I have a dell c521 w/amd athlon x2 dual core 3800+ and ati x1300 with 1g memory.
I want to get a better video card, but I am afraid that the geforce 8600 gt isn't enough for me, considering that is the best low profile card, and I have to use low profile because I have a small case.
1. If I buy a barebones system just with a mobo in it, can I use my dell memory, hard drive, dvd burner, power supply in a regular ATX?
2. If I put the dell mobo in a bigger case, would I still run into fitment problems with the components on the mobo?
As you can see, I don't know a whole lot about computers. Any help is appreciated.
I don't know for sure what's in your specific DELL, but it looks like you've got an AM2 socket CPU and DDR2 memory. You'll certainly need a better quality and more powerful power supply for a power-hungry new graphics card, but you should just be able to transplant everything else to a new, bigger BTX case, install a better power supply, and upgrade your graphics card as desired. DDR2 RAM is cheap these days, so make sure you have at least 2GB total installed. Finally, you can also upgrade your CPU if you want; retail package (includes CPU cooler) x2 5000+ is $66 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) and even faster ones are available at higher prices.
All I would have to do from there is put whatever video card I want in there? It seems to me that the price of a barebones system defeats the purpose of me buying my own case, mobo, and psu and doing it myself.
$80 for the case and mobo
$65 for the power supply
$100 for a new copy of windows (I'm basically screwed out of my current copy?)
This is considering that just using my btx mobo will not transfer into a standard case.
Also, lets say I stuck with the system I have and just got more memory and went with the 8600GT low profile from the x1300 ati card. Would I see a huge difference in frames? The only game I care about right now is ARCA Sim Racing and iRacing. In ARCA, I get below 30fps with options maxed. What kind of improvement may I see?
I would expect that any graphics card that gave you a nice boost would require that you install a new power supply. I see that 8800GS cards are going for $90 or less now, and the awesome HD4850's are going for $175 or less. Either would be a *big* improvement over your x1300.
You could keep your current MB and Windows if you just upgraded to a full sized BTX case -- you might be able to find something cheap on ebay. The problem is that BTX failed as the "new" standard, so it's harder to find it now.
From what I noticed about my dell demention 521 case is that the motherboard back usb drives VGA and all those things are actually backwords to what normal motherboards are. I tried to put a small ASUS motherboard into this case and it wouldn't fit because and the things that sicks out the back of the dell 521 are actually on the other side so I would check your dell motherboard and make sure it illl fit in a normal case due to this problem