Hello, I have a generic, Dell Dimension 3000, generic specs, generic card.
What else do I have? Not money.
I was given a copy of The Sims 3 since one of my friends didn't want a second one. And I installed, updated, and installed all expansions before trying to play. Once I DID try to play, I get a message that I can't play due to a problem about shader model 2.
Is there ANYTHING I can do without having to waste money?
Well, other than updating your graphics drivers not much. Its possible your graphics controller has software updated support for shader model 2.0, but other than that you will have to "waste money" on a graphics upgrade. Don't count on that however. I have worked on several Dell Dimension 3000's and they are very limited on what you can upgrade.
Dell sold a million of these things, and they all suck to work on because of the limited upgradablity. My advice is to see if a software update will help with the sims game, if not then you'd better start saving for a desktop upgrade. Regardless, most of those machines I've mentioned are quite outdated and typically are starting to suffer from hard drive failure, like my sister's machine did.