Ever been in that situation where you just spent countless hours (legally) downloading a game or shelled out a day’s work worth of greens for a game, only to find out your computer can’t handle it? If you are economical like me, you probably have one of those low-end computers that you can find in stores for no more than five hundred dollars. (We do what we can to save money.) Unfortunately, most of these low-end computers do not come equipped with a decent graphics card. So what does this mean for us cheapskates? It means bad news for gaming. Most PC games nowadays require a dedicated graphics card (i.e. not integrated); otherwise the game will look like garbage or simply not run at all. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. Let me introduce an awe-inducing software known as 3D-Analyzer.
^ Image credit.
What is 3D-Analyzer?
The following is a description of 3D Analyzer, as per the developer:
The 3D Analyzer Tool was created and refined to overcome limitations posed by modern 3D Games and other Applications on several current mainstream 3D Cards. With the help of 3DA you can change different graphic options under DirectX 8 and OpenGL. 3DA changes different CAP-bits for example, if a game requires HW T&L 3DA emulates these bits and the games runs on graphic boards which don’t have HW T&L capabilities. 3DA doesn’t emulate any features in software(except cube mapping, which is done with a simple 2D texture), like Pixel or Vertex Shader. 3DA is also a very nice tool for benchmarking. It generates detailed log files (CSV) with FPS and other parameters.
In simple terms, 3D-Analyzer is a tool that can emulate certain graphics options that would typically require a dedicated graphics card; graphics that many integrated chips and older graphics cards are not capable of. So, for example, if you have an outdated graphics card, or an integrated one, it might not support some graphics options such as Pixel Shader 2.0, or hardware TnL (not to worry, you don’t need to know what these mean). Certain 3D games require these, and are not playable without them (like when you have audio but all you see is a blank screen). 3D-Analyzer can help bypass these restrictions and enable you to play that game you’ve always wanted to play.
What You Should Know
- 3D-Analyzer is no longer under development. It was last updated in 2002, so you might say it is outdated. If, say, your game requires Pixel Shader 3.0, you are out of luck because 3D-Analyzer cannot get that for you. However, don’t let this deter you because there are still many decent games out there that one can use to play; just don’t plan on playing the latest and the greatest ones.
- Not all games will work with 3D-Analyzer. Only those with an .EXE game launcher will work (ex: Steam games will not work). Later on in this article I will provide you with a tip to figure out what games are compatible.
- There is only so much that 3D-Analyzer can do. So if your computer has a 10 year old processor and 256 MB of RAM, don’t get your hopes up. 3D-Analyzer will not boost your CPU performance nor magically give you more RAM.
- Some people have said 3D-Analyzer uses CPU power to do the emulation, so not even a graphics card is needed (did they get their computer from a flea market?). As for the credibility of this statement, your guess is as good as mine.
- 3D-Analyzer does not in any way alter your hardware or game permanently. It should not cause any damage to your computer or data. However, use 3D-Analyzer at your own risk. Me, Ashraf, dotTech, and anyone else are not responsible for any gain or loss incurred by use of 3D-Analyzer.
- Please take note some people claim 3D-Analyzer is malware. I have been using 3D-Analyzer for a while and have had no malware-related problems with it, which is why I am posting about it here. However, please don’t use 3D-Analyzer if you are not comfortable with what I just said. By proceeding to download 3D-Analyzer you recognize and accept any aforementioned risk. Me, Ashraf, dotTech, and anyone else are not responsible for any gain or loss incurred by use of 3D-Analyzer. For your reference, here and here are VirusTotal scans of 3D-Analyzer; here and here is what SiteAdvisor thinks.
Each unique game requires different settings in 3D-Analyzer. For the purposes of this tutorial I will be using Far Cry, a video game debuted in 2004. To give you a reference point to compare 3D-Analyzer’s handywork, this is what Far Cry looks like on my Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics card before I run 3D-Analyzer:
- Download and unzip 3D-Analyzer. (Download link is provided at the end of this article.)
- Once unziped, run 3danalyzer-v236.exe. This will extract 3D-Analyzer’s program files to a folder; unless you specifically change it, the folder will be the same where 3danalyzer-v236.exe is located.
- Fire up 3DAnalyze.exe. Note that the program window cannot be resized. You should see something like this:
- Hit the “Select” button. Locate and open your game’s EXE game launcher. For me, the EXE file is FarCry located in FarCry’s installation folder:
If you don’t know which EXE file to choose, you can always right click on your game shortcut (the one that you click on to launch the game, typically found on your desktop) and click on Properties; then, under the shortcut tab, look in Target for your game launcher:
- Check-off the appropriate settings in 3D-Analyzer. As already mentioned, each game will have slightly different settings. Far Cry works best in the following settings:
- One important feature to note is the “VendorID” and “DeviceID” section:
This tricks your game into thinking you are using a different graphics card. 3D-Analyzer provides a list from which you can pick VendorIDs and DeviceIDs from:
As you can see, you can choose between an NVIDIA or ATi graphics card. Take note setting the IDs to “0″ makes 3D-Analyzer default to your real graphics card/integrated chip.
- Once you are done, unless you plan on never playing the same game again, should hit the “Save batch file!” button and save the settings; so instead of doing the above all over again the next time you play, just launch the batch file and it will automatically configure the settings for you.
- Hit the “Run” button and voila! Get gaming!
This is what Far Cry looks for me after running 3D-Analyzer:
Ain’t she a beauty!
Which games work? And what about the settings for each game?
Every PC game works differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all setting that will work for all games (although most games will work with the settings I used for FryCry in the above tutorial). You can always experiment with the settings, but a simple Google search will suffice. Many bloggers talk about it, and you will see many posts on what setting each game requires. Youtube is also another great source for visual aid. However, be warned. There are many dark corners on the Internet related to gaming. Venture into the wrong one and you may find yourself with malware issues on your hands. Be careful where you click and be careful what you download. Protection is worthless if you download without thinking. Me, Ashraf, and dotTech are not responsible for the content on other websites.
Conclusion and Download Links
3D-Analyzer is a great tool for those of us who do not own a great graphics card. Sure it doesn’t work with the latest hardcore games – and it will not give you the performance of an actual dedicated graphics card – but hey, anything is better than nothing (or a black screen). There are many great games out there, dating back four or five years, that you can easily acquire (note: acquire legally, like purchasing off eBay or going to your local game store) and use with 3D-Analyzer. This may make me sound cliche, but 3D-Analyzer is a savior for us cheapskate gamers. Too bad it is no longer updated, because I feel there is great potential in this program. In any case, if you are interested you can grab 3D-Analyzer from the following links:
Version reviewed: 2.36b
Note: 3D-Analyzer is no longer in development
Download size: under 1 MB
Supported OS: Windows 95 and up (works on both 32/64 bit systems)
Note: 3D-Analyzer does not in any way alter your hardware or game permanently. It should not cause any damage to your computer or data. However, use 3D-Analyzer at your own risk. Me, Ashraf, dotTech, and anyone else are not responsible for any gain or loss incurred by use of 3D-Analyzer.
Note: Some people claim 3D-Analyzer is malware. I have been using 3D-Analyzer for a while and have had no malware-related problems with it, which is why I am posting about it here. However, please don’t use 3D-Analyzer if you are not comfortable with what I just said. By proceeding to download 3D-Analyzer you recognize and accept any aforementioned risk. Me, Ashraf, dotTech, and anyone else are not responsible for any gain or loss incurred by use of 3D-Analyzer. For your reference, here and here are VirusTotal scans of 3D-Analyzer; here and here is what SiteAdvisor thinks.