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The other day I was encountering a peculiar problem during my Windows 7 install on a brand new Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB. I got the error “CD/DVD Drivers Missing” and it prompted me for a disk before I could even select the drive to install to. Google didn’t help much as the only answers were people posting “reburn the cd”, while I was installing from USB.

The solution is of course quite simple:  Pull the USB stick when you see that message, then put it back in. Hit OK or whatever and that will dump you back to the main Win7 Install screen, now it will work fine. This is because the USB drivers reinitialize on some motherboards after the setup boots up and you have to re-plug devices to get them to redetect at that point.

Hope this  helps someone.


Recommended cards for hardware-enabled playback


This post is split into two parts, the first part is for those looking to see if their Graphics Card supports hardware-decoding of video (H.264/AVC and VC-1), whereas the second part is for those looking to buy a new graphics card that supports hardware-decoding.

The term DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) is often used and refers to hardware-enabled playback under Windows. Many of the graphics cards presented here also supports hardware acceleration on other platforms, but those will not be taken into consideration by me for the time beeing.

Part 1: List of graphics chipsets that support Hardware-decoding (DXVA) of H.264/AVC and VC-1

Wikipedia lists most compatible cards that decode video on the GPU, each manufaturer has their own solution.

  • ATi cards have a feature called Unified Video Decoder (UVD), if you have an ATi card you should click this link to check if your card is compatible. The latest version of UVD is verion 3.0 and includes support for DivX and Xvid via MPEG-4 Part 2 decoding and Blu-ray 3D via MVC.
  • Nvidia cards have a feature called PureVideo, which is currently in the 4th generation. This link lists compatible cards. PureVideo does not support DivX and Xvid hardware-decoding at the moment.
  • Intel also support HW-decodeing on their graphics chipsets, but there are no official lists. I’ve instead listed the cards I know to be compatible here:
    • Intel G45
    • Intel GMA500
    • Intel GMA600
    • Intel GMA X4500 (Not fully)
    • Intel GMA X4500HD
    • Intel GMA 4500MHD
    • Intel HD Graphics (GMA HD) (Included on Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors)
    • Intel HD Graphics 2000
    • Intel HD Graphics 3000

Part 2: Recommendations for graphics cards that support Hardware-decoding (DXVA) of H.264/AVC and VC-1

For the Home Theater PC

If you are still at a planning stage for your HTPC, I recommend getting this book. I wish I had this book when I started out as it would have saved me a lot of time. Of course, if you are not interested in setting up windows media center, this book should be more suited for. I will use for most of my HTPC recommendations, check out their page and forum!

Fan VS. Fanless

While noise can be an annoyance, removing all cooling components can become quite hazardous. Most graphics cards are equipped with low quality stock fans that makes quite the impact on overall noise levels. These can easily be swapped with better coolers from Zalman or Arctic Cooling. I used the Zalman VF1000 on my Ati 4850 with good results. If you are considering a fanless card, make sure it keeps a stable temperature and that the case fans helps cooling it.

List of recommended cards

Fanless and gaming: Powercolor ATi Radeon HD5750

Fanless and little to no gaming:

Fanless and low profile cabinet: Asus ATi Radeon HD5450 Silent

With good fan for gaming: Sapphire ATi Radeon HD5770 Vapor-X

If you thought the sequel to StarCraft is exciting you might be surprised that the sequel to WarCraft can still be played on a modern operating system.

One of the problems though is that mulitplayer over local network requires IPX, a network technology that has been removed from Windows since Vista. But fear not. If you get IPXWrapper from here (alternative mirror) and drop the files in the WarCraft II program folder.

From the Read Me:

IPXwrapper is a winsock wrapper which transparently tunnels IPX packets over IPusing UDP port 54792. To use it, simply copy ipxwrapper.dll, wsock32.dll andmswsock.dll to the directory containing your legacy program.

When this step is complete you can launch WarCraft II and create a LAN game using IPX, as you normally would on a system with the IPX protocol installed. Remember to check that the firewall doesn’t block anything.

IPXWrapper also works for other games that require IPX, including C&C: Red Alert 2, Army Men RTS, Lords of Magic SE, Dark Reign, Diablo I (see detailed Diablo setup here) (List updated based on comments, thanks for any input!).

For an active WarCraft II community, take a look at War2Combat.