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2006-11-30

Vista Aero at last!


When I installed Vista, I was disappointed to see that my Windows Experience Index was 1.0 I was disappointed because I have a pretty decent machine:
  • HP XW6000 Workstation
  • 2 x 2.8 GHz P4 processor
  • 1 GB DDR 266Mhz RAM
  • 2 x 750GB SATA drives
  • nVidia 980XGL video card with 128 MB ram & dual DVI output
So, what was wrong in this picture? Why was I getting such a bad score? Well, apparently, Windows Experience Index base score is determined by the lowest number. And what was that? Yep, you probably guesses it right. It was my video card.

It looks like I fell behind times in video cards department and I felt that this was a good time to catch up. So, I did some research. As always, Tom's Hardware Guide on graphic cards was pretty useful.

I ended up ordering an AGP 8x, ATI Radeon GDDR3 X800 XT with 256 MB ram from TigerDirect.com for $168 (I checked again now and they are not selling it anymore, maybe I got the last one :). It's all-in-one card, although I am not currently planning to use its TV capture capabilities.

I received in just two days. When I installed it though, my machine did not boot, all I was hearing was 2 long beeps. I put back the old card and got on internet to talk to HP. They simply told me that
- "ATI Radeon X800 XT card is not tested on xw6000 and is not supported".

In fact, HP guy told me that there was a problem between it and the motherboard but I kept on asking questions and he confessed that he was not sure of that and suggested I try the *newest* BIOS which was 2 years old and I was already running that.

I started tinkering with BIOS settings and one setting got my eye "AGP Aperture Size". It was set to 64MB. I did not know what it was for but when I saw someone mentioning it to fix a video card issue (not ATI), I realized that I had to change it to 256MB = what my new card had & voila!

To my surprise, Vista detected the card and installed the driver for it. Then, I checked my Windows Experience Index again: 4.3

This time, it was my 1Gig memory that was taking me down but hey, I have all the bells and whistles of Aero now :) I am quite disappointed with Doom 3 though, it looks better but not way better...

BTW, to see your Windows Experience index, do the followings:
Start > Run
control.exe system

Lastly, I wrote about BlackBerry on Vista yesterday. I checked the device in the morning and as expected it was fully charged.
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