NVIDIA Installation Advice

I’m running a 3 GHz Pentium D, 2GB RAM, 320Gb HD, Intel 846GM videoOS 11.2x64 & KDE.

My system is an older one, and I really want to install something better than the built in video on my machine. The Nvidia GeForce 7900GT, or something similar. Haven’t made a final decision on the model yet, though. I’m mainly looking for a card that can perform well in a game like NEXUIZ or similar, but I’m not normally a heavy gamer.

My machine has a PCIx16 slot open & I’m wondering about any bios settings I might need to change to turn off the built in Intel video. I’ll also need to know how to do the change over to the new card in SuSe, which I assume can be done from the command line. I only have one machine, so I want to make sure the installation goes right. :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance.

As for any BIOS settings? Possibly. You would have to check.
I use nvidia 8500GT and have installed recently on a 9800GT
Both work flawlessly. Though these were all in place. But my guess is, just plug it in, boot up and it will work. If you add the nvidia repo before hand, if it will not boot to the UI desktop, reboot to level 3 and run Yast - Software management from there. Do you know how to do that?

I have an older NVidia GE6150 that’s built into my motherboard and it works famously. I’ve seen a lot of complaints here about ATI, whereas most of the issues with NVidia over the years have been resolved. So, to start with, I’d personally recommend getting the NVidia upgrade, as you propose.


There’s a One-Click link on that page that is, in my opinion, the best way to do it. Whenever there’s a kernel update, your driver should automatically be updated. The only problem is, One-Click doesn’t work in a text terminal, and you’re going to wind up a terminal prompt as soon as you change the card.

As for the actual procedure to be followed … hmm. (Anyone else have suggestions? Feel free to pipe in.) Here’s how I’d do it.

  1. Open Yast -> Software Management. Delete whatever video drivers you currently have (they’ll keep running until you log out, so you shouldn’t lose your GUI just yet).

  2. Now go to Yast -> Software Repositories. Make sure you have the appropriate NVidia repository for your version of OpenSuse. See Additional package repositories - openSUSE

  3. Now reboot and go into your BIOS. Look for “built-in peripherals” or something like that. Disable the onboard video.

  4. Power down. Install the new card. Boot. You will almost certainly wind up in a terminal.

  5. Log in as root, then enter “yast.” You’ll get the text-mode version, which (this is one of SuSE’s finest features!) is laid out the same as the pretty GUI version. Look for the appropriate driver(s) for your card and install them (the link above has some tips on which to choose).

  6. Exit yast, then enter “sax2 -r” at the prompt. It should give you at least a working video config. Don’t worry if it’s ugly, or if the fonts or too small, or anything like that. Just get it running.

  7. Reboot. You should be able to get into the desktop now. Open a terminal/console and enter, “su” to become root, then enter “nvidia-settings.” (There may be a link to run this from the K Menu, but this is easier; the link may not run it as root, so none of your settings will be changed.)

  8. When the Nvidia Settings program opens, you can fiddle and diddle to your heart’s content, setting the desired resolution, screen depth, etc., etc. Be sure to save your changes, then reboot one more time.

That should do it (unless I’ve left something out!). Of course, you could always take the more drastic approach: disable the on-board video, insert the new card, then simply reinstall OpenSUSE. But the above should work.

EDIT: One invaluable PS: it’s possible that you’ll initially get a desktop that’s so small, some of the dialog boxes will actually run off screen so that you can’t reach the buttons! Hold down the ALT key and the left mouse button to drag the windows around so that you can get at everything. (Had to learn that one that hard way years ago, back in my Mandrake 7.0 days!).

My understanding is a PCI-16 is just a type of PCI-3 ??

I typed a bit of a dissertation on purchasing a graphic card for an older PC here: openSUSE Forums - View Single Post - Looking for compatible video card - 11.2 While most of that was aimed at considerations comparing an AGP to the old PCI bus, in truth, if you wish to play High Definition Videos, going with a PCI-e card that has good vdpau support is probably a good idea.

Stepping down off of that podium for a minute (before my wife clocks me over the head with a frying pan for pontificating too much), take a look at this table: Nvidia PureVideo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

… I confess the GeForce G210 (for example) that has VP4 support that provides MPEG1, MPEG2, H.264, VC-1 and also has MPEG-4 would tempt me, but then one would need to research that a bit more before any purchase.

With myself being a big multimedia fan, as a result my playing with home videos from my AVCHD Video camera also means my being able to play the AVCHD videos from my camera is important. However my video camera’s 1920x1080 @ 25MB/sec bit rate is challenging even for a dual core PC, and hence to easily play such videos on a Dual Core (or slower) PC requires the video decoding is offloaded from CPU to the graphic card GPU. That can be done for a small number of codecs. Fortunately the codecs from video cameras, in the most part, are those supported for offloading to the GPU.

The notible exception to this was MPEG4, and its neat to note the latest nVidia GPU’s support the offloading of the MPEG4 decoding from the CPU to the GPU using VDPAU. Only a small number of apps can currently do this (ffmpeg and Mplayer) but the list is anticipated to expand sometime in the future to include VLC, Xine … etc …

Hence if I were shopping for a card for an old PC that fortunately had a PCI-e bus, I would look at a couple of cards in our local PC shop:

Typo. That should read PCI-e.

Thanks for all the replies! :slight_smile: I thought it best to ask some questions before I got the wrong card and all that. I’m glad I asked!

I realize I forgot to add what type of PCI I’ve got: it’s PCI Express 16 according to the manufacturer. I’m thinking thats probably not the same thing as PCI Express 2.0, which I’ve seen mentioned on some sites, but I might be wrong.

Also, anyone have any issues with a lack of power to run the card? I’m hoping to get a good balance between performance & not frying my power supply. The card is going to run 1 1280x1024 lcd monitor (until I get a new one) for the moment.

Its good to check.

I purchased a nVidia GeForce 8400GS PCI (not PCI-e) card and I tried it in a couple of PCs. The first PC I tried it in was a 9 year old 32-bit AMD Athlon-1100 w/1GB (on an MSI KT3 Ultra motherboard). The power supply, if I recall correctly, was rated at about 350 watts. But I had all sorts of graphic artifacts with the card, and eventually I chalked it down to this old power supply not putting out enough power to drive the card.

I then put the card in a 5 year old 32-bit AMD Athlon-2800 w/2GB (Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboard). The card worked very well here, even though the power supply in this newer PC was rated a bit less (possibly around 325 watts). But I was advised when I purchased this PC that the power supply was of a higher quality, and I could expect more life out of it.

I am running the MSI G210 in my 11.2 box and I am very pleased with the card – it is very in expensive, and passively cooled (no additional fan in my PC case). I am not a gamer, so I have not looked into 3D performance, but the hardware video acceleration works quite well.


Thank you for the reply.

I’ve discovered that my PC came from the factory with a 250 watt power supply - which won’t be enough for the newer cards. Several in my price range are recommending 350-400 watt psu’s.

Another item on the list: Anyone know the difference between listings for “PCI Express 16” & “PCI Express 2.0 16” I’ve seen listing for both and really need to know if these are the same thing or not. Nothing worse than having an order arrive and find out something won’t fit.