What is a good upgrade for me?

Hello, friends. My system has a Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256mb Ram. I want to upgrade to a better card that will still work with my current system. I want to be ready for Dragon Age II and Star Wars: The Old Republic (when they are released), and I might try DC Online, but I am still debating that. The only games I play now are World of Warcraft, Fallout 3 (I do not have New Vegas), and Dragon Age: Origins. To be honest, I'm a bit tired of running the games I do have on lower graphics settings, but I don't necessarily have to have the highest settings either.

I do not have a preference between ATI or Nvidia, and I am unsure of the various manufacturers of any suggestions you make, so any advice on the maker would be greatly appreciated as well.

I would like to upgrade to something at or below the $150 mark (after rebates). I can go a bit higher, but I do plan to buy a new system altogether by summer or fall. The naming conventions for these cards are confusing for me, and I know that some newer cards are not necessarily a better value than some of the previous generations.

I would like the community's advice on a decent upgrade for me because I am not tech-savvy enough to make an informed decision on my own.

Dell Inspiron 530
Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6550 @ 2.33Ghz
2.00 MB Ram
32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium, SP 2
300 watt power supply
Air cooled, two fans
9 answers Last reply
More about what good upgrade
  1. The best you can do with your current PSU is HD5670. If you are planning building your own then I suggest something like HD5770 or GTX460 768MB with a quality 450-550watt PSU and then move them into your new build.
  2. As Rolli59 says, the best without a PSU upgrade is the HD5670, anything else is going to need more power than the existing unit can provide.
    Have a read here, it may help your confusion, check out the hierachy chart at the end!
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-radeon-hd-6870-geforce-gtx-570,review-32094.html

    A quick look shows this combo deal at Newegg:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.578338

    Good, strong powersupply from an 'A' class supplier and the Nvidia card is preferred by the games you list (AFAIK).
    Not sure of your uses but the above upgrade should tide you over for at least a year if you mainly play online.
    BTW, an extra 2Gb of RAM may help unless you have a well tuned Vista installation, that OS is known to demand a lot of system resources unless it is carefully optomised.
  3. coozie7 said:

    Great Combo!
  4. Thanks for all the information. I did a bit of research that indicates I should have at least a 400w power supply. I could not find any official information, however. Are you sure a 300w supply will run the HD 5670? Also, thanks for the RAM tip. I definitely need to put 4GB in the system; I plan to do that along with the graphics upgrade :)
  5. Yes it will, total system load under load 190watts http://www.anandtech.com/show/2917/13
  6. wow. Thank you all so much for all this advice !!
  7. I have to bother you guys one last time--I'm sorry. After researching the card (ATI Radeon HD 5670), I am noticing there are many different companies that manufacture the card, including Visiontek, Sapphire, HIS, and XFT (among a few others). Which of these is known for quality products? I like the Visiontek one I found, which is a 1GB card for $114.00, but I don't know if that is a good brand.

    Also--if Visiontek is okay--it says it is a PCI-Express 2.0 card. Does an Inspiron 530 support that?

    Here is the link to the card--

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6469845&CatId=3669
  8. Here is a cheaper 1GB card from a better manufacturer http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102869
    Although this is the card I would buy since the memory size does not matter that much on the HD5670 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150504 Comes with dual lifetime warranty in North America.
    Version 2.0 cards will work fine just don't get version 2.1 they have had problems in older boards.
  9. Do n't be sorry, we're here to help!
    Rolli gives some excellent advice, if you do not intend on using a stronger card and replacing the PSU, the XFX unit he has linked to is probably the best matched card for your uses and existing hardware.
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