I used to be a pretty avid pc gamer but due to the rise of the nextgen consoles I've lost interest and as a result, my rigg is a very very old timer! I use it mainly just as a home pc for internet browsing, media and the occasional world of warcraft session (or though I stopped playing recently).
Anyhow my system is as follows:
Dell Dimension 8250 Series
Intel Northwood P4@2.53mhz with 533mhz bus
1gig rambus ram
250w stock psu (10A current 12A maximum on +12VCD)
1x 60gig 7200 HD and 1x 40gig 7200 HD
Soundblaster Audigy on PCI
Geforce 4 Ti4600 128 on x4 AGP
Netgear superG wireless card on PCI
Additional case exhaust fan
1x DVDROM and 1x CDRW
The system origionally came with a 9700pro which ran fine but burnt out, the geforce is something I had lying around from my previous rigg. I'd like to try and extend the life of the old girl by adding a newer gfx card, espcially as I'm thinking of upgrading to vista. As far as I understand my options here are limited because of my 250w psu, however I have seen posts on forums where its been said cards such as the geforce 7600gt and radeon x1600pro can be run on my modest psu.
Was wondering if you might have any suggestions on what would be my best option gfx-wise?
With that CPU I wouldn't get anything better than the x1650 or 7600gs/gt series cards. Your PSU is questionable whether or not it can run either of them, though. If the PSU is a good quality 250 watt, and you don't have a lot of other crap (extra HDs, optical drives, fans...) you will probably be ok with an x1600 or 7600GS. But, if it is at all "cheap", the PSU will probably not make it. It could be why your 9700 pro died too...
But, that CPU is soooo slow, I wouldn't spend too much money on a new gfx card.
I have looked into the new PSU department, but as expected dell systems only take specific PSU's which are expensive to say the least. For a 410w upgrade I'll be looking at around £70-£100 for the PSU alone.
I had the x1650pro AGP on a P4 2.4 and found the cpu to be the weak link. Also these parts depend on an ATI Rialto Bridge Chip which gets very hot. You may want to crazy glue or thermal epoxy a ram sink to it if you have space.
I got rid of the card and the system very soon after. These High End AGP cards really only belong with decent Athlon x2 systems.
You will need a beefier PSU for sure. Antec 430 watt or so should be just fine, just make sure the wireing for the ATX main connector matches the dell as dell has used its own power connectors in the past.
You could always rewire a new psu to match the dell input or splice the connectors.
My vote is a dual core celereon $43 + i945 Mobo $50 + 2gb Ram $40 + PCIe Graphics + PSU.
Believe it or not, the card he currently has is probably "faster" in most cases. The FX series of cards was complete crap, and the 5200 was the lowest in the series, so it is double crap.
Don't get that card.
And unless you can get a 3rd party PSU, I personally wouldn't spend the money for a new Dell approved one. That is just too expensive for a 410 watt psu, that can't be used in anything but your extremely old Dell (meaning you probably can't use it in a new PC, if you were to build one).
As I suspected the situation is pretty dire. I have no idea how good my PSU is to be honest, with that in mind I don't think it would be worth the risk of putting a more power comsuming card in, especially with it being 5 years old which gets dangerously close to when Dell still used proprietary PSU's in their PCs.
I think it might be time to shop around for a new rigg and see if there's any decent deals out there.