Working with the DirectX Diagnostic Tool

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Whether you’re into video games or high-intensity business graphics, no one can deny the importance of DirectX. Unfortunately, in the past, it’s been relatively difficult to diagnose and repair the problem when things go wrong with DirectX. The usual repair procedure was little more than to simply reinstall DirectX and hope for the best. In Windows 2000, Microsoft has addressed this issue by providing a DirectX Diagnostic Tool. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the DirectX Diagnostic Tool and explain how to use it.

Using the Tool

You can use the Windows-based DirectX Diagnostic Tool to gather information on the DirectX drivers. Not only can you gather information, but the tool also contains built-in test functions that allow you to tell for sure whether DirectX is the problem or if your problem is being caused by some other component. To launch the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, simply enter the DXDiag command at the Run prompt.

When the diagnostic tool loads, you’ll see a summary screen that provides some basic information about your computer, along with the DirectX version it’s running. The diagnostic tool also contains several tabs. The DirectX Files, DX Media Files, and DirectX Drivers tabs contain information about the files that make up DirectX. If you’re having problems, you can search these tabs for information relating to incorrect file versions, uncertified drivers, or beta drivers. Such information often provides a valuable clue to solving DirectX problems.


Next, you’ll encounter the Display tab. This tab contains a text box displaying a summary of any potential problems that the DirectX Diagnostic Tool has found so far. The tab also contains buttons for testing Direct Draw and Direct 3D. These tests consist of rendering some standard images and animations to see whether DirectX can display them correctly. Should you have problems, the Display tab contains buttons that you can use to enable or disable hardware acceleration for Direct Draw and Direct 3D. You can also enable or disable AGP support. Finally, the Display tab lets you choose between multiple graphics cards; this option is handy for people who are using more than one monitor. The diagnostic tool even provides detailed information about each video card and the drivers that are bound to them.

Other tabs in the DirectX Diagnostic Tool allow you to test each WAV, input, and network device in your system in a similar manner to the way that you tested the display devices. These tabs provide test buttons, system summary information, and the ability to enable or disable port acceleration (sound only). As you can see, the DirectX Diagnostic Tool offers a big improvement over the process of manually tracking down display problems. //

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.

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