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How to upgrade an old PC to play 3D games

Important notes for PC upgraders

Upgrading an older PC with RAM, operating system and graphics card updates to play 3D games is fraught with difficulty. But with our simple guidance you should have no problems.

QUESTION I’ve upgraded my Compaq Presario SR1080UK PC from Windows XP to Windows 7 and increased the RAM to 2GB. I tried to play Chess Titans and found I could get only a basic version with no 3D. I then replaced my graphics card with an ATI Radeon HD 4650 with 1GB of DDR2 memory. The card was recognised on reboot, but the PC failed to start up properly thereafter. I’ve since reinstalled the old card. Please tell me what I did wrong and how I can play 3D games on my PC. AndrewC

HELPROOM ANSWER The problems you’ve experienced have two possible causes. Firstly, according to its published specification, the Compaq Presario SR1080UK PC is fitted with an nVidia GeForce FX 5500 graphics card with 256MB of video memory. The card you tried to replace it with is built on an ATI chipset and will require different drivers that may conflict with the nVidia ones already installed on your PC.

Secondly, your ATI Radeon HD 4650 will probably require an additional power connection before it can function properly. If you fail to connect the additional power lead, Windows won’t start up properly. You may see an error message pop up onscreen that concerns power requirements.

Tackling the power issue first, check the specification of your graphics card and note its power requirements. Most Radeon HD 4650 cards use the common four-pin molex connector. With any luck, your PC’s power supply unit (PSU) will have a spare one you can use with the card. Other graphics cards require a six-pin connector; if you don’t have one, exchange the card for one that uses the standard molex connector if possible.

Next, with the original nVidia card in place, visit AMD’s website and download (but don’t install) the latest drivers for the HD 4650. Uninstall the nVidia drivers and any associated software on your PC. It’s also a good idea to visit nVidia’s site and download the drivers for the old card in case you need to use it again. Shut down the PC.

Now fit the new card, restart the PC and install the ATI drivers. With any luck, all should now be working properly.

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