Prepare your PC before gaming!

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Prepare your PC before gaming!

Postby Blín D'ñero » 19 Nov 2008, 06:01

This is written originally for Dark Messiah, but most of it accounts to gaming in general.

I will turn it into a general "MUST DO" checklist.


Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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Blín D'ñero
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Re: Prepare your PC before gaming!

Postby Blín D'ñero » 22 Feb 2009, 16:47

THE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR DARK MESSIAH OF MIGHT AND MAGIC (as on the box and in the readme).

Make sure your system meets the requirements in the first place.


The game runs as a hot knife through butter tested on the following PC's:
  • Pentium 4 @ 2.66 Ghz / Radeon 9700 Pro (128 MB) / Creative Audigy 2 / 2 GB PC 2700 DDR RAM, Windows XP 32-bit. Settings for Video in Options as recommended (auto-applied) @ 1280 x 1024.
  • Pentium 4 650 @ 3.4 Ghz / GeForce 7800 GT (256 MB) / Creative Audigy2 ZS / 2 GB PC-2 5300 DDR RAM, Windows XP and Vista 32-bit. Settings for Video in Options somewhat above recommended @ 1600 x 1200.
  • Core2Duo E6600 @ 3.4 Ghz / Radeon X1900XT (512 MB) / Creative X-Fi Platinum / 4 GB Crucial Ballistix PC-2 8500 RAM, Windows XP and Vista 32-bit. Settings for Video in Options fully maxed out @ 1600 x 1200.
  • Core2Duo E6750 @ 3.6 Ghz / Radeon HD4870 (512 MB) / Creative X-Fi Platinum / 8 GB Corsair Dominator PC-2 8500 RAM, Windows XP 32-bit and Vista (32-bit and 64-bit). Settings for Video in Options fully maxed out @ 1600 x 1200.
  • Core2Duo E8400 @ 3.84 Ghz / Radeon HD4870X2 (1 GB) / Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Champion / 8 GB Corsair Dominator PC-2 8500 DDR RAM, Windows XP 32-bit and Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows 7 (64-bit). Settings for Video in Options fully maxed out @ 1900 x 1200.
  • i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz / Radeon HD5870 crossfire (1 GB) / Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro / 12 GB DDR3 CMD12GX3M6A1600C8 PC-3 RAM, Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1- Settings for Video in Options fully maxed out @ 1900 x 1200.
  • i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz / Radeon HD7970 crossfire (3 GB) / Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatality Pro [PCI-E] / 16 GB Corsair Dominator GT CMT16GX3M4X2133C9 / Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 - Settings for Video in Options fully maxed out @ 2560 x 1600.
  • And a laptop: Samsung NP355V5C-A01NL - CPU: AMD A10-4600M (2,3GHz) / Radeon HD7660G / 8GB DDR3 / Display 15.6" @ 1366x768 / 750GB hdd (5400rpm) / Windows 7 Home Premium - Settings for Video in Options as recommended (auto-applied).




From original readme, my comments in brown:
  • Supported OS: Windows® XP<-- Windows XP SP2. Without SP2, updating video- audio- and motherboard drivers and directX9.0c to the latest versions may not work correctly.
    Windows Vista (32-/64- bit) SP2: tested the DVD and Steam versions, ran absolutely fine. Only inconvenience: exiting the game always leaves a "mm.exe has stopped working" message on desktop which can only be closed by TaskManager.
    Windows 7 (64-bit): tested DVD version, ran absolutely fine.
  • Processor: AMD Athlon™, Pentium® 2.6 GHz (3.2 GHz recommended)<-- self-explanatory.
    Lower than recommended: a Celeron 2.6 Ghz might run the game, but it is a stripped Pentium, low on Level 2 cache. This fact alone makes your PC to lowest. The same goes for an AMD Sempron. However below the official system requirements, a Sempron may run this game fine.
    Equivalent or better than recommended: any Core2Duo (E4300 and up) is fine enough. Core2Duo 6600 and up are the finest; even at stock speeds they are at least twice as efficient as the fastest Pentium.
  • RAM: 512 MB (1 GB recommended)<---Take 1 GB as minimum for smooth gameplay. Like any company, they want to sell this game without scaring the users who only have a simple PC. Microsoft says the same about Windows XP: "XP needs 64MB system RAM minimum, 128 MB recommended". But that is only true for XP in 'Spartan' mode: without the bells and whistles (so: in 'classic theme') and without doing anything besides Word and email on it, let alone media applications and gaming. Gaming is the heaviest task for a PC, especially DX9.0c games and newer. In practice: Windows XP needs 256MB system RAM for itself to run smoothly in its full glory, on top of that you want to run a demanding game. The more system RAM the better, but generally 1 GB is enough to start with, and certainly enough to run this game in the first place. Because the size of the videoram is 'mirrored' (for the addressing space) in the RAM, the more VRAM your videocard has, the more systemRAM your OS needs. With a 512MB videocard, it's recommended to have at least 2 GB system RAM for smooth gaming.
  • Video Card: 128 MB DirectX® 9-compatible video card (see supported list*)<-- the supported list of nVidia cards in the readme wasn't accurate, at time of release the 7800GT was 1½ years on market, the GF8800GTX released at same time as the game and already previewed months before that. See below.
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9 compatible sound card. <-- if you only use integrated soundchip, you are below this requirement and you must disable hardware acceleration. Integrated (in the chipset) soundchips are a cheap budget solution (only some of the recent motherboards have a onboard dedicated soundblaster processor, these are considerably better). Especially the older soundcard-emulating chips can cause a DirectX9 game to stutter, freeze or completely shutdown with horrible noise. Disabling the hardware acceleration usually is the workaround. These chips are inferior to a real soundblaster card. A real soundblaster card processes the multichannel 3D sound on its own hardware Which releases the CPU from a considerable amount of calculation work. Quality cards: Creative Audigy and X-Fi, and cards based upon them Asus Xonar, Auzentech X-Fi
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 9 or higher. <--this means: the latest version of DirectX9.0c. See below.
    Dark Messiah is a DirectX9.0c game. DirectX10 plays no role whatsoever with this game. DirectX10 runs only on Windows Vista and Windows 7, with a DX10 videocard, games that are written for DirectX 10.
    DirectX 10 is not backwards compatible. For compatibility, Vista incorporates a "DirectX9 L" layer to run DirectX9 (and older) games like Dark Messiah.
  • CD-ROM: 12x CD-ROM – 1 DVD rom
  • Hard Drive Space: 7 GB free That is for the game alone. But AFTER installing the game, Windows still needs 15% free diskspace for itself to function properly. On top of that, after installing of the game the game needs 2 GB extra free diskspace for the temporary files it creates during gaming, and the savegames. Bottomline: have lots of free diskspace! Which you should have anyway on your PC, regardless of this game.
  • Peripherals Supported: Windows-compatible mouse and keyboard <---Please don't run a game like this with an old ball-mouse! Comfort on your hands while gaming is everything, so use at least an optical mouse, or do yourself a huge pleasure and buy a high resolution laser mouse like the Logitech G9. Resolution above 1600 dpi for highest precision with the least required movement of the wrist.
  • Multiplayer: Internet connection <--multiplayer of this game is only possible through Steam.
  • Supported Video Cards at Time of Release:
    NVIDIA® GeForce™ FX/6 families
    ATI® Radeon™ 8500/9000/X families
    Matrox Parhelia™
    They forgot to mention the nVidia Geforce 7xxx (7800GT released August 2005) and 8xxx series (8800GTX and GTS released in Nov 2006), the better ones. They are of course supported.
    The Geforce FX series are -except the FX5950- all low performance, and you are potentially in 'problem zone'. The lower GF MX, GF 4, GF 3 series are not supported.
    'Integrated graphics chips' are not supported.
    ATI Radeon 8500 up to and including Radeon 9600 (in that order) is very low to low performance, and you are potentially in 'problem-zone'.
    ATI Radeon 9700 Pro and up is fine!
    High end:
    -ATI X1900XT/XTX, X1950XT/XTX, HD2900XT 512 MB versions, HD3850/3870 512MB versions, HD3870X2 / HD4670 / 47xx/ 48xx / 48xxX2 / 57xx / 58xx / 59xx.
    -NVidia GF 7900GTX/7950 GX2, GF 8800 GT/GTX series 512MB and up versions, and GF 98xx GT, GTX, GX260 / 275 / 280 / 285 / 295.
    Dark Messiah is a DirectX9.0c game. When you run this game on Windows Vista, the DX9 layer will be activated. No DX10 will be used. DX10 is not backwards compatible.
  • Laptop versions of these cards are not fully supported. <-- Generally laptops are not designed for running demanding DX9.0c/DX10 games, unless you have one of the -expensive- dedicated gaming laptops like the Alienware or RockXtreme 770-T7800-8800 or CLEVO D900C or Asus W90VP or similar. Standard budget laptops are designed for mobility on officework, internet, maybe run a movie. Laptops weaknesses by design are (amongst other) bad ventilation and budget graphics components with shared system ram. They use a low energy profile to save battery life, and when components' temperature rise by heavy duty (which gaming is), they will slow down even more, so not fit for running heavy DX9.0c/DX10 games at all.
    [Update 2013- Standard laptops have become increasingly better, and many nowadays can easily play the game. The battery weakness is still very real though, so for gaming get your current from the wallsocket! =/update]

*************************************************************
HOW TO PLAY ON MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS?
*************************************************************

If you are playing on a PC that has the "minimum requirements" configuration:
  1. Please close all unnecessary background applications.
  2. Please make sure that you have the latest drivers for your video card (see the video cards section below)
  3. You will need a minimum of 2 gigabytes of free hard disk space after installation of Dark Messiah.
  4. Go to the "Advanced" section of Dark Messiah's video options.
    - Set all video settings to LOW
    - Turn "Anti aliasing" to OFF
    - Set filtering to "Bilinear"


MAKE SURE YOUR SYSTEM IS IN GOOD SHAPE FOR GAMING
(This is actually normal computer maintenance)


Note:
  • Before installing / updating drivers, disable (or reboot without) your antivirus application!
  • After downloading drivers, patches, or any file you are going to install, always FIRST UNBLOCK.

=1= On Windows XP (32-bit) have at least 1 GB system RAM, 3 GB (or more) recommended. Windows Vista / 7: for 32-bit version, 2GB RAM (4GB recommended) and for 64-bit version, 4GB RAM (8GB recommended).
Vista uses 1.3 GB RAM already when idle. With 4 GB RAM installed, Vista addresses full 2GB to the running application.
Vista also mirrors the videoram into the system RAM.
So, the more RAM the better. See also http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/memory/2008/07/08/is-more-memory-better/5, and take a peek at Crucial's recommendations.
When low on system RAM you can compensate by a large fixed Paging File; Dark Messiah needs it. See item =4=.

These tests are with a Radeon X1900XT/512MB on Windows XP:

Loaded Mainpage takes 833MB, peak 837 MB
dm-ram-usage-highest-1600x1200_01.

Loaded level takes 1.25 GB, peak 1.28 GB
dm-ram-usage-highest-1600x1200_02. Note: in Vista this can take 400 ~ 500MB more!

Flyover cutscene 1.28 GB
dm-ram-usage-highest-1600x1200_03.

Gaming at same spot 1.30 GB
dm-ram-usage-highest-1600x1200_04.

Gaming at other location stays between 1.2 and 1.3 GB.
dm-ram-usage-highest-1600x1200_05.

This is a little higher resource-usage than Half-Life2 (generally just under 1 GB), Episode 1 (950MB ~1.1 GB).


At LOWEST settings the Mainpage takes 600 MB
DM-RAM-usage-lowest-1024x768_01.

Loaded level takes 750 MB
DM-RAM-usage-lowest-1024x768_02.

In flyover cutscene increasing a little to 768 MB
DM-RAM-usage-lowest-1024x768_03.

Gaming at same spot stays at about 750 MB
DM-RAM-usage-lowest-1024x768_04.

=2= Your Windows system must be fully updated with available updates and patches from WindowsUpdate
In case of Windows XP you must have Service Pack 2, Vista must be updated with SP2 and all updates and patches after that from WindowsUpdate. Windows 7 knows a lot of performance updates and compatibility fixes all culminated in SP1.
(Windows Vista / 7): to see which updates you have/don't have yet, Control Panel -> Windows Update -> at the left see "View update history", or
go to Installed Updates: Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> on the left click "View installed updates".

=3= Make sure that your harddiskdrive is defragmented and will have at least 15% free diskspace left after installing the game.
Windows together with all the applications you installed, needs 15% free space to function properly in the first place. On top of that, after installing the game, the game needs 2 GB free diskspace for itself, for the temporary files it creates during playing (not to mention the savegames folder: after replaying about 40 times mine has grown 2.5GB large).
Last but not least: the defragmentation program needs the free space in the process of copying/moving files, so defragmenting becomes problematic when it is not given the free space to move.

Windows needs at least 15% free diskspace to function properly, that is the general rule of thumb. But in practice, things look differently.
  • Especially when you have your Page File on the same partition as Windows and managed by Windows and also
  • you have installed DMMoMaM via the default path C:\Program Files.
See image: BADLY_FRAGMENTED1.
You see that even though there is 26% free diskspace and the free space is 6.5 GB, it still is not an ideal situation: 2 very large files (in use by the game Dark Messiah) broken into 5 fragments, that Diskeeper cannot mend.
-mm_levels_public.gcf, and
-the Page File
See image: BADLY_FRAGMENTED2.
The System files (green) are fragmented by nature, and will never be touched by a defragmentation program and this is not a problem.
But by all this, as you can see, even the free space is 'fragmented'; because it consists of the holes between the fragments.
However this situation will probably function correctly and the game will run without problems, such a harddiskdrive will very soon be fragmented again decreasing the overall system performance.
Also, fragmentation reduces the lifespan of your hdd (because the arm with the read/write head then has to move constantly).

That is why:
  • it is always better to have much more free disk space than the minimum recommended. And to have at least 2 large harddiskdrives.
  • it is better to install BIG games on a seperate partition outside the Windows partition.
  • on Windows XP it is better to have the Page File outside Windows, on a partition of its own on a second harddiskdrive, at a fixed large size (4GB or more), and not managed by Windows.
So the really ideal situation looks like this:
See image:WELL_DEFRAGMENTED.
  • Defragmented. 100% no fragments,
  • games on seperate partition
  • pagefile at a fixed large size on a partition of its own on a second harddiskdrive
  • plenty of free disk space!

But again: in a less than ideal situation, Windows and the game(s) will function too, but you'll have to defragment much ofter.

Don't use the Windows inbuilt defragger, because that takes much too long. Buy a third-party defragger (like Diskeeper, O&O Defrag), or use the following light freeware versions:
On Windows XP, use Diskeeper Lite (freeware) to defragment on a regulary basis, and you also can easily monitor the available used/unused diskspace per partition.
On Windows Vista and Windows 7 use Auslogics Defrag 3 (freeware).

Now, check how much free diskspace you have left. If it is not enough, you must create it by deleting files in order to.
As soon as you have enough free diskspace left, then proceed with the next step.

=4= Set your Page File (virtual RAM) to a fixed size, at least 4096 MB.
Lack of virtual memory can make Dark Messiah unstable.
When the game came out, Windows XP 32-bit was the most popular gaming OS (operating system). For that OS, the game needs the Page File (virtual RAM, on the harddiskdrive) fixed to 4096MB min and max.
No matter if you have only 1 GB or 4 GB RAM or more, it is recommendable to have a paging file of at least this size.
Many people don't have that much RAM (modules) installed, so this step is very important!
ONLY POSSIBLE IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH FREE DISKSPACE!!! (see above in step 2.)

How to set your virtual memory in Windows XP:
- Right-click "This Computer" > Properties > tab "Advanced" > under "Performance" click button “Settings”.
- In the new window, select the “advanced” tab and click on the “Change” button of the “Virtual Memory” section
- In both the minimum and maximum spaces enter “4096” (without the quotes)
- To validate this modification, click on the “Set” and then on the “OK” button to close the box
- You must reboot your PC for these changes to take effect.

How to set your virtual memory in Windows Vista / 7:
- Right-click "Computer" > Properties. Under 'Tasks' select Advanced system settings > Continue > tab "Advanced" > under Performance, click button "Settings" > tab "Advanced" > Virtual memory > "Change..."
- In both the minimum and maximum spaces enter “4096” (without the quotes) <--or more! Put the maximum value in both the min and max fields, see below
- To validate this modification, click on the “Set” and then on the “OK” button to close the box
- You must reboot your PC for these changes to take effect.

If you are running Windows 7 x64, make sure you have at least 4 GB system RAM. 8 GB is better. But that doesn't mean you don't need a Paging File; many applications (including this game) expect it to be there. It is always best to fix the paging file for this important reason: a fixed size can not become fragmented!
Windows automatically recommends 1½ the RAM for Page File:
Image



=5= Make sure your videodrivers are up to date.
Attention: some pre-configured machines (like f.i. from Toshiba or Dell) may require you use their own versions of uninstall/install drivers software, in that case start at their support site, search for your system.


Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

  • PCI-express HD series:
    For pci-express only ATI Radeon, download and install the latest Catalyst.
  • AGP HD series:
    For AGP HD 2xxx and 3xxx and 4xxx series, download and install the AGP Hotfix drivers.
  • Legacy series:
    For all ATI Radeon 9550 up to X1950 series cards download and install ATI Catalyst 9.8 Legacy or just stick with an earlier version.
  • Vista users: make sure after a fresh install of Vista to install Service Pack 1, otherwise DX10 will not be implemented in these ATI drivers.
  • Vista users: make sure to install Service Pack 2, and all important Windows Updates and patches after that.
  • Make sure your Microsoft Visual C++ is updated! Snapshot from my PC (Windows 7 x64):
    Image
    Also your .Net Framework must be up to date.
  • Windows XP users: make sure you have installed Microsoft .Net Framework 2.
  • After downloading, as always, right-click on the downloaded file > Properties > if you see a security blockade, hit button "unblock".
  • It is normal to install the new Catalyst over the old one. No need to uninstall it first, the installer does that automatically for you.
    But if your current driver version is much older, you might better uninstall first:
  • If you must uninstall: since Catalyst 8.5 use the ATI install Manager in Control Panel > Software (XP), Programs and Features (Vista and 7):
    Image
    This ATI un-install utility shows two options:
    • Remove ATI Radeon™ graphics software, leave chipset software (RECOMMENDED).
    • Completely remove all ATI/AMD (Graphics/Chipset) software.
  • Removing Older ATI Software
    • Click on Start, then Control Panel, then go to Add/Remove Programs.
    • At the top of the list you should see several ATI entries.
    • Select the entry entitled ATI Software Uninstall Utility, and click Change/Remove.

      Image
    • ONLY If you don't find any of those entries for instance because your current drivers are very old or you are using Windows XP-generic ATI drivers, use cat.uninst.exe. Download cat-uninstaller.zip, unzip, run the tool.
    • You will be prompted to restart your system once the uninstall is complete.
    • During reboot into Windows, CANCEL all Windows messages about 'found new hardware'!!!
      Because you are going to install the downloaded drivers package.
    • Once restarted, check the Add/Remove Programs list again for any remaining ATI software.
    • If any ATI software is still listed, click Change/Remove on those entries to uninstall each one individually.
    • Next, please scroll through the list until you find an entry called DAO (see screenshot above).
    • Select DAO, then Click Change/Remove to uninstall this program.
      Then install the Catalyst you just downloaded.

    • Attention! There was a bug in Catalyst 7.4 (and may still appear in later versions):
      After uninstalling Catalyst 7.4 and during installing a newer Catalyst (7.5 and up) don't be surprised when you get at least 6 times the warning message that "there were found remaining files and setup will now close". Do NOT click OK, just watch the installation proceeding anyway. :))
  • >>>> At first, keep the 3D-settings in CCC at "Use application settings", otherwise they could conflict with the ingame settings. Only change them for a game specifically
  • Catalyst AI setting in CCC:
    • Off = no game optimisations or fixes and no AFR if a Crossfire user
    • Standard = game optimisations and fixes + AFR if a Crossfire user
    • Advanced = same as standard but more agressive in the optimsations which can use more CPU and or make things look worse and introduce rendering errors so generally best to ignore



  • For ATI Radeon 9250 and below:
    the last Catalyst version that supports your card is Catalyst 6.11 (46.6MB - Nov. 15, 2006). It can be found at http://ati.amd.com/support/drivers/xp/radeon-prer300-xp.html Download this.
    Right-click on it > Properties > if you see a security blockade, hit button "unblock".
    Do not install yet!
    • First download and install Microsoft .Net Framework 1.1.
      The CATALYST Control Center requires Microsoft .NET Framework prior to installation. The CATALYST Control Center is an application that allows you to control the configuration of your ATI product. You can verify that you have the .NET Framework by checking in the Add/Remove Programs list in the Control Panel. If the .NET Framework is not listed, please download, and install it before proceeding. Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1

    • Then uninstall the old ATI drivers by using cat.uninst.exe. Download cat-uninstaller.zip Unzip then run the tool to uninstall all ATI related software.
      Reboot PC.
    • During reboot into Windows, CANCEL all Windows messages about 'found new hardware'!!!
      Because you are going to install the downloaded drivers package.
    • Finally, install the downloaded Catalyst 6.11.

>>>> At first, keep the ATI 3D-settings in CCC at "Use application settings", otherwise they could conflict with the ingame settings. Only change them for a game specifically




ATI Catalyst™ Mobility Display Driver start here (support.amd.com)
OR Mobility modder.



Image Image Image Image Image


ATTENTION (from the 162.18 release notes):
(All GPUs, up to 8800 series)
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic–light flickers on the weapons and
    characters, and the system freezes after a period of gameplay.[ 260689
    260335 260315 262958]
It is not guaranteed this is fully solved in newer drivers.



All GeForce 8xxx, 9xxx and GTX 200 series cards
Older series cards as well as Go7, 8M and 9M
make your choice from the drivers download page:

Image

Laptops with nVidia videocards like Go 7700:
nVidia does not provide mobile drivers except Go 7800GTX, Go 7900GS / Go 7900GTX / Go 7950GTX.
You should find the latest on your laptop's manufacturer support site. Or better: laptopvideo2go.com. where they make the official nVidia drivers supporting most laptops with any nVidia card.
Quickstart guide how to install. :)

Note the installation hints!

GF FX 5xxx cards:
Windows XP:

All nVidia Geforce FX 5xxx, family cards on Windows XP / Windows XP Media Center Edition, download and install:
Version: 175.19 WHQL
Release Date: June 23, 2008
from this page: http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_175.19_whql.html.
Read the Release Notes
Note the installation hints!

Windows Vista 32-bit:
All nVidia Geforce FX 5xxx family cards on Windows Vista 32-bit, continue to use the
Version: v96.85 driver.
Or the generic Vista driver.

Driver Installation Hints
  • "Download Accelerator" utilities should be disabled when downloading any drivers.
  • Do not run virus protection software in the background while installing the drivers. This prevents the driver from configuring itself properly.
  • Before installing new drivers make sure you uninstall all NVIDIA display drivers from the Windows Control Panel. Browse to the Start Menu > Windows Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and search for "NVIDIA Windows Display Drivers" or "NVIDIA Display Drivers" and select remove.

  • After uninstalling the drivers and before installing the new drivers, REBOOT the PC.
  • As always, right-click on the downloaded file > Properties > if you see a security blockade, hit button "unblock".
  • During reboot into Windows, CANCEL all Windows messages about 'found new hardware'!!!
    Because you are going to install the downloaded drivers package.

>>>> Keep the 3D-settings in NVIDIA Control Panel at "Let the application decide" or "Use global setting (Application-controlled)", global settings at default, otherwise they could conflict with the ingame settings! Or black/white screen, game not running at all.

Note:
On the 'factory overclocked' GF cards specifically, it may be necessary to tune down the memory speed. Their overclock is targeted to do higher benchmarkscore in reviews but make them unstable in some games and overheat happens easily as most cards don't monitor the temperature of the video ram and it is only cooled passively by the GPU fan.
nVidia supports GPU over/underclocking and temperature monitoring by installing NVIDIA System Tools software.
From the Forceware 177.41 releasenotes:
Overclocking
  • GPU overclocking is no longer supported in the default GPU driver control panel. This feature is available in the NVIDIA System Tools software, which you can download from NVIDIA.com.
  • GPU Temperature Monitoring
    Temperature monitoring is no longer supported in the default GPU driver control panel. This feature is available in the NVIDIA System Tools software, which you can download from NVIDIA.com.

Download nforce_system_tools_6.00
User Guide (.pdf)

>>>> Keep the 3D-settings in NVIDIA Control Panel at "Let the application decide" or "Use global setting (Application-controlled)", global settings at default, otherwise they could conflict with the ingame settings! Or black/white screen, game not running at all.

Also note:
In DirectX 9 and 10, requesting AA on a surface involves determining the level (number of subsamples) of AA and the quality of AA. Most games just set quality to 0, as previous hardware didn't really do anything with this field. The method developers can use to set CSAA in-game is to set the level of AA to either 4 or 8 and then set the quality to 8 or 16 (2 or 4 in DX9, as quality levels are limited to 7 or less). This functionality is exposed in NVIDIA's 100 series driver.

This has had some unwanted side effects though. In the past it hasn't mattered, but some developers would detect the highest quality setting available and select it when enabling AA in-game. These games when paired with NVIDIA's 100 series driver will inadvertently enable 16x CSAA when 4x AA is selected. Currently the games that exhibit this behavior are:

  • Battlefield 2
  • Battlefield 2142
  • Sin Episodes
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

This is only an issue on Vista for now, but 100 series drivers will be coming to XP soon. It isn't that either NVIDIA or these game developers are doing anything wrong, it's just how things ended up working out. The ability to enable CSAA in games does outweigh these minor issues in our minds though. We hope to see this number rise, but currently there are only two games that support enabling CSAA in-game:

  • Half-Life 2: Episode 1
  • Supreme Commander

So with the 100 series driver, future games will be able to enable all of NVIDIA's AA modes in-game. Setting AA levels in-game is safer than using the hardware makers' driver overrides and more convenient than game specific profiles. Aside from heavily encouraging developers to enable in-game AA settings when possible, NVIDIA is exploring other options to make the gamer aware of the caveats associated with driver settings and encourage the use of override AA as a last resort.

Source AnandTech




=6= Update your sound drivers.
  • INTEGRATED SOUNDCHIPS:
    • Realtek AC '97: HERE
    • Realtek High Definition: HERE. Click Accept. Then on their next page, on the right side, look under "Quicklinks"; Take the HD codec link.
      -there is also a readme.
    • SigmaTel for Dell : use the Model Code Identification to easier search for its updated drivers.
    • Dell XPS/Dimension 630i: their latest Realtek driver
    • SigmaTel for Dell Inspiron 1520 and similar: HERE
    • SigmaTel for Sony Vaio Start here. For instance: (US)HERE:
      Filename :
      STDAUD-14133700-US.EXE
      Version : 6.10.5614.0
      Last Modified : 02/19/2008
      Windows Vista
    • SigmaTel for Intel desktop boards (for instance DP965LT_):
      Update your audio (currently SigmaTel) drivers, from this page.
      Instruction:
      Installation:
      First you must remove IAS by un-installing the SigmaTel/IDT driver package
      1. Go to Control Panel
      2. Select Add/Remove programs – WinXP or Select Programs and Features – Vista
      3. Double click on the SigmaTel/IDT Audio driver in the list and uninstall
      4. Re-boot your system.
      To install the updated IDT driver package, Run setup.exe in the IDT driver folder.
    • SoundMax: these drivers are usually obtainable through your PC's or motherboard's manufacturer's support website.

CREATIVE SOUNDBLASTER AUDIGY and X-FI:
Applications from the original Sound Blaster Audigy or X-Fi CD may not work with the updated drivers, and must be downloaded seperately to update.
  • CREATIVE SOUNDBLASTER AUDIGY:
    Direct links below should work. Alternatively, start on this page, follow your specific model.
    • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 series and Audigy 4 series, Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7:
      Creative Sound Blaster Audigy series driver 2.18.0011 Filesize : 37.62 MB (Release date : 13 Jul 09).
      This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows Vista® and Windows® XP support for Creative Sound Blaster® Audigy® series audio devices.
      This download supports the following audio devices only:
      • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy including Platinum and Platinum eX series
      • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 including Platinum, Platinum eX, and Value series
      • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS including Platinum and Platinum Pro series
      • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro and Sound Blaster Audigy 4
      • Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook PCMCIA
        DO NOT install this driver for Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit, Sound Blaster Audigy LS, Sound Blaster Audigy SE, or Sound Blaster Audigy Value.
    • Sound Blaster® Audigy® Value/SE/LS, or Sound Blaster Live!® 24-bit audio devices : File Name: SB24_PCDRV_LB_1_04_0090.exe(Release date: 2 Jul 09)
  • CREATIVE SOUNDBLASTER PCI-Express series X-FI:
    Direct links below should work. Alternatively, start on this page, follow your specific model.
    • Windows XP / Vista / 7, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium: Driver: XFTI_PCDRV_LB_2_17_0008.exe (Release date : 26 july 10 )
      This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista® and Windows XP support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Titanium series of audio devices.
      and
      Creative Console Launcher: CSL_PCAPP_LB_2_61_35.exe (Release date : 19 Aug 09)
      This download contains the Creative Console Launcher application for use with your Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Titanium series of audio devices on Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista® and Windows XP. Supports the following devices only:
      • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty® Champion Series
      • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series
      • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Professional Audio
      • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
  • CREATIVE SOUNDBLASTER PCI series X-FI :
    Direct links below should work. Alternatively, start on this page, follow your specific model.
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio, Microsoft® Windows Vista™ 64-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows® XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004:
    Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Pack 1.04.0079 [Filesize: 62.57MB] (Release date: 2 Apr 08)

Or if in doubt about your Creative Soundblaster model, you can use Software Auto Update: Soundblaster Live!, Audigy and X-Fi family on Windows XP/Vista, start here: http://www.soundblaster.com/support/ and click on Software Auto Update, then following the instructions download and install all you need.

Optional.
Windows Vista / W7:

ALchemy to restore EAX or DirectSound®3D on Windows Vista and Windows 7
See this post

=7= Make sure you have the latest version of DirectX 9 (currently June 2010).
Download via microsoft.com, or download via Softpedia. (The DirectX Redist is available for download for those users that do not have an internet connection available during installation or Setup has trouble connecting to the Microsoft server)
Ignore the DirectX November 2010 Web Installer as it seems to only add the Bing toolbar.
Right-click on the downloaded file > see if at the bottom of "General" tab there is a security blockade. If so, hit button 'unblock'. Extract the directX package into a "New folder" you create. Then open that folder and doubleclick the dxsetup.exe.
If on XP your DirectX refuses to update, install ServicePack 3 from microsoft.com, that might fix the issue.

=8= If you have merely an integrated soundCHIP, disable the hardware acceleration. Also if you have an Audio-EDITING soundcard.
{Vista and W 7 users can ignore this because on Vista and W 7 this is already done by default.)
Windows XP users: If you have merely an integrated soundCHIP, instead of a real PCI soundCARD with hardware DX9 support, disable the hardware acceleration. Click Start > Run... type in
dxdiag
click OK
On the "Sound" tab, move the slider to the left for 'no hardware acceleration'.

>>> If you have an Audio-EDITING soundcard like EMU 0404 on Windows XP, turn the hardware acceleration off (in dxdiag > "Sound" tab). It's designed for audio-editing (2D sound). It does not have enough hardware buffer for 3D sound, that's why the sound in games may gradually disappear.
In Windows Vista this is done automatically (chipsets as well as soundcards alltogether), so you can skip this step.

NOTE: be advised that for best gaming experience you should install a real PCI/PCI-e soundcard (like Creative Audigy 2 /2 ZS or Creative X-Fi), on XP running at full hardware acceleration. On Vista and W 7 with the help of ALchemy. :thup:

=9= Leave the 3D-settings in ATI Catalyst Control Center or NVIDIA Control Panel at their defaults ("Use application settings", or "Let the application decide") before troubleshooting.
Otherwise you get conflicts with the ingame settings. The option to manage AA (anti-alias) and AF (anisotropic filtering) in the driver's control panel is only meant to force it on (older) games that do not have those options in their settings. All modern (DX9) games have the options in their settings panel and that is where they should be managed ONLY. (unless specifically mentioned in the Release Notes as a workaround to certain problems).

=10= Disable conflicting programs, and keep the programs running on the background to a minimum.
-ASUS OSD blocks the game from configuring, uninstall it!
-peerguardian (can block multiplayer completely)
-RefreshForce: hit the button to "Restore Default values". Or, disable or completely uninstall RefreshForce
-disable or completely uninstall Stardock ObjectDock (because it relies on shortcuts, it is incompatible with keyb+mouse gaming).
-as well as security keylogger
-in Outlook disable the "check for new email every x minutes" function
-Of course shut off Folding at Home before gaming!
-shut down antivirus (such as Nvidia Access Manager, NOD32, Norton, PandaSoft, etc.)
And shut down any chat/messenger program, like mIRC, Yahoo IM, MSN
-no Active Desktop
-no screensaver
Set WindowsUpdate to "Notify me about new updates but let me check before downloading and installing them". Or else, during gaming it may start downloading and notifying you the new updates are ready to install; these actions can disturb the gaming experience.

Many programs don't need to start up with Windows (especially not when gaming), some can even block games to run at all.
  • >>> Click Start > Run... type in:
    msconfig
  • click OK. On the start up items tab, untick unnecessary programs, like:
    -printer
    -Office
    -MSN
    -P2P programs
    -Bittorrent
    -webcam
    -WindowsBlinds
    -disable instant-messaging programs
    -program checking for new e-mail every minute
    -Skype
  • Reboot PC for the changes to take effect.

Take a look at MY msconfig/startup items list:
Image
That is all.

=11= Securom copy-protection.
Dark Messiah contains Securom copyprotection technology intended to prevent copying that may conflict with some disc and virtual drives.
Also Steam uses Securom! Steam directory contains a file "Source Shared Securom.gcf"
So if you have programs installed that can be used to try to circumvent Securom (like Deamon Tools, Alcohol120%): they can create a virtual drive. Dismount or turn off virtual drive and/or uninstall such programs completely, or Securom copy-protection may block the game from running at all.

=12= Make sure your chipset drivers are updated.
Outdated chipsetdrivers may cause the strangest problems.
=13= Empty your Temp folders.
  • Windows XP:
    C:\Documents and Settings\*your name*\Local Settings\Temp
    and
    C:\WINDOWS\Temp
    and
    Control Panel > Internet Settings > Temporary Internet Files

  • Windows Vista / 7:
    Click on Start, type the following command in the search box:
    %temp%
    Then hit Enter.

    Click on Start, type the following command in the search box:
    disk cleanup
    Then hit Enter.
    At least remove the Temporary Internet Files

...and of course always make sure your Recycle Bin is emptied.


=14= Check before proceeding:

Before installing / running Dark Messiah of Might and Magic:
  • disable (or reboot without) your antivirus- / system protection application
  • shut down chatsoftware (mIRC, ICQ, MSN, etc)
  • unplug joystick or gamepad
  • unplug Wacom (or the likes, any brand) mouse + tablet; just leave your standard mouse, + keyboard (with layout 'US International').


If you succeeded at all above points, your PC is prepared and ready.
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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Blín D'ñero
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Posts: 7218
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Location: Netherlands

Re: Prepare your PC before gaming!

Postby Blín D'ñero » 12 Apr 2009, 22:14

For games in general counts that codec conflicts can be the culprit of being unable to even launch a game. For instance, a codec installed by GOMplayer that doesn't agree with a game's audio system. Simply uninstalling the conflicting software is then the fix.
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
User avatar
Blín D'ñero
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7218
Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Location: Netherlands

Re: Prepare your PC before gaming!

Postby Blín D'ñero » 24 Dec 2010, 21:35

This thread contains some useful info: CATALYST and OpenGL - what works and what doesn't
rage3d forum
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
User avatar
Blín D'ñero
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7218
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Location: Netherlands


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