these are my specs:
MS Windows XP Home 32-bit SP3
AMD Sempron LE-1300
Sparta 65nm Technology
2.0GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 330MHz (5-5-5-15)
Dell Inc. 0RY206 (Socket AM2 )
DELL E198WFP (1360x768@60Hz)
64MB GeForce 6150SE nForce 430 (Dell)
156GB Western Digital WDC WD1600AAJS-75WAA0 (SATA)
DELL INSPIRON 531s
power supply =+12V/ 17AMPS
And yes i do know its a crappy outdated system but i want to play Empire: Total War smooth on at least high settings.
Budget: no higher than $115
If you need more info just ask.
http://www.vgrequirements.info/empire-total-war-pc/ here are the system requirements ofr the game. your cpu is probably slightly above the minimum to run the game, but isnt even close to the recommended CPU, so even upgrading the vid card you most likely wont be able to play on high settings. I would suggest going on ebay and finding something similar to an athlon 64 x2 5000+ or better and even a second hand 8800gt. you may be able to get both for your budget and meet the recommended requirements.
Best low profile card out there would probably be a low profile version of the Radeon HD 5670, which should be able to pull off the high settings in Empire: Total War at your resolution, just don't expect to be able to bump your settings up to ultra and still get an acceptable frame rate. Some of the more advanced features like ambient occlusion will also choke up the frame rate as well. I used to have a 5670 and it was able to handle the high settings okay at 1280x1024. Keep in mind though that this was with an i3 530, a considerably faster CPU than your Sempron, performance will be slower with your older CPU.
I believe the low profile 5670s have a double slot cooler, so you should open your case and make sure that your case can accommodate a double slot video card, some of them can't, particularly the BTX cases.
how do i know if it can accomodate one because i have actually been looking at the 5670s for awhile
Open up your case and check to see where you PCI Express x16 slot is, then check to see if your case can also accommodate a card below that slot? If it can, you will be able to use a double slot card with no problem. (This applies to ATX cases, where the motherboard is mounted on the right side of the case) if you have BTX, where the mobo is mounted on the left side of the case, check to see if you can mount a card above the PCI Express x16 slot.
awesome so the recommended card for mine would be the 5670?
That's as good as you are going to get with the low profile restriction and the available power on your 12V rail. Like I said the card can handle Empire: Total War fairly well at your resolution, but your CPU may hold it back, definitely look into a CPU upgrade if performance is unacceptable.
wait what 5670 are you talking about 'cause i am seeing 3 different brands
All brands of 5670 share the same performance characteristics. The only difference is some brands have different coolers, different output port options, and different warranty policies. You'll be fine as long as you get a low profile version of the card.
sorry i forgot one question, how do i know what the low profile one is, and is there any electronics store where you could get this besides buying it online (2 questions actually)
Most electronics stores tend to overprice their cards, and tend not to carry low profile versions if there is a normal sized version of the card available. You are probably best off ordering online. For the online retailers, under the specifications of the card there should be a row that says Low Profile, and it will either say yes or no. Obviously go for the version that says Low Profile: Yes. If you buy locally, it should say so on the packaging whether it's low profile or not.