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Questions about Dell desktop PSU / GPU upgrade

Last response: in Components
a b ) Power supply
May 2, 2011 8:10:09 PM


I have ordered a Dell Vostro desktop (spec below) which I want to use for a bit of gaming, initially through a 1080p plasma TV.

Vostro 460 : Standard Base
Processor : Intel Core I5-2500 (3.3GHz, 6MB)
Memory : 4096MB (2x2048) 1333MHz
Hard Drive : 1TB (7200RPM)
Optical Drive : 16X DVD +/-RW Drive
Graphics Card : 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5450
Operating System : English Genuine Windows 7 Professional (32 BIT)

My original intention was to immediately to add a Radeon HD 6950 2Gb and then a bit further down the line install Win7 64 and some more memory.

The issue is that the PC only comes with a 350 watt PSU, and the 6950 will need up to 200 of that, so I was also going to replace the PSU with a 600 or 700 watt Corsair gaming one, which is where the confusion has set in.

I've read online and been told by one of the Tech Guys at PC World (who I was going to get to fit the new PSU as I've never done it before) that Dell often use their own spec components, and that I would have to upgrade with another Dell PSU, however, I've also read that Dell switched to generic components a few years ago meaning that I could just use a Corsair if I want.

Does anyone know which of these is correct (the PC hasn't arrived yet so I can't check)?

Secondly, I've read elsewhere that the new system (minus the GPU) will only max out at about 100 watts power usage, meaning that I might be able to install a new GPU without replacing the PSU.

Does this sound likely?

If it is, then I may just add a less power hungry card (either a 108 watt HD 5770 1GB or a 127 watt HD 6850 which should be fine as long as I don't invest in a higher resolution screen) and keep the existing PSU.

Might either of these be a realistic option (I would prefer the 6850 out of the two)?

I have looked on sites which estimate the size of the PSU that you need for a set system and the results seem to vary a fair deal or seem quite imprecise.

Any help would be gratefully received.
a b ) Power supply
May 2, 2011 8:52:22 PM

this is the most accurate PSU calculator that I have come across
well respected

I dont know power requirements of thos cards w/o looking up
I do know that Dell has always put in good PSUs

the customer service and business pratices are questionable :) 

I currently have a Dell 280w running a C2D,1 hd,1 dvdrw,1 hd 4650,1 asus dg sound card,2 extra fans and many USB devices (ext USB HD etc)

Dell has always rated PSUs at CONTINUOUS WATTAGE not MAX LOAD WATTAGE as aftermarket PSU makers do

Their PSUs are usually made by Fortron a respected PSU maker
(mobos are Foxconn usually,Optical drives,memory,HDs etc are all major manafacturers like Samsung,Hynix etc)

IF the PSU is rated at 350w then I would treat it like it was a 400w
unit accordingly

Keep that in mind when looking a wattage ratings for cards
Also keep in mind that GPU makers over-estimate wattage a little to be
on the safe side)

Keep in mind you might need seperate power connectors for some video
cards like a 6-pin
adapters are available to convert 4 pin molex and sata power cables

I hope I helped
a b ) Power supply
May 3, 2011 7:30:31 AM

That is a massive help, thanks.

It sounds like the existing PSU should be sufficient to run the HD6850 so I'll go with that (assuming that it will fit in the case). If not I'll go with the smaller 5770. I'm fairly sure there's a spare 6-pin in the case so installing the GPU should be easy.

Thanks again for your time.
Related resources
a b ) Power supply
May 3, 2011 12:58:10 PM

also look into extra cooling
OEMs usually just provide enough cooling for the basics
possibly a PCI slot cooler to exhaust would be good idea
I use one and it dropped my GPU temp by almost 5c alone
Good luck and enjoy
a b ) Power supply
May 4, 2011 2:31:31 PM

Thanks king smp - I'll look into the PCI slot cooler and the summary table is really useful.

I rang Dell who were pretty useless, but was eventually told that they offer the home equivalent of the Vostro 460 with an upgrade to a GTX 460. As its max power draw is 160 watts I should be fine with a 127 watt 6850.