I know we all have mixed emotions about Dell PC's but I am trying to retrieve my PC by buying a new one for my son and I get a discount on Dells. The system itself should be adequate for his needs but I wonder about the videocard. The best upgrade possible is a 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro . Is this card any good? He mostly plays Final Fantasy XII online. Thanks for any responses in advance.
In my opinion, I would not choose any graphic cards from Dell. I would just get the base machine and get a graphic card elsewhere. I find the graphic card option from Dell to be limited and overpriced. That is what I had done in the past.
As for the card, I think it would be a very limited gaming card. If you post your budget, or price for the ATI X1300 pro, some of the more informed members can advise you the best card for a similar price.
This card I mentioned is $100 more than the standard card that comes with the PC that is a NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE Integrated Graphics GPU. I assume this is for the newere PCIe slot. Budget isn't really that much of a consideration although I wouldn't want to go too overboard given that he is currently playing this game on our 4-year old PC with a NVIDIA 5200 card. I would like to be able to perhaps play Oblivion myself down the road so I would need a decent card for that.
You need to take the PSU into consideration. If you plan on playing Oblivion in the near future, that X1300 will be absolutely terrible, and any GPU that can decently play Oblivion will require more power than the PSU in your new dell can handle.
I generally agree with the others who suggest buying a third party graphics card - you should be able to get a better card and spend less money. While you can get a better card than Dell offers, you do however need to consider psu capacity.
Which Dell are you considering and how large is the psu?
What other equipment beyond the basics do you expect to buy now or add in the future? For instance more than one HD or optical drive? How many sticks of memory?
You have to be very careful with Dell and their low-end systems. It may not be the case, but confirm that if you buy the system without the X1300 there will be an available PCI-E X16 graphics card slot. Dell used to screw people over buy selling machines without AGP slots. Not sure if this is the case currently but it is something to check on.
Next, instead of buying their X1300 find out what you're options are on upgrading the PSU through them. OEM PSUs are often proprietary which means you usually have to go through them to get it (price premium included) to make sure you get one that is compatible. It's not always the case, but often is. The good thing is that they usually rate their PSUs based on true wattage so if they tell you 350W, it is a 350W PSU and not a 350W Max PSU. Try and upgrade to the highest PSU you can fit your budget. 350 should suffice, but 400 would be better.
Balance out the lower cost of the PSU upgrade through Dell (at least it should be cheaper than $100) and get a better GPU aftermarket through a place like Newegg or ZipZoomFly.
If Oblivion is on your horizon, then I'd opt for an X1650XT over the 7600GT. Otherwise the 7600GT is a great card. Also make sure that any card you're looking at will fit in the Dell case. Those ultra slim Dell cases should be avoided if you're looking at upgrading the graphics.
Yeah, if you have a limited PSU the 7600gt is the way to go. You can always get a replacement PSU from PCP&C (who make great PSUs). They are some of the only people I know of that make PSUs for drop-in Dell replacements:
I'd lean towards recommending the X1650XT over the 7600GT. Better vista drivers for one. Either one would be more than enough for what you're doing. I'm running a 7600GS currently and I'm quite happy with it other than occational driver based performance issues in Vista.