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GPU Upgrade from Steam Machine

  • GPUs
  • Graphics
  • Steam
  • Dell
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
April 27, 2014 9:27:05 AM

I have an older Dell Inspiron 546 I want to make into a Steam machine so my young kids can play simple games like Lego Star Wars. Full specs:

- AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Dual Core 3 GHz
- 320GB HDD (7200)
- ATI Radeon HD 3200 (integrated)

Right now LEGO SW is pretty choppy even at a low resolution. I want to install a GPU but don't want to spend a bundle. Can anyone recommend a good card that can play these games in 1920x1080 with a good frame rate in the $40 - $75 range?

More about : gpu upgrade steam machine

April 27, 2014 11:27:43 AM

The first thing we need to know, is the capacity of the power supply. Second, is it a slim line PC or a regular mid tower?
April 27, 2014 12:45:13 PM

PSU is only 300 watts. If that has to be upgraded I'm sure I can find an inexpensive PSU to throw in it. And it's not a slim, but it's not a full mid-tower either.

Finally, it only has 2GB RAM. Debating if I should bump it to 4GB to be on the safe side. Thoughts?
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April 27, 2014 1:05:22 PM

Don't buy an inexpensive PSU. Stay with the Dell if nothing else. Cheap PSUs have the bad habit of dying catastrophically and taking something else out when they go. But with the stock Dell 300W PSU and only $75 to spend, The PSU will be sufficient. The GTX 640 (used) and the R7-240 would be the best you can do at that price. Either should be OK for that class of games.

I would let them try the games w/2GB and see if there is a lot of off-loading to the HDD. Ideally, you'd want 4GB for decent gaming minimum. But on a dual channel system, you should always match the RAM pairs as to manufacturer, speed, voltage, and timings. That is why dual channel memory is usually sold in matched pairs. So if you upgrade, it may be best to just REPLACE the existing sticks rather than add to them. Unless the board only has DIMM 2 slots. Then you'd have to replace anyway.
April 27, 2014 3:43:10 PM

clutchc said:
The GTX 640 (used) and the R7-240 would be the best you can do at that price. Either should be OK for that class of games.

Thanks for the suggestion. I ended up going with an ASUS R7-240 I found on Amazon for $68. I appreciate the input!
April 27, 2014 8:20:18 PM

Just be aware that at 1080p, they will probably have to reduce in-game settings quite a bit for smooth game play. That class of card is more a 720P solution.