Need Video Card Advice

Discussion in 'hardware' started by zopzop, Mar 26, 2011.

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  1. zopzop

    zopzop Registered Member

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    Got an old Dell Core 2 Duo (2ghz) with a 305watt power supply. Need some video card suggestions. I'd like to play games on it so with that in mind what's the best card for that amount of wattage?

    I've seen this suggested elsewhere :
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127523

    Anything better out there or is that my only option?
     
  2. gambla

    gambla Registered Member

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    The CPU- and VGA-power you need depends of the game you like to play. Which games do you have in mind ?
     
  3. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    NVIDIA GT 430. DirectX11, HDMI output, works on 300 W.
     
  4. zopzop

    zopzop Registered Member

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    I basically want the most powerful card available for this pc with the current power constraints (305watt power supply).

    So it's between the GT430 and the Radeon 5670? Between the two which is more powerful?
     
  5. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I think you should backup and regroup. Instead of upgrading your graphics card with the constraints imposed by your current, low powered PSU, I suggest you pick the card you want, then upgrade the PSU to a brand name, quality PSU that will support it. Yes, it will mean you will have to build up a bigger budget, but quality power comes first.
     
  6. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    zopzop, perhaps this Video Card Comparison, from GPUReview, could provide the answer you're seeking.

    PS. I agree with Bill_Bright's PSU advice.
     
  7. zopzop

    zopzop Registered Member

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    That's the problem. My budget is 100. If I upgrade the PSU, I may have to upgrade the Mobo too no? What's the max wattage this Dell Optimax 755 can handle without a Mobo upgrade? For all that work I would be better off buying a new machine and I don't have the money for that right now.

    @JRViejo

    Thank you for that link! Assuming the information is correct, it seems I have more than a few options (checking the max wattage on some of those cards).

    PS I noticed on the motherboard, it was written in white near the PCI-e slot - "Max 75 watts". What does that mean?
     
  8. FastGame

    FastGame Registered Member

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    It means the PCI-e supplies a max of 75 watts, most of the high end GFX cards have an external power connecter to supply the extra current.

    I agree with Bill_Bright, PS is the most important......;) and, you don't need to upgrade the MB for the larger PS.
     
  9. zopzop

    zopzop Registered Member

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    So if according to that Video Card Comparison site, the ATI 5670 has a Max Power Draw of 61 watts (and it doesn't require an external power connector), I'm good to go with that card right?
     
  10. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Nope. The new PSU may have a 24 pin main connector while your motherboard may only have 20, but you can usually break-away the last 4, or even let them hang over the end. See what your board supports, then research the options.

    While you may only have $100 now, I am still saying it is better to wait until your budget allows for a better PSU too.
     
  11. FastGame

    FastGame Registered Member

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    Yes it's fine as long as the PS can keep pace with your system.
     
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I know you don't want to spend money on a new PSU, but if you don't you risk overstressing that already old, low powered PSU you have. While uncommon, it is not rare for an overworked PSU to cause collateral, and very expensive, damage when they fail. Remember, PSUs carry deadly, destructive voltages in them and many of these PSUs are no-name generics made in some obscure factory in China by forced, possibly underaged, unskilled labor under horrendous conditions supervised by ruthless factory owners under the watchful eye of corrupt officials - using parts from a similar factory up river! :'( :( :mad:

    So while I understand you don't want to wait and save the money for a new PSU too, that is the smartest thing to do. And of course, if you do your homework, this new supply will carry you through a new motherboard/CPU/RAM upgrade.

    This would not be an issue if you did not plan on using this for gaming. If not a gamer, any graphics card would do. But for adequate gaming graphics, you need a decent card. And a decent card deserves decent power.
     
  13. zopzop

    zopzop Registered Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys! I'm gonna go ahead and get the 5670, I googled around and I've seen posters on other hardware sites say they actually have it running on a 250watt power supply!

    And I really cannot splurge more than 100 dollars on this machine. I need that vid card and some 2 gigs of ram. That's all 100 dollars covers.
     
  14. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    :doubt: Placing even more demands on the PSU!

    It would have been good if you said earlier you were buying more RAM too. In that case, the best upgrade path is more RAM and a PSU now, then get a new card when the budget is back up. If you are running with a small amount of RAM, adding more RAM provides the best bang for your money in terms of significant performance boosts. If you cannot afford both RAM and PSU, then just RAM now, then a new PSU and card on down the road when budget permits.

    Certainly, the decision is yours to take and chances are you will have no problems if you don't upgrade your PSU first. However, a new graphics card and more RAM will put a considerably higher demand on the current PSU, already on the small side. And history shows, added demands and resulting added heat often does cause power problems - especially with small OEM PSUs in factory built PCs. And sadly, in some cases, when a stressed PSU fails it does so catastrophically, taking out anything connected to it. Then you will be out a lot more than $100 - no computer either.

    Below is my canned text on sizing and selecting a new PSU. because you said this machine will be used for gaming (about the most demanding task we can ask of our systems), if it shows you have little to no headroom, then be wise about this. You have a little 4 banger and you are trying to race on the big track with the big V8s.

    ****

    Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine the minimum and recommended power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plan ahead and plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the calculator page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30% (see my note below), and if you participate in distributive computing projects (e.g. BOINC or Folding@Home) or extreme 3D animated gaming, I recommend setting both TDP and system load to 100%. These steps ensure the supply has adequate head room for stress free (and perhaps quieter) operation, as well as future hardware demands. Research your video card and pay particular attention to the power supply requirements for your card listed on your video card maker's website. If not listed, check a comparable card (same graphics engine and RAM) from a different maker. The key specifications, in order of importance are:
    1. Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
    2. Efficiency,
    3. Total wattage.
    Don’t try to save a few dollars by getting a cheap supply! Digital electronics, including CPUs, RAM, and today's advanced graphics cards, need clean, stable power. A good, well chosen supply will provide years of service and upgrade wiggle room. Look for power supply brands listed under the "Good" column of PC Mech's PSU Reference List. Another excellent read is Tom’s Hardware, Who’s Who In Power supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs. Note that some case retailers “toss in” a generic or inadequate PSU just to make the case sale. Be prepared to “toss out” that supply for a good one with sufficient power.

    Most PSUs have an efficiency rating of around 70%. This means for every 100 watts of power a PSU draws from the wall, only 70 watts is delivered to the motherboard, with the rest wasted in the form of heat. The best supplies are 85 to 90% efficient, and as expected, cost more. I strongly recommend you pick a quality supply with an efficiency rating equal to or greater than 80%. Look for 80 PLUS and EnergyStar Compliant labels. 80 PLUS PSUs are required to have fairly linear efficiencies. This is important to ensure the PSU is running at or near peak efficiency regardless the load or power demands. Non-linear PSUs typically are most efficient when the load is in a narrow range between 70 and 90% of the PSU’s capacity and the efficiency may drop dramatically above and below those amounts.

    Too big of a PSU hurts nothing but your budget. Your computer will draw from the PSU only what it needs, not what the PSU is capable of delivering. If a computer needs 300 watts it will draw 300 watts regardless if the PSU is a 400W, 650W, or 1000W PSU. In turn, the PSU, regardless its size will draw from the wall only what it needs to support the computer. In this example, it will draw 300 watts, plus another 45 – 90 watts, depending on the PSU’s inefficiency.

    As noted, the eXtreme Calculator determines minimum and recommended requirements. If the calculator (with the changes I suggested) recommends a 400 watt minimum, a quality 400W supply will serve you just fine. However, a quality 550W – 600W supply will have, among other things, larger heat sinks to dissipate potentially more heat. It might have a larger fan too. The 400W supply will run most of the time closer to capacity, while the larger supply will be loafing along, rarely breaking a sweat. To help the smaller heat sinks get rid of the wasted 80 watts (20% of 400) of heat, the fan in the 400W supply may need to run full speed, while the fan in the larger supply, with bigger sinks just loafs along too – but in near silence. Also, it is typical for manufacturers to use higher quality parts, design, and manufacturing techniques in their higher power supplies.

    Note: Capacitor Aging. All electronics “age” over time. Electrons flowing through components bang around and create friction and heat causing wear and tear, altering the electrical characteristics of the device. Over time, this weakens the device resulting in eventual failure. Power supplies have always suffered profoundly from aging effects resulting in a loss of capacity. In recent years, capacitor technologies have improved. The best PSUs use the best (and most expensive) capacitors which suffer less from aging effects than older capacitor types. If planning on buying a new, high-end PSU, setting capacitor aging to 10% may result in a more realistic recommendation. However, headroom “buffer” will be significantly reduced. You can expect your PSU to last 5 years or longer. Since it is better to buy too big rather than too small, and since it is hard to predict what your power requirements will be in 3 years, using 30% for Capacitor Aging ensures you have enough headroom for virtually any upgrade.

    Don't forget to budget for a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation). Surge and spike protectors are inadequate and little more than fancy, expensive extension cords. ​
     
  15. SourMilk

    SourMilk Registered Member

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    Great post Bill_Bright. Very informative and right on the money.

    Regards,
    SourMilk
     
  16. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Thanks - it is constantly evolving but glad it still helps.
     
  17. Rainwalker

    Rainwalker Registered Member

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    Just wanted to say... you do good work Bill.
     
  18. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    :oops: Ah, shucks. Thanks! I appreciate that.

    Go on. :D
     
  19. Rainwalker

    Rainwalker Registered Member

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