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New graphics card for old system, worth it?

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July 17, 2008 10:04:08 PM

Hi everyone, wondering if you'd be so kind to help me with a little dilemma i've got.

My current PC (which i built 3 years ago) isn't really able to run new games any more, so i could really do with either
a) buying a new graphics card
b) building a completely new PC

Being a student, i'd like to save cash where possible, but i realise it might be time to go for a system overhaul.
My current machine looks like this:

Athlon X2 4200+ (Socket 939)
2 GB DDR400 Ram (4x512MB)
6600GT 128MB Ram Edit: (PCI-E)
ASRock motherboard (nVidia 630A MCP chipset?)
Hiper 525W (peak) power supply
DVD writer, 2HDD's, Floppy
OS is Windows XP Pro SP2

I know that with my current machine, it probably isn't worth getting a graphics card that is too powerful as it'll just be bottlenecked, but i''ve not got a clue what sort of card to be looking for for optimal performance. A 512MB ATi HD3850 Pro would only cost me £65, or there's the 9600GT which is a bit more (~£90).

The other major problem with upgrading the video card would be whether my PSU could cope, i don't have a clue how much power my system actually use atm. My current PSU doesn't have a PCI-E power connector either, but can you get adaptors for those?

Hopefully the info above is sufficiently descriptive. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


July 17, 2008 10:16:34 PM

what matters is the 12 v rail, you need about 20 amps for a 15-20 amps for a modern card for the gpu alone. if your power supply can actually supply about 400 continuous you'll be ok (as long as most of that is 12v). I have an 8800 gts running on a decent 450 watt.
July 17, 2008 10:30:34 PM

From my PSU's manual, it states that it has 2 12V rails, which can provide a total of 360W between them (505W max continuous supply for everything). Rather confusingly it says that +12V1 has load range of 0.2-20A, whereas +12V2 has load range of 0.2-17A. IT also says it complies with ATX2.2, but i thought ATX2.2 was supposed to include PCI-E connectors?
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July 17, 2008 10:40:18 PM

the atx spec doesent specify physical connectors, it should be okay, provided they are honest on the specs...ask the op at jonnyguru.com...they test powersupplies mostly and they could tell you if hiper is ok :) .

Specs wise it is enough...gl :) 
July 17, 2008 10:43:20 PM

That gives you 30 amps total on the combined rails (360/12=30) and is enough to run the cards you mention. You can easily get a adapter for the power connector and many GPU come with one included as well.
July 17, 2008 10:46:38 PM

Thanks for the info, hadn't heard of that site before.

As for choice of graphics card (assuming the PSU is fine), how good a card do you think i could get without it being severely bottlenecked by the rest of the system?

Also, my monitor runs at 1280x1024, so i'd want to run games at that res, i'm assuming most current cards would perform well at that resolution now?
July 17, 2008 10:51:04 PM

I think you'll be fine with any card you get. You might have some bottleneck, but not so much that your games are going to be unplayable, other than maybe some very CPU dependent games.
July 17, 2008 10:56:52 PM

well my 5400 is not fast enough for my 8800gts 512, so maybe something out of the 3000 ati series or 8000 nividia, if it is AGP slot, then your more limited, if it is pcie then an 8800gs or 9600 gt would be a good card without waiting on your cpu terribly long, plus if you have a little more card than your cpu can handle, enabling things like aa then is basically free and causes almost no performance penalty. :) 
July 17, 2008 10:56:57 PM

Anything from 8800gs/9900gso/HD3850 512mb and up. Bottle necking is not huge issue with your dual core which you could overclock a bit It is more the money you want to spend and all those cards are a huge upgrade from your current one.
July 18, 2008 12:24:58 AM

you could even get a 4850 for that system if you don't mind spending that much money. i also have a 4200+, although it's an AM2 and not a 939, and i oc'ed it to 2.6Ghz. with that and my 4850 i can play all the new games. i can manage crysis on high and get acceptable fps, and every other game works just fine maxed out.
July 18, 2008 12:42:41 PM

I have PCI-E, so i could pretty much go with any card. I was thinking about a 4850 but then saw how hot it runs :??:  , and since my pc is on basically 12hrs a day i thought i should probably get something that runs a little less hot and is a bit more 'stable'?.
!