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Video Card Q+A

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Technical Support' started by alamo, Oct 22, 2005.

  1. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    The purpose of this thread is to compile the information from the many video card related threads. The video requirements has lead to a good deal of confusion, especially concerning the elusive T+L item. Hopefully this thread will provide quick answers. Thanks to all contributors.

    Requirements

    T+L = Transform and lighting for future reference.

    Minimum Requirements: Video 64MB T+L (GeForce2/Radeon7500 or better)

    Recommended Requirements: Video 128MB pixel & vertex shaders

    Civ4 uses a true 3d engine (Gamebryo), hence the additional requirements over Civ3.

    How to Check

    To identify your current card: Control Panel/ Display/ Settings/ Advanced/ Adaper/ Properties. You should see a model number at least. There may also be details for resolutions, graphic chip family, memory, and location. You may not actually have a seperate video card if the chips are on the main board (on-board graphics).

    There is an online tool here that is associated with GameSpy. This may simply be a lookup using information available from your system, as opposed to a real diagnostic.

    Once you know your card specifics then you can check it here: Video Card Specs

    These properties are equivalent to T+L:

    Vertex shader version (best) = Not Null (-)
    Overall DirectX level = 7 (or better)

    Some intel chipsets are not listed. You can find more on those here. Unfortunately, NO Intel graphics supports T+L.

    Also you can compare to the games you know you can run, especially 3d real-time games. The 3d engine is reported to be the same as in Pirates, so that is a dead giveaway. Any recent 3d game where you can change perspective and zoom in with detail should be a good sign, though not proof that your video card is doing all the work.

    Your dxdiag includes some 3d diagnostics. Simply run the command 'dxdiag', go to the Display tab and click Test Direct3D. If you don't see a spinning cube then you have problems. Also, the first dxdiag page will show your main board make and model, which is good for looking up docs.

    AGP users - you may not be getting the benefit of the AGP slot if the main board AGP drivers are not installed. Look in your device manager under system devices for something like 'processor to AGP controller'.

    Picking a New Card

    Be advised there is a good chance you can play Civ4 without T+L, assuming you pass the other requirements. You may simply have slower gameplay and/or less graphic details. There are Pirates players who are getting by without a T+L enabled video card.

    To upgrade, the first thing you need to know is what card your main board can handle. The vendor documentation is the definitive source. Getting details on your current card is useful for reference. Also, it is a good idea to open your case.

    If you open your case and do not see that your monitor cable plugged into a card then you have on-board chips. You may not be able to use a new card, especially if it's a laptop or there is no available slot. Check your docs.

    There are 3 types of slots - AGP, PCI, and PCIe. PCIe is the latest, so if you have a PCIe card then your are fine. You probably have an AGP and several PCI slots. The AGP is shorter that the PCI slots, and there will be only one. There are versions of PCI, but it looks to be stable at 2.0.

    AGP version is the next consideration. AGP 2 takes 2x/4x cards and AGP 3 takes 4x/8x cards. They are suppose to be backward compatible, but you may not want to pay for 8x when you only can use 2x. Your doc is the best and last source. If you have details on your current card then you know what works. Top of the line AGP cards need 4x minimum.

    Once you know your slot (and AGP version when AGP) then it is a matter of matching cards to these and the game requirements.

    Recommended Cards

    There are many video card vendors, but they all use special graphic processor chips (GPU). Here is an excellent reference for all makes group by GPU type.

    Video Card Specs

    These properties are equivalent to T+L:

    Vertex shader version (best) = Not Null (-)
    Overall DirectX level = 7 (or better)

    Buying a Card

    Choose your favorite pc hardware store and decide how much you want to spend. Find the card that fits your PC, has 32MB+ and T+L, and not too expensive.

    Online vendors: NewEgg, Frys, CompUSA

    Proof that it can be cheap: $40 for ATI Radeon 8500 - AGPx2/x4, 64M, DirectX8


    Edits: Many edits as needed. Thanks to everyone who contributed.
     
  2. vStauffenberg

    vStauffenberg Graf

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    i thought soren said the radeon 9800 meets recommended requirements...
     
  3. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    It may meet requirements. That would be good to know for sure.

    It may not be recommended to purchase if there are better cards for the same price.
     
  4. alva848

    alva848 nothing on my mind!!!

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    The 9800 should even be above recommended.
     
  5. Bast

    Bast Protector of Cats

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    Can somebody please tell me what "hardware transform and lighting" means?

    I also I have a RAGE 128 Pro, so I doubt that I have that.

    Will I still be able to run the game without that, since that seems to be the only requirement I wasn't able to meet.

    Turns out I have a relative who has spare video cards so I might just get a new one slotted in anyway.

    But please tell me what "hardware transform and lighting" means, I don't know what it is.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  6. Rayanth

    Rayanth Chieftain

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    It's a programming process used to calculate certain portions of the image being displayed on your screen - usually involved in shadows, amongst other things. This process is usually very CPU intensive, but most modern video cards can do it on their own much faster, leaving the CPU more breathing room to worry about other things. For this reason, most of today's games are relying on the video card havign the function -- the T&L function. Since it's on the video card, it's hardware based (instead of software based, calculated by the CPU), thus the term, Hardware T & L.
     
  7. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    That is a good question.

    The general idea is that the video card will do the necessary transformations to present the graphics from the player's point of view, especially while it is changing during play.

    On top of this add the lighting effects from a point source of light across surfaces, including shading and shadows. If the card can do this then the PC processor can do other things.
     
  8. ChrisChua

    ChrisChua Chieftain

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    I've got a nVidia GeForce FX Go5200 64Mb Ram, will this help Civ4 runs smoothly? Does more Ram on my laptop help? I've got 1Gb.
     
  9. Comraddict

    Comraddict C.IV

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    you don't, your card is on DirectX 6.0 hardware level, which doesn't provide for Hardware T&L.
    Here is complete list of graphic cards chips:
    http://www.neeyik.info/3dspecs/

    cards that are compatible meet both:
    *direct x level at least 7
    *Vertex shader version (best): TnL or any number (everything but "-")


    And Radeon 9xxx series support at least 1.4 shader version, they will do just good as ones supporting 2.0 or higher.
     
  10. Comraddict

    Comraddict C.IV

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    There's no way to know, your card is weak speed-wise but has very good techology set. civ 4 shouldn't be demending 3D speed wise, i.e. running 15fps is acceptable where in 3D shooter is not.
     
  11. Olive

    Olive Chieftain

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    Thank you Alamo and Rayanth. A most useful and timely thread.
     
  12. UnitQ

    UnitQ #1 Unit

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    Does anyone know what a good video card is and how mutch it would cost.
     
  13. ChrisChua

    ChrisChua Chieftain

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    Errr... what do you mean in layman terms? Is it possible to upgrade my graphic card in my Toshiba laptop? I've waited so long for this great Civ4 to be out and all i want is to let it run smoothly....
     
  14. Rayanth

    Rayanth Chieftain

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    laptop video cards are generally onboard, meaning they cannot be changed/upgraded/replaced/etc...
     
  15. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Ok, so you mean T+L = DirectX7+ and Vertex shader not null on that page.

    That's great - thanks!
     
  16. Comraddict

    Comraddict C.IV

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    In layman terms, means it has all the features of very fast card, but it doesn't have raw speed. Because speed is not issue in Civ4, you shall play well.
     
  17. Skeletal

    Skeletal Guest

    What about that same card (nVidia GeForce FX Go5200) but with 32 MB? That's what my laptop has. It's been able to play some games that required 64.
     
  18. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    That looks like a great card! I wouldn't worry.

    Vertex shader 2.0a
    DirectX 9
     
  19. sgrig

    sgrig Comrade

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    I have exactly the same card and I hope Civ4 will run. I only have 512MB RAM on my laptop, but GTA San Andreas runs quite well on it, even on max resolution. I assume Civ4 is not going to be more graphics intensive than San Andreas, so I guess it should run. Maybe zooming in/out, panning and rotating the map will not be as smooth as it is shown in preview videos.
     
  20. hajmyis

    hajmyis Chieftain

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