Graphics card advice please

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I've got an old PC with a Microstar 6533 motherboard (dated July 2002)
which I
want to use to stream BBC iPlayer and other internet video
channels onto my TV.
The board has an Intel CPU (don't know what
clockspeed), onboard VGA graphics,
an AGP graphics card slot and some
(old-style?) PCI slots. I've got everything
working with Windows XP but
the frame rate is painfully slow in full screen.
Will I be able to
improve things by putting in a new graphics card (and if so
which one?)
or is buying a new PC the only solution?


Re: Graphics card advice please

laetoli wrote:
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It's likely that you can improve performance by putting in an AGP video
card.  Not only will it be a better performer, but it will allow you to
reclaim whatever memory is being used by your onboard video.

Which brings up another point.  If your machine has less than 512MB, I
would definitely upgrade up to at least that mark.  Unfortunately, to
max out your memory (2 x 1GB) you'll have to pay a disproportionally
high amount: about $60.  Two 512MB chips can be had for less than $20,
but I guess that by the time people were buying 1GB chips, they had
moved on from DDR.  (I'm shopping for these chips right now, and don't
really want to have to pay what's being asked.)

Ok, back to the video card.  Both versions of this board has a 4x AGP
slot.  One of them says 1.5V signaling only, presumably to discourage
using 1x/2x cards that used 3.3V signaling.  An 4x/8x card, which are
much more available now, should work.  I hasten to add, though, I've had
at least one 4x AGP motherboard that would not take any 4x/8x card, and
I had to fall back to a 2x/4x card.  That was a righteous butt pain, as
I had to basically pay more for a lesser card.

There are several 4x/8x cards at NewEgg, starting at about $30:

Re: Graphics card advice please

laetoli wrote:
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What's your connection speed?

Are you using DSL or cable?

It may not even be a function of your video card...but the connection
speed itself.

No harm in adding an AGP video card...
if you get one with enough memory it might help you out...
but not much if your connection speed is slow.

Re: Graphics card advice please

laetoli wrote:
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It is an S478 motherboard, accepting FSB400 processors. Those processors
are available at speeds up to 2.6GHz. The chipset is SIS. Either SIS645
or SIS650.

While articles like this, make it sound like Adobe Flash (perhaps the basis
of the current iPlayer), may one day be accelerated by the GPU, I would
expect a current version to be doing most of the work with the processor.

There are various features of video cards, that can accelerate video playback.
IDCT, in its time, was a help to some video formats. I don't believe that
is used any more (in fact, IDCT may have been removed from current video
cards). Modern video cards do have fairly complete playback acceleration,
but it tends to be exposed only with specific software packages. In other
words, if you buy DVD Player software, that software may have a driver
to access the video acceleration logic in modern video cards.

The problem, then, is one of details. Like details as to how the current
Adobe Flash works.

According to that table, if you installed a P4 2.6GHz/FSB400 processor
in your MS-6533, you would be able to play at 480p resolution
(852x480) at 24FPS.

In that table, the other thing I notice, is the Windows and Linux
requirements are the same. Now, the Linux world, would not have
the same level of support for custom GPU features, so that suggests
there isn't much in the way of GPU acceleration going on. Just the
use of RAM on the video card, for buffering. If they'd stated what
GPU acceleration features they were using, that would have given
an idea as to whether plopping some monster video card in
your computer would have helped.

This is the latest AGP offering in a video card. For gaming,
this card isn't much, and may be beaten by a 7600GT.

(This one looks better than the Diamond brand one, and not because
of the useless 1GB of memory on board...)

The card has UVD2, a video decoding block. But, we don't know whether
Flash can use this or not. WinDVD might or PowerDVD might use it.

According to this, the level of GPU acceleration, involves scaling
a decoded image to a new resolution. So it doesn't look like it
involves the UVD2 block at all. They do mention some OpenGL
things the card might support, to make scaling possible. But the
decoding might all be done with the system processor.

    "You will need at least a DirectX 9 class card. We essentially
     have the exact same hardware requirements as Windows Vista
     with Aero Glass enabled."

So a newer video card, might bring the level of compliance up to meet
that. And all that is described in that article, is scaling up a
decoded image, to fill the screen.

It is going to be pretty hard to speed up your processor, as 2.6GHz
is the most commonly available highest speed FSB400 processor.

Example of a commonly available 2.6Ghz FSB400 S478 processor.
(Note that there may be FSB800 processors around as well, so
don't buy one of those by accident! An FSB800 processor would
run at half-speed in your board.)

There was a 2.8GHz as well, but I don't know how many of them
are floating around in circulation. Powerleap used to sell these,
but they're gone now (both Powerleap, and the processors).

So if you happened to own a DirectX 9 class video card for
AGP, stick it in the machine and give it a try. I don't know
how much money I'd pour into an old machine, in an attempt
to make it perform miracles...


Re: Graphics card advice please

laetoli wrote:
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Speeding up applications can depend on the CPU type, speed it' operating at,
the memory in the system, and of course the video system installed.
Changing just one of these may speed things up but many times it is hard to
identify which will help the most.  Other application software such as
Firewalls, and Anti-Virus programs can also effect the speed.

Depending on your operating software, right clicking on the "My Computer"
icon should bring up a window showing your CPU chip type, speed CPU is
operating at, and memory size, and Operating software along with possible
Service Pack level.

Send that data along and I'm sure others will have a go at what may speed
things up the most for you while spending the least amount of money.

Re: Graphics card advice please

Thanks for all this exceptionally clear detailed and thorough advice.
resolved to start by getting an AGP video graphics card and I'll
let you know
the results once it arrives from Amazon.
Thanks again,

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