Graphics on newer games don't look good on my Dell laptop with an ATI mobility 9000 card.
June 1, 2004 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Graphics card question - I have a decentish Dell laptop, and I occasionally like to play games on it. It has in it a ATI Mobility 9000 card which seems to do pretty well for games that are about a year old, but not so good with games like, well, the demo that just came out for Thief 3. [MI]

For anyone who's played the demo, what does it look like when Garrett is in the shadows in 3rd person view? For me, the 'shadowed' polys on the character are just a plain dull bluish color. What is the Thief engine doing that my graphics card is unable to pull off/keep up with? Other than weird shadowing effects, the laptop is able to run the game fairly smoothly. Is this a DirectX issue? I'm pretty sure the Mobility 9000 was designed for DX8, so I guess I'm just curious at this point.
posted by GriffX to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Well Grifx, the shadows may have reduced clarity because of your display. Although your display may be good for a laptop, a good quality CRT will always have better color and have sharper blacks.

What you can do (since there is nothing phsyically you can do) is reduce your Anti-Aliasing and Anti-sotropic filtering, at the expense of overall video quality. This will give you more framerates since the video card is not spending as much time rendering frames to be "cleaner". Its like seeing a jagged edge in a game: With AF a AA, the jagged edge appears less jagged, although this takes a lot of horsepower.

Go to the website, get the newest video driver for your laptop, get DirectX 9.0b, and get any new drivers for your laptop (new drivers is always a good idea.)

You can change your AA and AF settings in windows XP like this:

Right click on desktop
When the Display Properties comes up, click settings
Click Advanced
Click the 3D tab
All new games use Direct 3D as opposed to OpenGL.
Choose "Use Recommended settings" to High Performance or Optimal performance, whichever gives you better framerates. You can go into custom and make your selections manually. AA requires more processing power.

Have fun, and give thought to upgrading your RAM also. This may not help for the graphics (though it could), but load times and windows will be faster.
posted by Keyser Soze at 6:54 PM on June 1, 2004

It's possible the dull blue on the shadows can be that you set the game to use 16-bit color instead of 32-bit color.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:19 PM on June 1, 2004

You won't be able to get drivers from for your laptop. The system manufacturers provide them.

Your sys manu may have drivers out that will work, but chances are they are behind in releases and you will have to wait for a newer driver. Dell is better about this than others.

You might check with Thief 3 TS to see if they even support this card.

There are 3rd party drivers, but they can cause issues or overheat your laptop.
posted by jopreacher at 8:37 PM on June 1, 2004

If you want to be l337 and use hacked drivers, do this:

1 - Grab the latest ATI catalyst driver from the ati website. Just lie to the system and tell it you have a radeon family card. Don't install 'em yet, though.

2 - Go to and download the ATI modder program. Follow the directions on the site and patch the drivers you downloaded.

3 -Install the modded drivers.

Anyway... that's what worked for me with an ATI 320m card. 'Course, your mileage my vary.
posted by ph00dz at 10:02 PM on June 1, 2004

Ooh. I'm gonna have to do this with my Toshiba Satellite. Not that I play games at all, but just that I'm geeky enough to think hacking drivers is too kewl.

If this doesn't work, I'm going to throw a shitfit, phoodz...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on June 1, 2004

Whoohoo! It worked!

I've no idea if this has benefited me. The machine doesn't seem any faster. Videos play same as always. Probably uses way more memory.

[droll] But, hey, at least I can flip the display upside down. That'll come in just so endlessly useful, I'm sure. [/droll]
posted by five fresh fish at 12:06 AM on June 2, 2004

Yeah... it's kinda silly, but I had to do that to make Battlefield 1942 work on my HP Pavilion.
posted by ph00dz at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2004

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