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Graphics Card for Dell with only 250 Watt PSU

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 14, 2008 11:17:32 PM

My son is getting into gaming and wants the game Spore for the holidays. When I ran a diagnostic from their website on my ancient but reliable Dell Dimension 4500 (purchased in 2002), it advised that my video card would not meet the game's minimum requirements. I've spent two frustrating weeks trying to find an AGP card that will work with the machine. The biggest problem area seems to be the power supply. Here are the details on the machine including from CPU-Z (thanks for the site, cfitzarl):

1. Budget for new AGP Card - - up to $140, but preferably less (of course)
2. CPU: Pentium 4 2.4 GHz / 1 core / 1 thread / socket 478 mPGA
3. Core speed: 2392.0 MHz
4. Multiplier x Bus speed 18.0 x 132.9 MHz
5. Rated Bus speed 531.6 MHz
6. Stock frequency 2400 MHz
7. Instruction sets MMX, SSE, SSE2
8. L1 Data cache (per processor) 8 KBytes, 4-way set associative, 64-byte line size
9. Trace cache (per processor) 12 Kuops, 8-way set associative
10. L2 cache (per processor) 512 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64-byte line size
11. System RAM 1023 MB DDR
12. Windows XP Home Edition with service pack 2
13. Power Supply: Almost impossible to read the label. (Thanks Dell) Here is everything that I could makeout on it:
Model number HP-P2507F3C. "Max Output Power 250 watt."
The rest of the label includes the following information - - hope this makes sense to you:
"AC Input: 100 - 120V = 6A / 200 - 240v = [illegible may by a 3A or 8A]
DC Output:
*5V = /22A *12V = 14A
*3.3V = /18A -12V = /1A
*5Vfp = /2A
*5V and *3.3V shall not exceed 150W
Max Output Power 250 Watt."

14. Motherboard: Intel Model D845SEPT2
15. Graphic interface: AGP version 2.0 transfer rate 4x
16. Current video card: NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 420 (64 MB)
17. I'm in the USA

Spore's site says the game requires a minimum 128mb video card with support for pixel shader 2.0. However, I'd like something that is at least 256mb (and preferably 512), pixel shader 3.0 or higher, and ideally a card that a non-techie like myself can install without driver problems, etc..
HOWEVER, at this point, with the holidays bearing down on us and too many frustrating calls with Dell, I'm not going to be too choosey.
The real issue seems to be finding an AGP card that will work with the 250 Watt Power supply.
(1) Your suggestions for a compatible and good AGP card are ver appreciated.
(2) Also, does the card have to be DDR2 for my setup? Or can it be DDR3 (the service tech from Dell said must be DDR2 but he said a lot of things to me that were not correct so I do not know whether he was right on the DDR2 vs DDR3 issue.) will be most welcome.
(3) And finally, if I am upgrading the video card, is it necessary or recommended that I also replace the P4 2.4GHZ chip with a faster processor?
December 15, 2008 12:07:22 AM

Heya,

Tom'sHardware main page has best cost effective videocards as of today. On the front page. It has best AGP class cards listed. Take a look.

By the way, you're limited by AGP. Don't expect much. That entire system, while working, is dated for modern games.

Cheers,
December 15, 2008 12:19:16 AM

Ahh it looks like you have pretty much the same thing I have in my front living room (possibly same exact thing, but im too lazy to check out the exact specs). But yeah your computer is quite outdated I wouldn't bother putting any money on it to try to game on it. I personally do what I did and dig up a couple hundred bucks and build new computer, in my case I sunk in $500 for starters than slowly added on the things I skimped out on orginally, like the HD and dvd-burners.

But right now you can probably build a nice budget dual core tower for under $500 and get some good performance out of it and be set for awhile, that is if you willing to OC.
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December 15, 2008 12:27:53 AM

jis said:
And finally, if I am upgrading the video card, is it necessary or recommended that I also replace the P4 2.4GHZ chip with a faster processor?



I would not recommend putting much more money into a computer that outdated. You arent going to be able to find a processor that works in that motherboard that is very much faster anyways.
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2008 4:39:37 AM

If this was my system that i wanted to upgrade i'd probably go with the 2600XT DDR2 for $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
it won't be as fast as the DDR3 models, but they are running $90+ after rebates, they would give you better performance though. You can use a DDR3 graphic card btw. One caveat is your power supply, it's a bit underpowered and it's got 6 years of aging on it. If it was MY system i'd have no problem plugging it in and running it, but you may be a bit more cautious then i am.

*edit* to answer question 3 i'd really be hesitant about dumping any money into the old system. If you add the graphic card, new CPU, maybe bump the RAM........... you'd be better off putting the money into a new system. Even if you don't want to build a system yourself you can get a MUCH better system for relatively little money now. Here's a quick shopped example for $479 off of Newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
December 15, 2008 10:23:38 AM

Thanks for the suggestions to just get a new computer, but I am really looking to keep this one going for another year or so, and even when I do get a new machine, I will still need this one for the kids, so. . . . does anyone out there know of a good AGP card that I can install in a machine with only a 250 watt power supply.
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2008 2:20:11 PM

The 2600XT shown above uses 49 watts of power and requires a 4 pin molex supplementary supply from the power supply. This 2600PRO uses 31watts of power and requires no input from the power supply other then the AGP socket. At $30 after rebate it's not a bad choice and will be no problem with your aging 250w PSU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?showtopic=264

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-grap...
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