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Driver Compatibility


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The Windows 95 folder's VXD driver, the one that if you update the PCI to PCI driver manually you select the AGP (2.0 3.0 Support), IS the one you want for the AGP to work correctly on 98SE/ME.

The one in the 98SE folder loads the Sys driver that does not activate AGP read/write speeds on 9x.

I just installed the VXD driver. AGP read/write are still off. I'll leave it installed for now. I'll run some benchmarks later to see if there is any difference.

You don't need an older Via 4-in-1 unless you're using a really older motherboard, like KT-133 stuff.

VXD file version (4.41.0000) is the same since Hyperion v4.49. The only difference is that the CAT file is removed in later versions.

I usually don't install any VIA 4in1/Hyperion drivers. I see no improvement; neither performance or stability. I used to install VIA IDE Bus Master Miniport driver v3.20B but it didn't work with my new DVD-RW drive.

If you have more experience with these drivers then please share it!

Later edit:

I did the benckmarks. Conclusion: no difference. I'll keep the SYS driver.

Edited by Marius '95
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Ah well, it is possible that you still had the sys driver there. Once one of the drivers is installed it must be removed to properly install a different version unless a simple automatic update using the next Via Hyperion version is being done.

First you uninstall your videocard software and drivers and allow Windows on reboot to install that Standard PCI Graphics Adapter (VGA). Then, if you had used the Via Setup to initially install the AGP driver you need to run that setup again and chose to uninstall the AGP driver. If you updated to it manually you would need to use Device Manager to remove it, then also manually go into the Windows\INF folder and delete the inf file so it wouldn't just reinstall it when it detected it again. Also make sure the .sys file itself is deleated. It's possible that Windows may prevent you from doing that while the GUI is running so a trip to Command Prompt Only would be the way to go there.

Then you'd let Windows install the Standard PCI to PCI driver that it does if you don't have a specific one for it. Once that's restarted and working as if you just installed Windows, you can go ahead and update that PCI to PCI thing to the Via Windows 95 AGP driver as I talked about earlier. Then you install your videocard drivers and software.

That should give you AGP reads and writes and the max speed (4X or 8X depending on your card and motherboard). And that should help immensely in gaming in comparison to the PCI bus speeds.

Glitches can occur during these processes. A bit risky and much easier to accomplish on a fresh Windows installation, but if all goes well then that's how it's done and it can work. Of course sometimes processes like these, especially on 9x, get mucked up!

And, yes I have a lot of experience with Via boards and their drivers. Since way back in the Abit KT7A days! On 9x systems I found a great deal more bug free and zippy performance when using the Via drivers rather than trying to get along with what comes with Windows. Not that IDE driver! It would mess up even the KT7A it was designed for. To get similar results to what that drivers goals were, one just needed to apply a few simple settings in the Bios instead of using that driver that interfered with file movement (corruption, freezing) and CD/DVD drives.

On XP, for a long time it really wasn't necessary to use the Via Hyperions because Microsoft included a pretty stable version of them in Windows itself. At this point I believe that has changed as newer features and bug fixes than that old set (I think 4.34?) on XP includes are important enough so that installing the new ones is a good thing. I would avoid the current version on XP. Even Via is recommending that those only be used on Vista for now. They've had some problems with them on XP. The just previous version is the recommended one for XP, and I usually use that on 9x as well. (Unless a very old system, like that KT7A, for which the 4.38 is still the best, not the one on the site. 4.43 causes some problems on really older boards.)

I'm not a guru, but if you do have a specific question regarding the Via drivers I'll do my best to relay my experiences with them and what I've heard about them from other experienced users as well.

Edited by Eck
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  • 2 weeks later...

OK. I did as you advised. AGP reads/writes were still off.

Then I removed SmartGart (with a tool from ATI). Now I can't tell if AGP reads/writes are on or off but there is a very small performance increase. During benchmarks the system was stable.

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That's strange that read writes were still PCI only. You did go back to the Standard PCI Graphics Adapter (VGA) for the normal display adapter, and if you have it the Standard Graphics Adapter for the Secondary Display? That should have happened after you uninstalled the ATI Catalyst software and drivers from add/remove programs and restarted. Windows generally will tell you to restart again for a Systems Setting Change when it installs those basic drivers.

Usually after then installing the Via Win95 AGP vxd's and then reinstalling the ATI Catalysts, I would get full AGP read/write in the Smartgart settings.

It looks like that didn't work for you for some reason. And you're right that there's no specific listing of whether their on unless you have Smartgart, however if you go into Dxdiag you'll see that AGP Texture acceleration is activated and I think the AGP 8X is possibly listed in there as well. If not there you can check some of the tabs in the ATI tabs in the Display Properties. It wouldn't say AGP 8X if it were just using the PCI bus. Neither would you get the AGP Texture Acceleration in DxDiag.

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I did go back to "Standard..." something with "PCI"... Can't remember the name, but it was the standard driver.

AGP Texture Acceleration is "Not Available" in DirectX Diagnostics. :( That "very small performance increase" I mentioned earlier must have caused by something else.

I'm going to put back the SmartGart now...

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Yes, I guess I'd try turning on the AGP with Smartgart. I don't understand why it's not on by default if your Bios is set to AGP speed of 4 or 8. One guess at it might be that since Smartgart had originally tested when first installed that it was appropriate to disable the AGP Read/Write, it set that somewhere in the registry. Perhaps if you try again with those Via AGP drivers installed it will redetect it and decide that you're now capable.

Once you install Smartgart, go into it not through the ATI control panel but through the Run command Smartgart. It should start the Advanced mode that way. If it can't find it you may need to browse to it.

If you manage to get it open, set the settings you want (all AGP and PCI read writes all enabled) save and restart the computer. I don't think Fast Writes enabled is too good a thing. It seems to make most ATI cards unstable and doesn't really improve speed that much, but it's up to you.

It should test your settings and then, hopefully, apply them permanently in the registry.

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Ati Driver is little bit sensible.

if the CPU-AGP driver is missing, of if bios is not correctly set you may get error in DXdiag "AGP texture acceleration not supported"

This issue may cause that game shall not run


Bios settings - set AGP aperture size at size of your video ram. not less, not more. Enable all AGP functions, including fast writes.

Driver - as long i know Omega drivers are not so good in Windows 9x as they are at win2k or in higher systems. I have heard about issues with fast writes. Some friend of mine adviced to disable them in bios and get best AGP speed.

I have motherboard based on Via Apollo Pro chipset (AGP 4x). I installed manually from TEMP directory VIA AGP port driver version 2.0/3.0 - both 9x version and 2k version were working without any measurable differences or issues.

(default driver was giving less performance, especially if working with video renderers.)

Driver is from ATI - not the latest one - i use version wme-7-99-98-1-040712a-016504e (year 2004) with ATI Radeon 9800 pro. Fast writes enabled, AGP 4x.

If the issue with AGP texture acceleration in DXdiag try to set SmartGart to pci speed (1x), restart system. Then set it on 2X and restart again, and do this all time until you reach the maximum speed. Check AGP texture acceleration at each reboot in DX diag. it should work at 2x and higher. If not try to diagnose an issue in system BIOS or try different driver.

to Benoit-Ren:

my source for this is Wikipedia... As long i know there was interest to create one driver standard usable for Server and for Client computer systems with MS OS (NT and w95 drivers were not compatible as i know). Windows 98 and 2000 are able to use same drivers based on WDM standards (i have tested it with various drivers developed directly for windows 2000), but windows 98 keeps its reverse compatibility with VXD.

Edited by Offler
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Yes, the WDM spec originally was intended by Microsoft to consolidate the driver development under one model. However, WDM developed in ways that in most modern drivers are not compatible enough in Window 9x systems to be usable.

If Microsoft had been interested in maintaining 9x compatibility in WDM development they wouldn't have allowed the incompatible portions. However, that would have stilted the development of technology. The WDM drivers that are not 9x compatible have advanced features. Some of the features are probably possible to implement in the older VXD ways but, heh, no ones gonna make money doing that, eh?

So some WDM drivers will work and others won't due to the development of the WDM spec beyond what 9x is capable of working with. Not the original intent, but that's what was allowed to happen.

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But Offler is still talking as if Windows 95 never supported WDM. It does, with the new kernel installed by the USB updates!

So there's WDM v1 (Win95, early Win98), WDM v2 (Win98 SE, Win2K), and WDM v3 (Win2K, WinXP), essentially?

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Yes, that's it. So if we know when a WDM driver was released we have a better chance of figuring out if it will work on 9x. We don't really know until we try it I guess, but the dates would at least give us a clue.

And yes, it was REALLY experimental in 95 but was fully integrated into 98 First Edition then improved upon in Second Edition. That's why with a WDM Audio update and a USB patch the Creative WDM audio drivers actually work better than the VXD version in 98SE. More features too.

I think Window Me improved things by providing more direct hardware interaction but recently MDGx added a bunch of WDM and USB fixes into 98SE2ME that likely takes care of that for 98SE as well.

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to Benoit-ren:

as long i know WDM was not supported officialy by windows 95, althought the w9x systems are quite similar in way how they handle hardware, so i think it is quite possible.

to Eck:

WDM was intended as standard for all microsoft OSes. One driver for each microsoft system without any limitations. As long i know it is not like that...

If we say "WDM Standard" it means that systems from w9x to wXP have to be able to use same driver without limits, but reality is really different. Drivers which really meet this are mostly developed for windows ME and 2k.

1. Generation

as you say... windows 95 is able to use them. But i have never seen a WDM driver developed directly for w95

If some web page is offering drivers for windows 9x they are mosstly VXD based. Developers had not enough information about WDM standards when Windows 98 was mainstream system.

since w95 there were VXD drivers. i was not examining which drivers were used in earlier windowses, but VXD became known as driver for w95. Then Windows 98 came introducing new WDM standard.

2. Generation

This was introduced with w98. Few WDM drivers have been developed in that time if any was ever released.

At this point the developers had choice which standard they shall follow, most of them were still developing VXD drivers even when it was waste of hardware effectivity.

3. Generation

Then when windows 2000 was introduced. It has no support for older VXD standard so developers had to move on WDM. In the same time Millenium Edition was introduced and skilled users were hoping that it is different from w98 mostly in range of functionality - in fact these systems are running on same base, with same possibilities if we are talking about drivers...

Drivers developed for windows 2000 are most compatible if they are served as *.inf. Only few drivers from this generation are screwed up. You can use them freely in windows 9x without any major limitation, and also windows XP can use them.

But there is first stage of incompatibility - mostly visible at graphic drivers. ATI and Nvidia bounded installers with DLLs which are included only in windows 2000 and higher. VXD left for windows 9x, WDM was only for 2k and higher.

4. Generation

Then when XP came, 2k returned to server rooms (althought it is quite good client computer OS) and developers felt that XP is something different (it is. so much hw comsuption...) at this point they started to develop drivers for windows Xp. since system is 2k based they are fully compatible with windows 2000.

With Vista range of compatibility is broken again and here is begining new type of driver standard at all...

The truth is that WDM drivers have great advantages over VXD, but if we are talking about WDM for windows 98/ME/2k and about WDM for 2k/XP there are no major differences in functionality and performance. Difference is only in construction of installer, and in the way of implementation in system.

WDMs from third generation are able to run on all systems, WDMs from fourth miss compatibility with 9x - system paths in infs are not defined, or installer or driver is bounded with 2k dll.

(i have tested it with various pci cards - sound card, tv tuner, lan card... Developers usually offer VXD driver for w9x and WDM for 2k and higher. in some cases is worth to try install 2k driver on older system to test compatibilty. I had no trouble to use WDM drivers in windows 98se at all pci cards i have here, and then use same drivers in WXP.

their functionality or performance or even buggy behaviour didnt changed, and even w9x driver for ATI Radeon was giving comparable performance as newer XP driver - no big differences in performance)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have an ENX-26 card installed in my system and I can't seem to get the drivers to install, There are only drivers for Windows XP.

Is there Any Way I can get them to install.

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take a look here:


and then look at the top of this topic. try to identify your hardware so much as possible. there is chance that there are drivers available for same card but the name of the product is different - most important are marks at the chip on your card.

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