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Power supply and upgrade question

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March 3, 2011 3:07:43 AM

I just bought a new HPE-570t. One of the downsides is a limited power supply (300 watt).

I'm thinking about future upgrades, such as a better video card than what I've got in my system (currently a ATI Radeon HD 5450) and an internal Blu Ray writer. I understand that I could add the Blu Ray burner without a power supply upgrade, but that for a better video card, I would need to change power supplies.

My computer suffered from the Sandy Bridge chipset defect, so I'm going to be getting a new machine. And I was told that I could add upgrades at that time. As I understand it, a 460 watt power supply would be $56, and I could upgrade to an HD 5770 for only $10 more (the $10 HD 5770 is according to someone who said he added that upgrade for that price with my computer model).

Assuming that's correct, that upgrade would be $66.

Or I could wait a while (I don't really need it now) and install it myself.

Here are my questions:

1) If I did an upgrade myself, I could obviously add a much bigger power supply than the 460 watts available from HP. But is there any reason for this? Or should I just get the lowest power unit that I think will fit my needs? What power supply and wattage would you recommend?

2) How do you mate components? For instance, how do you match a video card to a processor? I might be wrong, but it seems like the i7-2600 that my computer has has its own built-in graphics and a new technology. I would want any video card upgrade to work WITH what my 2600 offers, and not against it.

I've read that some people have bought power supplies that were larger than their case capacities, or that they had to stuff it in so tightly that they created airflow/heat problems. I'd rather get something the same size/shape to avoid issues, which means I'd have to look over my unit for those specs.

Basically, I've never messed with the internals of a computer before. I've had laptops up to now, and the only thing I've done is upgrade my RAM. While I'm not too afraid to open up my case and make fairly simple replacements, I wouldn't want to get something that required a bunch of alterations; I'd just want stuff that fit in same-same and ran right without software hassles.

More about : power supply upgrade question

a b ) Power supply
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2011 8:19:37 AM

How much did you pay for that, list the specs. What do you use your PC for, gaming?
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March 3, 2011 10:33:08 AM

Well if you don't do it before you buy the new system you will pay more as you wont be able to send back the old items and also do it by yourself.

I think since you don't want to mess around with PC components and since you bought a branded name PC its better to leave it to them to do the upgrades and not mess around too much.

Branded PCs are less upgradeable than DIY ones, often have smaller cases, as you say low power PSUs etc.

The 460W PSU with the 5770 will be perfectly fine for a couple of years if you don't want max details and high resolutions.

The i7-2600 can work well with any modern video card so IF in the future you need something more than a 5770 then you could measure case allowance and get a better PSU and video card.

As i see it with the prices you mention and also your needs it would be worth it to go for 460W + 5770 upgrade to keep you going for some time and for not much cost.

The 5450 + 300W PSU is a small PSU and a very entry level graphics card.
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March 3, 2011 11:09:13 PM

mosox said:
How much did you pay for that, list the specs. What do you use your PC for, gaming?


Mosox,

My computer is an HPE-570t. I paid $849 ($799 for the basic system + $50 for a wireless card).

HP Pavilion Elite HPE-570t PC
• Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
• Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 quad-core processor with Turbo-Boost [up to 3.8GHz, 8MB cache]
• 8GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [4 DIMMs]
• FREE UPGRADE! 1.5TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive from 750GB
• No additional office software
• Norton Internet Security(TM) 2011 - 15 month
• 1GB DDR3 ATI Radeon HD 5450 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]
• No speakers
• LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
• Wireless-N LAN card
• 15-in-1 memory card reader, 1 USB, audio
• No TV Tuner
• Beats Audio -- integrated studio quality sound
• HP USB keyboard and optical mouse

I had been planning to buy an AMD quad or six core system with 6GB of Ram and 1TB HD. But when this system came along, I figured it seemed worth the $250 extra, given the superior processor, the extra 500MB of HD, and the 2 extra gigs of Ram.

I will mostly be using this computer for stuff that any reasonably decent computer could do (blogging, browsing, that sort of thing). I DO plan to get a few games, but hardly anything major. Mostly, I would like to get into photoshopping and video editing. And anything else I'll have to kind of discover as I go along.
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March 3, 2011 11:32:19 PM

noble said:
Well if you don't do it before you buy the new system you will pay more as you wont be able to send back the old items and also do it by yourself.


I should have been more clear.

The new Sandy Bridge computers came with a c200 chipset that turned out to have a defect which will have to be replaced. According to what HP has told me, I will receive an entirely new computer sometime in April. And in answer to my question, they told me that I could choose to upgrade at that time. Which is to say that I already have the computer, and am fondling its keyboard right now, but I will be getting a new new computer. And I could either have HP install the 460W psu and the HD 5770, or I could wait and install a power supply and a video card myself sometime in the future.

I actually have a THIRD option: HP has said I could exchange the computer for one of "comparable value." And they gave me this list to choose from:

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/series_can.d...

The only computer I would consider is the HPE-590t at the bottom. Here are it's specs:

Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-970 six-core [3.2GHz, 1.5MB L2 + 12MB shared L3 cache]
9GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM [6 DIMMs]
FREE UPGRADE! 1.5TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive from 1TB
1GB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6570 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter]
Blu-ray player & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burner
2-year In-Home limited hardware warranty

I happen to know that it comes with a 460W power supply.

I might be wrong, but I got the sense it would be an even swap. But while this computer is twice the money, in many ways it seems like it isn't much better, and in some ways it isn't as good (the i7-970 vs. the i7-2600).

If it had a Blu Ray writer, I would probably go for it. As it is, I've been trying to find out what to do, and haven't learned enough to decide.

I COULD also get a full refund and build my own, but I've never done that before, don't know anyone well who has done it before, and would want to know a LOT more about it before jumping in to a project like that. So for now it's "branded," I'm afraid.

In addition to that, I wouldn't want to go with Linux, so I'd have to buy Windows, which would take away a lot of the incentive of DIY.

When I ordered this computer, I knew nothing about power sources or video cards. 300W seemed like plenty, and I didn't understand what a good video card could do relative to the rest of a system. In trying to learn about the decision as to what to do with this computer decision (which option to take), I've learned more about computer hardware than I've ever known.
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March 4, 2011 5:01:18 AM

I think I understood you! When I said "won't be able to sent back old items" I meant in the scenario that you get the low power GPU and PSU and then upgrade in the future those two, that you will be left with a spare card and PSU and that you would pay more for those upgrades than the prices you quote above.

The second system seems fine too although as you say you need a BD writer. I'm not sure how fast that 6570 is compared to 5770 though as it is listed as OEM only option, and can't seem to find any benchmarks for it. Seems decent enough though maybe something in between 5450 and 5770 from a brief look I had around.
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March 4, 2011 5:24:25 AM

noble said:
I think I understood you! When I said "won't be able to sent back old items" I meant in the scenario that you get the low power GPU and PSU and then upgrade in the future those two, that you will be left with a spare card and PSU and that you would pay more for those upgrades than the prices you quote above.

The second system seems fine too although as you say you need a BD writer. I'm not sure how fast that 6570 is compared to 5770 though as it is listed as OEM only option, and can't seem to find any benchmarks for it. Seems decent enough though maybe something in between 5450 and 5770 from a brief look I had around.


Yes, I was thinking that, too.

Davcon is entirely correct that I could get a larger and probably better power sourse for possibly even less than the $56, but if in fact I could get the video card upgrade (the 5770) for only $10 more on top of that, I doubt very much if I could get that kind of combo later for $66.

I saw specs on all three cards, but they weren't compared in apples-to-apples terms. But based on your understanding, the 5770 might be the best card of the lot?

I'm willing to hold off on the Blu Ray writer until later. In a way, the 970 system (which has a player, but not a writer) is worse to me than just having an empty expansion slot.

I'm not able to get any options/pricing info for the 570t system I have right now, as it is not being sold until the chipset issue is resolved, and it's as if it doesn't even exist to the customer service people at HP. But assuming that I can get that 5770 card for a $10 upgrade charge (and it is my understanding that I'd HAVE to get the 460W upgrade to power the 5770 card), it seems like a pretty good way to go.

I haven't abandoned the 970 system entirely, but I'm just not seeing enough reason to go to it, other than that I'd have a system I could call "my own" faster.

I'm not intent on having "the best" system by any means. But as I've learned more about PSUs and video cards, I'd kind of hate to be limited in what I could do on my machine.
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Best solution

March 4, 2011 5:42:21 AM

If you can afford to wait then do so, the 570t system is the best way to go as it is also the newer system and the socket where the CPU "sits" at least in theory would be more upgradeable in the future, should you want to upgrade to a better next gen CPU. As it is, it is indeed a VERY GOOD CPU, and you can hardly do much better in terms of processing power even if you spend significantly more.

The 5770 as I understand yes is the best GPU of the 3 mentioned and will keep you going for quite some time for mid level gaming and could be later upgraded as well, which I doubt based on what you said that you would need to soon. PSU if fine too! I have the next model up the Radeon ladder the 6850 (50% faster than 5770) running on an AMD quad core with a 400W PSU just fine! Consumes around 200W when gaming!

I am also very fond of SSDs, which add very much to the overall feel of the responsiveness of the system and I think it would be a great upgrade to any system as well!
Around 120$ for a 60GB or 200$ for 120GB model, which may seem much but totally worth it if you can afford it!
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March 4, 2011 5:27:59 PM

Noble,

I had been looking at an AMD Phenom system with a quad core. And then I saw that I could get an AMD six core for about the same money (about $550, with 6 gigs of RAM and a 1 TB HD). And when I saw this 570t being offered for $250 more, I looked at what I'd get extra and decided to go for it. It's an amazing machine compared to my six year old Dell Inspiron 1100 notebook - but I suppose that goes without saying.

In terms of the CPU, I've heard both that the i7-970 is better than the 2600 (http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_lookup.php?cpu=Intel+Co...), and I've heard that the 2600 is better than the 970 - you can do a direct compare here and it's not even close:http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/50?vs=288

But when I've had a chance to chat with someone such as yourself, I'm mostly being told to stay with the 2600 machine.

As for the upgrade:

I COULD wait, but if the power supply at 460W should be enough for my longish term needs, then it seems like it would be worth doing to get both the PSU and the video card now (with "now" being defined as when HP finally says they've got the new chipsets and are ready to do their recall/replace). What I wouldn't want to do would be to do the power supply AND video card upgrade, and then find out I need a bigger power supply to later go to another video card.

I also understand that I am limited to the size of the video card in terms of physically fitting inside my case and not causing overheating problems.

One of my problems is that I have no idea how much power my system uses - especially in a peak demand. I suppose HP could probably tell me.
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March 4, 2011 6:56:13 PM

Dadiggle,

A good thing about being computer-ignorant is that it gives me a chance to learn something new every single day.

I knew that the Sandy Bridge had graphics built right onto it, and worried about getting a card that messed that special relationship I've got with Sandy up (you know, like cheating with another woman).

I just bought my monitor, and so far am thrilled with it. It is a ViewSonic VA2231w-LED (22"). And according to the box it's a "16:9 widescreen with full HD 1920X1080 resolution." I got it w/ free shipping for just under $150, and am gazing into it like the wizard with the crystal ball as we speak. One of the things I liked about it was a 3-year warranty. I also like the LED thing.

Btw, I'm not sure if that's it's "native resolution," as there are five other languages written on the box (stupid joke alert).

So, other than the physical size relative to the case and the power supply of the system, basically ANY video card would work on my system, with obviously some performing better than others???

This is just me blabbing on now, but the increase in HD memory and resolution in monitors is interesting. When I got my computer, jpg was the thing for pictures. And the work was going into shrinking file sizes.

Now the new file system is png, and the images are memory hogs compared to jpg. But you NEED the big files to fit the big screens and the big resolutions. And of course none of that works without big hard drives, and big cpus to move all those big chunks.

I've got a year-old digital camera with a 10 megapixel resolution (what I like most about it is its 18X stabilized optical zoom lens), but usually had to dumb it down to 3.4 due to my storage issues. No more dumbing, though. No sir.
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March 4, 2011 9:09:36 PM

If your present and future requirements are all about entry or mid level gaming then the 460W PSU will be fine even if you upgrade your card in a couple of years.
What happens is that every new generation of graphics cards that come out, perform faster and consume less. To give you an idea 2.5 years ago I bought a radeon 3850 and now I upgrade to radeon 6850. Both were mid range at their respective times. The 6850 is 3 times faster than the 3850 but it consumes the same amount of power. Same thing goes for CPUs. So you could roughly say that as long as you don't want to overclock or build a PC with 2 or 3 graphics cards and your requirements stay the same for the respective time (now and in 2 or 3 years time) then your computer's power consumption will be the same.

Native resolutions in modern TFT or LED monitors are usually the max resolution and yes in your case is 1920*1080. What dadiggle means is that your are more or less stuck with that resolution (as most monitors don't work well in resolutions other than their native) and you should get a video card that can manage games in that native resolution. That is only if you want to game. If you want to play around with photos, then the graphics card has much less impact on the overall performance of the system. CAD design is another thing and there exist many professional graphics card design to accelerate OpenGL applications like autoCAD and such things so that you are able to work with large 3D models easily.
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March 5, 2011 5:37:07 AM

Noble,

In light of what you just said, let me go back to something you said earlier (as they relate in terms of what I'm ultimately trying to figure out).

You said, "If you can afford to wait then do so, the 570t system is the best way to go as it is also the newer system and the socket where the CPU "sits" at least in theory would be more upgradeable in the future."

Well, a HUGE question I've been pondering is whether to keep the 570t with the 2600 and the 1155 socket or go with the 590t with the 970 and the 1366 socket (although I didn't understand the socket stuff too much). That is the first decision I have to make. And I want to get the best computer, not wish I'd got the OTHER machine six months from now.

I'm not exactly sure how the "sockets" are more or less upgradeable. But one thing I want is the computer that better resists obsolescence of the two.

On the one hand, I could see the newer Sandy Bridge with its newer technology being the wave. It is completely different in its architecture, obviously, doing so much at such a low price. On the other hand, I can see more and more programs and apps being written for six cores, and the 970 "finding its niche."

And you are saying, go with Sandy Bridge. And then you are saying that the 460W upgrade and the 5770 seems to be the way to go. Particularly since you say that the 460W should be adequate for my future needs because power requirements are going down rather than up.

I don't see myself working with CAD or 3-D modeling. But I definitely see myself getting into photoshop and video editing. And by "video editing" I mean cutting and editing, and maybe converting one type of video into another (I have not used my camera for video, because I just didn't have the storage to work with. And so I don't know what format my camera uses, versus what format would be best for viewing).

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March 10, 2011 7:00:51 AM

Sorry for the delay! When I said upgradeable socket I actually meant socket that can accomodate new upcoming processors.

Manufacturers rarely produce motherboards for more than 1 socket so the latest (1155) is what you should get if you want upgradeability.

I'm pretty sure a six or even 8-core CPU will be made by intel to fit 1155 in the future.

If you need 6 cores now then you might as well as you say go for the older one but I'm not sure for how long they will continue making CPUs for that, let alone new ones...

Latest photoshop releases DO take advantage of a graphics card in some of its functions as I've read somewhere.
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March 10, 2011 7:11:56 AM

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March 11, 2011 1:33:45 AM

Noble,
I understood your point when you first made it, and thought it significant. I talked to someone else who pretty much confirmed what you were saying to me and agreed.

I was under the impression that Intel has recently quickly abandoned sockets (e.g., the 1156). But I also understand that the 1155 will be around at least through Ivy Bridge, which will also use the 1155.

I can't say I "need" six cores; I just want the best/strongest computer of the two being offered.

I could have had a six core AMD machine for about $300 less than the i7-2600 machine (with 2 gigs less RAM and 500 MB less HD). But the Sandy smoked the AMD six core in every possible way (except the defect-free chipset test, of course).

I found this site that does comparative benchmarks.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/157?vs=287

The 2600 is better than the 970 on 31 of 42 benchmark tests. It would seem likely it would be the better processor for a guy who currently doesn't know why he would need 6 cores.

At this point I'm hanging tight and waiting for the new 2600 machines. I don't know if that's "for sure," but I haven't yet come across a reason why I should get the 970 machine.

I also plan on doing the 460W + HD 5770 upgrade.

I didn't even know it would affect photoshopping; I just want the best reasonably priced computer I can get right from the getgo, and the extra $66 seems worth it.
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March 15, 2011 9:46:17 PM

Best answer selected by michaeldf.
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