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Help Needed with Graphics Card Upgrade

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 22, 2006 6:19:18 PM

I am looking to upgrade my entry level gaming system, primarily to provide high-end graphics capability for games like Oblivion and Vanguard when it is released.

I am also thinking that it would be nice to be able to run a cable from my new graphics card to my HDTV or HDTV Receiver, both of which are about 10 to 12 feet away from my computer. This arrangement would allow me to use the HDTV as a huge monitor for games as well as my computer monitor to display High Definition TV programs.

I have heard that some of the high-end graphics cards can be quite noisy. A quiet system is a goal as my computer is located in our study, which I share with my wife who likes to watch TV.

My current system is:

[Motherboard] Asus A8V-E Deluxe Motherboard (1x PCI-E X16, 2xPCI-E X1, 3xPCI) (512k L2 cache) with the Via K8T890 and VT8237R chipsets.
[Power Supply] labelled 400 watt
[Processor] AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (2.20GHz)
[Memory] Geil 2GB Dual Channel DDR400 RAM
[Hard Drive] Samsung Spinpoint P 120GB 7200RPM 8MB cache, SATA 150
[Optical Drive] BenQ DW-1620 Pro 16xDVD+/- R/RW Double Layer DVD-Writer
[Audio] Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
[Video] eVGA e-Geforce 6600GT 128MB GDDR3 PCI-express w/DVI, TV-Out
[Display] ViewSonic G90F 19” RGB CRT with up to 1920 X 1440 non-interlaced resolution
[Operating System] Windows XP Home Edition
[Anti-Virus] Norton AntiVirus 2005

I am looking to replace the 6600GT with perhaps a Geforce 7900GT (with 256MB). I believe the specs on this card indicate that a 400 watt power supply will be adequate.

Will the 7900GT be the best choice? Will I need to upgrade my power supply? Comments and suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
August 22, 2006 8:07:22 PM

Two things go without question: GPU and PSU.

7900GT is a fine solution, or your other ATI counterparts.
The PSU I would recommend aiming a wee bit better, Seasonic, PC&P, OCZ, Enermax, Antec, TT, Sparkle or FSP.
August 22, 2006 9:42:41 PM

Thanks Raven.

My PSU is an iCute model ATX - 400watt/P4

On a plate on the PS it says:

Max 185W +3.3V 28A; +5V 40A

Max 216W +12V 18A

These figures mean nothing to me.

The dealer that i usually buy from supplies many different PSU's including Seasonic, Antec, OCZ and Enermax. Besides wattage and low dBA what are the other important specs to consider?

Should I be looking at an SLI setup in a couple of years?
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August 22, 2006 10:20:22 PM

Your main concern is clean wattage and amps coming of the 12v rail(s)
August 22, 2006 10:34:46 PM

So, based upon the PSU "specs" I mentioned above, do you still think I need to upgrade my PSU to run the GeForce 7900 GT? or can I make do with the one I have?
August 22, 2006 10:39:42 PM

Quote:
Thanks Raven.

My PSU is an iCute ATX - 400watt/P4

On a plate on the PS it says:

Max 185W +3.3V 28A; +5V 40A

Max 216W +12V 18A

These figures mean nothing to me.

The dealer that i usually buy from supplies many different PSU's including Seasonic, Antec, OCZ and Enermax. Besides wattage and low dBA what are the other important specs to consider?

Should I be looking at an SLI setup in a couple of years?


I'd replace that PSU. 400W means nothing with only 18A on the 12V rail. Plus, it's a no-name brand, so it's not even making 400 watts. Anything made by the brands that you mentioned with at least 450W and 25A on the 12V rail will be good for a 7900GT. If you want to eventually do SLI (IMO, not worth it), then get a 500+ watt PSU that's SLI certified.
a b U Graphics card
August 22, 2006 11:51:02 PM

Quote:
Will the 7900GT be the best choice? Will I need to upgrade my power supply?

It's a good choice, but for Oblivion as you mentioned, it's not the best choice. A X1900XT or even X1800XT would be alot better for Oblivion.
http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/oblivion_high-end_p...

And in noise, most 7900GT's are loud. If you don't have good case airflow, (high room/case temps) then the X1900XT and X1800XT could get loud too. Any of the ones I mentioned, you'd be better off adding an aftermarket cooler (or buying a His ice Q model) if silence is your goal.

I'd also recommened a better PSU for any of these cards.
August 22, 2006 11:52:20 PM

I think you can make do with the one you have. I'm running 2 EVGA 7900GT KO's on a 500W power supply, that has 34A on the 12V rail(s). The requirements for EVGA say you need a 400W power supply with 20A on the 12V rail for a single card. The GPUs of the 7900 series use less power then the 7800 series did but they didn't relax the power requirements. They say 400W and 20A to be sure there will be no problems, it's a little over what's needed. With 400W and 18A you can probably get by because you are not running lots of extra hardware. That being said, if you want, you can probably pick up another power supply that's better for like $50 on Newegg or something.
August 23, 2006 12:10:50 AM

$50 and GOOD PSU shouldnt even fall into the same category.
August 23, 2006 3:26:15 AM

After a bit of PSU research, I am leaning towards the new Antec TruePower Trio 550W PSU. It has active PFC, 2 PCI-E connectors for graphics cards, one 120mm low noise fan and the ability to power/control (turn on and off as needed) my 2 case fans. A bit of overkill I suppose but I would rather have extra power in case I go to an SLI arrangement in the future.

Regarding the comments on the noise levels of the 7900GT, are the ATI boards quieter? I have heard the opposite in regard to the X1900XT!
August 23, 2006 4:32:10 AM

No the ATI graphics cards are no more quiet than the 7900GT. (Save the HIS Ice Q models that someone already mentioned) But you would be best off going with an aftermarket cooler, perhaps a Zalman VF series or an Arctic Cooling Accelero X1.

Zalman VF700 AlCu

Arctic Cooling Accelero X1
August 23, 2006 6:01:36 PM

Quote:
No the ATI graphics cards are no more quiet than the 7900GT. (Save the HIS Ice Q models that someone already mentioned) But you would be best off going with an aftermarket cooler, perhaps a Zalman VF series or an Arctic Cooling Accelero X1.

Zalman VF700 AlCu

Arctic Cooling Accelero X1


I am unfamiliar with aftermarket coolers and how they work. Does using one imply that you somehow disable all your other fans to reduce noise? I have 2 case fans, 2 fans "on" the motherboard and a fan on my current graphics card. I assume any new graphics card will also have a fan or some kind of heat sink.
August 23, 2006 6:09:37 PM

Quote:
I think you can make do with the one you have. I'm running 2 EVGA 7900GT KO's on a 500W power supply, that has 34A on the 12V rail(s). The requirements for EVGA say you need a 400W power supply with 20A on the 12V rail for a single card. The GPUs of the 7900 series use less power then the 7800 series did but they didn't relax the power requirements. They say 400W and 20A to be sure there will be no problems, it's a little over what's needed. With 400W and 18A you can probably get by because you are not running lots of extra hardware. That being said, if you want, you can probably pick up another power supply that's better for like $50 on Newegg or something.


If you are looking at a PSU such as the Antec TruePower Trio 550W for example, which has "3 12V output circuits for added system stability" - I assume this means 3 Rails - does one need to be a minimum of 20A or is it the TOTAL amperage of the 3 combined?
August 23, 2006 6:51:54 PM

If you want to play Oblivion then you will want to choose the ATI X1900XT over the 7900GT.

If you are concerned about noise, then I have the HIS IceQ3 version of the X1900XT. The IceQ3 cooler is significantly quieter than the stock version.
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