Ask the Expert: what 3D card should I buy?

ask the expert stuff

Another week, another set of tech troubles to be solved by PC Gamer's resident hardware guru, Adam Oxford. He drops by every seven days to offer advice on persistent problems and fix foibles, and he'll even have a shot at answering the great questions in life. Like “what does anti-ghosting mean”? Got a problem? You can raise an issue or ask a question by commenting on this thread, posting in our tech forum or emailing the magazine.

Deep freeze

I'm wondering if anyone here can give me any advice to help me track down the reason my PC has been freezing.

I'll be playing a game happily and suddenly the screen will go black and completely unresponsive. The only way to recover is to reset the PC. Sometimes the last chunk of sound will repeat continuously. In Assassins Creed 2 I've completely lost my save twice and had to restart from the beginning of the game. More recently I've been re-playing the original Deus Ex games and it seems to happen in those too, though it always recovers. There is no information in my event log except that "the previous shut down was unexpected" as I'd pressed the reset button. Any advice would be great!! Thanks!


PCG: There are a few responses to your thread in the forum but I have to say that for once I'm not with the accepted wisdom there. The key thing you've mentioned here is that unlike most PC crashes, sometimes your system is recovering. To my mind, that immediately rules out overheating and PSU problems, and probably most driver related ones too.

I think the sound looping aspect is what you should focus on. Update the drivers (you may need to search your motherboard manufacturer's website if it's an integrated sound chip). If the problem persists, either remove your soundcard altogether or turn off the built-in audio in your BIOS – if everything works after that, you know what the problem is. You might find turning the sound back on/reseating your sound card works, or the worst case scenario is you need to buy a new soundcard (and they're not too expensive).


I've installed Call of Duty and United Offensive, but I believe (this was a while ago) I might have deleted some pak files by accident. I'm not sure if this is the case, but it could be. So, this morning I installed COD again, everything went smoothly.

I then put in my UO disk to install it, and it says they need to install the patch for COD. As the patch is installing, I receive an error which reads "The File C:\Program Files\Call of Duty Game of the Year edition\Main\pak0.pk3 is not a valid previous version and could not be upgraded" So, after this I go back to COD and click on the multiplayer shortcut, hoping to get to the multiplayer menu. But when I do, up comes a Fatal Error - "configure.csv not found" after I exit out of the box.


PCG: Oh dear. What you're describing is a sequence of errors which is normally associated with cracked copies of Call of Duty. Forgive me for casting aspersions if I'm wrong, but are there any telltale signs you might have picked up a dodgy copy? Like the label is written in felt-tip pen, or Pirate Bay pops up in your browser bar when you start typing the URL for Pittman's shorthand training courses? If your installation disc is genuine, trying copying over pak0.pk3 file over from the original CD again, or doing a thorough reinstall (manually deleting all associated files and folders) and starting from fresh. (If it is a cracked copy, we now know where you live – Internet ed).

Card sharp

I was planning on upgrading my graphics card, but wasn't sure whether to get the 5830 by ATI or the GTX 460 from NVIDIA. From what i can tell they're both good cards and whilst the 5830 is in the sale cost exactly the same. Also, there seem to be a lot of different types of 460 and I'm just wondering if it makes any difference buying the more expensive ones. My price range is £150-£200 or £250 at a push.


PCG: Go for the GeForce GTX460. It came out on Monday and has surprised most reviewers (myself included) by being rather impressive. It's the first NVIDIA card I can wholeheartedly recommend for a while, and will be making its way into the PC Gamer Rig at the next opportunity. As far as which model – I'd say the cheaper 768MB version should be top of everyone's shopping list right now, as its price/performance ratio is astronomical.


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