How to Get More Video Memory From Windows XP

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A video card (display adapter) contains its own video RAM, which is physical memory. If your PC does not have a video card, video programs must share computer RAM on the PC motherboard. When any program requires more memory than is available in computer RAM, Windows XP uses a paging file to access virtual (temporary) memory on one or more hard drives. To get more video memory, you can increase the paging file size. If more virtual memory does not improve video performance sufficiently, you can add computer RAM. If additional computer RAM does not help, you can install a video card.

Things You'll Need

  • Documentation for your PC
  • RAM memory modules (optional)
  • Video card (optional)

Increase the Paging File Size

  • Click "Start," click "Run," type "sysdm.cpl" in the "Open" field and then click "OK" to display the "System Properties" window. Click on the "Advanced" tab to display its page. In the "Performance" section, click on "Settings" to display the "Performance Options" window. Click on the "Advanced" tab to display its page. In the "Virtual Memory" section, click on "Change" to display the "Virtual Memory" window.

  • Select a hard drive to contain the paging file. If your PC has more than one hard drive, select a physical drive (not a partition) other than your main drive (usually labeled "C:"). Select "Custom Size." Set "Initial Size" (MB) to approximately 1.5 times computer RAM. For example, if your PC has 1 GB main RAM, you would type "1500" in the "Initial Size" (MB) field. Set "Maximum Size" (MB) to approximately three times computer RAM. Again, if your PC has 1 GB main RAM, you would type "3000" in the "Maximum Size" (MB) field.

  • Click "Set" to store the sizes. Click "OK" to close the "Virtual Memory" window, click "OK" to close the "Performance Options" window, and then click "OK" to close the "Systems Properties" window.

  • Restart your PC and test its performance. You have finished if increasing the paging file size improved your PC's video and graphics capabilities sufficiently, without degrading its overall performance. Otherwise, repeat this procedure and make adjustments to the paging-file size values (Step 2) until your PC performs to your satisfaction. Additionally, you might need to add computer RAM or install a video card (see Section 3).

Add Computer RAM

  • Determine which type computer RAM you have in your PC, and make sure you can add RAM. For example, your PC motherboard might have only two memory slots, containing two modules: 512 MB and 256 MB for 768 MB total. You can buy either one 512 MB module to upgrade to 1 GB total, or two 1 GB modules to upgrade to 2 GB total.

  • Turn off your PC and install your new computer RAM according to its instructions.

  • Increase your paging file size (see Section 1) because you have added computer RAM.

  • Test your PC's performance. You have finished if adding computer RAM improved your PC's video and graphics capabilities sufficiently, without degrading its overall performance. Otherwise, install a video card.

Install a Video Card

  • Determine which type video card is compatible with your PC, and make sure you have an empty slot into which can install it. For example, if your PC motherboard has an empty PCIe slot, you must buy a PCIe video card.

  • Turn off your PC and install your video card according to its instructions.

  • Test your PC's performance. You have finished if installing a video card improved your PC's video and graphics capabilities sufficiently, without degrading its overall performance. Otherwise, you need either a more powerful video card or a new PC.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your PC has only one hard drive, and it does not let you increase its paging file size, you should install a second hard drive so that you can select it to contain a paging file.
  • Some older PCs provide shared video memory adjustments through their BIOS setup utilities.
  • To guard against static-electric damage, ground yourself to your PC chassis (preferably through a wrist strap) while working inside your PC.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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