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Generally speaking, for all intents and purposes, on Linux, 24bpp color depth IS what you want (Win 32bpp = Lin 24bpp) -- that's "true color", > 16.7 million colors. Changing your X configuration to 32bpp will not gain you anything, if it even works without error. Plus, if it DID work, it would likely make these games run even more slowly than they do now.
More likely to address the slow-games issue will be something particular to your graphics hardware and/or driver being used.
If you could give us some more details about what OS you're running, what video hardware, & CPU you have, which driver you're using, and what games you're referring to, then someone might be able to provide some better detail about what steps you should take to try to improve performance.
Hmm.. Unfortunately, much of what I see around the internet after doing a few searches, is that your problem is a common one with that video device.
I don't have a solution to offer at this time, but don't give up yet -- hopefully someone else will stop in here with some ideas you might try. Meanwhile, check out nvidia's "nvnews" Linux forum and see if there's any info there about this.
Actually, you really want to see the output of 'glxinfo | grep -i render'. You need to check the OpenGL renderer string as well as the direct rendering status since it is quite possible to have direct rendering with the software renderer.
Unfortunately, the version of glxinfo that comes with Slackware 13 is not actually glxinfo and will not provide all the information we would normally see, either:
But using the 'nvidia' binary driver, Mesa should be out of the picture entirely, shouldn't it? Assuming you're using an xorg.conf file to explicitly tell X to use the nvidia binary; otherwise, yes, you may still be using Mesa, and a performance hit would be expected.
And as implied above, if you updated any X packages recently, try re-installing the nvidia driver.
Really there is no such thing as 32-bit color on regular desktop computers, it's actually 24 bits of color plus 8 bits of alpha or other channel. All channels are 8 bits wide (1 byte), so 8 bits of red, 8 bits of green, 8 bits of blue, and 8 bits of alpha (transparency). For example take a look at the html notation for colors it is #RRGGBB, see here for more: