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Discrete graphics card for SOHO computer?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 20, 2011 9:18:33 PM

Hello guys,

I have a desktop computer with the following specifications:

Pentium Dual CPU E2220 @ 2.40Ghz with 4GB RAM (3.49GB usable, Win7 32-bit).

Intel GMA 3100 64MB dedicated plus 192MB shared.

LCD monitor with VGA at 1920x1080
600W PSU on a miniATX case with an extra 80mm fan at the back of the case.

Windows Experience Index Score of 3.3 (due to the “3D business and gaming graphics performance”, followed with a 3.8 for the “Desktop performance for Windows”).


I use my computer for:

Internet browsing (Internet Explorer 9—PDF, Flash, Google Earth, etc.).

IM (WLM and YM).

Playing MP3s and DIVX files with Windows Media Player (Seldom DVDs).

Making short files with MS Word and MS Excel (2007, not going 2010. But I’ll consider the next update).

I store and edit pictures taken with a basic consumer camera with Photoshop Elements (v7, not updating to v9. But I’ll consider the next update).


I’ve never complained about my graphics card until I went to those website samples for the Internet Explorer 9 where you can try HTML5 see how powerful your computer is. I don’t game, but I could do an online game (in Flash, …) seldom. There’s absolutely no games installed in my computer--other than those that came with Windows 7--and I’m not planning to install any in the future (If I ever do it’ll be something simple, certainly not one of those high-demanding RPGs).
I have read that the best *silent* cards that I could use are ATI Radeon HD 5450 and the ATI Radeon HD 5570. But what would I gain if I buy one of those cards for my desktop computer?

Maybe, ATI or some other graphics card manufacturer will release a better performing and equally silent graphics card in the near future?
a c 172 U Graphics card
March 20, 2011 9:39:01 PM

SOHO? Looking for solar flares and never a straight answer's spliced and missing frames then sure a 5450 will be more than enough for your needs.
March 20, 2011 9:52:51 PM

Thank you for your answer, nforce4max!

SOHO as in Small Office, Home Office. Or just a plain family computer. :) 

What do you mean by: "Looking for solar flares and never a straight answer's spliced"?
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March 20, 2011 10:22:45 PM

Oh, I see. Thank you, Kari! :) 
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 10:46:30 AM

Back to the original question ...
Considering what you are using your computer for, you would not gain much.

Embedded graphics is all a SOHO computer needs.
a c 192 U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 4:24:03 PM

The Intel Graphics Media Decelerator sucks so bad, with Flash and other accelerated content becoming available a HD5450 would be a good improvement. You'll be able to watch HD movies with it, something you undoubtedly cannot do now (likely why you rarely watch DVDs).
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 5:13:45 PM

I agree with jsc - your integrated graphics should keep your system working smothely for the applications you listed.

Are you saying that you tried some demo and it showed you cannot run games? But that is what is to be expected with integrated graphics?

If you choose to upgrade, for whatever reason, you might want to look at this site that has a range of recommendations for non-gaming video cards at different budget levels:

http://www.upgradevideocards.com/nongaming.html

a c 192 U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 5:51:48 PM

He has the really old GMA 3000; fine for business apps, but not things like movies, video, and other typical home use. If it were GMA4500 or pretty much anything AMD, I'd agree that a discrete card might not do much, but it isn't, and even a HD4350 or HD5450 will make a difference. Particularly if a reason the OP doesn't view a lot of DVDs is because of skipped frames or other bad video performance, even a low-end discrete card will make movie-watching pleasant. I'm not suggesting a gamer-card, even from the bottom of Cleeve's monthly recommendations, but discrete video will help on this system.
April 10, 2011 12:54:38 PM

Thank you very much for all of your answers! :)  I appreciate every single response I've got.

Should I go for the HD5450 or the newer HD6450? For the newer card, should I get it with the fan or the big head sink model?

As for watching DVDs, yes skipped frames is my main complain. But is it possible that I'm also experiencing skipped frames when watching DivX/XVid compressed files?
a c 192 U Graphics card
April 10, 2011 5:07:53 PM

I don't see the new ones on Newegg yet; if you play the rebate game and win, it looks like you can get a HD5450 for under $25.
!