Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intel to nVidia

My Dell Dimension 9200c came with a G965 chipset and an Intel GMA X3000 on-board video chip. After installing Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft), I was never able to set the resolution to 1680 x 1050 which is the proper setting for my Dell 2007WFP monitor. I posted a couple of times (1, 2) to the Ubuntu Forums, but no one was able to help me.

I thought I would wait it out until the i810 driver or some other Linux driver supported the X3000 properly. I was hoping that I'd have better luck with Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn). I tried both the Herd-1 and Herd-2 pre-releases of Feisty and still had no luck. I was still stuck at 1280 x 1024.

Finally, I got sick of looking at the distorted images (stretched horizontally) and decided to get another video card to put in my computer's empty PCI Express x16 slot. A Dell tech support guy told me that if I pop in a new video card, the on-board chip would automatically shut off. I figured I would buy an nVidia-based card because nVidia drivers are known to work well on Linux.

After a lot of research online, I went to buy an eVGA GeForce 7300 GS at Circuit City. To my dismay, when I attempted to install it, it didn't fit! I have one of those mini computer chassis, and I learned that I needed a half height (sometimes called low profile) video card. While researching, I only knew to look for a PCI Express x16 card - I didn't know they came in more than one height.

So I returned the eVGA card to Circuit City and began to research cards again, looking for low profile PCI Express cards. I couldn't find a single store in my area that sold one. Finally, I found one on Amazon.com: the Geforce 7300GS 256MB DDR2 Pcie. I ordered this along with a Low Profile Bracket Kit which had to be purchased separately.

This video card installed successfully! I was then able to run sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg which reconfigured my xorg.conf with the open source nv driver. I changed this to the proprietary nVidia driver using these instructions. After this, everything worked! My resolution went to 1680 x 1050, I could run glxgears, and games like Second Life looked soooooooooooo much better.

The only drawback is that the new video card has its own fan which is annoyingly loud. Because of this, I am thinking about moving my computer into a cabinet or under the desk.

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