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Upgrading video card, need advice please

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 19, 2008 10:49:43 PM

I am trying to get the family pc upgraded so it can play warhammer online, currently my radeon 9550 cant handle it very well.

My specs are
Dell dimension 4600
2.9ghz pentium4
1gb ram (333mhz) pc2700
motherboard: not sure but its agp
dvd-rom
psu: 260watts

A friend game me his Ultra x2 550w psu, it has 2 12volt rails with 17amps on one and 18 amps on the other

So my question is which video card should i buy with this configuration, i'm guessing a Sli or crossfire setup since theres 2 12volt rails? is that even possible with one agp slot? will the cpu bottleneck?

Any help is greatly appreciated.
September 19, 2008 11:02:11 PM

SLI or Crossfire is not possible on AGP cards, or on motherboards with only 1 slot. So that's out. I think your best bet would be a Radeon X1950 Pro AGP version.
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September 19, 2008 11:23:54 PM

SLI and Crossfire are NOT possible on an AGP board.

You have only 1 AGP slot and thus will be limited to a single AGP video card (SLI and Crossfire are ONLY PCI-Express).

Yes, your CPU will bottleneck your system more than anything else.

In my opinion the only viable upgrade path for that computer is to add another 1GB of memory for a total of 2GB and something like an AGP HD3850.


Newegg list of 1GB DDR 333 pc2700 modules

Newegg list of Radeon HD3000 series cards on AGP

Keep in mind, however, that you are upgrading old generation technology with... old generation technology.

To be honest, I think you would be better served by saving your money and doing a complete rebuild of the system with modern components.
September 20, 2008 1:05:06 AM

thanks for the quick replies and your time

I am going to upgrade to 2gb memory as suggested, but i am left with one question about the vid cards suggested.

I researched the 3850 and the power requirements say they recommend a 450w psu with 30amp 12volt rail, but the psu i have has a 12 volt rail with 17amps and one with 18amps, can my psu handle the 3850?
do the amps add together since they are both 12volt rails?

I guess if the psu cannot handle the 3850 should i look for a vid card the requires a 18amp 12volt rail?

just trying to understand all this stuff





September 20, 2008 1:37:37 AM

Hello there Ryvax.

Yes, you will most likely need to purchase a new power supply to use the 3850 on your current setup.

I would strongly suggest, however, that you buy a new computer. By spending just a few hundred more you will have a computer that will not only run warhammer at an acceptable level but will also provide you with a more enjoyable experience with newer apps, internet surfing etc. The setup you are currently using will struggle greatly with new software / games / applications...not to mention warhammer, even with a 3850.
September 20, 2008 1:56:57 AM

ryvax said:
thanks for the quick replies and your time

I am going to upgrade to 2gb memory as suggested, but i am left with one question about the vid cards suggested.

I researched the 3850 and the power requirements say they recommend a 450w psu with 30amp 12volt rail, but the psu i have has a 12 volt rail with 17amps and one with 18amps, can my psu handle the 3850?
do the amps add together since they are both 12volt rails?

I guess if the psu cannot handle the 3850 should i look for a vid card the requires a 18amp 12volt rail?

just trying to understand all this stuff



It's not exactly as simple as rail 1 amps + rail 2 amps = total amps

You should be fine with the 550w PSU you have though.
September 20, 2008 1:58:13 AM

I second garpizzle's motion.

The cheapest AGP 3850 is 40$ more expensive than the cheapest PCIe 3850. 1 gig of DDR333 is only 5$ cheaper than 2 gig of DDR2-667. You'd save 35$ if you buy current technology (PCIe/DDR2). If you sell your P4 and that 1 gig of DDR333 on ebay, with a little luck you get 15$ out if it. Combine that with the 35$ you saved and you've got 50$, which buys you a micro-atx Socket AM2 board.

The all you need is to spend another 40 bucks (special offer at Newegg) and get an Athlon 64 BE-2400, that is 2.3 Ghz Dual Core. This system will easily outperform any P4.

Or spend 70$ on a 2.7 Ghz Dual Core (Athlon64 X2 5200+).

The Intel route would be a little more expensive, with the board costing about the same, but Core2 Duos starting at 130$.
a b U Graphics card
September 20, 2008 1:59:42 AM

^You forgot that the E2180 is only $60 or so. :p 

Upgrade time ? ;) 

AGP is dead.
DDR is dead.
P4 has been killed.
September 20, 2008 2:07:41 AM

I personally own a dimension 4550 with lower specs and I know that my 7600gs is bottlenecked by the cpu (2.4ghz northwood). It's an old pc thatisn't worth upgrading.
you're gonna have to get a new pc going. :( 
September 20, 2008 2:33:08 AM

It's about time to get a new computer, otherwise the 3650 should work (if you want to spend the minimal amount of money, it requires less power as well). I don't know if it's worth it though to get a new computer just to play new games (it's not that easy earning money these days).
September 20, 2008 2:56:14 AM

I think i will just get a new pc, i see that even the cheap pc's will blow this one away

Thanks again everyone

September 20, 2008 5:10:00 AM

Are you gonna then build a new pc or buy one?
I'd recommend building if you're around a $600 mark (us dollars)
good hardware is cheap these days
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 20, 2008 7:44:13 AM

Definitely build a new system. After shipping the cheapest agp HD3850 is $138 and 1 gig of PC2700 is $29 for a total of $167. You can build a new system that's more than twice as fast as your current one with a video card that's just as good as the 3850 for almost the exact same amount money.
First, that 550w PSU should be fine. You also already have a case and drives so those can be recycled. Basically all you need is a mother board/cpu, some RAM and a video card.

MB/CPU: As someone mentioned you can get an AthlonX2 BE-2400 for $40 at newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It has some combo deals with motherboards for as low as $67.

RAM: 4 gigs of Corsair ddr2 800 are $54 after rebate at the moment.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You can save some money by going with only 2 gigs of ram but 4 gigs is well worth the extra cost.

Video Card: EVGA 9600 GSO $50 after rebate. Best deal around by a good margin.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That's everything you need.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 20, 2008 7:55:00 AM

I lied. Forgot that CPU is OEM so you will need a fan/heatsink for it. But that'll only set you back $10-15.
September 21, 2008 10:26:40 AM

i'de listen to these guys, if you can afford it, it'll be much much better for you, if you are only doing very moderate gaming with older basic games. just buy a cheap agp card, but even then it would feel somewhat of a waste..

if you want to play any game that's came out in the last couple years you might want to build a new rig. your processor hurts, so does the ram and psu, and also AGP hurts also.. :( 
!