wide screen + graphics card.
July 23, 2007 12:32 AM   Subscribe

so i bought a new monitor, however, its wide aspect ratio and the crappy video card that came with my dell doesn't support the wide aspect....

i bought a 24 inch samsung syncmaster 245bw (if that helps) and ive got a dell dimension 3000. It can only accept PCI graphics cards (YAY!) and im having trouble finding one that reports supporting the monitor's native resolution (1920 x 1200)

the question - can any one recommend a graphics card? i don't play games so brawn isn't a big deal, I just want the monitor to display crispy and nice.

alternatively, is the resolution even decided by the card? i mean, could I just buy any old PCI and have it display properly?

I'm not a hardware person so any help/pointers/peripheral information and explanations would be appreciated!
posted by nihlton to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
 
I can only speculate:

It could be be PCI port bandwidth limit. We invented AGP and PCI-foo for a reason. You can test this by turning the pixel depth down very low (8bpp) and see if the highest number of width*height is comparable to 2280000. We're trying to figure out if the video card can even push that number of pixels.

Then, if that looks okay, its probably a stupid driver problem. Try booting something like an Ubuntu test disk. If it shows a higher resolution (see also System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution), then you know it's just that your driver is stupid and that there's theoretically nothing substantial in your way. If it not any different, then you're back where you started.
posted by cmiller at 1:08 AM on July 23, 2007


Naw, cmiller, a PCI card will work fine. Most graphics on Windows are hardware-accelerated; the system isn't sending bits, it's sending line-drawing commands that the hardware executes. Even most moving video will use hardware stretching and acceleration.

You're not going to find any PCI cards that will game well at 1920x1200, but for normal use, these cards should be fine:

ATI x1550, $96
NVidia 6200, $90

Those are both about as fast as you get in PCI... you can probably game a little if you turn the resolution down. They'll choke running 3D stuff at 1920x1200, but they'll probably work okay at 1024x768.

It you don't game AT ALL, the old Radeon 9250 should work fine at $58. By current standards that's a woefully slow 3D card, but should be perfectly fine in 2D only.

Both ATI cards appear to have both analog and digital out, plus TV-out if you need that. The NVidia card has only one port, a mixed analog/digital one. You can use it for either mode (you'll want digital on the LCD screen), but you can only hook up one monitor at a time, and you probably can't hook up a TV at all.

Don't forget to turn on ClearType; it makes a huge difference in screen readability.
posted by Malor at 1:51 AM on July 23, 2007


Oh, and note: most older games will actually work fine in PCI, as 3D is quite low-bandwidth. Newer games, though, are starting to do tricks like streaming textures in to the card while you're playing, invisibly loading new areas as you run around. That doesn't work well on PCI... the game will be choppy and horrid if it tries.

Games that preload textures onto the card and then just send 3D commands should mostly work fine. These are the games with loading screens: they'll take a few extra seconds to load, but should then run fine. Just keep the resolution down while playing.

If you go for the 9250, you'll have trouble running games made anywhere after late 2005.
posted by Malor at 1:59 AM on July 23, 2007


Then, if that looks okay, its probably a stupid driver problem. Try booting something like an Ubuntu test disk. If it shows a higher resolution (see also System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution), then you know it's just that your driver is stupid

Testing with Linux is not a bad idea in and of itself, but I nearly always have to manually edit resolutions to get it to work, even with Nvidia cards. At least, I did in Edgy and Dapper. Feisty has improved a little supposedly, but I know people can have issues.
posted by wackybrit at 2:17 AM on July 23, 2007


On my wife's machine, we have the same problem with the card not supporting the wide-aspect ratio of the card. Theoretically the card can support it, but Windows doesn't know that.

EntechTaiwan has a utility called PowerStrip that we used to overcome this problem. It basically creates a driver definition file on the fly that tells Windows there are more resolution combinations. It is not brilliantly intuitive, but is documented quite well.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 4:35 AM on July 23, 2007


im having trouble finding one that reports supporting the monitor's native resolution (1920 x 1200)

Dunno what search strategy you were using, but this is exactly what "power search" on newegg is for. Go to video cards, power search, and then click on the PCI interface and all max resolutions 1920x1080 or higher.

There are 44 to choose from.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:42 AM on July 23, 2007


There may be a little more depth to this issue than has been covered by any of the above posts.

blue_wardrobe is right on in suggesting PowerStrip that may do the job.

But: when you're driving a monitor that high res, especially over DVI, you start running into the card's dot clock limit and also it's ability to output a clean enough signal to drive a monitor distortion free (many NVidia boards (notably cards released around the time of the 5200, including some 6x00s) use a shitty TMDS encoder that just can't output that high res cleanly)). Sometimes you can get around this by using a reduced blanking interval, but often not.

Anyway, if you do have to get a new card and you're not going to be Linuxing a lot, get an ATI. They tend to have better TMDS encoders.
posted by rbs at 8:11 AM on July 23, 2007




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