New PC games run slowly on large LCD monitors?
September 26, 2007 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I just bought a pretty high-end Dell PC with a large LCD monitor. It's got dual Core2 CPUs @ 2.66GHz, 4 GB of RAM, and a decent graphics card. The monitor is a widescreen 27" Dell Ultrasharp. So far, I like the PC. But I was disappointed to find that the first PC game I tried (BioShock) runs TERRIBLY. The game does run pretty well on my slightly older PC, which only has a 19" monitor. So, I think the large, widescreen monitor is the problem. Is that correct? Are there tricks to running the latest games on a large LCD monitor? Many thanks in advance for any advice and insight.
posted by stuehler to Technology (19 answers total)
did you install the BioShock update...mine did the same. Their patch fixed it...everything smoothed out and was perfect at max settings where as before it would start to stutter like mad.
posted by evilelvis at 11:33 AM on September 26, 2007

You can run the game at a lower resolution on the same big screen and have it scale up the image. The 27" is 1920 x 1200 pixels, whereas you were probably doing just 1400 x 900 or 1280 x 1024 on the old monitor. Or, in other words, you're driving twice as many pixels as you do on the 19", yet the graphics card might not be twice as good. Choose a lower res and see what happens or disable anti-aliasing.
posted by wackybrit at 11:34 AM on September 26, 2007

You must tell us about your graphics card. It is the KEY factor in Bioshock performance.
posted by disclaimer at 11:36 AM on September 26, 2007

What do you consider a decent graphics card? Because 1920x1200 is a lot of pixels to pump out in a brand new, top level game...
posted by sharkfu at 11:36 AM on September 26, 2007

Screen size on its own means nothing.

27", though, means 1920x1200, which is no small resolution. Were you running it that high? What's the rez on the older PC? *most* 19" monitors run at 1280x1024, which is less than 60% of the resolution of the big one. Match that resolution, or approximate it, on the new computer, and see what kind of performance you get.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:37 AM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: Sorry - I should have clarified. I tried running BioShock at lower settings: 1024x768 (for the graphic other settings, I kept the defaults). Even at that resolution, the framerate was intolerably slow.
posted by stuehler at 11:39 AM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: More clarification - the graphics card is the GeForce 8300 GS, with 512mb of memory
posted by stuehler at 11:40 AM on September 26, 2007

And the video card of the older machine?
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:43 AM on September 26, 2007

The 8300 GS is a budget card at the low end of the Nvidia line, which is why i'm not surprised it runs Bioshock poorly, even at 1024x768
posted by mphuie at 11:58 AM on September 26, 2007

The GeForce 8300 GS is the lowest end possible G80 card. I would not expect it to run BioShock very well. Make sure you have installed the latest drivers and patches for the game. You might try turning down the settings in the game to make it playable. A tweak guide might help with that.
posted by demiurge at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2007

The 8300GS is horribly slow, and not a "decent" video card for anything more than 2D desktop work and older games like Doom/Quake. You'll want at *least* an 8600 if not an 8800-series card to run BioShock at full resolution.
posted by mrbill at 12:12 PM on September 26, 2007

All signs point to your video card, sadly. Your other specs are suitably beyond the recommended requirements.
posted by Soup at 12:13 PM on September 26, 2007

A good site for comparing specs of various video cards head-to-head is GPUReview.

For example, here's a comparison of a 8400GS vs 8600GT (they don't even list the 8300GS).

One of the first things that sticks out is memory bandwidth - 8300GS has 6.4G/sec, while 8600GT has 22.4G/sec. Even an older 7600-series card has more memory bandwidth!
posted by mrbill at 12:18 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all for the advice. Sounds pretty clearly like its the video card, not the monitor.

Does anyone have any opinion about how difficult it is to replace a video card?

Is it as simple as opening the case, pulling out the old card, and popping in a new one?
posted by stuehler at 12:59 PM on September 26, 2007

Is it as simple as opening the case, pulling out the old card, and popping in a new one?

Yes. Just make sure you're replacing a (for example) PCI-Express card with a PCI-Express card.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on September 26, 2007

If the PC is as brand new as you say it is (ie, under 30 days) you can call up Dell and see what kind of deal they will give you on a higher end video card. Just mention how your wife says her Apple desktop is SOO much faster, and your thinking about returning it for a Apple because the Apple comes with "much better video.. something about 8800..".

Then compare that price with a card from Newegg. It might not be worth going through Dell (it usually isn't), but they might offer you a $100 off coupon to keep the PC.
posted by SirStan at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2007

You'll probably have to untangle a supplementary power cord from the power supply to plug into the card, too. Crappy cards tend not to need that extra juice.

That said, vid card installs are among the easiest things to upgrade. Look at your old card and how deeply the contacts sit in the motherboard slot and just make sure the new card is pushed in as deeply (sometimes you need to push really hard, flexing your motherboard out in a scary way to get it to slot right).

Anyway, enjoy Bioshock, Mr. Bubbles.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:36 PM on September 26, 2007

I recommend buying a nice card and inviting a tech friend that has replaced video cards before over. Be sure to pay with a six pack of good beer.

And do save the girls, Mr. B...
posted by Argyle at 3:08 PM on September 26, 2007

For card replacement:

If you buy another nVidia card, you simply pop open the case, pull out the old card, and stuff in the new card. There'll be physical installation instructions in the box. If you're a n00b at this, you should quadruple check the type of interface (PCI-X or AGP are the most likely options; straight up PCI is so 1998)... buying the wrong interface type will really ruin your day.

Since you already have an nVidia card, and nVidia uses a unified driver architecture, you should just go ahead and install the latest drivers before making the switch. The new card will use the same drivers (and might even remember your settings), and you'll be up and running in about ten minutes from opening the case to stealing little girls' stomach slugs. DO NOT install any drivers or software that come with the card (aside from bundled games, of course); you want the fresh shit from

If you switch to ATi, you'll have extra steps uninstalling nVidia drivers, installing new drivers, and rebooting... in shittastic 640x480x8.
posted by Netzapper at 7:59 PM on September 27, 2007

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