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Upgrade Dell Precision 690 Graphics and Sound Card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 23, 2014 2:48:39 AM

Hello,

I'm coming into a Dell Precision 690 system and am looking to upgrade the graphics and sound card from the current basic 2D 128MB card and motherboard sound.

The monitors I own and will be using with the system are two Dell U3011 (2560 x 1600 x 32-bit). Thus the graphics card (in addition to working with the Precision 690) needs to support dual DVI-D connectors.

The specifications, as I understand them are:

1. Dell Precision 690 1KW Chassis (but I might be wrong and it is the 750W)
2. 2x Intel Quad Core 2.66Ghz processors
3. 16GB RAM (4 x 4GB) with riser & fan for 64GB
4. Hard Drives:
4A. 140GB SAS HD for boot
4B. 1TB SATA HD for data
5. PERC 5i 256MB RAID Card
6. Simple 2D 128MB graphics card
7. DVD +/-RW
8. Motherboard:
8A) Sound
8B) 10/100/1000 Ethernet
8C) 8 USB 2.0 ports (2 front, 5 rear, 1 MB)
8D) 2 IEEE 1394a (1 front, 1 rear)
9) Windows 7 Professional x64


I'm planning on adding either now or over time:

1. Better graphics card. (now)
2. More memory (over time).
3. An internal BluRay R/W (soon)
4. Internal Dell 19-in-1 Card Reader (now)
5. Sound Card (now)
6. I might upgrade from Professional to Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (unsure)

I'm going to use the system for several things:

1) Video Gaming. I play:
1A) MMORPG - Final Fantasy XI (weekly, sometimes daily).
1B) Whatever my Son brings home and finishes playing. He has a year old Alienware system.

2) Video Capturing and Editing. I use an Hauppauge PVR-2 and Pinnacle 16 Ultimate editing software.

3) Software development: C/C++, Java, Rexx, VB, .NET, client & server Web development, etc.

4) IBM VM / 370 emulation

5) MS-Office applications

6) Web applications (e.g. browser, ftp, telnet, etc.)

7) Other stuff from time to time.

Thus I'm looking for a graphics and sound card for:

1) video editing
2) video gaming
3) dual monitor support

As for a budget, well, I'm open. I just don't want to be unreasonable for what it gives.

My present system (Dell 390) is using:

Internally:
1) GeForce 8800GT
2) Sound Blaster Xtreme X-fi

Externally: I will move these OVER to the "new" 690 system:

1) Monitors: 2 U3011
2) Logitech stereo 2.1 system.
3) External USB HD (4.5 TB)
4) Logitech F610 wireless controller
5) Logitech G930 wireless headphones
6) Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
7) Hauppauge PVR-2
8) Canon Scanner 8800F Scannner
9) Canon Camera
10) Sony PSP

On the network, we have:

1) 3 printers
2) 2 NAS drives
3) 2 HDTV

Connecting via Bluetooth:

1) Android tablets
2) Android phones
3) Keyboard & Mouse (already mentioned above)

Anyway, that's is about it. I'm looking for your advice on the graphics and sound card. BUT please feel free to comment / advise on anything else.

Thank you for reading this far! :-)

Hmmm, I feel I'm missing something, but, well here it is for now.
a c 191 U Graphics card
January 23, 2014 3:28:36 AM

I'd move the sound card over as well but if you want to keep it where it is one of the less expensive cards will be plenty enough for general gaming and editing use.
slightly hard call for the graphics card: Those monitors have such a high resolution anything short of a GTX760 is really going to struggle with a gaming workload and with its 2Gb stock framebuffer you'll need to keep more advanced features like Anti Aliasing either off or to a minimum or you'll have choppy gameplay. The plus side is it's plenty enough for your other tasks and 4Gb versions are not THAT much more expensive.
If you were gaming more exclusively I'd recommend the 4Gb GTX770 but that's pushing beyond $350.
The installed power supply will run anything you can fit into the case, just make sure any card you have in mind WILL fit some are quite long!
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January 23, 2014 5:39:01 AM

Hello,

I'm sorry, but I don't follow when you say:

coozie7 said:
I'd move the sound card over as well but if you want to keep it where it is


There is no sound card presently in the 690, as the sound is only a single PC speaker connected directly to the motherboard. The best it does are beeps and some notes that sound like tin. If you're going to edit videos and/or play games, one needs to have real sound not beeps.

As for the video, I do like the idea of a GTX760, but I'm wondering if it will work with the PCI-e x16 slot. The specs talk about the card being a PCI-e 3.0 (nothing about the number of channels (e.g. x4, x8 x16, x32)).

I know slots can support earlier specs but what about the OTHER WAY AROUND??? While a PCI-e 3.0 slot can support a 2.0 card or even a 1.0 card, can a 3.0 card run in a slot that only knows about say the 1.0 spec or 2.0 spec slot?

On the two U3011 monitors, I find your comments about the needed power something I don't understand and would appreciate help in understanding. What I don't understand is my two U3011 are running currently in 2560x1600 for both of them (5120 x 1600 combined). The video card is GeForce 8800 GT 512MB and its running the Pinnacle 16 Ultimate video editing and gaming software OK, but I'm sure it can be better. Given the new machine needs a graphic card . . .

Again thank you for your quick reply and I'm sorry I'm not following what you mean on the sound card.
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a b U Graphics card
January 23, 2014 5:47:51 AM

Do you know specifically what CPUs your system has? Model number?
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a b U Graphics card
January 23, 2014 6:14:00 AM

A 2GB GTX 760 should do it for you, just make sure not to use MSAA in newer games if you're going to be gaming at native res. And PCIe is forward and backward compatible, but you may want to make sure your BIOS is on the latest version to avoid problems.

Not sure I understand your need for a sound card - it sounds like you haven't plugged speakers into the computer... The integrated sound should be fine - do you have at least a 2.1 speaker setup?
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a c 191 U Graphics card
January 23, 2014 8:10:49 AM

As I understand it you have a sound card in the Dell 390 and none in the 690, I'm suggesting you move the sound card from the 390 into the 690 rather than purchase another.
According the specs I've found on the Dell site the Precision 690 has 4 PCI-E x16 slots so you'll have no problems finding a home for the new card, but you should check the documentation to see which is the primary slot, it's usually the top one but Dell can be a law unto themselves.
There should be no problems using a late version card in an older slot-I'm using a PCI-E 3.0 card in a 2.0 motherboard-but Nvidia cards are less likely to cause problems in 1.0 or 1.1 revision PCI-E slots (hence my suggestion of the GTX760).
By 'power' I mean the 3D (gaming) capabilities of the graphics card, games are far more demanding of the graphics card than video or photo editing.
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January 23, 2014 8:07:12 PM

RobCrezz said:
Do you know specifically what CPUs your system has? Model number?


As I understand it: Intel® Xeon® Processor X5355
There will be two Intel Quad Core 8M Cache, 2.66 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB processors in the unit.


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January 23, 2014 8:11:40 PM

jessterman21 said:
A 2GB GTX 760 should do it for you, just make sure not to use MSAA in newer games if you're going to be gaming at native res. And PCIe is forward and backward compatible, but you may want to make sure your BIOS is on the latest version to avoid problems.

Not sure I understand your need for a sound card - it sounds like you haven't plugged speakers into the computer... The integrated sound should be fine - do you have at least a 2.1 speaker setup?


Yes, all of my computers up to now have been with external 2.1 sound system or better. The integrated sound system on a Dell Precision is a MONO speaker system that is actually OPTIONAL. I got it for my 390, for fun and it sounds terrible! Unless you know something I don't know about 690 / 390 systems, which is very possible.

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January 23, 2014 8:29:07 PM

coozie7 said:
As I understand it you have a sound card in the Dell 390 and none in the 690, I'm suggesting you move the sound card from the 390 into the 690 rather than purchase another.


OH! Sorry for not understanding. I can only say it didn't cross my mind, as I've already started working on who will get the 390 system (as a present). I know some people who either don't have a computer OR who are still on systems from the 1990's or early 2000's.

Your idea does have merit, though, should the 690 arrive before I decide on the graphics and sound card. I could move them over until I get their replacements.


coozie7 said:
According the specs I've found on the Dell site the Precision 690 has 4 PCI-E x16 slots so you'll have no problems finding a home for the new card, but you should check the documentation to see which is the primary slot, it's usually the top one but Dell can be a law unto themselves.


OH! :-) Are you sure you're looking at the 690 instead of say the T7500? I was reading the 690 user's guide and I thought it said:

In a configuration without dual graphics and the associated graphics riser card: Your Dell™ computer provides the following slots for PCI and PCI Express
cards:

*** One PCI card slot
*** One PCI Express x16 card slot -- This is the one for the graphics card
*** Three PCI Express x8 card slots (wired as x4)
*** Two PCI-X card slots

In a configuration with dual graphics and the associated graphics riser card: Your Dell™ computer provides the following slots for PCI and PCI Express cards:

*** Two PCI Express x16 card slots (reserved for dual-graphics cards)
*** One PCI Express x8 card slot (wired as x4)
*** Two PCI-X card slots

QUESTION: Why would Dell offer slots that are PCI Express x8 card slot wired as x4?? Isn't that downgrading a slot?


coozie7 said:
There should be no problems using a late version card in an older slot-I'm using a PCI-E 3.0 card in a 2.0 motherboard-but Nvidia cards are less likely to cause problems in 1.0 or 1.1 revision PCI-E slots (hence my suggestion of the GTX760).


COOL! I thought it would be the other way around, as the card would expect the higher spec level because it would want to use the new features.

QUESTIONS:
** What downside (if any) is there to using a 3.0 card in a 1.0, 1.1, or 2.0 slot?

** Is there a way to find out what spec the slot is using? (In this case, as I don't have the system yet: (A) Now and (B) once I have the system up and running.)


coozie7 said:
By 'power' I mean the 3D (gaming) capabilities of the graphics card, games are far more demanding of the graphics card than video or photo editing.


Ah, I see your point. I thought video editing would also be demanding, but I can see games as being more demanding.

QUESTION: How does the earlier specs (e.g. 1.0, 1.1, 2.0) affect gaming?
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January 23, 2014 8:38:54 PM

jessterman21 said:
A 2GB GTX 760 should do it for you, just make sure not to use MSAA in newer games if you're going to be gaming at native res. And PCIe is forward and backward compatible, but you may want to make sure your BIOS is on the latest version to avoid problems.


When I game, I prefer to do it in a window (as in using Windower 4 for Final Fantasy XI). Even with the standalone games, I look on the net to see if a method exists to play the game in a window. It is simply because I multitask based upon priorities. Yeah, I like to game, but work has to come first.

QUESTION: What is MSAA?

QUESTIONS:
*** If I want to game at 2560x1600 on my two monitors, what would be a good graphics card?

** Also would running in a window (say at 1920x1080 for the game) but the desktop at 2560x1600 be just as hard on the card?

Thank you for your reply! :-)
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a c 191 U Graphics card
January 24, 2014 4:42:33 AM

Obviously I didn't look closely enough into the specs but a single PCI-E x16 slot will be enough for your needs.
A lot of workstations do this, not every add in card needs the available data transfer (bandwidth) of a full x16 PCI-E slot-most PCI-E sound cards only use a x1 link for example.
There is a very small performance penalty in using a PCI-E 3.0 card in a earlier slot but, again, in this case, it's not significant unless you start using some of those extra x8/4 slots. The reason is PCI-E is shared between devices, so if the system has, for example a total of 16 lanes and you installed two x16 devices they would only get an x8 link each and installing more devices would spread the available links still further. The user guide shows the PCI-E version as 1.0a.
Also according to the user guide the system has a built in Azalia HD sound chip, headphones or powered speakers can be connected to the system through a standard jack (green coloured) in the rear panel-it's not going to provide Bose sound quality but it's decent enough for moderate gaming.
As far as I know running in a window at a lower resolution will ease the graphics workload.
MSAA is a way of smoothing out 'jaggies' the steps you see around objects or, particularly fine detail like wire mesh fences or overhead power lines. It is a high end feature and can dramatically slow a game down, it is also very memory intensive (it uses the video card memory, not system memory) and with such high resolution monitors I'll advise you to leave it off in games.
If you want to game at that kind of resolution it's going to be expensive! You'll need to look at the 4Gb GTX770 or R9 280X, anything less and you'll have to cut the settings back significantly to achieve smooth play across all types of game.
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January 25, 2014 9:01:59 AM

coozie7 said:
Obviously I didn't look closely enough into the specs but a single PCI-E x16 slot will be enough for your needs.
A lot of workstations do this, not every add in card needs the available data transfer (bandwidth) of a full x16 PCI-E slot-most PCI-E sound cards only use a x1 link for example.
There is a very small performance penalty in using a PCI-E 3.0 card in a earlier slot but, again, in this case, it's not significant unless you start using some of those extra x8/4 slots. The reason is PCI-E is shared between devices, so if the system has, for example a total of 16 lanes and you installed two x16 devices they would only get an x8 link each and installing more devices would spread the available links still further. The user guide shows the PCI-E version as 1.0a.
Also according to the user guide the system has a built in Azalia HD sound chip, headphones or powered speakers can be connected to the system through a standard jack (green coloured) in the rear panel-it's not going to provide Bose sound quality but it's decent enough for moderate gaming.
As far as I know running in a window at a lower resolution will ease the graphics workload.
MSAA is a way of smoothing out 'jaggies' the steps you see around objects or, particularly fine detail like wire mesh fences or overhead power lines. It is a high end feature and can dramatically slow a game down, it is also very memory intensive (it uses the video card memory, not system memory) and with such high resolution monitors I'll advise you to leave it off in games.
If you want to game at that kind of resolution it's going to be expensive! You'll need to look at the 4Gb GTX770 or R9 280X, anything less and you'll have to cut the settings back significantly to achieve smooth play across all types of game.


Thank you for your great reply! :-)

On your comment about the 3.0 in a 2.0 or 1.0 spec slot, I was talking to the NVIDIA customer service and they say there is a 5% performance hit when running one of their cards in an earlier slot (e.g. 2.0).

Thank you for reading deeper than I did on the specs of the 690 and teaching me stuff about the sound and the PCI-e spec level.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do, as I was reading about some new cards coming from NVIDIA, such as the 790. I'm also thinking about holding off on buying any card right now and moving the 8800 GT to the new system. This would allow me to save my money and budget for say a Titan 6GB later on in the year. It sounds like an awesome card.

On the other hand, I could end up buying a better card for a couple of hundred and then waiting on the Titan or something later still.

Any thoughts?

Again thank for your quick and well thought out replies.

Bert.

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a c 191 U Graphics card
January 25, 2014 9:31:31 AM

The base Precision 690 has some powerful features but it's not entirely intended for gaming, whatever you decide, get the tape measure out and make sure the card/s you have in mind will fit, some of them not only require 2 clear slots of space for the coolers to work but can be long as well, and not all cases can accept long cards.
For a single monitor and in a 1080 window you'll find the GTX760 a great choice, for more eye candy and/or at full res on one monitor the GTX770 is a better option. If you want to go all the way on both of those awesome displays you'll definitely have to go for the GTX780Ti.
The GTX780 beats the Titan in every way BTW, it's even better at GPU accelerated work applications.
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2014 9:46:56 AM

IMO you would be crazy to put something like a Titan/780 in there, your old CPUs would bottleneck it quite a lot.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
January 25, 2014 9:59:33 AM

^ That's if he wants to game on both monitors-2x 2560x1600 monsters!
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2014 10:06:18 AM

coozie7 said:
^ That's if he wants to game on both monitors-2x 2560x1600 monsters!


All depends on the game. Many new games would be very CPU bottlenecked on his Xeons if he had high end GPUs. IMO, if you go for high end GPUs, then you should spend the $$ to have a system to support it.

It should game fine, but in most modern games the FPS will be totally limited by his old xeons, so putting super high end GPUs in there could potentially be a waste. Just something to bear in mind.
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January 25, 2014 11:29:01 PM

coozie7 said:
^ That's if he wants to game on both monitors-2x 2560x1600 monsters!


Are there games that would use 2 or more monitors?

Thus far all the games I've seen only use 1 monitor up to 2560x1600 (and some only 1920x1200). I think a game that supports multiple monitors would be GREAT!

I will say I have Final Fantasy XI (MMORPG) when using Windower 4 running on two monitors. I have the game on the main monitor (the one directly in front of me). I have add-ons, such as APRadar and others running on the 2nd monitor (2R). This way I can check out the web (e.g. a Firefox extension), APRadar, and others helping me off to the side.

Thank you for your replies, BTW! :-)
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January 25, 2014 11:30:47 PM

RobCrezz said:
IMO you would be crazy to put something like a Titan/780 in there, your old CPUs would bottleneck it quite a lot.


Hi! Thank you for your input / information.

What graphics card would you recommend given the 2 monitor system dual U3011?

What sound card would you recommend?

Again thanks! :-)

Bert.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
January 26, 2014 10:02:46 AM

If you're only going to GAME on the one monitor a GTX760 is going to be plenty.
The only reason to use a card like the GTX780 would be if you were to game on BOTH monitors with nothing else running in the background or if your applications can use its compute power(quite a few current applications can use the graphics card like a second CPU for a massive performance gain). You'll need to research your software to see if this is the case, older releases will not benefit from GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) acceleration.
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January 27, 2014 5:33:42 AM

coozie7 said:
If you're only going to GAME on the one monitor a GTX760 is going to be plenty.
The only reason to use a card like the GTX780 would be if you were to game on BOTH monitors with nothing else running in the background or if your applications can use its compute power(quite a few current applications can use the graphics card like a second CPU for a massive performance gain). You'll need to research your software to see if this is the case, older releases will not benefit from GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) acceleration.


Thanks for the comment / advice! :-) Yeah, I will have stuff running at the same time on the monitors but not a full screen game.

BTW, what games run on multiple monitors? It might be cool to try them out.

Bert.
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