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Help Identifying Secondary Upgrades

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 15, 2010 2:13:49 AM

This will be my first time upgrading individual computer parts, so I have decided to upgrade individual sectors of my hardware sequentially as opposed to the entire system. I would like to start with the graphics card and monitor.

I would like to move from my current HD4350 to a HD5850, but I cannot definitively tell if my current system can support it.

I am currently running
MB: I am not clear on how to identify this, but i believe it is the default for an inspiron 546
CPU: amd phenom x4 9750
RAM: 6GB
HDD: two 700GB drives in raid
GPU: Hd 4350
Monitor: Optiquest Q7
PSU: As far as I can tell from looking in the case, this runs at 300w, so it will have to be replaced.
Two dvd drives

Other than the PSU and Monitor, will I have to replace anything else? Can my motherboard support this card? Also, from what I gleaned from the wiring, I am already using (all?) four of my PSU's power cables (1 to each HDD and 1 to each dvd drive). Can I get one with 6 plugs or did I misunderstand the wiring?

Thank you for your patience and any help you can give. If you need any more info, feel free to ask.
April 15, 2010 9:14:41 AM

As long as your motherboard has a PCI-E slot then u can use any PCI-E graphic card, don't worry about that...
U will see a huge performance increase from 4350 to 5850. :) 
For your PSU, u must change it with the new one for sure. The new PSU will handle all of your components as well.
Choose brand like OCZ, Corsair, Antec, SilverStone.
April 15, 2010 11:17:11 AM

I would assume that since the 4350 is already in it that there is one PCIe.
I realized that there would be a substantial jump between the two cards. If you could not tell, my original computer was not bought for the express purpose of gaming.
Also, what resolution screen should I be looking for? If you know of a good one, please link to it. My desk should be able to fit any size monitor easily.

Finally, how much heat will this (new psu & gpu) contrinute to the system - will stock cooling still be enough?
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April 15, 2010 12:01:39 PM

An HD4350 was made for AGP, but I think that since your board is a phenom board it's going to be PCI-Express.

Your CPU is decent, however you should look to overclocking your CPU if you can. Replacing your MOBO might be the only way, but if you can do that within 5 months, that'd be great. See if you could get a Crossfire motherboard.

As for resolution, a bare minimum of 1680x1050, especially for an HD5850. 1920x1080 would be nice. If you can afford crossfire in later months, then you could also stretch 2560x1600, though those monitors are very expensive.

A new and good PSU can sometimes reduce the heat in your case, because it's not working as hard. A PSU loses some of its electricity to heat (efficiency), and a better PSU has better efficiency.

The GPU (HD5850) is pretty efficient. It runs during mild gaming at 75c or so, with 30-50% fan speed. If your case is an OEM case, you might run into the 80s with 60% fan speed, due to lesser cooling. Upgrading your case and motherboard at a later date would be heavily advisable.
April 16, 2010 12:00:30 AM

I plan on doing these upgrades as funds become available, so the timeframe may be a bit on the longterm side.

My case is OEM. Will this new setup be able to run without incurring secondary (heat) damage? What is the max temp I should be safe running this system at?

Also, are you saying that my motherboard will be unable to support overclocking, or did I misunderstand you? This is my first time having both the freedom and funds to modify my hardware, so I am trying to proceed carefully. How risky/difficult is moderate overclocking and will my computer be able to dissipate the excess heat? If you know of a very thorough step-by-step guide, could you please link to it.

Thank you for the info.
April 16, 2010 12:59:48 AM

I would first invest in a new case. Yours is an OEM motherboard, which locks overclocking. Your case is OEM and not designed for games, so it won't dissipate heat well.

If I were you, a new case and motherboard should precede a new GPU.
April 16, 2010 1:26:08 AM

I'll see if I can also replace the case, but since I am not too concerned about overclocking right now, I will hold out on the motherboard, but it will be next on my upgrade list.

How much should a good case cost, and what is a good one/brand

Also, on an unrelated note, I have been meaning to ask this for a while: Why, when using gpu-z or the like, does my monitored fan speed max out at 30%?
April 16, 2010 1:50:28 AM

It's not the fan's max. Fans tend to only climb to over 50% when heat gets over about 75c. Your CPU should always be under 65c.

A case like this would be fine. I don't know your budget, but this is a cheap and good case.
April 16, 2010 2:10:59 AM

Budget-wise, I am quite flexible, it will just effect the time untill my next upgrade.

Would you recommend this new-egg combo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

The case would be the same cost as the one you recomended due to shipping fees and this one is the highest rated on new-egg.

Edit: I did some more research, and it seems the antec 900 II is greatly improved. Is it worth a $30 increase in cost?
April 16, 2010 5:12:19 AM

That's a nice Combo, u will be happy with their performance and the PSU is good for a long term. :) 
April 16, 2010 10:09:25 AM

That PSU is just overpriced really. A $50 PSU will be fine for an HD5850, an a $70 case.
April 16, 2010 11:05:03 AM

One last question, what is a goog model of the 5850 at ~$300? I was thinking of getting either
1: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
2: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since this card will probably be in use for a while, I was leaning towards the XFX since people say it has a double lifetime warratny, but I saw no mention of it on the product page.

Once again, thanks to all, well both, of you for your help, after this, I think I am ready to order parts and begin assembly!
April 16, 2010 11:57:15 AM

Spend another $20 for a better version of the card, such as http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168....

This is an ASUS board with a non-reference cooler. ASUS has voltage-modding software which allows for you to overclock to 950+/1300+ core/memory. With the non-reference cooler the card will run much more stable and cooler.

Also, this case seems to be an extremely good buy. I'd recommend getting an intage fan (80/120mm) as it doesn't come with one.
April 16, 2010 4:46:42 PM

Consider shadow advice above, that's a cool card... :D 
!