3D Fuzion MX4000 PCI video card

There are not a lot of new PCI video cards around. Fortunately for me, 3D Fuzion is still making PCI video cards. I have 3 dual processor Pentium III 933 systems that don't have AGP slots, so I purchased 3 of these cards. They have 128mb of memory, which is more than enough for me, and are passively cooled. Even better, they were free after rebate. They work fine, and stay reasonably cool. It was a big hassle to uninstall the ATI software and get the card to work on Windows XP without getting a blue-screen-of-death, but that is Microsoft's fault, not the video card's. Under linux, the card was automatically detected. Some versions required that I put the linux os cd in. Configuring X-Windows took some effort, but it was easier than dealing with Windows XP.

Asus EN-7200GS video card

It had been a while since I bought a video card, as my video needs are quite modest. For my media server, I decided I wanted component video output, rather than S-Video output. Few cards provide component video output (3 RCA jacks, for red, blue and green), though almost all dvd players provide it. I was able to find a reasonably priced video card, the Asus EN-7200GS that provides component video output. It is also pci-express, a somewhat new pc card format that has higher speed than older formats, and is much more general than AGP. The card met all of my requirements (cheap, passively cooled, component video output). I am sure the game player folks are laughing at its low performance, but it is just fine at driving a TV set. There is a version for AGP if you don't happen to have a new motherboard, the Asus 6200 card. I highly recommend a passively cooled card for media servers, as there is no fan to make noise, or fail.

ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 XT DG

I had bought an ATI All-In-Wonder Rage 128 video card in 2002. I had a bunch of serious problems with it. After much effort the problems were resolved. But time has marched on, and ATI support has ended for the AIW Rage 128. With Windows XP SP2, you cannot record TV programs, and ATI won't fix the old software.

So I decided to get a new All-In-Wonder card that had a Radeon video chip and current software support. I hoped ATI had fixed their software problems. I found an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 XT DG on sale. I couldn't find out what the DG suffix meant, but I was able to find out that the AIW 9600 XT replaced the AIW 9600 Pro. Looking at ATI's web site, the Pro has engine clock speed of 400 mhz and a memory clock speed of 325 mhz, and the XT has an engine clock speed of 525 mhz and a memory clock speed of 325 mhz.

Using ATI Catalyst(tm) Control Center the card I bought has a core clock speed of 405 mhz and a memory clock of 324 mhz, which gives it the performance of the Pro, not the XT. It is misleading at best to call this card the AIW 9600 XT DG, and perhaps fraudulent.

Installing the ATI software took up about 500 mbytes, including 61 mbytes for the Catalyst Control Center, and 70 mbytes for the multimedia control center. It is quite puzzling to me why the programs are so big, but I guess disks are large and people don't care about small programs. I then downloaded updated drivers and multi-media-center files. The download was 116mbytes of compressed executables. I am not sure what someone would do if they didn't have high speed internet.

The first thing I noticed that when my computer booted, I was unable to see the motherboard BIOS POST (power on self test screen). It seems the AIW 9600 XT is incompatible with my Dell 2001FP display. I was able to see my Adaptec SCSI controller BIOS message, as well as my Promise controller BIOS message. I was able to see the Microsoft Windows XP boot screen (with the scrolling bar on the bottom), but I was unable to see the Windows XP login screen (before I installed the ATI drivers. I had to use a CRT to install the ATI video drivers. I have used the Dell 2001FP with several different computers with no problems displaying motherboard BIOS POST messages, and with several different video cards with no problems. I used to have the ATI AIW Rage 128 in my computer, and it was able to display all the screens with no problem. I can only conclude there is some kind of bug or incompatibility with the Dell 2000FP and the AIW 9600 XT that isn't present with the AIW Rage 128.

After installing all of the software, I was able to watch TV and listen to FM radio. The TV signal (from my cable) had a bunch of static. The FM reception was worse, but I live where FM reception is poor. When I tried to record TV, I got an error box saying "ATISched An invalid argument was encountered." I would guess there is some kind of bug in ATI software telling other ATI software to do something illegal.

I reported the bug to ATI, and I got a boilerplate response that was:


Based on our experience, Multimedia Center related issues are usually due to improper software installation or system configuration settings. Click the following link to review the full details for trouble shooting Multimedia Center related issues.


If these suggestions don't help to resolve your issues, please respond to the ticket and one of our qualified support representatives will assist you. To respond to this ticket you must visit http://support.ati.com and login to My Support.

Thank you for choosing ATI!

Customer Care

ATI Technologies Inc.

Of course, based on my experience Multimedia Center related issues are usually due to incompetently written software. I performed their clever suggestion "The majority of these errors can be resolved by uninstalling and reinstalling all of the ATI software for the computer.", but the error was still there, and I told them so.

Looking up ATI AIW cards on the internet, I stumbled upon Tom's Hardware Guide Video: PVR On a Budget where they were reviewing a different AIW card and they found:

After several emails back and forth with the (Snapstream) support engineers, I was told that the ATI All-In-Wonder did not play nice with several Windows XP features.With these cards, when recording, the Desktop must be visible on the local computer monitor at all times. If anything causes the desktop to disappear, even for a brief instance, the ATI card can't continue recording. Examples of this are: monitor standby, login via remote desktop, logging in as another user with Fast User Switching, etc. After I heeded this warning, a lot of the problems went away. This may be a "feature" of the ATI card and Windows XP, but it certainly lead to a lot of frustration since it's not documented anywhere.

Other bugs I noticed with the All-In-Wonder: one time, the Starting Live TV... popup didn't go away until I exited the Live TV mode. Another time, the live TV feed froze completely. Also common was a kind of stuttering in the video feed while the audio kept going. I did not experience any problems with the Hauppauge WinTV cards, however.

I think it is time for me to return the ATI AIW 9600 XT and buy a Hauppauge card. It seems that ATI's software problems I noticed in 2002 have not been resolved as I had hoped.

FAILED Dell / Elsa Nvidia Geforce2 video card

For my job, I purchased 23 Dell Linux boxes. They all had the same Elsa video cards. After a few months, one of the displays started looking funny. There were dark horizontal stripes across the screen, wherever there were dark areas on the screen (like the tops of Windows). When you moved the Windows up or down, the dark horizontal stripes moved up and down in sync.

The first Dell support I talked to was pretty clueless. He had me swap monitors, and wanted me to run some Windows diagnostics. I finally convinced him it was the video card. They shipped me a new one and the problem was solved. But then another video card failed the same way. And then another and another. I have lost count, but in about a year, at least 25 cards have failed. Some of the replacement cards have also failed. All in the same way.

Several times I asked Dell to replace all the cards, but they said that their contract includes replacing bad hardware. I pointed out it was much easier to have planned downtime for our Linux boxes, and they repeated that their contract dealt with bad hardware, and until the boards failed, they weren't bad.

We have also had one motherboard and one hard drive fail. Not so bad for equipment that is on 24*7.

FAILED EVGA Video card

I bought several EVGA video cards because they were inexpensive and they used passive heat sinks so they don't make noise. I was using one of the cards on my computer I have hooked up to my TV to watch video. Well, after a few months, the color started failing on the screen. It was intermittent for a few days, but then it failed completely. The strange thing, was during booting there was color, but at higher resolution, there was no color. Clearly the S-Video cable was ok.

I replaced the card with another EVGA card, and everything worked again. I contacted EVGA to get the broken card fixed. After a few days, they replied telling me that I had to register the card on their website before I could get a RMA. I replied that their registration was broken, and I gave them the specific error message that it was producing. I was told that they knew about that problem, and they were working on it, and that I would have to register the card before I could get a RMA. After a few days, the web registration was working, and I registered the card and I got a RMA for it. I sent the card in. It hasn't come back after two weeks. I presume it will eventually come back. I have never had to register in order to get defective equipment repaired. I also had to provide a copy of the sales receipt. Fortunately I keep such things. Adaptec didn't ask for a sales receipt. Neither did Garmin, or any other computer company I have dealt with. I am unimpressed with the customer service of EVGA, and I question the quality of their product.

FAILED Kaser Corp video card

Three months ago, I bought a PCI 4mb trident chipset video card from Fry's, because it had a $20 rebate. The rebate process was unique in my experience. You had to send a self-addressed stamped envelope. You had to register on their web page first. You had to include a hardcopy of their web page registration. Perhaps this was all designed to minimize the number of rebates submitted.

In any event, I got the money about 14 weeks later. The week after I tried to install the video card. It was dead on arrival. No problem, I thought, the card has a one year warranty. I went to the webpage and filled out their form. I got a reply back from their mailer-daemon, saying that there was no such user as services@kasercorp.com. Clearly their web page mailed the form to some incorrect address. No problem, I thought. I mailed it to support@kasercorp.com, and got back a reply saying "you need to return from you purchase from. We won't take any service to indirect customer besides the tech support." Other than the bad english, I took it to mean. they don't deal with it; its Fry's problem.

I sent them back email, saying Fry's won't deal with it after a month. They never replied to my email again. I called them up, and they repeated their 'take it back to where you got it' line. I called Fry's and they confirmed I had to send it back to the manufacturer. I called Kasercorp again, saying I had spoken to Fry's, and the repeated their line. I called Fry's again, and told them to contact Kasercorp, and gave them their number, and suggested they should not sell products when the manufacturer doesn't stand behind their product and wants Fry's to deal with it.

I called Kasercorp again, and they finally agreed to take the video card back, but I would have to pay shipping. I told them that I fully expected to pay the shipping to return it. No, they said, you have to pay Kasercorp's shipping and handling. I asked them how much it was, and they said it was $10. I told them that it would cost me $5 to ship it to them, and that I could get a new card for $15, so there one year warranty was not much of a warranty at all.

They told me they charged $10 for all their shipping & handling, no matter how much the product cost. I find it really odd that they changed their policy after I called them three times. I explained that I have returned stuff to Plextor, Toshiba, Sony, Adaptec, and others and none of them have charged me shipping and handling from their end. Kasercorp said that is how they do business.

So, I am dismayed with Kasercorp. Their rebate process is a bigger hassle than any other company I have dealt with. They shipped a board with no quality control, as it was dead on arrival. They had a web page for warranty service that doesn't work. They ignored my second email, when I asked them how to get the card serviced. I had to call them three timed before they agreed to service their defective card, and they have no toll-free number. They finally agreed to fix or replace my card, but wanted to charge me probably more than they sell a new card for wholesale. The good news is that pricewatch.com doesn't list any products sold by Kaser. I suspect they are a really low end company that only sells to Fry's. Therefore, I don't recommend buying any of their products under any conditions, including free after rebate, because of all of the above problems.

PowerColor ATI HD5450

I bought this card because it was cheap, had 1gb of video memory, and was passively cooled. The cd came with an unsigned driver, which was a bit out of date. I went to the ATI website, and got the latest signed driver. The DVI-D video is great. Unfortunately, I hooked up the VGA analog video. I noticed one problem quickly. If you use a KVM switch, and switch the video with a different computer, when you switch back to the PowerColor, the resolution changes. This is a software issue under Windows 7, as it works perfectly under the current Linux driver. I have never had a video problem like this in over 10 years of using KVM switches. I contacted ATI and they said to disable the plug-and-play detection in the driver. If you do this, the video resolution stays the same, but when you switch back for some odd reason, the windows move around on the screen from their original locations. This bug is clearly fixable in software, as it is fine with Linux. What is worse, the quality of the analog video really sucks. Using known good cables, the quality is significantly worse than a 12 year old laptop running at the same resolution. It is worse than the on-board video of a 4 year old motherboard. I don't know what corners were cut, but there seems to be some hardware issue with the VGA output. I suspect it might look ok at 800*600, but at 1920*1200 it is unusable. If you need analog video, avoid this card.

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