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Written By: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Posted: July 9, 2001
Specific: Installing an AGP or PCI Video Card
If you're installing an AGP or PCI video card in place of an old one (that is to say, you're upgrading, not building a whole new system), be sure to "flush" the old drivers out of your system.
The quickest way to flush the old drivers is to set your display type to Standard VGA (right click the desktop, choose Properties, Settings, Advanced, Adapter). Reboot with your display type like this, and while booted, delete all references to the old drivers you can find (whether in the registry, Windows directory, whatever). Just be careful and back things up before deleting them.
Now that your drivers are flushed, install the new card and fresh drivers. This should help stability, and possibly performance with the new graphics card. If you are installing a PCI video card, after the driver flush, simply follow my instructions from page 3. Make sure to put in the upper-most PCI slot!
If you are installing an AGP video card, aim for the smaller brown port. You probably already knew that, but anyway... when inserting an AGP card into the slot, you should be sure to push it completely into the slot. If it's not fully depressed in one place, the waffle-design of the contacts could cause it to short out. So make sure to push a little harder with AGP, just to be sure. Other than that, refer back to page 3 for installation instructions.
Add-in Card Cooling
Slot cooling is a big thing now-a-days, particularly if you want to do what is described in the next section (overclocking, if you hadn't already figured that out or scanned down and looked). There are two basic ways to cool your add-in card slots. One is to use a product like the Card Cooler, that cools most of the cards that are in the expansion slots. See reviews of this product here, in our Reviews section.
The other option would be to go with an actual slot cooler (a.k.a. slot exhaust fan). This is going to take up one or more of your PCI/ISA slots, but it is well worth it for hot cards. Most of these things can push upwards of 25 CFM, and if you put it in the slot right next to your video card, it will definitely up your overclocking potential and decrease system temperature. Both of these alternatives are viable and can make or break an overclocked system. As you probably noticed in my installation instructions, I just screwed a big ass 120mm fan in place and it keeps the video card and CPU cool.
It's sloppy but it serves its purpose.
ISA/PCI/AGP Bus Overclocking
Whenever you use a non-standard bus speed, you have to either overclock or underclock your add-in card buses. This can (for some cards) increase their speed slightly - and in some cases, it can cause certain cards to simply refuse to function. It all depends on your hardware. Whatever you do, DON'T exceed 41 MHz for your PCI bus speed. You can very easily burn out your cards, etc - and that would be bad. So just don't do it. You should be okay up to 41 MHz though (83/124 MHz, depending on the clock multiplier you are using). This might not be gospel, but 'better safe than sorry', right?
Well folks, I know I don't write as many articles as I used to, but I had to completely revise this article. I will be redoing as many of the "How To" articles as I can to add pictures and other things like my brother drinking motor oil (See this article -- what? You also didn't read my Ford Taurus Tweak Guide?)... Look for more "How To" articles in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!
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