The A-Z of DirectX

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Are your gaming graphics and sound suffering from frequent hiccups? Then breathe a sigh of relief – we're here to talk you through common DirectX problems


DirectX is a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that are built into Windows. These APIs provide a platform that software developers can program to, which enables their software to communicate with a range of hardware. The most common applications that utilise DirectX are 3D games.


DirectX was first introduced in the mid-nineties and the initial releases weren't without their problems. Things have improved considerably over the years, but problems do still occur. The vast majority of these are related to uncertified graphics and soundcard drivers, and updating these is always a good first step. Joysticks, mice and keyboards can also be controlled by DirectX, so if you’re experiencing problems with these, an update to the latest version is always worth trying.

How can I tell what version of DirectX I have installed?

Press Start/Run, type dxdiag and press OK. The DirectX diagnostic tool will launch and on the System tab you will see the version of DirectX installed. If the diagnostic tool cannot be found then you’re using version 5 or earlier. You should download the latest version for your OS from www.microsoft.com/windows/directx/downloads.

Can I uninstall DirectX? I’ve heard that this is difficult to do.

Although it’s similar in appearance to previous versions, gone are the tabs for Static VxDs, Environment and International, and in come BOOT.INI and Services. Both of these new features can help diagnose any niggles you may be having with starting your PC and will enable you to isolate any processes that may be interfering with your system.

I’ve just bought a game that requires me to install DirectX 8, but when I try I get an ‘unsupported processor’ error message.

This can happen if you are using a system with a Cyrix 686 processor that doesn’t support the CPUID command, and there’s no solution for this. You either need to stick with games that require earlier versions of DirectX, or upgrade your processor.

I’ve installed version 8 of DirectX, but now all my games are reporting slower frame rates.

There were significant graphics enhancements in the version 8 release, specifically with regards to hardware T&L (texture and lighting). However, to see the benefits from this you need to have updated your graphics card driver to a version that supports DirectX 8. Visit the graphics card manufacturer’s Web site to obtain the latest version. Once this is done, you’ll see significant speed and performance benefits if your graphics card supports T&L. If it doesn’t, having the right driver will at least ensure that you don’t experience worsened performance.

When launching games I get an error message saying that there is a problem getting extra display info at Step 3 for Direct Draw.

The only solution is to update your graphics card driver to a DirectX certified driver.

I get a set-up error message when I try to install DirectX.

There is an article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base that describes all the different set-up error codes that occur when installing DirectX. Visit http://support.microsoft.com and click the Search our Technical Database link. In the search options box, check the radio button next to Article ID and use 177430 as the search term.

I installed Norton Utilities and ran the WinDoctor fixing any errors. Now some of my games won’t play.

There was a known problem with Norton Utilities 2000 and DirectX 7. Download and reinstall the latest version of DirectX and then set Win Doctor to ignore any DirectX-related errors. The most common one to watch out for is a Registry key error: CLSID\{92187326-72B4-11d0-A1AC-0000F8026977}\InprocHandler32.

I upgraded to DirectX 8.2 and now when I play games online some of the other players cannot see me in the game.

This is caused by some players running version 8.1 and others 8.2. The easiest way to resolve the problem is for you to download DirectX 9, which doesn’t suffer in this way.

When I start a game I receive the message that ddraw.dll has failed to start. I have checked my installation of DirectX and I have a certified graphics card driver.

If after checking your graphics card and DirectX you still experience this problem, check the settings for your monitor. Right-click the background of your desktop and select Properties, then click the Settings tab and select Advanced. Pick the Monitor tab and make sure that you have the correct monitor installed. If you need to change it click the Properties button, then the Driver tab and select Update driver.

When trying to install a game, which involves installing a later version of DirectX, I experience an ‘invalid page fault in kernel32’ error while Direct Draw is being installed.

The way to resolve this is to uninstall any traces of the game and start again, having done the following first. Set your graphics card to use a standard VGA driver, then right-click your desktop and select Properties. Click the Settings tab and select Advanced, then select the Adapter tab and pick Change. Click Next and choose to display a list of all the drivers in a specific location. Click Next again and then Show all Devices. In the Manufacturer’s box choose Standard Display types and in the models box choose Standard Display Adapter (VGA). Apply the changes and reboot.

Now insert your game CD-ROM while holding down [Shift] to stop the Autoplay from running. Search the disk for a file called DXSetup.exe, double-click this file to install DirectX and then reboot your PC again. Now repeat the initial process to change your graphics card driver back to its correct setting. Once again reboot and then install the game.

DirectX diagnostics

Check the health of your DirectX installation and solve any problems

1. Press Start/Run and type dxdiag to launch the DirectX Diagnostic tool. The System tab will provide you with basic information about your system and the version of DirectX installed.


2. Click each tab in turn, performing any tests and checking closely in the notes column for any reported issues. The most common problems are related to unsupported driver issues and can be resolved by downloading appropriate drivers for your hardware.


3. If you’re still experiencing problems, click the More Help tab and run the DirectX Troubleshooter. This will take you through a step-by-step wizard for solving common problems.




Driver updates

For a smoother ride, make sure that you’re using DirectX certified drivers


Ninety per cent of DirectX problems are caused by either having incorrect drivers for your sound and graphics cards, or driver conflicts. Your first step should be to run the DirectX Diagnostic tool to identify where the problems lie. Next, visit the Web site of your hardware manufacturer and look for drivers for your card.

However, it isn’t always a case of just downloading the latest driver, as is the usual advice. Many manufacturers release advanced drivers or beta releases of drivers that can provide a performance boost, but these don’t always have full DirectX support guaranteed and can be the cause of your problems. Some will list the level of DirectX support included with a driver and you should look for the most recent driver that is described as DirectX certified. After downloading and installing this driver, run the Diagnostic tool again to see if the problems have been resolved. The Registry Editor enables you to look in keys, values or data, but with TCD you can also search just a section of the Registry, use wildcards and replace as well as find.



When you want to edit several keys, you can pick them from the search results by ticking the checkboxes and then change them all at once.


Instead of using the menu commands, you can just right-click a key to add it to the drop-down list of bookmarks.
This material is the copyright material of or licensed to Future Publishing Limited, a Future Network plc group company, UK 2004. All rights reserved.
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Artikel-id: 835819 – senaste granskning 8 juli 2008 – revision: 1

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