lights on the keyboard come on and go off? If not, the computer is not booting properly, having crashed at some point.

2. - Is the hard-drive LED light indicating disk-access activity by going on and off rapidly and continuously. If the answers to both 1. and 2. are affirmative, Windows might be booting all the way if no password is required, but due to a faulty or loose or badly-cabled video card can't be seen doing so. If a password is required it could be booting to the login screen.

3. - If the answers to 1. and 2. are negative, the computer is not booting. The first action to take is to open the side of the case that gives access to the components, usually by removing the screws at the back of the case. Remove all of the removable adapter cards (graphics card, sound card, wireless adapter, etc.) and memory modules, clean their connectors lightly with a rubber (eraser) use a hairdryer on blow to blow any dust out of the slots and reseat them. You can use your breath to blow dust out, but should use a hair dryer to get rid of any moisture that might have been introduced. Doing that to the video/graphics card can fix a poor connection. Make sure that all of the cables are connected properly and are not damaged. The processor is rarely the cause of this kind of problem, but, just in case, remove its cooling unit and remove it from its socket by lifting the lever beside the socket that releases it, remove any dust from the cooling unit and the socket, reseat it, making sure that it is correctly aligned (if necessary read the Processors section of this site for information about processor/socket alignment), push the lever down and make sure that you replace the cooling unit properly. It must be firmly attached to the processor without any gap between it and the processor.

4. - Note that when switching a PC off, you should power the PC down and switch the mains off. If the problem remains, switch the PC off at the mains, remove the RAM memory module(s) and switch the mains on and turn the computer on. If you hear a beeping sound, which is a beep code sent by the motherboard's BIOS setup program, then the memory is responsible. The PC's user manual or the user manual provided by its motherboard's manufacturer usually provides the information about what each beep code means, but you don't need to know that information in this case, you just have to know that a beep code is produced when removing a particular component. If there is more than a single module, switch everything off as before, install each module in the first DIMM memory slot, which should be numbered, and switch the PC on. If the memory passes the test by not beeping, switch the PC off and try removing the video card, which is probably the bad component if a beeping sound is produced. Buying a new PCI Express video card is not a problem because your PC has the required long x16 slot. The Sapphire Radeon HD 5450 is a good, inexpensive choice. If not available new, eBay is a good source of good secondhand components. I have just had a look for your graphics card there and saw many available priced at L20.

5. - If the problem still exists, try removing the processor from its socket, having first removed its cooling unit. If a beeping noise is produced, the processor is probably the cause. If not, the motherboard itself is probably responsible. Since it connects all of the other components, it can't be removed without installing a replacement board. You will have to buy a replacement of the same make and model in order not to have to reactivate Windows 7 (read Product Activation on this website for more information on it), because changing the make/model of motherboard is seen by Microsoft as having a new computer. Given the age of your PC, you will only be able to buy a second-hand motherboard of the same make/model from a site such as eBay. If you have a retail copy of Windows, you will still have to reactivate Windows but you can use it as many times on a single computer as you like as long as only one machine is running it at a time. But if you have an OEM copy of the kind provided by Dell, you have to reactivate Windows, which probably won't reactivate due to the way that activation treats a new motherboard, so you'll have to phone Microsoft and speak to a support person, who might give you a reactivation code or might ask you to buy a new licence.

An S-video port can't be used to access your files because it cannot be used to interact with Windows only to output video to a TV.

If you can't get your PC working by using the troubleshooting information provide here, given the age of the PC, the best option would be to buy a new one, remove the old PC's hard drive and then install it in the new one in order to be able to transfer its data files across to the new PC's hard drive. Your new PC will support SATA hard drives, but not necessarily the older IDE hard drives, which usually use wide ribbon cables. Visit the Hard Drives page of the Build your Own PC section of this website for all the information you need about IDE and SATA hard drives and how to install them. If your old PC has an IDE hard drive and your new PC doesn't have an IDE port on its motherboard, you can install the IDE drive in an external IDE-supporting USB caddy, costing about £10, which connects to the PC via a USB port. The old drive will then show up as a drive with a letter higher than the C: boot drive under Start => Computer and you can then copy your data files across to the corresponding folders in Windows 7 by using Windows Explorer.

All of your software applications, tools, scanners, web browsers, etc., will have to be reinstalled on the new PC.

I need a suitable half-height graphics card because my slim Media Center PC uses integrated graphics not powerful enough to play the latest games

Answer: Your slim Media Center PC has either a micro-ATX or mini-ITX (SFF) motherboard that provides only a few adapter slots and most graphics cards capable of playing the latest games at 1080p screen resolution and high detail levels are too large for the slim case and they have big cooling units, which means that they take up the space of two slots, so even if you could install one you would probably have to remove the Media Center's TV card. All Media Center PC's by definition must have at least one TV card. The term SFF (Small Form Factor) is used to designate motherboards smaller than the ATX and micro-ATX form factors.

The Sapphire Radeon 6670, currently priced at around L75 in January 2012, is a half-height, single-slot graphics card that provides analog VGA and digital DVI and HDMI output ports. It is very quiet, which is what you want in a Media Center PC, and plays Dirt 3 at a very decent 44fps with high-detail and 4x anti-aliasing settings and a screen resolution of 1920x1080.

That was a good example when I first wrote this answer. It's 2015 now and there are still many half-height graphics cards that you can buy new or used from Amazon or eBay. Just make sure that you get one that is designed for the form-factor of your Media Center PC's motherboard.

Small form factor -

Windows Update installed the wrong device driver for my Dell Vostro desktop PC's video/graphics card so that it is not working properly - error message: No ATI graphics driver installed or ATI not functioning


I have a Dell Vostro 200 desktop PC purchased in 2007 running Windows XP Professional. The June 2011 updates installed by Windows Update must have installed the wrong graphics card driver and hosed the card, which is an ATI Radeon 2600 HD XT. I tried installing the driver from Dell's support site without success and ATI has now been absorbed by AMD, which, for some reason, doesn't provide the driver. I have had no success in finding the driver on the web.


Windows Update has a nasty habit of installing the wrong drivers, so it is best not to allow it to install hardware drivers automatically. You can set Automatic Updates in the Control Panel to "Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them" or "Notify me but don’t automatically download or install them". (The feature is called Windows Update in Windows Vista and Windows 7.) When Windows alerts you that updates are available by producing the gold badge icon in the bottom right Notification Area on the Windows desktop, open the icon by double-clicking on it and choose the updates you want to install. You can choose not to install hardware drivers by removing the check mark in the box beside the update's description.

Problems like this can easily be fixed if you have made a backup or master image of the system. Windows XP Pro provides a backup program. There are many free backup programs available from the web, but imaging software usually has to be paid for for Windows XP. Windows Vista and Windows 7 include a system-imaging tool. The backups are so large that it is best to store them on an external hard disk drive that can be disconnected from the computer to prevent it being destroyed by electrical problems or lightning strikes, etc. Click here! to go to the page on this site devoted to backups.

If you have a restore point available in System Restore that predates the problem, restoring it will revert the system to what it was before that round of Windows updates.

You could also try using the Roll back Driver feature (accessed from the Device Manager) that rolls the system back to the previous driver. Click here! to go to the page devoted to that feature on this website.

You could could also try uninstalling the current driver from the Device Manager. To do that, enter devmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box and open Display adapters, right-click on the graphics card's entry and then click on Uninstall in the menu that presents itself. Then reboot. The chances are good that Windows will reinstall the previous driver. If there is no driver created by the graphics card's manufacturer, Windows uses its standard VGA driver that uses a 640X480 screen resolution, which makes everything on the screen look blown up.

If none of those options fixes the problem and you still have the discs that Dell supplied with the PC, perhaps there was a driver disc. If so, it should provide the driver for the graphics card.

The only driver I could find is the Mobility driver for a laptop using an ATI Radeon 2600 XT graphics card from this page, which might work, but before you attempt to install it, try visiting a computer forum, which you usually have to register with to use, and create a post asking for the driver. Someone on the forum may have downloaded it when it was available and might be willing to send it to you.

If none of those options works, you'll have to make use of Dell's Recovery Disc that returns the PC to the state it was in when it left the factory. If you do that, make sure that you have copies or backups of all of the files that you don't want to lose. You need a Windows XP Professional installation disc, not a PC-manufacturer's recovery disc to perform a repair installation of Windows XP or reinstall it over itself, which retains the settings and files. Note well that to do that the Windows installation disc has to match the version of Windows installed. If you have updated to Windows XP SP3 (Service Pack 3 is installed) you can't use a Windows XP SP2 installation disk to repair the installation. You have to slipstream the SP2 disc to create an SP3 disc, because using an installation disc that that files older than those installed on the system will hose Windows. Click here! to go to the information on slipsteaming a Windows installation disc on this website.

Which is the best way to convert videos in various digital formats into DVD or Blu-ray formats and burn them to discs?


I want to transfer many videos in various digital formats to recordable DVD and Blu-ray discs. Can you recommend any free software that I can use? If there is no free software I am willing to buy some if it is not too expensive.


You have your videos in digital formats so you just have to use a program that can convert them to the DVD or Blu-ray disc format and burn them to recordable discs. If you have VHS videos you would first have to use a video capture device that can connect to your VHS video recorder and connect to your computer. The best type to use is a USB video capture device, which are inexpensive. It will convert the VHS videos into a digital format which can then be burned to recordable discs.

Read the following Q&A on this website on converting VHS video to the DVD and Blu-ray formats: What is the cheapest and easiest way to use my PC/computer to copy VHS video tapes on to DVD/Blu-ray discs?

The Freemake Video Converter is an excellent free video converter from which allows the user to import the following video formats: - AVI, MP4, MPG, MKV, WMV, 3GP, 3G2, SWF, FLV, TOD, AVCHD, MOV, DV, RM, QT, TS, MTS, etc., the following music formats - MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV - and photos formats - JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF - and converts them them into DVD or Blu-ray video formats, which can be burned to DVD and Blu-ray discs.

After the program has been installed, open it and drag and drop the video files that you want to convert, which can be of any format, into the main window of the program. Make sure that the files have been imported correctly and that the frame size and length are correct. Now all you have to do is click on the DVD or Blu-ray button, depending on the type of disc you want to burn the files to, and enter a title for the disc. Other options are having a motion menu, which shows thumbnail views of the videos, a static text menu or no menu. If there is no menu the videos play in sequence. Then just make sure that the destination is the computer's DVD or Blu-ray writer and click Burn.

No sound and the "Full screen" option won't work when viewing videos with Adobe Flash Player


On my Windows XP SP3 PC, when I try to view a video online that uses the Adobe Flash Player, the sound is lost within seconds and the Full screen option - the icon on the player with the four arrows in a box pointing to its corners - won't work. All downloaded videos can be viewed with VLC, the free media player that I use. The only way to restore sound is to reboot. It's the same story using Internet Explorer 8 or the latest Firefox browsers.


Try tweaking the Adobe Flash Player's Global Settings as follows:

1. - Visit a website that plays flash videos, such as YouTube, and view a Flash video.

2. - Right-click in the player's window and click on the Global Settings... option in the menu that presents itself. This opens a page on Adobe's website that provides all of the global settings. You set the settings for Flash Player on your computer there and it saves them in a file on your computer. They are applied every time you use the player. The various settings are listed under the Settings Manager heading in the top left hand side of the page.

3. - Top-left on the webpage, click on the Global Storage Settings panel link. In the settings panel the presents itself, make sure that the option called Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer is enabled by using your mouse pointer to enable it and that the little slider is halfway along its length. You can lock on to the slider with the mouse pointer and move it up or down.

4. - Close any open Internet Explorer of Firefox browser windows, open a new one and see if the sound problem is resolved. If not, go back to Global Settings, select the Website Storage Settings panel and delete all of the websites from the list and try again.

To fix the Full screen option, try playing a Flash video on YouTube, or your preferred website, right-click with the mouse pointer in the Flash Player's window and choose the Settings... option (not the Global Settings... option). At the bottom of the window that presents itself, click on the far-left icon and disable the Display => Enable hardware acceleration setting by removing the tick in the box beside it with your mouse. If it's already disabled then try enabling it. Close all browser windows, open a new one and play a Flash video to find out if the problem is fixed.

How can I output HD audio over an HDMI connection from my desktop PC onboard graphics to a home cinema amplifier. I have tried and failed.


My media center PC has a Gigabyte motherboard with an AMD 780G chipset, which provides analog VGA, digital DVI and HDMI output ports. As such, it can play Blu-ray movies. I obtained an Onkyo TX-SR875 home cinema amplifier that can handle HD audio. I have tried unsuccessfully to output audio over HDMI. I use Cyberlink PowerDVD 8 to play movies.


If you want to have HD audio over an HDMI connection, the motherboard chipset or the graphics card must support Protected Audio Path (PAP) that is used to enforce Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection on content. For example, your PC might have a motherboard that has an onboard graphics chip, such as the AMD 780G chipset that handles HDMI output, which was one of the first to support Blu-ray playback the is used for high-definition (HD) movies. However, that chipset does not support PAP, so you would have to install a graphics card in the PC that supports PAP, such as the Sapphire Radeon 5450 (price: around £40 in December 2010). It comes in two versions - half-height for installation in slimline cases and full-height - and is cooled by a passive heatsink, which doesn't have a fan. This will deliver HD audio to an external device, such as Onkyo TX-SR875 home cinema amplifier via an HDMI connection.

To use a graphics card instead of onboard video, you should enter the PC's BIOS and disable any setting in it for onboard graphics. If there is no such setting there, disable the onboard display adapter (e.g., AMD 780G) under Display adapters in the Windows Device Manager. The graphics card will be identified by its make/model if its device drivers have been installed, so disable the second entry by right-clicking on it and selecting Disable.

How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV?


How can I connect my laptop's analog VGA D-sub connector to my HD-ready LCD TV, which has an HDMI connector?


Your TV might have a VGA input, because most do, so check the manual and have a look at the back panel for a blue connector (that is still also provided on many graphics cards) as shown on this page of this website. If the TV doesn't have one, some laptop PCs have a Composite video or S-Video output port, in which case you should also be able use that to connect the PC to the TV's AV input, although the quality probably won't be very good.

If none of those connections is available, you can still use a VGA-to-HDMI converter, which changes the analog VGA signal coming from the laptop PC to a digital signal for the HDMI input socket on your TV. Models cost from around L50 upwards. You can find sellers by entering the search query VGA-to-HDMI box uk in a search engine.

How to Convert VGA Output to HDMI Input -

"Purchase a VGA to HDMI Converter Box. (You can find a link below for a list of recommended models.)" -

If you want to convert an HDMI output port for a PC graphics card to a VGA monitor or TV, you can use this converter:

The product does an excellent job of converting HDMI signals into VGA. So if you have a new product (graphics card, etc.) that outputs HDMI signals and you want it to work with a VGA (old PC monitors and screens) then this is the right compact product for you.

How can I connect my Dell Inspiron laptop to an external monitor using HDMI if the laptop only has a standard analog VGA output port?


My Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop computer has HDMI support, but it only has a standard analog VGA graphics port. Is there a way to connect the laptop to an external monitor using DVI or HDMI using the VGA output port, a USB port, or by using a PC Card? The laptop has an ExpressCard/54 slot for a PC Card.


If your monitor has a VGA input connector, the easiest option would be to use it by connecting a VGA cable between the monitor and the laptop, which has a VGA output port. This provides a high-quality picture that has the bandwidth for watching HD movies. It is also possible to watch Blu-ray movies over a VGA connection, because there is no High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) over an analog connection.

There is no PC Card adapter that can connect a laptop to a monitor and there is little likelihood of there ever being such an adapter, therefore you'll have to use a USB display adapter. The Tritton TRI-UV200 external graphics card with a digital DVI output currently (February 2010) costs around £100. It supports screen resolutions up to 1,920x1,080 pixels. The Tritton SEE2 USB 2.0 to VGA Adapter is also available for a VGA connection.

You should be able to find other such devices by using an appropriate search query, such as usb to dvi adapter (adaptor is also used in the UK) in a search engine.

Here is a typical review: DisplayLink's USB-to-DVI adapter -

You should read the available reviews before you make any electronic purchase. Reviews and vendors can be found by entering the make/model of the device as the search query in a search engine. The the word review can be added to bring up specific review page. You should not take into account negative reviews made by purchasers unless there are several, because often people post them for the hell of doing so, or they are incompetent people who screw up everything they touch.

USB 3.0, which is already available as adapter cards for desktop PC and as PC Cards. You can also buy desktop and laptops that come with USB 3.0 built in, as USB 2.0 is now. However, as yet there is no USB 3.0 equivalent of the USB 2.0 Tritton TRI-UV200 adapter.

How can I best upgrade my HP Pavilion Elite m9441uk desktop computer's NVIDIA GeForce 9500GS video/graphics card?


My HP Pavilion Elite m9441uk desktop PC has a NVIDIA GeForce 9500GS graphics card. Is there a graphics card that will improve the graphics performance considerably using the PC's existing motherboard and power supply, or will I have to buy a new power supply as well as a new graphics card?


The PC has a standard PCI Express x16 graphics-card slot so you can install almost any single PCI Express graphics card, but you need to find out how much room there is inside the PC's case. Some PCI Express cards are twice as thick as others and require free space beside the PCI Express slot. Note that some cards are extra long, so you should measure how much space there is from the front of the case to the back of the case where the card's ports panel will appear. Here is the upgrading and service guide for your computer:

Upgrading and Service Guide -

The PC has a fairly low powered 300W power supply unit, so it won't be able to power the latest power-hungry graphics cards. However, if your PC's case can accommodate the ATI Radeon HD 4770 graphics card, which it should be able to, it is about five times faster than the PC's current graphics card. It won't require a more powerful power supply, but it will require a 6-pin PCI Express power connector from the power supply. If the PC's power supply doesn't have one, an adapter can be bought for a few pounds. Such a connector connects to one of two standard Molex power plugs. You can use the search query pci express power connector in a search engine to find sellers, so make sure that you have two free Molex plugs coming from the power supply before you buy a PCI Express connector.

Alternatively, you can buy a new power supply and one of the latest power-hungry graphics cards.

Both NVIDIA and ATI (now called AMD) - the two major graphics chip manufacturers - provide information on certified products that work well with their products. Here is the relevant page on AMD's website for ATI/AMD graphics cards:

ATI CrossFireX Certified Components -

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor didn't find any problems that would prevent me upgrading to Windows 7 Home Premium, but after the installation the my Dell Dimension 3000 desktop computer can only start up in Safe Mode


I just performed an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium from Windows XP Home on a Dell Dimension 3000 desktop PC. The compatibility report did not indicate any fatal problem that would prevent the upgrade. Unfortunately after the final reboot, it can only boot to Safe Mode. I tried Startup Repair from my Win7 repair disc, but it found nothing wrong with the startup. There are no devices in the Device Manger with a yellow exclamation mark or red cross. However, the computer failed to bring up the options to choose a Home, Work or Public network even though the wireless router was on and working and had been online with XP. After I chose the Home network option with my own laptop, the setup required my wireless encryption key and then went online for updates. Tomorrow I'll try Safe Mode with networking, which you can use when you press the F8 key at startup to get online and get updates and drivers from Windows Update. If that fails, I'll try connecting the PC by Ethernet cable to the router and then running the setup at startup from the install disc. Any ideas would be appreciated because there are no reports of this problem on the web yet.


I am sure that if you have a look under Display adapters in the Device Manager that you'll see that Windows 7 is using its standard video-card driver.

To open the Device Manager in Windows 7 you just have to enter the letters dev in the Start => Search programs and files box and a link to it is provided.

Windows 7 requires a graphics/video card/chip that supports DirectX9.0. For example, a Dell Dimension 3000 has an Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 built into the PC's motherboard, which only has three PCI slots (no AGP or PCI Express slots for an AGP or PCI Express graphics card.) The integrated graphics only supports DirectX 8.0, so when Windows 7 is installed it will only be able to start up in Safe Mode.

To find out which version of DirectX your computer is using, enter dxdiag in the Start => Run box (Windows XP) and the Start => Start Search box (Windows Vista). DirectX 9.0c is the highest version that Windows XP can run. Only Windows Vista and Windows 7 can run DirectX 10.0 and the forthcoming DirectX 11.0.

This is what the Windows 7 compatibility report says about the graphics on a Dell Dimension 3000:

"Windows Aero Not capable Your current graphics adapter won't support the Windows Aero user interface. Contact your PC manufacturer or retailer to see if an upgrade is possible."

Dell used a cheapo DirectX 8.0 chip in this 2006 computer. That shows the weakness in the compatibility report. It should have said that the graphics chip only supports DirectX 8.0 and that Windows 7 cannot be used unless the graphics card can be upgraded to a DirectX 9.0 card.

Fortunately, PCI graphics cards, one of the oldest standards, that support DirectX 9.0 are still available. Here is a good example of one you can purchase in the UK:

ZOTAC 256MB GEF FX5200 PCI RET Graphic card -

The purchaser reviews provide useful information.

This US webpage provides several suitable PCI graphics cards:

A video file that I have on my PC won't play. How can I find out which codecs are required to play it?


A video file I downloaded won't play on my PC. I believe that the correct codecs have to be installed for a particular type of video file to play. How can I find out which codecs are required and where do I get them?


Visit Codec - for information on codecs.

Download and install the free K-Lite Mega Codec Pack from Other sites can charge you for this pack. The pack comes with Media Player Classic, which you can try using to play your video file.

If the file does not play, download and install the GSpot codec information appliance from It can tell you which codecs you need and whether they are installed. Run the program and then drag-and-drop your video file with the mouse on to the program. Video, audio, and file-container information will be provided. The Status box tells you which codecs are required.

You can look for them on

If you click on the Tables button, you'll be provided with a list of every video and audio codec installed on your PC.

Can my computer/PC play high-definition (HD) Blu-ray movies?

It is a common assumption that only a computer Blu-ray writer such as the Pioneer BDR-202 is required to watch (high-definition) HD movies. However, both the PC's video/graphics card and its processor must be powerful enough. The PC should have at least a 2GHz dual-core processor and a video/graphics card that supports PureVideo HD (Nvidia video cards) or Avivo HD (ATI/AMD video cards). The video card or motherboard should also have a DVI or HDMI output port that supports HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). Blu-ray movies won't play on computers that are not HDCP-compliant. Playback software, such as CyberLink PowerDVD is also a requirement. The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard has integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics that are powerful enough for Blu-ray playback. The graphics has its own dedicated 256MB of graphics memory. Most integrated graphics solutions make use of system RAM memory installed on the motherboard. That Gigabyte motherboard was priced at only L64 in March 2008. Note that you should not buy a desktop PC or laptop PC that has integrated/onboard graphics (graphics chip) built into the motherboard) unless you know that the graphics is powerful enough to play Blu-ray movies.

Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

Why does Windows report half the video memory that my laptop computer's video/graphics card should have?


I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop computer, purchased in April 2007, that runs Windows Vista Business Edition. The PC is supposed to have a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 video/graphics card and 2GB of RAM memory installed. However, the BIOS and Windows both report only 128MB of dedicated video memory. Have I been cheated or is the computer not reporting the correct amount of video memory?


Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

Both ATI and Nvidia and Dell have engaged in some deceptive advertising. Both ATI and nVidia have developed technology that allows their graphics cards to share system RAM memory to supplement their own dedicated video memory.

ATI calls its technology HyperMemory, which doubles the amount of memory available to the video cards that use it by using system memory.

An ATI graphics card that is advertised as having "256MB HyperMemory" means that it only has 128MB of memory on the card.

nVidia calls its memory-sharing technology TurboCache, which allows the graphics card to increase the memory it uses by up to four times the amount of memory on the card.

On its website Dell lists "256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400 HyperMemory" as an option for the Inspiron 9400. A small subscript directs you to a footnote at the bottom of the page that says: "The total of local and shared system memory used by this graphics card is up to 256MB. Local onboard memory is 128MB. Up to 128MB of system memory may be allocated to support graphics, depending on the system memory size and other factors." The facts are there, but you would have to look hard to find them. Like you, a customer with some knowledge of graphics cards would probably assume that that option gives you a laptop that has 256MB of dedicated video memory, when only half that amount is the real amount.

I bought a PC with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 6.5GHz processor and a 1GB ATI Radeon X1050 graphics card, but the Belarc Advisor says otherwise


I have purchased a desktop PC from a UK company via eBay. It was advertised as having a 6.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 dual-core processor, a 1GB ASus ATI Radeon X1050 graphics card, and 2GB DDR2 RAM memory. However, I downloaded and ran the free Belarc Advisor from, and it said that the computer has that processor, but that it only runs at 2.33GHz, and the graphics card is described as a "HIS x1,050 hypermemory with 128MB DDR (64-bit)". The RAM memory appears to be as advertised. When I emailed the company, it said: "The way that Core 2 Duo works is 2 x 2.33GHz cores and, because they both run together, it is then 40% quicker than the actual speed, hence where the 6.5GHz comes from." Is this true or have I been ripped off?


The E6550 does not imply that the speed of the processor is 6.5GHz, it is just its model number, and it is far from being the fastest model in its range of Intel Core 2 Duo dual-core processors. The processor has a clock speed of 2.33GHz, but the speed of each core cannot just be doubled to derive its actual speed because of bottlenecks in scheduling tasks between the two cores. However, the second core, and other design improvements over previous Pentium 4 processors, adds about 40% to the performance when compared to a single core processor running at the same clock speed of 2.33GHz. There are other factors that affect performance, such as the amount of cache memory, how the processor makes use of RAM memory, and the number of clock cycles that each operation takes. The two cores of Core 2 Duo processors are based on a single Pentium M core, each of which can perform more operations per clock cycle than a Pentium 4 single-core processor.

The comparative speed of different makes/models of processors depends on the kind of operation each of them is performing. For example, one make/model may be better at performing certain operations, such as those required to run a demanding PC game. Your PC's processor, for instance, might outperform an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ dual-core processor playing games. Therefore, a vendor, such as the one you bought your PC from, could find a benchmark test in which your PC's processor is twice as fast as a 3.3GHz single-core processor, but that doesn't give that vendor the right to advertise it as a 6.5GHz processor, because such a processor does not yet exist. The fastest official (not overclocked) clock speed to date of a processor is that of the high-end Pentium 4 single-core processors, which run at 3800MHz (3.8GHz). Your PC has a Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 dual-core processor, each core of which runs at 2.33GHz, giving it up to 40% improvement in performance compared to a single core running at 2.33GHz.

The PC's video/graphics card does not have 1GB of its own dedicated graphics memory, as advertised. (Even PC manufacturers, such as Dell, have been guilty of this kind of false advertising.) A graphics card with 256MB of dedicated graphics memory, which is legitimately advertised as having a hypermemory feature, can make use of up to four times that amount of a PC's system RAM memory. If the system RAM is over 1GB (4 x 256MB), then a graphics card with hypermemory can behave in some ways as if it has 1GB of graphics memory. Your PC has 2GB of RAM, so, with such a graphics card, it could reserve 1GB for the use of the graphics card and use the remaining 1GB to run the system. However, the graphics card in your PC only has 128MB of graphics memory, which equates to only 512MB of hypermemory (4 x 128MB). Also note that the graphics card is actually made by HIS, not Asus, as advertised.

Visit the following page that provides access to tables containing all of the technical specifications (clock speed, supported instruction sets, cache, etc.) and other information, such as the dates of release, of all of the processors made by AMD and Intel up to the present.

Desktop CPU Comparison Guide -

Visit the following page of the above guide to view tables of all of the PCI, AGP, and PCI Express video/graphics cards made by ATI (now AMD) and Nvidia, the two major manufacturers of graphics chips (that other graphics-card manufacturers use) and their own graphics cards.

Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide -

Whether or not you have been ripped off depends on the price you paid for the PC. Its specification, although not as advertised, is still fairly good. You can make use of a search engine to search for PCs with the real specifications to find out if they are cheaper or dearer than what you paid. If you think that you have been ripped off, you can make use of eBay's complaints' procedure. Moreover, if you paid by PayPal, you might be entitled to a refund.

Always check a seller's feedback carefully before making a purchase through eBay. You should click on the links in the feedback to find out what kind of merchandise the seller is selling, because some thieves and con artists build up good feedback by selling cheap goods that they deliver quickly.

Should I buy a DirectX 10 or a DirectX 11 video/graphics card?


I am building a new PC. I see that both nVidia and ATI (now AMD) have video/graphics cards that support DirectX 10, but currently only ATI have graphics cards that support DirectX 11.0, so I need to know if I should buy one or choose a cheaper DirectX 10.0 card?


Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.

DirectX 11.0 has become available with Windows 7. Windows 7/Direct3D 11 (DirectX 11) is supported by Windows 7 and Windows Vista only. Windows XP users cannot install DirectX 11.

"DirectX® 11, the next generation of graphics technology, arrives with Windows 7. This is great news for players as many of the newest Windows games will take full advantage of this technology to create more immersive and detailed worlds and experiences. Game developers will utilize new features to create rich worlds, realistic characters, and more fluid gameplay." - Microsoft

Note that Microsoft no longer provides a page on its site that provides DirectX downloads of the various versions. DirectX is updated automatically to the latest version by Windows Update, along with the other security updates and hotfixes.

New graphics cards are always more expensive than the cards that have been available for a while.

Since there are currently very few PC games that support DirectX 11 (DX11), there is no need to rush into buying a graphics card that supports it. Moreover, most of the games that become available this year and next year will run on DirectX 10 (DX10) cards. Even most DirectX 11 games, such as Dirt 2, will also play on a DirectX 10 graphics card.

I would buy a cheaper DX10 card now for a new PC and then upgrade it to a DX11 card when games start becoming exclusively played with DX11 cards. When that happens DX10 cards will be cheaper than they are now.

Alternatively, if cost is not a hindrance, buy a DX11 card immediately. Since the time of writing this, DirectX 11 graphics cards have become available to take advantage of the release of DirectX 11, which is available for Windows Vista and Windows 7. This Wikipedia page provides the latest information:

DiRT 2 - One reason to buy a DirectX 11 compatible graphics card -

ATI Radeon HD 5570: Reasonable Gaming Performance For $80? : AMD's $80 DirectX 11 Card - "AMD rounds out its DirectX 11-capable lineup with an entry-level gaming card sporting all of the Radeon HD 5000-series' value-adds. Does the Radeon HD 5570 represent the perfect combination of low-price, gaming performance, and features?" -,review-31806.html

Best Graphics Cards For The Money -

How can I get a 32" LCD TV to work with a Media Center PC?


I have a 32" Samsung LCD TV that has two high-definition HDMI ports. The user manual says that it has a screen resolution of WXGA, which is 1,366X768. I tried to connect my Dell Dimension 9200 Gaming desktop PC that has an ATI Radeon X1550 graphics card to one of the TV's HDMI ports using an DVI-to-HDMI converter cable. I want to use the PC as a Media Center. However, the best picture I could get has a narrow black band about 1 cm wide between the edge of the displayed picture and the edge of the display. Is there a graphics card that can display on the TV's screen resolution when connected to an HDMI cable?


The screen resolution that the TV can display depends on the TV, not the graphics card of the PC. Many LCD TVs are designed to display standard high-definition screen resolutions such as 720p and 1080p, so they can't display the PC's graphical output at the TV's native screen resolution. Such an LCD TV expects a lower-resolution input, which it upscales to fill the screen. If the input resolution from the TV is not a standard high definition (HD) resolution, the upscaled result looks peculiar.

The best way to make the TV upscale correctly is to set the PC's graphics card to the standard HD resolution of 1,280X720 pixels.

However, note that if you want to display the high-definition video that is on HD-DVD or Blu-ray discs, you need an optical drive installed in the PC that supports HD-DVD or Blu-ray and an HDCP-compliant graphics card. An example of such a card is the Sapphire Radeon HD 2400 XT. You can make use of a search engine to find reviews and vendors for that card - or other HDCP-compliant graphics cards. It was priced at only £43 in December 2007. It has an HDCP-compliant HDMI output that carries both the video and audio signals from the PC to a TV.

I can't get two SLI or CrossFire video/graphics cards to work together in my computer

If you can't get dual video/graphics cards using nVidia's SLI or ATI's CrossFire technology to work together, here are the facts that need to be taken into consideration...

[Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD, is now called AMD.]

As the situation currently (May, 2007) stands with regard to both SLI and CrossFire technologies, you must have two graphics cards made by Nvidia or AMD that have the same amount of graphics memory and identical graphics processor chips. Both of the graphics cards and the computer's motherboard must support one of the technologies. No motherboards exist that support both technologies. Note well that a motherboard can have two PCI Express x16 slots for the two cards, but it might not support either of the dual-card technologies. To make sure that one of the two technologies is definitely supported, consult your computer or your PC's motherboard manual. If you don't know the make and model of the motherboard installed in your computer, here is a good free utility - Belarc Advisor - that creates an analysis of the hardware and software on a personal computer. Look under FREE DOWNLOAD from Another utility that provides information on the motherboard is CPU-Z from

If you want to upgrade from one graphics card to two and you don't know the make/model of the card installed in your PC, to find out that information just enter dxdiag in the Start => Run box in Windows XP, and look under the Display tab of the windows that comes up. In Windows Vista, click on the Start button and enter dxdiag in the Search box.

At the time of writing this (April, 2007), you could only configure nVidia's SLI on a Windows XP system, because SLI support had not yet been added to nVidia's Windows Vista graphics-card device drivers. If you want to use SLI under Windows Vista, check nVidia's SLI website for the latest news on drivers at Note that neither SLI nor CrossFire work under Windows 95/98/Me.

Your PC should have a power supply unit (PSU) rated to at least 400W. That said, the computer or PC's motherboard manual might provide the exact power requirements. In any case, the power supply should provide a suitable PCI Express power connector that connects to the graphics card itself if required. If one or more auxiliary power connectors between the cards and the power supply are required, make sure that they are connected.

Even if the motherboard has two PCI Express x16 slots for the cards and it supports one of the two dual-card technologies, you should always make sure that there is enough room inside the case to accommodate two cards. The card slots should not be obstructed by other components or wires. Note that graphics cards with heatsink cooling units can take up the space of two slots.

Some motherboards require SLI or CrossFire mode to be activated manually, either by using a physical switch or by enabling a BIOS setting.You should consult your PC or motherboard manual to find out what kind of activation, if any, is required. The two cards might have to be connected by a supplied bridge or cable. If that is the case, the required information should be provided by the graphics card's user manual, or it could be available on its manufacturer's website.

If the Catalyst Control Centre (provided by ATI's device drivers), or the nVidia Control Panel (provided by nVidia's device drivers) don't recognise the second graphics card, open the Device Manager in Windows XP/Vista by entering devmgmt.msc in the Run/Search box (it's the Search box in Vista). Then open Display adapters in the Device Manager to see if two graphic cards are listed. Note that any entries marked as Secondary are not physical cards, just the second video output of a single graphics card. If both cards aren't shown, try reinstalling the device drivers. If that doesn't work, make sure that both cards are installed properly in their slots, that they are properly connected together if connection is required, and that the auxiliary power connection(s) are properly connected from the power supply.

If the PC crashes, is unstable, or begins to slow down, it could be caused overheating. If removing the side panel from the case fixes the problem, add another fan inside the case to improve the airflow. If more than one fan is installed make sure that they work in conjunction to cool the PC and don't fight each other. If the correct drivers are installed and the PC is being properly cooled and it is still crashing or is unstable, perhaps the power supply is inadequate. If so, then it will have to be replaced.

For more information on SLI technology, visit nVadia's site at and look under the Technologies heading, or visit

For more information on CrossFire technology, visit AMD's site at

Can I upgrade the graphics processor of my Dell Inspiron 9000 laptop/notebook computer?


I have a Dell Inspiron 9000 laptop PC that has an integrated Intel 915GM graphics processor. My question is, can I upgrade the graphics processor to a more powerful one? I understand from reading that I've done on the subject that, if it is possible with this model, I would have to disassemble the laptop to remove the graphics chip and then install the new chip, or add a graphics card if the laptop has a slot for one.


The current position in August 2007 is that you can only upgrade the graphics capability of a laptop/notebook computer under very limited circumstances. The graphics chip has to be on a separate, replaceable graphics card, not integrated into the motherboard.

Most laptop computers use an integrated graphics controller that uses system RAM memory, but some have the provision for a graphics card that has its own dedicated video memory. Many recent integrated graphics controllers used in laptops use PCI Express technology, which means that the signals sent from the processor to the graphics processor are compatible with PCI Express standards. However that doesn't necessarily mean that they also have a PCI Express slot.

Both desktop and laptop PC's can have integrated graphics (the graphics chip is integrated into the motherboard) and also provide a slot for a video/graphics card.

Dell graphics cards are proprietary, which means that they can usually only be upgraded if Dell supplies a choice of graphics options for that particular model. When you buy a Dell PC online you can often choose from a range of graphics cards. Note, however, that Dell can use several makes of LCD screens on the same model and high-end graphics cards may only work with certain makes of LCD screens. The following webpage list the graphics options of each Dell laptop:

You should also note that the laptop's BIOS has to be compatible with the new graphics card. A particular laptop could use an MXM-compatible or AXIOM-compatible card (more information on that compatibility is provided below), but its BIOS could be hard-coded with the configuration details of the card that was originally installed. If that is the case, a BIOS update that supplies the configuration details of the new card would have to be installed.

In most cases when you purchase a laptop computer, you cannot upgrade the graphics. Fortunately, you are in luck, because the Dell Inspiron 9000 has integrated Intel 915GM graphics and can also be fitted with an ATI Radeon graphics card. Having first checked the position with Dell, you should be able to purchase one from Dell and fit it yourself, or, if you don't trust yourself to do the job, send the laptop in to Dell for the fitting. Remember that even opening a laptop computer can be difficult. If you don't know exactly how to do it, you can break plastic tabs, etc.

Desktop PCs have just one PCI Express standard for graphics card slots, but there are two 'standards' for laptop/notebook computers. Nvidia calls its version MXM, which stands for Mobile PCI Express Module, and ATI (now AMD) calls its version AXIOM. Apparently, each version has several types with different size and heat dissipation requirements. Some laptop manufacturers have customised the BIOS in their systems so that only the MXM cards that they supply can be used. Some laptop manufacturers, such as Toshiba, have their own non-standard slots for graphics processors.

Unfortunately, most of the laptop computer manufacturers will only guarantee compatibility with their own graphics cards. Moreover, most of them don't even provide the information that their laptops have an MXM or an AXIOM slot.

Here is the information I have found on MXM:


"As early as 2004, NVIDIA introduced a standard for mobile modular graphics cards. MXM, which stands for Mobile PCI Express Module, aims to allow notebook manufacturers to bring their product faster to market and to design a single platform which suits a manifold of graphics modules. On top of that, the standard is open, which means that an ATI MXM card is possible, allowing manufacturers an even greater flexibility. Based on 16 lanes of PCI-Express (the same as its desktop brethren), MXM is here to stay for the long run. Now that most new laptops are based on new chipsets, which feature PCI-Express technology, more and more MXM powered laptops are arriving on the market. MXM's history looks bright indeed!" -

"If your laptop is not in the list of MXM powered parts that can be found here, there's still a chance that there's an MXM under the hood. This page contains tips and tricks. But before you proceed, you should understand that opening up your laptop will void your warranty. Furthermore, it is quite a bit more complex then opening up a desktop PC. Laptops are not really made to be taken apart, especially not by inexperienced hands. If you don't know exactly what you are doing, chances are you're going to break some tabs, damage the interior of you're going to find yourself being generally unable to assemble all the parts together again. So, leave your laptop alone if you're not exactly sure what you're doing!" -

A web search engine can be used to locate information on ATI's AXIOM.

What kind of AGP support does my video/graphics card need?


My motherboard only supports the AGP 1.0 standard. However, in error, I have purchased an Elsa 511 Gladiac 400 MX that requires AGP 2.0 support. I only realised my mistake when I got home and checked my motherboard's manual. I telephoned the store where I bought it, and the helpdesk operator suggested that I install it and see what happens. I did so, and for a while everything worked just fine, but then every game I played started freezing the system, and I had to reboot. Is this because of overheating, or is it because I am using a 4x card in an AGP 1.0 slot?


To work as it should at all times, an AGP 2.0 video card requires a motherboard that supports the AGP 4x mode. The AGP 2.0 standard adds 4x mode, and writes data faster than AGP 1.0, which supports the 1x and 2x modes. AGP 1.0 cards run at 3.3 volts, and AGP 2.0 cards run at 1.5 volts for 4x data transfers, and at 3.3 volts for 1x and 2x data transfers. AGP 1.0 and AGP 2.0 video cards have slightly different edge connectors. (An edge connector is the metallic part of the card that fits into the slot on the motherboard.) Unfortunately, new 4x cards such as a GeForce 3 card has a slightly different edge connector to an ordinary AGP 2.0 edge connector, which it is supposed to support, so that a GeForce 3 card will not even fit into an AGP 1.0 slot.

Note that many of the motherboards that first supported AGP 1.0 employed cheap components that do not keep the voltage to the card stable. Therefore, if a high-end AGP card, such as a GeForce or Voodoo, is used with such a motherboard, it will probably work properly in 2D mode, but, sooner or later, is likely to crash the system when playing games that use 3D mode.

Moral of the story - for the best gaming performance you must have a motherboard that supports the video card that you intend to use. So, before you upgrade your existing video card, or build a new system from scratch, make sure that the video card is fully supported by the motherboard. Check the motherboard's website, and, if necessary, its ALT newsgroup, for the information you require.

For more detailed information on AGP compatibility, click the link below.

AGP Compatibility -

Windows 98 SE won't install a video/graphics card upgrade in my dual-boot PC running Windows XP and Windows 98 SE


I have a dual-boot PC that runs Windows XP and Windows 98 SE. I upgraded the graphics from a 16MB PCI Voodoo video card to an 128MB AGP nVidia GeForce FX5200 card. I downloaded the device drivers for the upgrade from for both versions of Windows, shut the system down, removed the old card and installed the upgrade. When I booted into Windows XP, the card was recognised, the drivers were installed, and the card worked properly. However, when I booted into Windows 98 SE, the card was recognised, but I could only boot into Safe mode. When I try a normal boot, I get a blank screen and the computer either hangs or closes itself down. Is there any way in which I could install both video cards so that I can use the new card with Windows XP and the old one with Windows 98 SE?


Yes, you should be able to have both cards installed, because Windows 98 and Windows XP have separate hardware lists. Just open the Device Manager in each version of Windows and and disable the card that you don't want to use with that version. In Windows XP, right-click on the Voodoo card's entry and click Disable on the menu that presents itself. When you open the entry for the nVidia GeForce FX5200 card in Safe mode in Windows 98, look for the option that disables that card.

Unless you make use of a KVM switch that allows you to connect two video cables and switch between them, you'll have to swap the video cable every time you change the operating system. If you have a second monitor, you could have a two-monitor setup, probably in both versions of Windows, but at least in Windows XP.

You could also try using the nVidia card in Windows 98 with the standard Windows Super VGA driver, which would use a screen resolution of only 800x600, but it might be adequate for your needs.

Of course, it would be best if you could use drivers that allow you to run the nVidia card in Windows 98. You could try looking at this site for suitable drivers: Search under Downloads if this link doesn't work:

After you have Windows 98 running in normal mode by reverting to the standard Windows Super VGA driver in Safe mode and then rebooting, you can try installing any suitable drivers that you found and downloaded from the above site.

A typical problem with DirectX

The computer keeps booting into Safe mode because of an incompatibility between its video card drivers and DirectX 9.x

If after having installed some gaming software your system crashes, and then will only boot in Safe mode, the chances are that you installed the latest version of the gaming software driver DirectX 9.x, and it is incompatible with your video card's drivers. Installing DirectX 9.x will probably have been required, and hence will have been provided along with the game.

To rectify the situation, you will have to find out the make and model of video card that is installed in order to download the latest drivers for it from its manufacturer's website - or from the chipset manufacturer's website.

The problem will probably have been compounded, because Windows will install its standard VGA driver in order to boot in Safe mode, so you will not be able to identify the video card in this mode (in the Windows Device Manager by right clicking My Computer, and clicking Properties).

If the video chipset is built into the motherboard, you will be able to identify it in the motherboard's manual. If you don't have a manual, you should be able to download a manual from its manufacturer's website - using another computer connected to the Internet, since the problematic one is out of action.

To identify a video card for which you have no documentation, and which is installed in either a PCI or AGP slot on the motherboard, sometimes you can find out its make and model from a printed label on the card itself, or you might be able to read that information from the Start-up boot message that usually flashes by too quickly to read. Unfortunately, you can't freeze the screen, since the Pause key will not pause the installation at that point of the Windows start-up.

However there is still a way to identify the card by using the Debug program that is built into Windows.

Go Start => Run, type in Debug and press the Enter key. A DOS window appears with a hyphen as a prompt. Type in dc000:0,ff (four zeros, not capital Os), and press the Enter key.

On the left of the window several lines of figures will appear, and the video card's chipset and manufacturer will appear within the figures to the right of them.

Here is an example. -

ATI MACH64 C000:0090 53 44 52 41 4D 20 42 49-4F 53 20 33 2E 30 38 35 SDRAM BIOS 3.085 C000:00A0 0D 0A 00 28 43 29 20 31-39 38 38 2D 39 37 2C 20 ...(C) 1988-97, C000:00B0 41 54 49 20 54 65 63 68-6E 6F 6C 6F 67 69 65 73 ATI Technologies.

This means that the video card is made by ATI, now incorporated into AMD and called AMD, and it uses an ATI Mache 64 chipset. In this case, both the chipset and the card itself are made by ATI, so you would be able to use another computer to download an AGP or PCI Mache 64 driver, depending on which kind of slot the card is installed in.

The voltages used by the different kinds of AGP video/graphics cards

AGP Version
Maximum Bandwidth/Transfer Speed
AGP 1.0
3.3 Volts
1x at 267MB/s, 2x at 533MB/s
AGP 2.0
1.5 Volts
1x at 267MB/s, 2x at 533MB/s, 4x at 1067MB/s
AGP 3.0
0.80 Volts
4x at 1067MB/s, 8x at 2133MB/s


I want to upgrade my ageing motherboard, processor, and RAM, but I'd like to be able to use my existing video card with the new motherboard. The video card is an Inno nVidia Tornado TNT2 32MB model, and the new motherboard I want to purchase is the Asus A7N8X Deluxe. I need to know if the old video card will work with the new motherboard.


The first generation of AGP 1x and 2x video cards use 3.3V, which is the same as PCI video cards. (X = the speed/frequency of the PCI bus = 33MHz.) But because there is a power limit of 25W on the AGP bus, 4x cards and higher draw more current and so have to use lower voltages. Most 4x cards are built to the AGP 2.0 standard and use 1.5V, but some use 3.3V. 8x AGP 3.0 cards run at 1.5V or 0.8V. The AGP Pro standard was developed for cards that need to exceed the 25W power limit of the standard AGP bus.

Note well that installing a 3.3V video card into a motherboard designed for 1.5V cards will usually destroy the motherboard.

Fortunately, the video cards are keyed with slots in the connector that only allow the card to be inserted into an AGP slot that supports it. If a card is keyed to fit both 3.3V and 1.5V AGP slots, then it is usually a dual-voltage card that can safely auto-configure itself to use the correct voltage.

However, note that some cheap AGP cards are keyed - have slots for both voltages - but only support 3.3V. So, if such a 3.3V card is installed in a 1.5V motherboard, it won't destroy anything, it just won't work.

The Inno nVidia Tornado TNT2 video card is AGP 2.0 compatible, so it should work well with the Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboard.

For more detailed information on AGP compatibility, click the link below.

AGP Compatibility -



What AGP slot voltage do GeForce cards use, and is this compatible with Intel Pentium 4 motherboards with the Intel i845 and i850 chipsets?


The Intel i845 and i850 specifications contain the following statement: AGP 1.5 V Connector support only (AGP 2.0). No support for 3.3 V or Universal AGP connectors (AGP 1.0). However, this should not be an issue for GeForce cards, because they are all AGP 1.5V devices that are compatible with those Intel chipsets.

Can't install an old 2x AGP video card on my new Asus motherboard

Here is an interesting e-mail conversion I had with someone about his inability to install a 2x AGP nvidia Riva TNT video card on his new Asus motherboard:

I've just bought an Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboard, but when installing my old Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor (AGP 2x 16MB graphics card, based on NVidia Riva TNT2 chipset; it has both 1.5V and 3.3V keys), the red led indicating "Incorrect AGP Card" turns on, and the system refuses to boot. Do you know what's wrong with this combination of MB / AGP card? I supposed that a 150 euro motherboard should support it without any problem ...

Marti, I checked the motherboard's manual - that board only accepts 8x-compatible cards running at 1.5v. If you don't have a copy, You can download one from the website.

Thanks a lot for your help. The 1.5V constraint seems quite convincing, considering that the motherboard's AGP slot has a 1.5V "key", and BIOS only mentions voltages around 1.5V. However, it seems also coherent that if the card has both "notches" (1.5V and 3.3V) the combination should work anyway. I've read at: that cards with both notches are "Universal", supporting both voltages. But it seems that I'm missing something in the way, because my current case is a contradiction to this "rule of thumb".

Things are such these days that you can usually only use current video cards with current motherboards. I think the industry needs the sales.

Yeah, sales, sales... as always. The funny thing is that my dazzling and expensive new MB doesn't support the old good TNT2 2x AGP card and, on the other hand, it has no problem in supporting a crappy 1MB S3 PCI card... LOL! High-tech paradoxes... I've seen manuals from other modern motherboards equipped with an AGP Pro (3.0) slot, and those which don't support the 3.3V AGP cards, stating it VERY clearly even in the first page of the manual. ASUS says it with small letter, and no word about that on its website. Now I'm testing a 4x ATI Radeon 7000 with 64MB, but it has a very poor D/A [digital to analog] conversion, I can't stand it. People only look at 3D performance, but forget such an essential point. Text loses definition at high resolutions (1152x864 and above) and "ghost" or "echo" images appear close to vertical lines. Darn, if I could still use my TNT2... I hope all this conversation helps you to warn some users from your nice website.

My old AGP video card fits, but the wrong way around

New motherboard fitted, installed an old AGP video card. It won't fit in the AGP slot on the motherboard (well it will fit but the wrong freakin' way round. The actual VGA port part of the card is facing the opposite way to the rest of my I/O devices. What is going on???

What you say is true. They're made that way so you won't burn up your motherboard by using the wrong card. You didn't do your research. Your new motherboard has an AGP 8x slot. The older video card runs at a different voltage and won't work with the newer motherboard. In fact, if you could install it, you'd probably blow it and the motherboard. That's why the slot is made so that an old card can't be fitted. Buy a new video card.

So I've got to buy a new graphics card as well. Why do they make it seem as if any AGP graphics card will fit when it won't. I feel fiddled, since you only find out after it's too late. Will only an 8x graphic cards fit?

The video card you have is several years old. Over time, standards change. A new 4x card that runs at the same voltage as the 8x cards would work. Unless you're using the latest of both, it's always best to check if a video card is compatible with a motherboard before you buy or fit it.

A problem installing adapter cards in a Windows XP system


I purchased a new motherboard and installed it in your Windows XP system; successfully for the most part, but whenever I try to install a sound card or network card, and then boot the system this message come up: "An error has occurred during the installation of this device. The data is invalid." For some reason, I haven't been able to install an AGP video card, but I have been able to install a PCI video card. I also tried unsuccessfully to install two different makes of network and sound card. The other measures I have taken to rectify the problem are: - reflashed the BIOS with the latest update, and tried replacing Windows XP with its forerunner, Windows 2000. Because the same error occurs with both versions of Windows, I suspect that the problem has to be hardware-related.

A possible solution

The usual cause of this problem in Windows 2000/XP systems is Registry keys that are set as read-only.

From the Start menu, click Run and enter RegEdit to run the Registry Editor. Open the following - Keys => HKey_Local_machine => System => CurrentControlSet => Enum => PCI.

You will see several keys in this form - Ven_xxxx - where xxxx represents a string such as - 1102&Dev_004&Subsys_00011103&Rev_04.

In each of these folders there is another folder that has a long numerical name. Open each of these folders, and look for the DeviceDesc entry that matches the type of hardware that you are trying unsuccessfully to install. Use the right mouse button to click on the Ven_xxxx entry for that device, and click Permissions. If it is set to read-only, then that is the cause of the problem. To rectify it, change it to Allow Full Control.

USB TV Tuners/PCI Tuner cards: What is the easiest and cheapest way to copy VHS video tapes to DVDs?


I have a new Sony Vaio VGN-FE41E notebook/laptop computer that is running Windows Vista Home Premium version of Vista. It has one ExpressCard and one Cardbus (PC Card) adapter slot, an Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 dual-core processor, Nvidia GeForce Go7400 graphics with its own dedicated 64MB of graphics RAM memory, and analog D-sub VGA video output and a S-video port, but no TV tuner. I use Nero 7 Premium application to burn DVDs. I have several VHS video tapes that I would like to save to DVDs, but I have no idea how to go about doing that. My VHS video recorder only has a SCART socket. Could you please tell me what the easiest and cheapest method is?


You could purchase a video-capture adapter that plugs into a PCMCIA (PC Card) slot. However that is relatively expensive compared to the cheapest method, which is to use a USB TV tuner to copy VHS video to your laptop computer.

The Terratec CinergyHybrid T USB SX TV tuner from (USB stick tuner - analog and digital TV - fullscreen Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) - excellent PowerCinema 4 and CyberLink MakeDVD software - priced at around £65) can record a composite video input. You would use an adapter that converts a SCART socket on the VHS recorder into composite video output that connects to the composite port (a yellow phono-type input port) on the TV tuner. The adapter has part code L50A from The CyberLink MakeDVD software bundled with the tuner can convert VHS video files into a DVD video format with a menu system.

Using a riser card to overcome a lack of space in a computer's case

"As I was staring at a dismantled Toshiba Magnia SG20 appliance in hopes of upgrading the CPU, I had it stuck in my brain that I needed a specifically designed AGP video card that would fit into the tight quarters. Later, it dawned on me that there are all sorts of riser cards made for just this sort of situation. They aren't terribly expensive, and come in hundreds of flavors. A search engine is your friend. As an example, I found one page with just the right item for $15.00. They sell cards that are configured so the card can be installed on either side of the AGP slot, depending on the need, and there is a choice of 3.3V, 1.5V or universal models, which is an important consideration to be sure the card fits into and talks to the slot properly." - From the Lockergnome Tech Specialist newsletter, which no longer exists.

A new AGP video/graphics card causes a computer to lock up


My PC originally had a Gigabyte GA-5AX motherboard, an AMD K6-2 500MHz processor, 64MB PC100 SDRAM, a 2MB Cirrus Logic video card, and runs Windows 98 SE. But when I upgraded the RAM to 128MB and the inadequate 2MB video card was replaced with a 64MB AGP card made by Sapphire that uses an ATI Radeon 7000 graphics engine, the computer operated in normal application mode, but locked up after running any game that uses OpenGL and DirectX (the Direct 3D component of DirectX). Any ideas on how to fix the problem so that I can play games?

Possible solutions

The problem could be caused by a hardware fault, or problems with the firmware (BIOS), or the device drivers.

An inadequate power supply unit (PSU) could be responsible. Many cheap PSUs do not deliver their stated outputs. Or it may be that the motherboard cannot deliver the correct power requirement to the new video card, which is installed in its AGP slot.

It would be a good idea to visit to read any information on hardware compatibility issues that it provides, and, better still, to subscribe to Gigabtye's ALT newsgroup - alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.gigabyte - and post an enquiry asking if anyone has experienced any problems with that make, model, and revision of the board and a video card running the Radeon 7000 graphics engine.

I don't know if there are any such problems with Rev 5 of that motherboard, many users have reported that earlier revisions failed to deliver enough power to certain power-hungry AGP cards. There are also reports of such lockups taking place when the PSU was upgraded, so the motherboard itself might not be responsible.

There have been reports of compatibility problems, mostly with some motherboards using Intel chipsets and Radeon 7000-based cards. The Gigabyte GA-5AX uses an ALi chipset. All the same, the Radeon 7000 graphics engine has a low user-satisfaction rating, with the main reason being cited as unstable device drivers. Apparently the latest drivers are much improved, so installing the latest driver file might solve the problem. It is also important to update the ALi AGP driver that works with the video card's driver.

Try doing the following in this specific order:

1. - Download the latest driver file for the video card from ATI's website at (ATI is now called AMD), the latest AGP driver from ALi's website, and obtain the latest version of DirectX from, where it has to be searched for.

If you need to know the ALi chipset's name, the motherboard's manual should provide it.

2. - Enable Video BIOS shadowing in the BIOS, and check its Chipset Features page to make sure that all of the options are set to the default values. The motherboard's manual has a BIOS section that provides this information. If you don't have a printed copy, download one, which is usually in the PDF format that requires a free PDF reade, such as Foxit.

3. - Now install the latest driver files. It is always best to remove the existing driver first by installing Windows' standard VGA driver, which can be done via the card's entry in the Device Manager. The quickest way to open it is to enter devmgmt.msc in the Start => Run box in Windows 98/Me/XP. You can open Search and make use of the left-hand Search box in Windows Vista that is used instead of the Run box.

After that has been done, first install the latest AGP driver file, followed by the driver file downloaded from ATI's website.

It is important to follow that particular installation sequence, because driver problems could result if a different sequence is used.

If the card still doesn't work properly, you should repeat the process, but this time install the latest version of DirectX first.

Don't update DirectX unless the drivers' update fails to work, because the latest version of DirectX could itself be the source of incompatibility problems.

It that fails, reflashing the BIOS file with the latest update from the motherboard's site might succeed. Otherwise, try a different make an model of video card - preferably to one that the alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.gigabyte newsgroup's members have suggested.

A new video/graphics card causes several kinds of distortion to occur


I have removed a GeForce 2 video card and installed a GeForce FX 5200 card in my computer, but words are garbled, objects have shadows, and white lines extend to the edge of the screen while playing games. I have removed the drivers and installed the latest driver file from nVidia's website, but doing that didn't fix the problem.


The lowest setting for the monitor's refresh rate for the GeForce FX 5200 is 85Hz, so, if your monitor has a lower maximum refresh rate than that, buy a monitor that meets the card's requirement.

You must always read the system requirements on its manufacturer's website before buying a new graphics card. Reading the other problems and the answers given for graphics card problems on this page (and the information on the Video/Graphics section of this website) should give you a good idea of what to look out for.

Updating the BIOS by reflashing it with the latest BIOS file from the motherboard manufacturer's website has fixed this problem when the monitor's refresh rate and the type of AGP or PCI Express card is supported by the monitor and the motherboard respectively.

Highly confused about analog, digital, DVB, TV and video/graphics cards


I want to connect a Sony flat-panel TV set and a projector to a Shuttle Spacewalker XPC ST61G4 motherboard, which has an onboard ATI Radeon 9100 AGP video chip, an Intel Pentium 4 3GHz processor, 1GB of PC3200 DDR RAM, and an LG GSA 4081BB 8x DVD-R/RW drive. I have Sky Digital satellite TV and I want to connect it all up via the motherboard instead of through the Sky digital receiver and a VCR/DVD player. Spare PCI slots and a free AGP slot are available in the computer.

Having investigated ATI's All-In-Wonder video cards, which seem to be superior to the motherboard's onboard video chip, TV tuner cards, and Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) cards, I am now thoroughly confused about analog and digital signals, free-to-view, and subscription-channel TV. The TV tuners don't seem to receive Sky Digital satellite broadcasts, and a TV tuner card makes use of a PCI slot that I would prefer to be used by a modem. Moreover, the All-In-Wonder video cards only seem to be analog cards. DVB cards allow satellite Internet access, which I would like to use, because I live in a non-broadband area of the UK, so I'd like to know if they're compatible with subscription TV, and if I would need to use a separate modem.


Note that the video/graphics card manufacturer, ATI, which was purchased by AMD and is now called AMD.

In the UK, the standard five terrestrial television channels use analog signals that any television can pick up. Digital broadcasts can be picked up by satellite, cable, and suitably equipped terrestrial equipment. For most people, only tuning into the terrestrial broadcasts is worthwhile via a PC in the UK.

To view Freeview digital television, DVB-terrestrial (DVB-T) PCI cards or USB boxes can be used with a terrestrial aerial. Note that many but certainly not all homes will be able to receive digital terrestrial television without upgrading to a digital aerial. These channels include BBC3, BBC4, ITV2, several radio stations, and interactive text services.

Although it's possible to tune into satellite television broadcasts directly with a PC, this isn't possible with Sky Digital because the broadcasts are encrypted. Thus, the only way to tune into Sky is by using a Sky Digibox. However, a DVB-Satellite (DVB-S) can be used to tune into the free shopping, BBC, and foreign channels that aren't encrypted.

An ATI All-In-Wonder video card would be perfect for what this user wants to do. It would most certainly be better than the onboard video that he already has. It's a relatively inexpensive analog card that can be connected to a Sky Digibox. The second TV output on a Digibox is an analog output.

Because analog is still the king by a long way, digital video cards - with DVI input/output, such as the ATI Radeon 9700 - are presently much more expensive, so unless the user wants to pay more for a digital video card, he should buy an analog card.

To change channels he would use the standard Sky remote control. An ATI All-In-Wonder card comes with excellent software for recording and pausing a television broadcast. All of these cards also come with a remote control and launcher application that allows the use of shortcuts to common entertainment functions.

Television pictures and DVD movies often don't appear at their best on an LCD monitor, because the images are displayed with such sharpness that any natural or unnatural defects in the footage or the interlacing used by television broadcasts will become noticeable immediately. Interlacing, which skips refreshing alternate lines of the screen, can create jagged edges that are more noticeable on LCD screens. Moreover, LCD screens often have to be viewed from directly in front of the screen to avoid a deterioration in the picture quality, but this is not the case with CRT monitors. Therefore, if the user's PC has an LCD monitor, he will benefit from watching television and DVD movies via his TV set. To connect the PC to a television set requires the use of an S-video or composite connection and cable.

Note that Microsoft has launched the Windows XP Media Center Edition, which uses Microsoft's new Media Center to integrate television into Windows. It's also able to control a Sky Digibox via a PC. Unfortunately, at present, it's only available with a new computer as part of the new edition of Windows XP, which is designed to be used where a television set is the only available display option.

With regard to satellite broadband, offers a decent 768Kbit/s connection. A USB Hauppauge DVB-S card is provided that would allow the user to view free satellite television and use a broadband Internet connection in addition to connecting an analog video card to a Sky Digibox.

Unfortunately, since a satellite dish can only receive a signal, and the user can't use cable or ADSL, a dial-up 56K modem would still be required to send data across the web.

Is this a video/graphics card problem? - Playing games makes my PC shut down


I have a PC running a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor and Windows XP Home edition. It works properly when I'm using it to run applications, utility programs, and when I'm accessing the web, but as soon as I attempt to play any game at all, after about 30 seconds, the PC shuts down suddenly as if the plug has been pulled out of the mains socket. I can't reboot until I've removed the mains lead for a few seconds and the red LED light on the motherboard goes out. I ran the Sisoftware Sandra Standard utility from and under Mainboard Information, under the Temperature Sensors section, it states that the motherboard's temperature is 27oC, the CPU temperature is 28oC, and the Power/Aux temperature is 69oC. These readings never differ, even after first booting the system. There are several case fans installed, and I changed the standard heatsink and fan unit for a copper one, and used thermal compound between the processor and the heatsink. The heatsink on the processor doesn't get hot to the touch. So, I'm wondering if I have a problem with my video card, which is a Gainward Ultra 1100XT Golden Sample, which uses an nVidia 5900XT chipset.


Unfortunately, this kind of problem can have many possible causes.

It's unlikely to be a problem caused by overheating of the processor if you've installed the copper HS&F cooling unit and applied the thermal compound properly. Only a thin layer of thermal compound is applied evenly over the top of the Pentium 4 processor prior to fitting the cooling unit.

For your information, third-party utilities, such as Sandra, can provide inaccurate temperature readings because not all motherboards use the same methods of providing temperature information. In fact, no readings at all can be provided if the motherboard isn't able to record temperatures. Even the temperature readings that the BIOS can provide (under a section called something like Hardware Monitoring) if the motherboard provides them, are sometimes inaccurate.

The following computer-forum thread discusses an overheating problem well:

"I am having problems with a game that keeps crashing so it was suggested I run a heat check on my hardware. Problem is I don't know what any of this means except something seems to be running very hot. If I am reading this correctly I have something about to melt and only one fan working. This test was done with very little going on. I opened up my computer and one fan has a fin missing, but surely that wouldnt make that much difference." -,90728.0.html

Since the problem only occurs whenever you attempt to play a game, the cause is most probably someting wrong with the video card or its software device driver. Downloading and installing the latest device-driver file for Windows XP for your video card from its manufacturer's site might be all that's required for a fix. If not, it could be the processor on the video card itself that is overheating.

Your video card came has a large cooling unit installed on it (all current high-end video cards come with the a large, impressive-looking cooling unit installed on them), but this can come loose from the graphics processing unit (GPU) that it keeps cool, or its fan can seize up, even if it's a new card or it came installed in a new system.

The large circular device on the high-end video card shown below is the cooling unit that is part of it.

A high-end video card showing the side with the cooling unit that is part of it

If the cooling unit on the video card is properly installed, apart from taking the computer's base unit into a repair shop, you'll have to try swapping the components one by one with ones known to work.

To eliminate the video card as the cause, start by replacing it with one of a different make and model. When the video card is eliminated as the cause, try a different power supply unit, followed by different RAM modules. If there is more than one RAM module installed, you could try using only one, because the system can operate with only one DDR RAM module. Try using each module on its own. You could also test the RAM with the free Memtest86 utility from

If the PSU and the RAM aren't faulty, that leaves only the motherboard to replace.

But before you try using another motherboard, try reflashing the BIOS on the existing one with the latest file from it's manufacturer's site. You can also try experimenting with different BIOS settings. It could be that your video card doesn't agree with one or more BIOS settings. This is a good BIOS website - - that should help you to understand the BIOS settings.

If anyone else wants to identify a motherboard without opeing the case to examine it, the free Belarc Advisor from belarc .com or the free CPU-Z from can identify it. If it is not identified, you will have to open the case to discover its make and model number.

When I had a problem that required swapping many different components, I bought them on eBay, used them for testing, and then resold them at a profit. If you do this, just make sure that you buy them from sellers that have very good feedback records that stretch over a year or more. I bought a motherboard, processor, and RAM bundle that I resold after installing it without fixing the problem, and the result led me to the culprit - a faulty PSU.

An installed wireless network card is the apparent cause of a boot (start-up) problem - but it's really a video/graphics card and monitor cable problem


Ever since I fitted a PCI Belkin 802.11g wireless network adapter I've had trouble booting my computer - a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion 8685 desktop PC running Windows XP Home. To fix the problem, I formatted the C: drive and reinstalled everything from the CDs. This didn't work. On at least two out of three start-ups the Windows desktop fails to appear, but this message "Video cable connected?" does. If I switch the computer off and on again it eventually completes a full boot, usually after the third attempt, after which the computer runs perfectly, including the wireless network adapter, which connects as it should to my Belkin router. Should I try a different wireless network adapter?


I don't think that the network card is the culprit. The message "Video cable connected?" is asking you if the cable to the monitor is connected properly, because the monitor isn't receiving the proper signals from the computer. So, the first action to take is to check to make sure that the video cable between the video card and the monitor is connected properly between the two devices. If it is, remove the cable and examine it to make sure that there isn't a bent pin on the end of the cable that connects to the video card. This computer has a CRT monitor, not a digital DVI LCD monitor, and therefore has a standard d-sub VGA cable. Note that the second-to-last pin in the middle row of the VGA connector on the cable is supposed to be missing.

If the cable isn't damaged and is connected properly, the next most likely cause of the problem is a video card that isn't seated properly in its slot. The fact that the computer usually only boots on the third attempt could be because the video card is not making proper contact with the slot when the computer is cold, but does when it warms up because of the expansion of the metal connection points. So, you should try reseating the video card.

It is also a remote possibility that you damaged the video card with a discharge of static electricity when you installed the network adapter. Click here! to read about protecting against static electricity on this site. If reseating the video card doesn't work, try using another video card.

An Interrupt Request (IRQ) conflict wouldn't normally produce that error message, but if none of the above solutions work, moving the wireless network card to a different PCI slot would be the easiest way to find out if that is the cause of the problem.

Read this Q&A on this site if you want to know more about IRQ conflicts: How things can go wrong with a USB device: an IRQ conflict.

Click here! to go to Page 2 of video/graphics card problems and solutions

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