Hi sorry to bring up a question that's probably been asked before but it’s been a while since I’ve upgraded my computer. I have an HP Pavillion m8100n with an on board garbage graphics card. I was thinking of upgrading to the Raedon 4670 HD. I want to be able to play some of the newer games (Starcraft 2, Assassins Creed 2, the newest Splitner Cell). Would 512mb be sufficient or should I go for the 1GB? Also, my computer has a 300W power supply. I believe the 4670 requires 400W minimum. What is the risk of using less power? Will the pc just shut off or is there a risk of frying something? If I do need to upgrade the power supply, is this an expensive proposition?
Depends on your gaming resolution and settings. As your gaming resolution increases (1680x1050 for example, instead of 1024x768), the need for additional video memory increases. Other settings such as Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering also use additional resources. The price difference between a card with 512 and 1gb of memory is usually negligible, so I'd recommend the 1gb just to be safe.
A card that is underpowered can cause the following problems:
- Bad 3D performance
- Crashing games
- Spontaneous reset or imminent shutdown of the PC
- Freezing during gameplay
- PSU overload can cause it to break down
Pretty much everyone here on the forums would tell you to upgrade your PSU to something like 400+ watts (I'd recommend 500 at least personally) to be safe.
Upgrading your power supply is not that expensive as it used to be. You can find many different types of power supplies on sites like Newegg.com or tigerdirect.com
Things to look for in a power supply are:
- Continuous wattage (not peak)
- TOTAL amperage on the 12v rail (if there's multiple rails, add them up. 30+ amps at minimum, 40-50 would be a good total)
- Whether it's modular or not (this is more of a cosmetic option, but can slightly affect performance in extreme conditions. Modular means you don't have a ton of extra cables running around in your case because you only hook up the cables you need to the power supply)
- The size (you want to make sure it fits in your case!)
- Efficiency (higher efficiency power supplies waste less energy which means a nicer electricity bill at the end of the month. You'll see things like 80+ certified, which means it's 80% efficient or better. The higher percentage efficiency, the better)
- Types and Amount of connectors (You need to be sure you'll have all the necessary connectors you'll need to hook up everything. Most common things to look for are SATA power cables and how many PCI-E 6 pin/8pin connectors there are)
- And price!
You should also know that the 4670 512MB has a faster memory speed than the 1GB version (a cost controlling measure at the time), so the 512MB is generally a little faster. Anyway....
You shouldn't need to upgrade the PSU for that computer. Of course, you won't know till you try and stress the card . Anyway, you can get a decent 500W PSU for around $50-$60 now adays, even lower if get a sale on newegg. Of course, the difference between good, decent, and absolute crap is something you may want to research .
As for the video card, I say depending on your budget you may want to look at a Radeon 5670 instead which is considerably faster. Of course, you may be able to bet a 9800GT a little cheaper, it's a great buy right now, but that would certainly require you to upgrade your power supply.
Thank you all very much for the quick replies. I am not looking to spend that much and the 4670 is within my budget and is probably in the upper range of what I'm looking to spend, especially given potential upgrade costs for the PSU. I will give it a try without upgrading the PSU. Hopefully I don't fry my system. So just to confirm, either the 512 or 1gb will be sufficient if I run at medium to high settings for the games I indicated above?
You can save on shipping cost simply by getting it at your local store. They may even have previously returned units for cheap. I got a 500W LS unit for my backup machine that simply had the 115V/230V in the wrong position. Once I switched it the unit worked fine, and it was under $30 .