Help picking graphics card, and a few other things

Hello everyone this is my first post I'm looking for help with my computer setup. I have a 2003/2004 dell 8400 that I have for everyday use and also play some games and watch movies. I have a 19" screen and am looking at upgrading to around a 23" in the future. It has 2 hard drives one for windows xp and the other for linux/ubuntu.

The computer now has 4GB DDR2 RAM and a 3.0ghz pentium 4 630. I just bought a dirt cheap 3.8ghz pentium 4 670 processor that I haven't installed yet. My first question is, do I need to download any BIOS update for the 3.8ghz cpu? I know it's not a huge step up, but I hope I didn't buy a 35$ paper weight...I'm about 95% positive it will work with my motherboard. Also what fan/heat sink do you recommend to go along with it, something 30-40$ that's better than the stock one (fits in a LGA775)

What really needs upgrading is the graphics card. It has the stock 128mb radeon, the drive reads: PCI-E x16 port #2....ATI RADEON X300 (RV370). -> (could someone please tell me what that means in everyday terms, all I know is it sucks)

Some people have recommended a 128mb/ 1 gb NVIDIA gts430 and say it will work with my current power supply. I know lots of people are all about getting a new motherboard with a fancy processor, but I just need good quality graphics around 150$ to keep my pc relevant to me for another 4-5 years. I'm not really worried about having the fastest cpu on earth but I'd like the graphics to be up to par if possible. I would rather buy a card with more memory and get a better psu, please help with recommendations for the power supply and graphics card!

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  1. I believe it has the stock 350-400w power supply not sure which exactly, I have no problem upgrading, not in a rush to buy it just anytime in the next month. Thank you for your help
  2. Check the upgrade list for the CPU, if you have the space in your case (you might not, measure it out) the hyper 212+ is a good cooler at $30 that will be better than whatever cooling dell has.

    How much room do you have for a graphics card? If you want to spend $150 on the graphics card/psu, this should be overkill for your processor:
    GTS 450- check the size as this card is 8.25 inches long and 2 slots high:
    $30 rebate
    OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W
    $20 rebate
    10% off with promo code OCZDEC12
  3. duk3 -
    thanks, I have a lot of room for the graphics card. As far as I know there are 4 total PCI slots, the radeon x300 right now fits in the top one. then in the very last one I assume its whatever sound card came with the computer, haven't looked in there recently.

    The GTS450 looks good, do you recommend buying a used one and downloading the drivers or is that more trouble than its worth?

    Do really need to upgrade the psu? It has a 350w right now, and one of the only upgradeable ones out there dell specific to the 8400 is 500w. I figured if I was running a better processor/fan/graphics card it might need more power... also one HD/floppy/usb port are added on to the stock computer taking a little power.

    One more question - let's say I want to just use my ubuntu/drive d, while taking drive c/windows out. Can I install the driver to these graphics cards on each hard drive? Will it affect the card at all?
  4. The GTS 450 is simply not appropriate for your processor. Even a highly clocked p4 has been obsolete for a while and will severely limit the GTS 450 so it would just be a waste of money basically. I wouldn't go beyond an HD5670/9800GT and even those are probably overkill on a P4.
    My recommendation would be to forget about upgrading that thing. $150 is already a good start towards building an entirely new and current system that can run circles around what you have now. If you want to go as cheap as possible an Athlon II x2, a cheap motherboard for it and 2 gigs of DDR3 can be had for under $125;
  5. jyjjy -
    thanks for the advice on the graphics card. Every time I post this somewhere I always have people telling me to buy a new computer. I don't want a new computer. I want better graphics to play the games I have now and possibly some of the less demanding newer games, and watch movies on a bigger screen. There's no sense in buying a dual core processor and entirely new computer for this. The pentium 4 672 is one of the only single core's ever made using intel's virtualization tech. I already swap back and forth from windows to linux so I can download and burn cd's in a few minutes on windows and use ubuntu as my browser/word processor/jukebox etc. With this 672 cpu it's not going to slow down that transition period between switching OS's, that's really the only reason I'm buying it.

    I've used many new stock multiple core processor computers and mine's faster than all of them except when they play movies/games. Most of the ones I've used have some sort of generic low-midrange dual core and around 4gigs of ram. I can't tell you why that is, but for general use I like my computer and it runs through what it needs to do very quickly. And I somewhat like the fact that I can send parts to dell and get new/refurbished ones for cheap if something happens to mine. Other than that dell sucks.

    I want the best possible graphics card for 150$ that will work with a 500w power supply, i925XE motherboard, and 3.8ghz pent 4 processor, I can use 2 PCI slots there's a lot of room.
  6. Well, I've found that in general when everyone is telling you the same thing there is a reason for that so it would be smart to start listening. That your processor is out of date isn't something that can be questioned. If current systems you have used haven't seemed as fast I can guarantee you it is despite the better processor not because of it, or there was just some kind of placebo effect involved.
    But anyways you sound like you aren't going to change your mind. If you are going to stick with the P4 you shouldn't be setting a budget then getting the best card you can for that money. Beyond a certain point it really doesn't make much of a difference because of the CPU bottleneck. The HD5670 I mentioned earlier would be a good choice and significantly faster than the GT 430 others have recommended. Maybe a bit of overkill actually but less so once you upgrade the monitor. It costs about $80 and it doesn't need an external power connector so it will be fine on your current power supply.
  7. I agree with jyjjy, the only reason I would buy the gts450 is because you can carry it over when you upgrade.
    And you'll want the 500w PSU for the gts 450, although $400 or so would get you a much faster system than a P4 HT 3.8 ghz, regardless of graphics card.
  8. thanks guys, I took a look at the specs on all those three and I like the HD 5670 the best. While it doesn't have quite the graphics capabilities of the other two, it looks to be much faster, good for movies :) Using less power so I wouldn't need to upgrade the psu. I've heard my dell 350w is very underrated, and that it could be closer to 400w.

    jyjjy - I know we don't see eye to eye on the upgrade thing but that was a good recommendation. It would've taken me days to find a near perfect one looking up all the specs, I don't keep up at all with graphics cards. You just saved me 120$ (for psu + fancier GPU)!! Now I can justify doing this little upgrade better.

    When my computer is in the stone age in 3-4 years I'll upgrade. If I want to buy a company's that manufactures their own computers like sony or someone, (replace broken parts cheaply) what one should I be looking at? Dell is terrible I can't upgrade beyond the best version of that model, and their BIOS sucks. I personally like to buy a computer off someone who thinks it's broken or has a virus for 150$ and then upgrade it along (bought my current desktop 6 years ago on craigslist). Are there any mainstream companies that offer nearly as much upgrade ability as doing it yourself, and with a good quality BIOS?

    ... do any companies allow you to switch their version of operating systems to work on computers with different BIOS's? I may build my own at some point but I like having all the programs that come with windows
  9. Best answer
    It's really best to build your own for a number of reasons. First you get to design a system that is exactly what you want based on your priorities and your budget. Second you can choose only the highest quality brands/parts. Third you will end up with a better system for less money. Fourth, it is a learning experience that is good to have, both in choosing the components and assembling the system. They've really streamlined the assembly process over the years and these days actually so now it's quite easy to put a computer together. If you can read instructions and use a screwdriver you shouldn't have any problems. My girlfriend who knows nothing about computers watched last time I built a system and afterward she said "I could have done that" and I don't doubt it. Also when you have built the computer yourself you know what's in there and can better diagnose any issues and are familiar with the components if anything ever needs to be replaced or you want to upgrade. And the final reason you've brought up; Dell sucks and Dell is actually one of the better of the large computer manufacturers. The all have major issues and you are better off relying on yourself(with some help from online advice like this) to deal with an issues or questions you might have.
  10. a pentium 4 3.8ghz?you bought it for what,if gaming then its really a crappy processor,because nowadays atleast dual cores meets the gaming requirements,a dual core e2180 was even better than your 3.8ghz pentium 4.gts 450 is very good at price and performance ratio,however a hd 5770 is also an option,you need 450watts,real 450w psu from good brand like corsair or safe power.4gb ddr2 800mhz is also good choice but your processor will back down everything.
  11. only hd 5570 or 5550 might work with p4,but they wont even run dx11 or dx10 with p4.
  12. Best answer selected by mike13579.
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