Video cards by AMD ATI and NVIDIA utilize an instruction set known as "pixel shading" to bring realistic special effects to video games and rendered videos. Each video card model series features a specific pixel shader, or shader model; shader models with a higher numerical value have increased efficiency when performing graphical-related tasks, while also providing superior special effects. To find out the pixel shader on your video card, get to know the exact model of your video card.
Press "Windows-R" to open the Run command box. Type "dxdiag" (without quotes), and then press "Enter." Click "No" when prompted to open the DirectX Diagnostic Tool.
Click the "Tab" labeled display, and then check next to "Name" under the Device section to find out your video card model. To close the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, click "Exit."
Check your video card model on the list below to find its shader model:
AMD ATI Radeon 8000/9000-9250 Series - Shader Model 1.4 Radeon 9500-9800/X300-X600 Series - Shader Model 2.0 Radeon X700/X800 Series - Shader Model 2.0b Radeon X1000 Series - Shader Model 3.0 Radeon X2000 Series - Shader Model 4.0 Radeon HD 3000/4000 Series - Shader Model 4.1 Radeon HD 5000/6000/7000/8000/Rx 200 Series - Shader Model 5.0
NVIDIA GeForce 3 Series - Shader Model 1.0/1.1 GeForce 4 Ti/4200 Go Series - Shader Model 1.3 GeForce FX Series - Shader Model 2.0a GeForce 6/7 Series - Shader Model 3.0 GeForce 8/9/100/240-295/320-340 Series - Shader Model 4.0 GeForce 210-220/310-315/405 Series - Shader Model 4.1 GeForce 420-480/500/600/700/900 Series - Shader Model 5.0
TechPowerUp GPU-Z (see Resources), a free application, automatically detects and displays the shader model on your video card. Download, install and then open TechPowerUp GPU-Z. Check next to “DirectX Support” under the Graphics Card tab; the shader model on your video card should be listed alongside the DirectX version.
Installing the latest device drivers for your video card has no effect on its shader model. If your video card does not have the required shader model to run a certain application, you must install a new video card that has the correct shader model.