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Upgrading graphics card for p4/2.8ghz

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January 20, 2011 2:51:19 PM

I have a HP a630n that I stopped using for work and gave to my kids. They want to play Arma 2, Minecraft, and some other games that require a graphics card vs. the integrated graphics the machine currently has. They play hard core games on a ps3, so I think light gaming is all that will be asked of this machine. I'd like to avoid future upgrades by purchasing the most capable card possible subject to the following constraints:
1. budget--this is now an old machine, so it makes no sense to spend more than say $100;
2. PSU--I suspect replacing the psu would blow the budget, so I'd like to get by with the stock 300w psu (hp-d3057f3r). It is rated for 19a/268w on the 12v bus. I am running a second hdd (for 2x160gb)
3. motherboard is ASUS Grouper with PCI-E v 1.0, 1.5gb memory, p4 chip running at 2.8ghz. The os is windows xp home with the latest patches. The machine is a tower design with plenty of space but stock cooling.

So I have two questions. First, is the cpu too stupid for light gaming (in other words, am I wasting my time)? If not, can you recommend a graphics card that supports the latest directx/shader/other critical standards that fits my constraints? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Brett
a b U Graphics card
January 20, 2011 2:55:41 PM

You may be wasting your time a bit here, that machine looks really old and as soon as ARMA 2 was mentioned any hopes in my head of this machine being usable flew away.

By light games i usually go as far as flash games on the web, that's about as good as this thing will go.

It will be better to just get a new budget system with more up-to-date specs so it can handle proper games a little better.
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
January 20, 2011 3:11:17 PM

If you don't mind having the games run at the minimum possible settings not to mention that the latest entry level cards will get bottlenecked by P4 then I would recommend you a card, I have a few in mind, but that computer wont last another month.
Moore's Law is expected to end by 2015, I personally wont buy a computer till then!

A P4 could bottleneck a $24 card so I'd go with the guy above me's advice but by the way,
last month was Pentium 4's 10th birthday, I'd give it a treat by using it for another year, you could use it as a downloading machine for downloading overnight; like movies from the apple store- itunes lol
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January 20, 2011 5:46:21 PM

A $24 card sounds like an expense I don't have to think too hard on. If it works, great. If not, oh well. I think the answer may be to get an older card off ebay, but there are just too many choices for me to get my head around. My machine is vintage 2005. In my work environment, I've noticed little performance difference between it and the i3 3ghz machine I'm on now. I guess gaming is a bit different. I forgot to mention my monitor is pretty basic--D-sub connector 1280x1024.

Thanks.
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
January 21, 2011 4:08:43 AM

ltbrett said:
A $24 card sounds like an expense I don't have to think too hard on. If it works, great. If not, oh well. I think the answer may be to get an older card off ebay, but there are just too many choices for me to get my head around. My machine is vintage 2005. In my work environment, I've noticed little performance difference between it and the i3 3ghz machine I'm on now. I guess gaming is a bit different. I forgot to mention my monitor is pretty basic--D-sub connector 1280x1024.

Thanks.


Ok here are my recommendations:

8400 GS for $25
Not sure it can handle games but it beats integrated.


GT 210, the GeForce 210 ($40)

http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_210_us.htm...

Read about it on this link.


Then the GT 220, which gives you double th power of a 210 at $50.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_gt_220_us....



But if you get these off ebay, used you could get the GT 220 for $20

http://cgi.ebay.com/GALAXY-Technology-NVIDIA-GeForce-GT...

There really is no difference between a used and a new card if the used one works.

You could also get a 210 for $5 on ebay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/EVGA-NVIDIA-GeForce-210-512P31210LR...
It really makes no sense to get a new one when a used one does the same for such a low price.




a b U Graphics card
January 21, 2011 4:51:30 AM

Is your Pentium 4 Hyperthreaded? If so, when you hit Ctrl+Alt+Del, it will show two graphs in the CPU usage chart. If not, then don't spend a dime on that machine because it's not worth $80 total.

Secondly, does your computer have a PCI-e (PCI Express) or an AGP graphics slot? With a Pentium 4, it could be either. You can look up what both look like on Wikipedia.

If you have an AGP slot, you will probably not be able to find an upgrade card for a reasonable price.

If you have a P4 HT, with a PCI-e slot, then you could consider upgrading to a midrange-low video card that requires no additional power connectors. Consider a 9600GSO with DDR2 memory. Some places like Fry's are dumping those on the cheap nowadays. Also consider a Radeon 4550 or similar. Try looking at videocardbenchmark.net for approximate card ratings. You'll want something in the 200 to 500 point range.
a b U Graphics card
January 21, 2011 4:53:08 AM

Also, did you know that you can build yourself a really good computer for $300 (plus whatever windows costs if you don't have a copy) if there's a Microcenter nearby? They have great component bundles. Message me if you'd like extended details.
January 21, 2011 6:54:16 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Its a pcie-16 hd-4650,512mb 128bit low profile card. $48.99/free shipping/"$20 mail in a and pray rebate(don't count on the rebate coming in)" I googled the specs, the hp has a socket 775 p4 with ht, its not that bad, Better still it has a pcie-16 slot.
I paired a hd-3850 with a socket 939 athlon64 3500+@2.5ghz. The hd-3850 is close to the 4650. both have 320 shaders. It plays games just fine, games like prostreet, fear, ut3, all run fine. With only a single core cpu the load times are really slow but once the game is running its fine. Its running on a "okia" cheap-o 350 watt.
The second option.. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... A hd-4830 with 640 shaders, $59.99/$6.98 shipping. If you underclock the card from 575 to 500(to even 400 if catalyst lets you) it should run ok still. A new p/s would be ok and let you upgrade a new system later. You will need to add a case fan to make it run also.
I only picked this card since it is cheap, however it is overkill for your p-4.

You may want to look for a used hd-3850/3870/4650/4670/4850/5550-5670, used 8600gt/9600gt/9800gt/gt240/250/260. a 4850/250/260 would need to be underclocked to run but would still work. If buying used make sure you take a friend/s with you for safety, don't buy used cards from people in the ghetto, and see it working playing a few newer games. Make sure you use skype or a payphone to call them, you don't want to give out your cell number. Buying used is often not worth the risk/hassle and gas.

I would recommend being the p/s is getting old now, to buy a budget 450-550 watt atx power supply and add a case fans so you system does not break down.

If you see 2 sticks of ddr-400 used that could help too. (make sure you blow out/clean the slots first and plug and unplug the memory about 5 times to clean the pins, since those 2 unused mem slots would have filled with dirt by now)

That hp uses a standard hp-compac-e-machines micro-atx case/atx p/s, most have spots for extra 8cm fans too. They are not bad cases.... Unfortunately the oem win-xp os system is tied to the motherboard, most don't let you do a board swap without loosing your os.
Because you loose the os it's cheaper to buy a new e-machines/hp/compac mid-tower with win7 and rob the hdd,dvd,video cards, and p/s if it was upgraded, any case fans and upgrade the new package system.

IF YOU GET A 4650/4830 CARD OR USED 3850-4850 CARD, THEY DO NOT WORK WITH THE NEW AMD CATALYST 10-1 TO 10-12 DRIVERS, MAKE SURE YOU USE THE OLDER 9-12 DRIVER.
Well good luck..
January 21, 2011 7:11:44 AM

I forgot, i wouldn't trust the site to be 100% accurate, make sure you have a pcie-16 slot and not agp first before buying a card. If it is agp, your only new card is a hd-4650 apg version. A used agp ati-9800/9600/9200/x600-800/x1650/x1950 or geforce /6600/7600/7800 agp is ok. Some cards will need a case fan to run.
agp is dirt cheap to find used, something like a used $20 9800xt agp would be the best choice here.
January 21, 2011 2:41:17 PM

Thanks for all the ideas. I opened the case before my first post and confirmed the mobo has PCI and the p4 is hyperthreaded. I generally make it a point to stay out of the ghetto--excellent advice. I used to build computers in the 1980's, so perhaps a kit would be fun. I'll dig into the cards mentioned. Thanks!
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
January 21, 2011 3:16:46 PM

ltbrett said:
Thanks for all the ideas. I opened the case before my first post and confirmed the mobo has PCI and the p4 is hyperthreaded. I generally make it a point to stay out of the ghetto--excellent advice. I used to build computers in the 1980's, so perhaps a kit would be fun. I'll dig into the cards mentioned. Thanks!


Just a warning that the ATI/ AMD 5000 series and 6000 series use PCI-E 2.1 although they claim to use 2.0.

2.0 is 100% backwards compatible with 1.0 which you have but 2.1 isn't so don't get a ATI/AMD 5000 series card.
!