I have had my pc for about 2 years now and was only using it for school, internet browsing and the occasional low end online game. After my xbox 360 died I started using my pc more for gaming. Now, I am getting into some higher end games that don't want to run, even on low settings a lot of them are having trouble. Since I am completely computer illiterate I was wondering what would be a good replacement for a ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics card? I've been trying to run games like Fallout 3 (wanting to get the computer running good enough for Fallout New Vegas, when it comes out), Oblivion, Stalker, and would like to keep my options open for some other great games. Right now, I have been told the only reason I am having massive frame rate issues and other such problems, even on lower or lowest settings, is because of my graphics card. I know it is integrated and want to be sure that when I buy a new graphics card it will last for a few years and is compatible.
Other specs on the computer are:
AMD Phenom(tm) 9100e quad-core processor 1.80 GHz
4 GBs of RAM
64 bit windows vista (replacing with windows 7 soon)
And the PC and model itself is a gateway DX4200-09
Without replacing your power supply the best card you should consider is the HD5670. It is a good card for gaming at low resolutions(1280x1024 and below) and many times more powerful than your onboard graphics. If you are in the US this would be a good choice; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And about a power supply, how can I find out what kind I have or how powerful it is? Are they very hard to replace? I would like to get a pretty nice graphics card that I wouldnt have to worry about playing on lower resolutions. So if they aren't too difficult to replace, and by difficult I mean would fit in a stock tower and wouldn't require me getting anthing too expensive to go a long with it, what kind of graphics card would be better?
From what I'm seeing online the standard PSU for the DX4200-09 is 300w which is why I recommended the HD5670. Basically with that PSU you will want to avoid any card that needs a PCIE power connector.
If you are willing to replace the PSU then you can use much better cards but what card is right for you depends on your monitor's native resolution and your processor. You never said your resolution but you did say you have 1.8ghz Phenom. Unfortunately a processor of that speed is quite poor for gaming. It will likely limit even the HD5670 in the more CPU intensive current games.
You can however upgrade your CPU as well. There's not much info on such on the Gateway site but supposedly your computer uses a Foxconn (Bengal) RS780 motherboard. According to this; http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/576947/ShowThread.aspx
You can use at least certain Phenom II x4 processors.
All of this is adding up in cost but the processor will be a large upgrade and make your computer fairly current as well as allowing you to properly utilize graphic cards suitable for current games at high resolutions.