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Advice on upgrade Graphics/PSU?


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#1
Vindivara

Vindivara

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Hey,
(hope this is the right place to post this)

Need some advice about a graphics card upgrade.
I currently have:

AMD Athlon64 x2 Dual-Core 4200+
2GB DDR2 Memory
(Galaxy) Geforce GTS 250 1GB DDR3 Ram
Vists 32-bit
HP Compaq Presario sr550p1 (w/250 watt PSU which came with it)

I just bought the GTS 250 and i'm for various reasons not happy with it.
It seems to actually be worse playing certain games like GTA IV than my old (now dead) evga Geforce 8800 GT (Superclocked) 512MB DDR3 - which is kind of strange.

I would like any advice on why this might be, but more importantly i'm curious to know if it might be a good idea to just return the card and pick up the XFX Radeon HD 4870 1GB DDR5 card (http://www.amazon.co...66300615&sr=1-1) - it is the same price as I got the GTS 250 for and passmark rankings suggest it is MUCH better.

My only worry is it might be a bit too thirsty for power, my current PSU probably couldn't run it (probably can't run the current card) and so i'd need an upgrade but i'm hopeless at hardware stuff and would have no idea what to get, or what i'd need. Some review reckons it needs dual 6-pin connectors, I don't know what that means! Does anyone know if my current PC would benefit from this change (getting the Radeon) and if so could they suggest to me a good PSU for it please?

Thanks in advance for any help
Rich
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#2
Ferrari

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It sounds like you just aren't happy with the GTS 250, I'd say return it and try out the 4870. On paper, the specs are pretty similar, but like you mentioned I've heard some pretty good things about the 4870. It's a fairly popular card, and I think you'd be happier with it. Some cards play games better than others... this may be what is happening with your GTA IV.

You definitely need a better PSU though, I'm suprised it hasn't blown out on you yet, even when gaming with the 8800GT. The specs on the 4870 say it requires a 450watt or higher PSU, and yes you need 2 6pin PCI-E power connectors from the PSU to power it. They plug into the end of the card HERE.

Also, it's always important to buy a power supply that is 80 Plus Certified... meaning that it holds it's efficiency at 80% or higher, even under load. I recommend an OCZ 500watt PSU. It is on sale for a great price. I've seen them as high as $85.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Edited by Ferrari, 16 February 2010 - 01:07 AM.

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#3
Vindivara

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Thankyou for the speedy reply!

Hmm, that looks great and a lot cheaper than I thought it might be, I do plan to upgrade to a newer PC at some point and don't want to throw good money after bad so to speak so that looks great.


I would quite like the Radeon, benchmarks seem to peg it so much higher, but I guess they aren't everything - always had geforces too so might be a nice change. I do worry it might run too hot though, my cooling facilities aren't top notch - i.e. I have the side off the PC, fairly clueless how to mod the casing to add a fan, or if my comp even supports it.

Could you explain to me what exactly giving it more Watts does please just out of interest? I asked one person and they gave the rather unsatisfying answer of 'makes more noise, adds more heat' - but not what it does positively. The 8800 did blow out on me btw so maybe that is what that was. I was just wondering if say GTA IV was running worse because the card was hogging more of the power and taking it from the CPU? Or is that just nonesense?

Answers to those questions would be great,
thanks in advance
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#4
Ferrari

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I do worry it might run too hot though, my cooling facilities aren't top notch - i.e. I have the side off the PC

MANY gamers run "open case" i.e. have the side off. Even on top gaming rigs with tons of fans, operating your computer with the side off will drop the system's temperatures a few degrees. I have 7 fans in my computer, and I run 4 degree Celsius cooler with the side off. An alternative would be to spend top dollar on case fans, but sometimes that means more decibals (noisier computer), but my rig has a window anyway, so it looks just as cool with the side off. I think with the side off, it will keep the temperatures well within range. Some people will actually use a box fan to blow directly onto the computers components to keep things at a nice temperature.

Could you explain to me what exactly giving it more Watts does please just out of interest?

Well, you have it backwards. You don't "give" it more watts, it "draws" more watts. When you get into higher end cards like a 4870, GTS 250, GTX 260, etc they are more powerful cards. The GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) along with the memory are more power hungry. They just simply demand more power to do what they are designed to do. So, if you have more power available, i.e. 500 watts vs. 250 watts, the card won't blow up, and neither will your Power Supply.

Furthermore, when your power supply has more headroom it runs quieter and gets less hot. So if your whole computer under load requires 400 watts, and you have a 500 watt power supply, then you are making the power supply use 90% of it's capability... (internal fan with spin faster trying to cool the very stressed power supply causing more noise) Whereas, if it requires 400 watts and you have a 900 watt power supply, it is only using about 50% of its capability. SEE? Having more headroom will also increase the life of your Power Supply.

Just and FYI: When a graphics card says it requires a 450 watt PSU, it is taking into the account the rest of your system, the card in it's self, doesn't draw 450 watts.

I was just wondering if say GTA IV was running worse because the card was hogging more of the power and taking it from the CPU?

It doesn't work that way. The only way this could be true (just a little bit) is that if the power supply is struggling to provide enough power to the rest of the systems needs, the system may be running hotter, causing the cpu to slow down from the increased heat. But this is very miniscule and I doubt this would cause your problems or have a noticeable affect... this is really only noticed on benchmarks on a very minute scale.
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#5
Ferrari

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Double up, please read my above post.

Edited by Ferrari, 16 February 2010 - 02:08 AM.

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