Okay here's the situation. I have a computer that I am planning to build, but as of yet, dont make enough to even imagine getting this thing built anytime soon. So, for the time being, I think I'll be generous to my family and upgrade the computer we already have. Now...It's a Dell, which of course means prebuilt. I've opened it up, been figuring out the already installed hardware bit by bit, but I just want to make sure, just in case anyone knows this...I've figured out that likely the only GPU that will work is one that plugs into just the regular PCI slot. The mobo in this thing is an Intel 845GL I think. It's already got onboard video, but I want to beef it up, if at all possible, and now that I'm getting more savy with hardware, I think it's possible. If not, I would love to be corrected before I spend any money.
The main prob is that since you're looking for a PCI (not PCI-E from what I read) vid card, almost anything you put in would be severely handicapped. I don't remember if there was a GeForce 7 with a PCI slot, but if there is, the only boost you'd get would be quite low and would probably be only beneficial for hardware acceleration when playing videos. I ain't hopeful that you'd even be able to play oblivion with a PCI slot even on low settings.
Though if you really want to upgrade, consider at least looking at benchmarks of the card that you want.
(Though almost any GeForce PCI card would be faster than the onboard of the i845)
Its an Radeon 9250, its just under $50 bucks. I have a friend that has the AGP / 128mb version and they have no problems running games like WoW. (I have a 9200 128mb AGP card that runs WoW without any issues, wouldn't even try Oblivion on it tho)
There are versions of the X1300 and X1550 available on Tigerdirect.com, however they are over $100 each. If you just want a cheap upgrade, I would think the 9250 would be good.
I had a friend who bought a new computer and gave me his Dell.
I was like wow thanks, because I was running an old Athlon T-Bird and a G-force 3.
The dell had a P4 2.8 in it so I though it would smoke my computer..
Well it wouldn't even run Quake 3 arena at 20 FPS, so I was going to upgrade it, and it had no AGP slot or PCI-E.
So I decided I'd just change out motherboards, but found out Non Dell mother boards would not work in a Dell case, so I bought a new case and Mother board, to find out the power supply, and hard drive would not work with the new case and MB.
So the only thing I got to use out of the whole Dell was the P4 Processor, and the memory .
The Heat sink and fan wouldn't even fit on the new board..
oh well they were free
Yeah, Dell's PC's are a ton of proprietary BS. Also, you need to understand that standard PCI slots have diddly squat bandwidth relative to just about everything else, so while a discrete card will boost your performance, said gains will be minimal. Martell77 and his friend have those Radeon 9200's that run things like WOW decently, but they also have AGP slots (possibly x4 or x8) with much higher bandwidth. I think that if I was in your position I would just wait until I had enough cash for a completely new build. You could throw something together for $700 that would obliterate your Dell in every benchmark, and get a mobo with AGP or PCI-E.
You are at the far limits of feasible gaming with that Dimension, even upgraded.
EDIT: Some stats for ya:
Theoretical bandwidth of a PCI slot is around 133MB/sec.
Theoretical bandwidth of a standard AGP slot (i.e. x1) is roughly 266MB/sec
Theoretical bandwidth of a PCI-E x16 slot is around 4GB/sec
Those aren't exact numbers, but you get the general idea.
Oh, yeah I know this thing will never be running games like WoW or Oblivion. I'm not even going to try. The build I'm looking at though, I just plain don't make enough money to afford right now, what with car/insurance payments burning up my money like no other. I'm looking at a build totaling over 2 grand after shipping and handling. These upgrades, while providing only minimal improvements are mostly just to make this old heap run a little faster and a little more smoothly, because right now, with four users on windows XP all sharing a 40gb hard drive...It's painful. I'm also looking at getting a 512mb stick of RAM as well as an external HDD for the majority of my own stuff on this comp to give the puny 40gb HDD a break. Then, once I am able to afford my build (which by the time I'm able to, parts prices will have dropped a bit...and already have since I started compiling my list) I can transfer whatever I need from the external drive to the new rig.
On second thought, assuming that my PSU is only 200w...would I even be able to handle a second RAM stick as well as a GPU? I fiddled with a PSU caculator and didn't like the results I got, but then again, I could have messed up with that.
Damn, 40 Gigs... ouch. I feel your pain man. Also, about the PSU, I think that what I'd do is I'd grab the new GPU. If it runs stable with the new GPU, great, you'll probably be fine adding more RAM, but if there's even the slightest hint of instability, you might be SOL. The problem is that PCI cards aren't even listing power requirements. As far as the new card goes, maybe take a look at this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I was looking at the Radeon 9200's and it appears they don't even support DX9, so I think you'll be better off with a GeForce.
EDIT: Yikes! I just looked at a PSU calculator; the outlook is not so good on having extra RAM AND a GPU. It looks like your peak power draw will definitely exceed 200W. Admittedly, those calculators aren't the be-all end-all, but I dunno man... You'll need a bigger PSU, which means buying a bigger PSU from Dell, if it's even offered... I doubt standard PSUs will work with that machine.
Much thanks for all the suggestions. Like I said, I'm not looking to be playing any heavy games on this thing ever, but just get a bit more out of it. I've been talking to my dad about it all, and he said he's hesitant and suggested the thought to just get a new comp had crossed his mind, so I offered to build him one and he seemed to like that. But still, thanks for the suggestions. Odds are I'll hold onto this old heap if my dad gets a new comp. At least until I can afford to build my monster, so I might as well take the suggestions given and do what I can with it until then!