How to get the right Catalyst AGP graphics card drivers for an AMD setup

Recently my sister sent me her semi-broken computer, an older Shuttle called the SN45G which is built around a small form factor MSI mother board with PCI slots and an AGP slot for “advanced graphics”. It turns out the issue that made her think it was broken was the graphics card, it had overheated and died when too much dust got in and stopped the onboard fan. The original graphics card was a Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB version.

With this in mind I set to work cleaning out the computer and trying to find a good replacement AGP graphics card. My goal was to get the computer running again so I could take off here important files and photos. Most PC’s have onboard graphics, a VGA port that’s attached right to the motherboard with basic graphics capability, but this small form factor setup did not.

I searched online and found a bunch of older cards used on Ebay but wasn’t excited to play $50 for a seven year old piece of hardware. Instead, I opted for a newer AGP card that I found at Fry’s Electronics (a computer software/hardware store out here in California). I found a Radeon HD 4650 600M DDR2 by XFX with a Gig of onboard RAM for just $90 and I bought it brand new with software included. Everything seemed fine until I tried to install the graphics card and my machine kept on crashing and showing a blue screen shown below (page_fault-In-Nonpaged_area). I diagnosed the problem and found it had to do with RAM, so I took out each piece of my onboard Kingston DDR memory to see if one of those had gone bad during the card install. No such luck…

It turns out newer graphics cards are all built around the PCI Express format and in some cases remodeled to fit an AGP interface to work with older machines. The software and drivers that came with this XFX card were no good and they ultimately advised me to try using the AGP Hotfix which is a bit of drivers designed to help older machines interface with the newer cards.

It took me several hours but the people at XFX were very helpful and the drivers helped. Ultimately there were some other problems that popped up and I was advised to return the card to Fry’s, which I did. Instead, I searched Craigslist and found an old used Radeon 9800 Pro, just like the one that my sister was using originally. I installed this older card and everything worked perfect. Of course, this older card is a real AGP card and doesn’t need the AGP Hotfix.