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Windows 7: Antique video card runs like a champ, but....

29 Jan 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium
Antique video card runs like a champ, but....

I have Win7 Ultimate running inside a HP Pavillion a1030n. I also have an old Nvidia GeForce FX 5500 as a graphics card.

During install, Windows detected and installed drivers for the card, but they weren't quite right. I see in these forums that everybody recommends the 96.85 forceware driver for 32-bit Vista, and I've tried that as well, but the results are the same as the ones downloaded automatically by Windows: I can run Aero just fine, but my monitor resolution won't go higher than 1600x1200, and my video and audio playback is atrocious.

I still have the old install CD that came with the card, and I can install those old drivers just fine. When that's done, I can get the full resolution supported by my monitor (1920x1200) but I can't run Aero at all and I run into problems with compatibility with various games and such.

I realize the card is old - heck, the whole computer is old. But, it's a 3.1GHz processor (single core, but hyperthreading...) and this graphics card is capable of doing quite a bit, given its age.

Is there a way to mix & match the best bits of both drivers, or do I have to just pick one and use it? Why won't the NVidia downloaded or the Windows downloaded drivers let me use my full resolution? What can I do to get the best out of what I have?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2010   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64


The direct answer to your question is it is not possible to mix and match pieces of drivers. You can choose 1 driver set to use, and you get what you get.

Now, when you are using the drivers that do not support Aero, what happens if you slick Troubleshoot problems with Aero?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium

I get the message:
The current video card may support Aero with a driver that is compliant with the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). Contact the manufacturer of your computer or video card for a WDDM-compatible driver.
Then, after presenting me with a few options for updating the driver, it finishes the troubleshooter saying that the problem is unresolved.

That all makes sense, since the card and the drivers on the disc were a year or more old when I bought them new back in 2005.

I assume the 96.85 Vista driver is WDDM compliant, but I don't understand why my resolution is limited to 1600x1200 and I get bad video/audio stuttering, flash video stuttering, etc. when I use it (whether I enable or disable the Aero effects).
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Jan 2010   #4

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1

Are the monitor drivers (really just an .inf file) installed for your Acer display?

(Monitor in Device Manager.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2010   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium

Not sure. If they were detected and downloaded by Windows at install time, then yes. If not, I haven't installed anything myself. I'll go look and see if there's any specific drivers available for this display.

EDIT: There is a driver at the Acer website, but it's old and for Win XP media center edition. I checked out the .inf file and it says the maximum resolution is 1680x1050.

I've used this monitor with 1920x1280 for the last week or so, so I know it supports higher than 1680.

Since my last post, I cleaned out the graphics card drivers and re-installed the 96.85 forceware version for Vista as per the instructrions in this post. I still end up with a maximum 1600x1200 resolution, and the NVidia display config tool is gone. Aero works and all, but there's artifacts showing up on the screen and inside windows and such.

I guess I'll just stick with the original drivers from the install CD unless and until someone somewhere comes up with a fix. It's sort of a shame, because the card is capable of quite a bit despite its age.

Oh well. Ya win some, ya lose some, I guess.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2010   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium

Here's another question: The install disk that came with the card has categories for driver installation: Win9x/ME, NT4, XP/2000, and WDM...

Is the WDM driver the one to install? Does that provide the WDDM compatibility that the troubleshooter calls for, or is it something different? Should I just stick with the XP/2000 driver?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2010   #7

Windows 7 Professional x64

I would stick with the XP drivers, but feel free to experiment.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Feb 2010   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium

Here's an update, just for the record. I did manage to solve this problem, though it took a couple dirty tricks to make it work. Hopefully someone else finds the information useful.

First, I noticed while in device manager that when Windows automatically installs the driver for my NVidia GeForce FX 5500 card, it does download what it calls the 96.85 Forceware driver. However, there has to be some sort of difference between that driver and the one provided by NVidia, because this trick won't work without that "official" driver, available here.

Secondly, the main problem seemed to be in the installed driver for my monitor. While Windows did correctly identify the monitor as an Acer AL2016W, it installed the driver for "Generic UPnP Monitor". While that driver did work, it didn't provide the resolution/refresh rates that I wanted and locating the *.inf file was, again, a challenge. So, I went to Acer's site and downloaded the latest available driver, which turned out to be for XP Media Center 32-bit.

First, modify and install the downloaded NVidia driver. Double click on the archive to extract the files to the default location (usually C:/NVIDIA). Then, the installer will begin to run - cancel out of it. Navigate to the folder where the driver files were extracted to (for me, C:/NVIDIA/WinVista/96.85), and look for the file nv_disp.inf and open it in Notepad. Look for the section with the heading [nv_SoftwareDeviceSettings] and take note of the resolution/refresh rate modes that are listed there in a section that should look similar to this:
HKR,, NV_R&T,                        %REG_SZ_APPEND%, "R&T0001=1920,1080,*,30,*,CRTX,OEM,7425,2200,48,56,562,2,5,++I"
HKR,, NV_R&T,                        %REG_SZ_APPEND%, "R&T0002=1920,1080,*,60,*,BNQ766A,OEM,13850,2080,48,32,1111,3,5,+-"
HKR,, NV_R&T,                        %REG_SZ_APPEND%, "R&T0003=1920,1200,*,60,*,BNQ766A,OEM,15399,2080,48,32,1235,3,6,+-"
HKR,, NV_R&T,                        %REG_SZ_APPEND%, "R&T0004=1920,1200,*,60,009D,*,OEM,15399,2080,48,32,1235,3,6,+-
The section in red is the section I added. I'm not entirely clear on what all the numbers are, but I copied it from the original nv_disp.inf that was on my old NVidia Driver install CD. For anyone that wants to add a section, simply note the layout of the previous entries, copy one and modify it to suit your needs. Be careful, though. You can probably cause damage to your card and/or monitor if you screw something up. After you're satisfied with your modifications, go ahead and run Setup and let the driver install.

The next step was to modify the .inf file for my monitor driver. As Windows will only list resolutions and refresh rates that the monitor supports, this is the important step. My monitor, for some reason, says the maximum resolution supported is 1680x1050. For reasons I don't quite understand, the Generic UPnP Display driver lists 1600x1200 (60Hz) as the highest possible setting. This caused round objects to appear oval; square objects to appear rectangular; and a 60Hz refresh rate was murder on my eyes. Download the driver appropriate for your monitor, extract it, and cancel out of the installer like before. Navigate to the folder you extracted to, and look for the *.inf file that contains the supported resolutions and refresh rates. Using my own as an example, I went through and changed all my entries from "1680, 1050, 60" to "1920, 1200, 72". I was able to do this because I knew beforehand from experience that this setup would work on this monitor. Do the appropriate research and be certain about the information you enter before you modify your own .inf file! Once you've finished editing, open device manager, find the monitor in the list, click Properties, go to the Driver tab, and click Update Driver. Search for the driver on your computer, and in the selection window, navigate to where your modified .inf file is and select it.

That's all. You may or may not need to reboot for the changes to take effect.

This old GeForce FX5500 is still pretty capable, even by todays standards. Using this method, I was able to change my maximum resolution to 1929x1200 with a refresh rate of 72Hz, and now I can use the Aero effects as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Feb 2010   #9

Win7 Home Premium 64x

Bravo Jwalk! Nice work and congrats.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jun 2010   #10

Windows 7

will this work on 1366 x 768? please anyone help me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Antique video card runs like a champ, but....

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