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Windows 7: vid card shopping for an older PC


07 Jul 2013   #11

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Diosoth,

I've run into the same problem on my HTPC, what you should look for is "GPU scaling." This allows the game or other app to run in (for example) 800x600 but the output to the TV/monitor will be scaled up by the GPU to the native resolution of the TV/monitor.

If your graphics control software doesn't have a scaling option, then perhaps a new graphics card would be your best bet. This Asus HD 5450 on Amazon is only $30US with free shipping if you're a Prime Member. As mentioned above by Faladu and Bobafetthotmail the actual power requirements for that card are minimal.

I have a Visiontek HD 4350 in my HTPC and have run some games in lower resolutions (for better frame rates) and used the GPU scaling to get full screen output. I can't tell you exactly where in Catalyst Control Center the scaling option is, I'm not near that machine at the moment.

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07 Jul 2013   #12

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lava King View Post
Diosoth,

I've run into the same problem on my HTPC, what you should look for is "GPU scaling." This allows the game or other app to run in (for example) 800x600 but the output to the TV/monitor will be scaled up by the GPU to the native resolution of the TV/monitor.

If your graphics control software doesn't have a scaling option, then perhaps a new graphics card would be your best bet. This Asus HD 5450 on Amazon is only $30US with free shipping if you're a Prime Member. As mentioned above by Faladu and Bobafetthotmail the actual power requirements for that card are minimal.

I have a Visiontek HD 4350 in my HTPC and have run some games in lower resolutions (for better frame rates) and used the GPU scaling to get full screen output. I can't tell you exactly where in Catalyst Control Center the scaling option is, I'm not near that machine at the moment.
This seems to have solved my problem.

I wasn't totally certain if my onboard Intel chip(it's a GMA q965/q963, which is adequate for older or low-end games) supported this or not, I was ready to say "no" but some google searching told me each company refers to it differently and I found it as the aspect ratio option. After setting it to maintain aspect ratio(it was on "no borders") I tested with Westward, Cave Story and Gungirl 2, all of which ran fine at full screen but were giving me an invalid signal error before.

I'll keep the vid card suggestions above in mind should I ever decide to do an upgrade, but for now my issue is taken care of.

For now I've chosen to run in 1280 x 1024 resolution. It seems to handle switching to games much faster(and a lot of games/programs support that resolution). I think it might be because 1080p over VGA isn't really ideal? Yes I can run at that but resolution switching of any kind seems slow and sometimes pushes my desktop out of alignment, requiring I go into the TV menu and adjust the picture. The only installed game that even benefits from that high resolution is Shadow Man and a wide screen res only increases the field of view. Otherwise I'm not getting any benefit running at 1080p resolution.
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07 Jul 2013   #13

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

I'm glad it worked out for you!

I didn't have much luck using VGA for 1080p, I assumed that it was because VGA is an analog signal and the cheap cable I was using was doing horrible things. The colors weren't right, there was ghosting and other odd things happened. Switched to a DVI cable and the results were truly awesome.
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08 Jul 2013   #14

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

VGA can handle 1080p without any fuss. Your cable/port was probably damaged or defective.
I trashed quite a few cheap vga cables for similar issues.
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08 Jul 2013   #15

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Oh, 1920 x 1080 resolution worked fine, but it seems the TV I'm using doesn't handle switching screen resolutions very well- especially if there's a sharp difference between modes. The cable isn't even that old or worn- it was the one I was using for my Windows 7 Gateway PC until I got an HDMI-DVI cable last month so I could swap the VGA to this Dell. I may buy a fresh one though, maybe a bit shorter, but I think the cable isn't the issue, it's the TV. I'm betting VGA support is thrown in as a courtesy but a dedicated monitor works better than a TV for PC use, given I have zero issues with my Gateway monitor.

Granted, this Dell has caused me more hassle than I cared for- HDD died after 2 days, had to swap in a fresh drive and force a cooling fan to fit inside Dell's proprietary case. I got it to play games that Windows 7 can't handle well(incompatibility, 16-bit installers/programs, etc) but one thing after another. Now that I have the resolution issue solved I'm just wondering what else will go wrong.
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08 Jul 2013   #16

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Should have written more clearly that I was talking to Lava King.

As a sidenote, why didn't you consider using a virtual machine on your main PC? Virtualbox and windows 2000 for example are both free.
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08 Jul 2013   #17

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

I considered running an XP virtual machine, but it doesn't handle gaming. MS really only developed it for business use, not gaming. I also considered installing XP as a separate OS but it became a matter of finding XP-compatible drivers for the basics, and since Gateway designed this PC for Windows 7, they only have drivers for that OS.

Plus I decided, after a couple major issues in the past, that having a second PC on hand wouldn't be a bad thing and I didn't pay too much for the Dell. I can use the Gateway as a primary PC for internet and newer games, and the Dell as a mainly gaming PC for older stuff as well as internet access if I need it. Virtualbox looks neat and functional, but ultimately it came down to the decision to have 2 separate PCs.
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09 Jul 2013   #18

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Quote:
MS really only developed it for business use, not gaming.
Virtualbox allows full 3d and 2d acceleration for windows guests (once you install their own guest-only drivers they call "guest additions", no need for specific drivers to make it work) on windows 2000 and later (for sure, never tested on older OS). In my legacy XP virtual machine I can run any game the hardware of the host itself can support. I did try only a limited selection of pre-2004 titles though, most of the stuff I own is newer.

Although a VM on a pentium dualcore like your main rig is going to be rather sluggish. Once you are in the Core Duo (dual and quad) realm (and AMD equivalent) things change.

I also concede that if you wanted to run XP it's far less expensive to fetch an oldish office machine with an OEM license than just a XP license for one year (next year will probably be free as they will stop any support).
Heck I'm literally surrounded by similar stuff sold at 80-ish euros here at the shop.

And yes, a secondary machine is always handy for troubleshooting and whatnot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jul 2013   #19

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

My main Gateway has a Core Duo, 2.7GHz and runs Windows 7. The older Dell has the Pentium D 3.0GHz. I should've bene more clear on that- the Dell Optiplex 745 runs Windows XP and has an Intel GMA Q965/Q963 GPU, the Gateway DX4822-01 runs Windows 7 and has an Intel G45/G43 Express GPU.

Though one oddity I had with a game on my Gateway was Shadow Man. I don't know if the game runs funny in Windows 7 or if it's my Graphics chip/drivers but I had some bugs with the physics engine. Any sloped surface would cause me to slide around(the game was made in 1999, it has no stairs, just slopes and hills), and enemies in one of the later levels could not be killed which made it unbeatable. I never could figure out what caused these issues but the game runs fine on the Dell, and ran fine on an old Compaq I had years ago, so either it doesn't work right under Windows 7 or my graphics card can't handle it. As much as I want others to test to see if their Windows 7 PCs have those issues, the PC version has become all but impossible to find outside of piracy with legit copies having dried up. The 3 console ports can be had cheap but the PC version's vanished for some reason.
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