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Upgrading Video Card on Pentium 4 PC

Hi, I am looking to upgrade the video card on my Dell Dimension XPS Generation 3 (purchased summer 2004). My main goal is to be able to play starcraft 2 on decent graphical settings.

Here are some details on my computer:

Pentium 4 (3.2 GHz)
1 GB RAM (planning on upgrading to 2-3 GB)
Radeon x800 SE (128 MB)
Windows XP
460 W power supply

So I am looking for a PCI-E card that would maximize the graphics for my current setup. More documentation on my computer model can be found here:

What video cards might you recommend or would it just be a waste of money at this point to try and upgrade? In either case I would appreciate some card recommendations.

Thanks for your help and let me know if there is any other information I can provide.

P.S. The system requirements for SC2 are as follows:

PC Minimum System Requirements:
· Windows® XP/Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 (Updated with the latest Service Packs) with DirectX® 9.0c
· 2.6 GHz Pentium® IV or equivalent AMD Athlon® processor
· 128 MB PCIe NVIDIA® GeForce® 6600 GT or ATI Radeon® 9800 PRO video card or better
· 12 GB available HD space
· 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 users)
· DVD-ROM drive
· Broadband Internet connection
· 1024X720 minimum display resolution

PC Recommended Specifications:
· Windows Vista®/Windows® 7
· Dual Core 2.4Ghz Processor
· 2 GB RAM
· 512 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon® HD 3870 or better
9 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Well... really any PCI-E card would work although your P4 will probably bottleneck it considerably.

    For $34.99 after rebate you can get this, which would still be a bit bottlenecked by your P4 but would boost gaming performance, the EVGA GeForce GT 220 FTW - it should play SC2 on medium, low at least:

    I really wouldn't spend too much money in a dead platform to be honest.
  2. you can get a 9800gtx+ for a 120 after rebates supports 3d gaming and 3d movies
  3. Just like Lmeow said above, don't spend much money on your old system, get that GT220. Save your money to build your next gaming system. :)

    9800GTX+ is just too overkill for the OP system.
  4. Thanks for your responses. I agree that I don't want to spend too much on such an old system, however I don't play too many high end PC games and am not ready to buy an new PC just yet.

    I have a few more questions:

    1. Does my motherboard have limitations on the type of video memory (e.g. GDDR2, GDDR3) and the video memory interface (e.g. 128 bit, 256 bit) it can support? Or is does the motherboard not matter for video ram since it communicates with the GPU?

    2. How do I know if my PSU will support a given video card?

    3. Will a directx 10 card still work on directx 9?

    Thanks again
  5. 1) No, most motherboards don't have any compatibility issues with any type of graphic card, and the memory you use on the motherboard, say DDR2, does not mean that you cannot use a GDDR3 card for example - DDR2, DDR3, GDDR3, GDDR4 & GDDR5 cards all work, and the same for the video memory interface.

    2) Depending on the wattage or amperage, and in general, checking out the total system power consumption for video card reviews which give you an approximation as to how much you'd need.

    3) A DirectX 10 card will work on Windows XP, however, you will not be able to use DirectX 10 features.
  6. The GT 220 card specs say the following:

    Minimum of a 300 Watt power supply.
    (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 18 Amps.)

    It doesn't require external power. According to it uses under 200 Watts. Assuming it satisfies the 12 volt rating of 18 amps, would my 460 W psu be enough? Whats a good estimate on how much Wattage the rest of my rig uses?

    Also do you know anything about how EVGA is with fulfilling rebates and are there any other cards out there you would recommend?

    Thanks again
  7. Sure, it should work.

    EVGA is meant to have really good customer support, so I'd assume that they'd be honest.

    Otherwise I would recommend the GT 240 which has similar power consumption, however, you CPU would probably be too much of a bottleneck, so much so that you'd see a negligible performance increase.
  8. Best answer selected by lynx1511.
  9. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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