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Graphics Card Buying Advice


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#1
sere83

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Hi,

I'm looking to buy a new graphics card for my ageing system. The sole reason for me buying it is to play back HD video, gaming is not of importance. I have a Pentium 4 3GHz Dell Dimension 5150 with 3GB RAM & Windows 7 Ultimate. I believe it runs a 305W PSU besides the 305 watts there are also 22 amps on the +12 volt rails.

http://www.dell.com/...150&cs=28&s=dfb

Anyway...after some earlier advice from the forum I had originally decided on a Geforce GT220. However I recently saw that nvidia have recently released the DX11 GT430 card as an update, I found one on Dabs and the minimum requirement is a 300W PSU

http://www.dabs.com/...-hdmi-76FJ.html

2 Questions....

1. Is this a better alternative to the GT220?
2. With my current PSU and set up will I be able to run this card? Can anyone forsee any problems?

Any help greatly appreciated

Edited by sere83, 12 October 2010 - 07:13 AM.

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#2
Digerati

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If all you are looking to do is watch HD content, than either card will do. The GT430 is intended to replace the GT220 so I would suspect there are some improvements, besides the DX11 support. But you may be able to get some good deals on the outgoing GT220.

As for your PSU, I would replace it. While technically it may have the horsepower to support the new card, as you noted, it barely meets the "minimum" requirements. That means there is little to no headroom for expansion. It also means it will be working hard the whole time, which means it will be pumping out the heat, which, in turn, means the fan will have to run full speed to keep the PSU cool. They are all designed to do that, but a fan running at full speed also tends to run loudly - and if your intent is to watch movies, then loud fan noises is not cool. So with a larger capacity PSU, it will have larger heatsinks and will be able to loaf along, and the fan may be able to run at a slower, and quieter RPM.

Also, you must ensure your current PSU has the necessary power connections for your card. Older PSUs may not.
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#3
starjax

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to be honest,they are relatively equal parts. the 430 is an updated version of the 220. Personally, I would go with the 430. I would say that your system should be fine running that card.

Hardware canucks had a nice review:
http://www.hardwarec...1gb-review.html
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#4
sere83

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Thanks for the help guys, most useful. Can anyone recommend a good psu?

I know names like OCZ, Coolermaster etc are best but I don't have much money to spend, so something relatively cheap and reliable if possible.

Thanks again in advance
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#5
Digerati

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Here's my canned text on sizing and buying a PSU:

Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine your minimum power supply unit (PSU) requirements. 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 page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30%, 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, and 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:

  • Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
  • Efficiency,
  • 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 Mechanic's PSU Reference List. 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 - EnergyStar Compliant labels.

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 350W, 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 the minimum requirements. If the calculator (with the changes I suggested) recommends a 400 watt minimum, a quality 400W supply will serve you just fine. But 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.


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#6
phillpower2

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If you provide us with a budget we can make better recommendations, unfortunately branded name and quality PSUs are expensive and we do not have as wide a choice here in the UK as in other countries, so we have to pay the price or risk poor and unreliable performance or even worse major and multiple component failure.
Below are the system requirements for an ASUS GT430 so with that in mind Ive listed psu examples for you;
The NVIDIA GeForce GT 430 video card requires a 300 Watt or greater power supply with a minimum of 18 Amps on the +12 volt rail. It should be noted that the NVIDIA minimum system power requirement is based on a PC configured with an Intel Core i7 3.2GHz CPU.

1: http://www.novatech....600sxs2-uk.html 1 review
2: http://www.novatech....-acaae3-uk.html 0 reviews
3: http://www.novatech....nov-psg600.html 0 reviews
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#7
sere83

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Thanks for the links and advice guys. much appreciated

Was looking to spend around the £50 anyway, so the links were spot on. Not buying just yet will probably go for an OCZ when I do.

Thanks again
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#8
phillpower2

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You are welcome :D
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