Processors may get the starring role in any PC, but the graphics subsystem really steals the show. The early days of 16-color palettes and 320×240 pixel resolutions are long-gone. Today, amazingly sophisticated, adrenaline-pumping games such as FarCry and Doom 3 redefine interactive entertainment with their realistic, real-time image-rendering and visceral detail. But graphics go beyond gaming to embrace multimedia tasks such as desktop acceleration, video streaming and capture, and cinema-quality DVD playback. Still, this incredible advancement has come with a hefty price: compatibility and software issues linger long after you install the hardware.
This chapter starts with configuration and driver issues. Next, it looks at important upgrade headaches and desktop snafus under Windows XP. You will also see solutions for CRT/LCD troubles, 3D (rendering-specific) issues, and capture/playback problems. Finally, the chapter covers a range of video-player annoyances.
How can I find out which graphics card my PC currently uses before I drop cash on a new card?
Most folks suggest you try the Device Manager to identify your current display system, but I usually recommend the Windows DirectX diagnostic (dxdiag.exe) tool. Just select Start → Run, type dxdiag in the Run box, and click the OK button. Once dxdiag starts, click the Display tab (see Figure 3-1). This identifies the exact ...