GeForce 6200 in my Vista Sp1 Media Center

One of the very best things about Vista is Media Center.

You never really hear people talk about Media Center when they talk about Vista but Media Center is one app that I can easily put hand on heart and say that, for me, in Vista it’s 100% better than it was in XP. It runs my TV and it does it really well.

It records the TV I ask it to and it does it around 99% of the time I’d say whereas with XP (on the same machine I hasten to add) it was about 65% of the time. It was always coming up with excuses about why it’d failed to record some series or other.

So, I thought I’d give my Media Center a bit of a treat and get it a new graphics card. It’d been running with an FX 5200 with (IIRC) 128MB or RAM in it and I’d like to give it a stunning card but;

  1. They’re noisy. This box is under my TV.
  2. They’re expensive.

So I bought another cheap card – a 6200 seeing that nVidia actually mention the 6 series on their website whereas they long since stopped mentioning the 5 series which made it tricky to find a driver beyond the in-the-Vista-box driver.

I slotted this into the Shuttle PC that’s my Media Center. 3 minute job to switch the card. Then a 3+ hour job to try and figure out why installing the NVidia drivers for the card left Vista saying;

“I can’t use this card, error code 43. It fails on start-up”

whereas if I leave the standard in-the-box Microsoft driver for the 6200 it works but the “performance rating” comes out really badly and that driver seemed to have a date of 2006 stamped on it.

Checking out the nVidia drivers forum revealed that I should have done some looking before buying the 6200. There are lots and lots of entries on there about problems and, actually, there are entries all over there about problems with lots of drivers 😦

Specifically, some folks are saying that none of the latest batch of drivers are any good and that you should revert to “old” drivers to get decent performance and stability. Unfortunately, the nVidia archive of Vista drivers doesn’t go back to those “old” versions that people are referring to.

The upside of this is that the new card seems to “work ok” with the in-the-box-Vista-driver and I can watch TV and it does seem to actually perform better on the menus and such-like so it’s an improvement but I’d like to find an nVidia driver that works with the card so it’ll be a trial-and-error job as I go back through all their recent releases trying to find one that works.

The downside is I wonder if my Shuttle is now getting too hot – the fan seems to be whirring up more than it was previously so maybe this whole “new card thing” was a bad idea πŸ™‚