Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Woot! New Video card Installed

Once upon a time I bought a new computer. At that time, the selection of video cards was kind of sucky, so I decided to use the onboard video that came with my computer. The plan was, once a decent card arrived, I would then get it.

A lot of time passed by. Good cards came and went, I was busy rebuilding a patio, finding other ways to procrastinate. It took me over a year and a half to finally get a video card installed.
Getting the card was one thing. Getting it installed into my computer was a completely different adventure that fortunately has a happy outcome. But I was a little nervous at first. This is because like most cards these days, this one is substantially larger than any other card I had installed before. The fact is, video cards today are about 4 to 8 times larger in volume - so much so that the makers of my motherboard did not take it's size into consideration when mapping out where to put connectors.

As a result, I had to get special SATA cables that would fit underneath the video card housing and still do the job. On one end of the cable the plug is at a right angle which allows for more clearance, but also means my cable blocks the second SATA port. Luckily I only have one SATA hard drive and one SATA optical drive. I had to move my hard drive lower in order to make room for the card too.

It took me two days to get the card installed, but that was mostly because I had to run out to get the custom cables in order to do the job right. Luckily everything works and I was able to install the vista drivers with little effort (who knew!)

I booted into linux briefly and did note that my video drivers have been reset to default ones, but the install still works. Reconfiguring that will be an adventure for another day - probably soon though as I won't be able to use that OS with a resolution of only 800x600 - that would drive me nuts. But before I was to do that, I really wanted to see what my current games look like with the new card.

Wow. I now know what people with glasses feel like when they get their prescription updated and it is better. Thief 3 used to play, but I had to turn down the resolution and the people still walked in slow-motion most of the time. Now, it is as the developers intended. Test Drive Unlimited is now responsive, crisp and beautiful. Before it was so slow that I could not play it - just trying to accelerate would force the game to stutter. With the xbox controller I got from Chris last year, driving is smooth and precise, which is just what I wanted. Titan's Quest played pretty well on my onboard video but now I was able to bump up the resolution and turn on all the special effects. It just looks so much prettier now.

And of course, now I can finally try BioShock. It's one of the best from last year, which is the closest to playing a current video game that I have come yet.

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