I have a Shuttle XPC running an Athlon 64 3000+, 200GB SATA HD, 1GB RAM and Geforce 5200FX AGP graphics. Of this list, the Graphics card is the weakest link in overall performance.
I don't play a lot of games, but am running Vista Ultimate and like the Aero effects (and get good results so far, even with a 2.6 performance score). The games I do play are usually older RTS (i.e Command & Conquer Generals, Defcon, Call of Duty 1 & 2...).
I want to upgrade my video whilst awaiting a whole new system... but the problem is, since most mid to high end cards require auxiliary power, my issue is not really what is the best/fastest/cheapest AGP based card to upgrade too as much as what can my little SFF power supply handle?
I have already upgraded to a 250 watt model (had to hack the case a bit to fit) when the original 240 watt model burnt out. So far I have not had any power issues. But I need to determine the best video upgrade (if any) within the limits of AGP interface and 250watt power supply.
I am also limited to a single width card... but considering the power limitations, no double width card need even apply
Someone must have done something similar out there… Any advice welcome. Thanks
EDIT: My memory and numbers... bad match Original PSU was 240watt, present PSU is 250watt. Still... very low...
I have already upgraded to a 150 watt model (had to hack the case a bit to fit) when the original 120 watt model burnt out. So far I have not had any power issues. But I need to determine the best video upgrade (if any) within the limits of AGP interface and 150watt power supply.
Thats a royal eye-catcher. I think your going to be quite restricted for a worth-while upgrade. Even if you were to upgrade to a GF 6 series card, nVidia perfers you to have 250w+.
You may try a low wattage solution like the 6200LE. Ofcourse, sufficient amps on your +12v rail will be a factor.
Kudos to Shuttle and their quality power supplies.
And to Il_palazzo for the best advice!!!
I tried two different cards;
Sapphire ATI X1600 Pro 512MB AGP - Nice card, wee bit noisy fan, but needs it as it runs warm. My computer handled it just fine even under heavy load. Vista score of 4.0. Far Cry played fantastic at maxed out settings. C&C3 played beautifully at medium settings, Unfortunately, COD2 crashed in minutes EVERY time and Vista gave various "driver has stopped and was restarted" errors.
Asus GeForce N7600GS 256MB AGP - Even better!! very quiet, cool and fast. Vista score of 3.6 (less memory). Far Cry played fantastic at maxed out settings (needed 1.4 patch to correct graphic issues). C&C3 played beautifully at medium settings and COD2 ran excellently... auto settings never looked so good... and NO crashes.
I stayed with the Asus. It ran every bit as fast as the Sapphire on all my tests (if not better in some real world observations) and I like the stability as well as cool and quiet. But it was nice to see that my PSU could handle a bit more juice if I ever wanted too... and there is still a 300watt PSU available to give even more headroom. While they are not listed as such, I believe that the Shuttle PSU's are "true power" rated.
Now I don't need to get a new computer for what my present and near future uses are ... ahhh but one day...