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Speed and some clarification

Hello,

Can someone clarify some things for me? I?ve been trying to read about what may be making my machine fast or slow, but there is a ton of info available. Basically, I?m trying to figure out why the games I play on my machine are ?choppy? or freeze up. I?ve looked through the forums here, and got through most of HowStuffWorks.com for computer hardware, but am still a bit lost.

I have an ATI Radeon 9800XT graphics card. My computer is a Presario SR1130NX with an AMD Athlon XP3000+ 2.1GHz with WindowsXP. It came with 512MB of ram and is now maxed at 1GB. What I don?t understand is my specs say that the AGP slot is ?8X?. But on the ATI card specs it just shows memory interface of 256MB, Engine clock of 412MHz and a Memory clock of 730MHz. When I look at the computer specs I see an Advanced Front Side Bus speed of 400MHz. Does this mean that data will only go as fast as 400MHz? And if that is the case, which clock speed do I compare that to on the ATI card? Memory or engine clock speed? Also, what is the 8X shown for the AGP slot? Is that a measure of speed? My thinking in this is if I can only transfer data at 400MHz, and the ATI card can handle 730MHz, then it is under-utilized (correct?). Or is the AGP slot independant of this bus?

In short, I don?t know what is making these games so choppy, and am trying to figure out if I need a better cpu, or a faster (?) bus (in which case, I believe I have to get a whole new motherboard, correct?) Any guidance is appreciated.

Thanks.

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Where do I start?

In reply to: Speed and some clarification

All your questions pertain to the overall speed of the PC, but they all reference different parts of the machine.

To begin: The specs you see for the ATI video card are ONLY for the card. That card has 256MB memory with a clock speed (how fast it processes data in memory) of 730MHz. The on-card processor (often referred to as a Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU) has its own clock speed 412MHz.

As for the FSB speed: Yes, that figure represents the theoretical maximum speed at which data can flow through the PC. In the real world, a 400MHz FSB should be plenty fast.

Here's some definitions:

FSB: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_side_bus

AGP: http://computing-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/AGP

And no, the AGP slot is NOT independent of the bus...

As for your choppiness: Given the specs of your machine, that shouldn't be happening unless there's an issue. Have you installed the latest drivers for your videocard? If not, do so. Then check the videocard settings. If anti-aliasing is turned on, then you may get slower game play. Turn it off and see what happens.

These are starting points; someone else may doubtless give more and better advice. Post back with progress reports.

Paul

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another question

In reply to: Where do I start?

Thanks for getting back to me Paul.

I read those links you sent, and have a quick question. You said that the AGP slot is not independant from the bus(which, if i understand correctly, is the pathway data flows to the cpu). But in the wiki definition, it says

"As computers became increasingly graphically-oriented, the graphics card became far more important than other PCI devices, and, thus, the AGP slot was developed. AGP slots are superior to PCI for graphics cards because they provide a dedicated pathway between the slot and the processor, allowing for faster communication between the two."

If this is the case, then bus speed is not a factor correct? Or does data still flow along a bus from the AGP slot to the cpu? ( I realize this may not have anything to do with the problem im having, but am curious)

Also, why is it when i go to update my drivers (i'm going to My Computer, Properties, Hardware, Drivers, then selecting update) it never finds anything, but if i go to the website of the manufacturer, i see a newer version than what i have installed?

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Ahutch, The FSB Is Still A Factor With AGP

In reply to: another question

There are generally multiple clocks depending on the device and it's access to the processor. The AGP card bus still has a relationship to the FSB. See the link below to read about those relationships.

http://arstechnica.com/cpu/2q99/bxhack/hacking-bx-2.html

And in regards to the driver look up, when you check for drivers by looking at: "My Computer, Properties, Hardware, Drivers, then selecting update", the computer only looks for drivers locally on the computer or to a site where you tell it to look. The computer doesn't know to visit the manufacturer's website for something new. Most commonly, when you use the method you've mentioned, you should be directing it to look for a driver on a floppy, CD, or some other location on the computer such as a downloaded/extracted driver installer.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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Answers:

In reply to: another question

1. As Grif said, the FSB speed always matters. What AGP did was to move video processing away from the very slow PCI bus and to a much faster dedicated circuit. However, all data flowing through a PC eventually ends up in the front side bus, and from there out to the program you're using or the Web, if you're online. In the case of video, the signals flow through the FSB, then through the AGP port (where the real speedup happens) and thence to the monitor.

2. To install that new driver, go to the manufacturer's website and download the driver file to your PC - the best way to find it is to download it to the Desktop. Then, when you update the driver in Device Manager, click on the button reading, ''Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)'' abd click on Next. In the next window, select ''Don't search...'' and click Next. In the next window, click on Have Disk, click on Search in the ''Install From Disk'' dialog, click the Up One Level button at the top until you get to the Desktop. Highlight the driver file you downloaded and click Open.

If that doesn't work, then you can always try double clicking the downloaded file.

Paul

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Computer specs

In reply to: Speed and some clarification

You should be able to play most of but not all the latest games. Some of the newest games require a PCIe card. But these are few and far between. As Paul said you may want to turn off some of the graphic intensive elements in the game until the game plays more smoothly. Card makers constantly add new features to their cards to keep the gamer community happy(and to keep others upgrading). Overall your machine seems plenty powerful to play most games. I think if you download Everest Home Edition it will tell you about all the elements your card supports (pixel shaders,anti-aliasing etc.)

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