I have a fairly new Dell Studio XPS 7100 and I was thinking about getting a new graphics card as I've been told by a local company store that it is bottle-necking my system. My primary interest for the graphics card is gaming--particularly starcraft 2. I can run the game on medium but I find it is optimal on low. I believe I have a 460 W power supply as googling my comp. model showed most XPS computers with that spec. I have an AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8 GHz processor and I've been told that ATI cards will perform better with this rig.
With that provided, what would be an ideal graphics card under $150 that I could buy which would allow me to run SC2 in high or maybe even ultra graphics under current wattage and have it be safe? Is it essential to update the power supply with the graphics card? The computer is using the stock graphics card currently, which is an ATI Radeon HD 4200. Obviously Dell advertised this as excellent but I don't think it's that good and an upgrade might help.
you got a lot of bad advise and i would just toss it all out the window
SC2 only uses two CPU cores so basically you are playing it with dual core @ 2.8ghz
the HD4200 is not a graphics card but rather an integrated chip. I'm shocked you managed to play the game at medium settings. its a credit to blizzard making the game scalable.
i would do three things with your current rig.
1) OC your CPU to 3.2ghz+. The athlon II run cool and OC very well
2) get an ATI 5770 ($150 on newegg). The Nvidia GTS250 ($110) is a budget alternative. Both play SC2 about the same but the ATI 5770 is an over-all better card. Either card will work fine with your PSU.
3) avoid the local company store. they are there to help themselves clear out their own stock to make a profit, they are not their to help you out.
dont worry about OC (overclocking) your CPU, its not really needed, and not advised if you have never done it before (it will cause problems if you dont know what your doing, do a lot of research before you do this). the ATI 5770 is the best choice, lower power consumption and less heat than the GTS250, and is overall faster, and supports DX11. Its always a good idea to have 1 case exhaust fan, if it doesn't already have one. a Nvidia card will work just as well, but they offer nothing to compete with the ATI 5770 in its price range.
Should I still stick with the ATI 5770? Or are there some other low-heat graphics cards that you could maybe name me? I did look at that SC2 performance chart but I just don't know which one of those I could run without overheating my stock power supply. I'll probably make the purchase in a couple of months.
Thank you all for being extremely helpful--I will most certainly wait the couple months as I am a student and broke :-P. It will more than likely be the ATI 5770; is there any chance of the price increasing or will it, like normal products, decrease? Thank you all in advance
Just thought I would add a serious issue that I am having with a specific issue of the HD 5770 (Sapphire Vapor-X) on the Dell Studio XPS 7100.
I am not completely sure if this is the issue, but Sapphire's Vapor-X is overclocked slightly to 860 Mhz (as opposed to the normal 850 Mhz). From what I have gathered, Dell's parts (particularly the MOBO) seem to have issue with this. I have had no end of troubles involving blue screens after installing this card into the Studio XPS 7100. I should mention a couple of things:
1) The computer runs perfectly fine on the onboard VGA (ATI HD 4200) and I have played SC2 on low settings for the past 2 months without issue.
2) I have RMA'ed this card to Newegg, so this is the second copy of this card. Both cards have had nearly identical issues.
3) At first I thought the crashes were random, but I have managed to rather reliably crash the system using Furmark. After approximately 5 minutes and a temperature of 80-85 C, the monitor goes dark as though it has been unplugged and the computer will either reboot or just freeze. Every .dmp files looks remarkably similar (0x124, BCP2 code: FFFFFA800...)
4) As anecdotal evidence, I have a friend who also purchased a Dell with nearly identical specs and his card works fine. He has a Diamond Radeon clocked to 850 Mhz.
To the original poster: I would recommend getting an HD 5770 clocked to 850 Mhz. Better yet, get the specific card verified by Dell: GCJ42 Radeon HD5770 P120A 1GB GDDR5.
You may be right. I guess the moral of the story, at least if you're going to go the "buy cheap Dell computer and put expensive video card in it" route is to get the information on the models that Dell uses, then try to either get the exact same model or at least match up as many specifications as you can.
From my experience SC2 like to have fast CPU and more then 2GB memory. I'd say GPU is less importand here, and if You want to save money I'd go for second hand 47xx/48xx radeon. If You want new card new 57xx series would be more then enough for sc2 if you are looking for high performence boost i'd say GTX 460 756 MB should be better value for money around 150$. To run 48xx cards or GTX 460 you need quality power supply since they consume alot of energy. Be sure to checkup what power supply You have, and if it's not a quality brand I would go for Ati 5XXX card if it was me