First the car, now my video card…

Well this is annoying. It looks as though my video card may be partially faulty. This discovery came about after two different games I got for Christmas refused to run on my system so I spent the better part of today backing up my data, tearing my system apart, re-staging it from scratch and testing every component as I went. Even with a brand-spanking-nothing-other-than-patches-and-the-latest-drivers build of XP the games still crashed to desktop or, worse yet, to a warm boot whenever I tried to enter the game proper. You see all the loading screens and configuration screens and what not all work just fine. It isn’t until the game actually attempts to draw the 3D environment that it craps out. This is similar to the troubles I was having a while back with Dungeon Siege. Yet Medal of Honor Allied Assault runs just fine. I was beginning to suspect it was a problem between my video card and DirectX.

I finally narrowed it down by downloading and running the 3D Mark 2001SE benchmarking tool. Back when I first got this card I ran this benchmark to see what kind of difference I could expect in my machine’s performance and it ran every test without issue. This time out it crashed after only one frame of the first test. So then I ran the demo just to see if it would fair any better. It got about halfway through to the stunning open field simulation when it locked up just like it does in the games and crashed to a warm boot. All I can figure is the card must have gotten partially zapped a few months back when my power supply died on me. Looks like I won’t be playing at least two of my games until I can get a replacement video card.

Of course the dilemma I now face is that I want to replace the card as soon as I can so I can play these games I’ve got sitting here, but if I’m going to replace it then I want to replace it with something better than what I currently have. That puts my cost, bare minimum, at around $149 and going up. Of course, the card I’d really like to have is the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro and that’s going for around $278 these days. No, I take that back. What I really want is the All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro which is a mere $382 plus shipping and handling. Alas if I do go ATI this time out it’ll probably be more along the lines of the standard 9700 ($232) or the 9500 Pro ($172). All of which are DirectX 9.0 compliant. I’d consider a GeForce 4, but the 9500 Pro is cheaper than a GF4 Ti 4600 ($220) and outperforms it as well. For the price of the GF4 and a decent lunch I can get a standard 9700 and really kick butt. I also need to take into consideration the possibility that I may be building myself a complete new system once my income tax returns come in. Anne has hinted that I may be able to squeeze out some money to pull off a whole new box so if I’m buying a new card sooner than I had wanted to I should try to get something I know I’m going to want to use in the new machine down the road.

For the time being, however, this card works well enough to let me blog and play at least some of my games so it’ll probably be a bit before I can swing a new card. Frustrating, but with a car in the shop for repairs I’ll just have to cope. At least until I manage to win the lotto.

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