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First-time video card upgrader with some questions

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 31, 2011 9:58:57 AM

Hi! I'm looking to add a video card to my computer. It is a GT5692 with integrated graphics, and I'd like a cheap (sub-$100) but effective card. After doing some research on my own, I think something like the Radeon HD 5670 sounds great, but there are some questions that I can't find the answer for:
a)The specs for my computer list "one PCI express x16", and the card is listed as either 2.0 or 2.1 PCI express x16. Will these cards be compatible? Apparently some 2.0 cards are backwards compatible, but I have no idea how to figure out which will work.
b)I *think* the form factor of my case is "micro-ATX", but I'm not sure. Would a "low-profile ready" card be sufficient if I don't know what kind of case I have?
c)How do I determine if I need a new PSU? Apparently my current 300W is not acceptable for most cards. I've used Newegg's calculator and it has been between 300-400W; does this mean I have to take out and replace my current PSU with something more powerful?
d)Would I need a heatsink? I know very little about hardware and I get very nervous seeing heatsink information everywhere. I'm terrified that I'm going to fry my system and be out more than the ~$150 I'm willing to spend on a card and/or a PSU.
e)My main concern is compatibility; I don't want to lose my system over this. Is there any way to ensure that the parts I buy will work with my current system?
My current computer's specs are here: http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/1015553R/1015553Rsp3....
I've installed a wireless adapter on it, and I've installed RAM and an internal hard drive before, so I think I can get the physical installation down. But any help at all would be tremendously appreciated.
a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 10:32:19 AM

A: PCI-E is designed to be backwards compatible right to 1.0, so you'll be fine there.

B: Looking at your case, you could take a full profile card. However if you want a low profile one, then go ahead it will make no difference in this case.

C: You'll definitely need to upgrade that PSU to be on the safe side (you don't want it blowing up after all, do you?) I'd suggest a little 450W unit from Corsair or Antec. Nothing special. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

D: All graphics hardware have heat dissipation methods as standard. You don't need to worry at all, especially since you're after a very low power one that will produce barely any heat.

E: Your computer looks like it will receive the upgrade you're after just fine. You say you can get the installation down well, which is good, just make sure you install the drivers for the new graphics card properly (basically follow the instructions) and you'll be fine.

Lastly, the card you suggested, while good, is now old. May i suggest moving up to the more power efficient 6 series? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168....

Coming back to the PSU issue, i still say you upgrade to a solid unit like the one i linked you to. Corsair are known for their stability and will serve you very faithfully (i know this as i use Corsair in all the setups i've used and never ever had a problem).
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May 31, 2011 2:51:35 PM

A: I know for a certainty that pcie 1.0 has problems with pcie 2.1 cards. Pcie 2.0 cards are fine. Get those. If you are getting the 5670, 300W is sufficient if its a good quality psu. If not, you are better off buying a new psu and also a more powerful graphic card, like the 5770. Good luck. Again, stay away from 2.1 pcie cards. Get the 2.0 ones. They will work fine.
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a b U Graphics card
May 31, 2011 3:13:29 PM

AMD Athlon II X2 255 Regor 3.1GHz 65w: $63

Corsair CX500 & AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz: $98 before $10 rebate

Sapphire Radeon HD 5670 512mb DDR5: $75 before $10 rebate

Sapphire Radeon HD 5670 1GB DDR3: $75 before $20 rebate

Here's the deal ...

At 2.1GHz the 8450x3 is killing yah. The extra core will help with video encoding but otherwise the clock speed is a bummer. So is the simple fact it is a 95w cpu.

If you want a 95w CPU with a bunch of cores the AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz is $90 with promo code EMCKEGJ23 valid till 06/06/2011.

Otherwise, a fast 65w dual-core would be a great upgrade.

If your screen resolution is less than 16x10 the 512mb DDR5 card is the way to go. At something like 19x10 the 1GB DDR3 card would be best - even with a touch slower memory.

The HD5670 video card will pull around 50w with a 3d load in gaming, or around 15w in 2d. The Athlon II X4 640 Propus at 100% load with your motherboard will pull less than 140w so essentially, even with a 70% efficient power supply, you should be safely within operating parameters.

You will have to determine whether you wish to operate your new components on an 'old' power supply. If you have been a 'casual' user over the years I don't see that as a problem initially, but I would certainly recommend that a new PSU be added to your 'upgrade list' in the next 12 months or so, simply because they are always the 'weakest link' in an OEM system.

You motherboard is a Foxconn 780g. It is a decent OEM motherboard with a BIOS that is not severely 'locked down'. A new processor should work fine though your system may not 'recognize' it. The processor will run at spec speed but may be listed as 'unknown'.

Also ... if you go with the power supply combo listed above you will need to purchase some thermal grease to install the processor HSF.

That is all. You will be tested later :D 
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May 31, 2011 7:53:10 PM

Wow... thanks for all the help. I'm not used to folks actually being helpful on the internet. Usually my experience is closer to this Penny Arcade comic: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/5/16/


I think I should add some more information to my previous specs: I'm using a 1366x768 VGA monitor and I'm not really looking to upgrade that since it's working pretty well. Just for kicks I looked at 1080p monitors and they are quite cheap, around $100, so I hope whatever graphics card I purchase could handle that resolution if/when the time comes to get a new monitor. Also, researching my motherboard, I think the PCI-Express slot is actually PCI-e 2.0... but I'm not sure. The official specs on Gateway's website don't specify 2.0, but again, I'm not really sure. This is the Wikipedia page I found that gave me pause: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_700_chipset_series#780...

Should I stay away from 2.1 cards, just to be safe?

Finally, how do I know if the PSU I'm going to buy will fit in my computer case? Should I measure my current one? And I'm having trouble finding which cords and cables are included with PSUs on Newegg. Is it standard for them to come with all of the necessary cables, or do I need to purchase them separately? Is it possible to take the cords out of my current PSU and reuse them with a new one?

Sorry if these are pathetically basic or annoying questions. I'm very new to all this. :??: 
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a c 142 U Graphics card
June 1, 2011 5:47:12 AM

secretmoblin said:
Wow... thanks for all the help. I'm not used to folks actually being helpful on the internet. Usually my experience is closer to this Penny Arcade comic: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/5/16/


I think I should add some more information to my previous specs: I'm using a 1366x768 VGA monitor and I'm not really looking to upgrade that since it's working pretty well. Just for kicks I looked at 1080p monitors and they are quite cheap, around $100, so I hope whatever graphics card I purchase could handle that resolution if/when the time comes to get a new monitor. Also, researching my motherboard, I think the PCI-Express slot is actually PCI-e 2.0... but I'm not sure. The official specs on Gateway's website don't specify 2.0, but again, I'm not really sure. This is the Wikipedia page I found that gave me pause: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_700_chipset_series#780...

Should I stay away from 2.1 cards, just to be safe?

Finally, how do I know if the PSU I'm going to buy will fit in my computer case? Should I measure my current one? And I'm having trouble finding which cords and cables are included with PSUs on Newegg. Is it standard for them to come with all of the necessary cables, or do I need to purchase them separately? Is it possible to take the cords out of my current PSU and reuse them with a new one?

Sorry if these are pathetically basic or annoying questions. I'm very new to all this. :??: 


A 5670 is probably not the best choice if you plan on upgrading to a 1080p monitor. It can run most games at that resolution, though you will only get acceptable framerates at low to medium settings. If you want to use higher graphical settings at 1080p you will probably need at least a 5830/6850, which will have much higher power requirements than the 5670. You also have to ensure you have space for a double slot video card for most cards above the 5670.

Since your case is apparently not slimline, it should be able to accommodate any ATX power supply. (The vast majority of power supplies you will see are ATX)

As far as cables go, any decent power supply would probably include at least two 6 pin PCI-E connectors for graphics cards. Cords are generally attached to the Power Supply unless it is a modular model, in which case all the cables it supports will be included.

Your chipset does indeed support PCI-Express 2.0, therefore your board will support PCI-Express 2.0, so you don't have to worry about that problem, you should have no problem with a 2.1 card.
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June 2, 2011 3:36:34 AM

Get a decent 400-500w PSU from Antec. I recommend anywhere from a 5450-5670 for mostly multi-media, if want to game-5770. Most of these cards are below $100, except for the 5770. Pci-e 2.0 and 2.1 are compatable.

The Nvidia cards seem to underperform at the budget level and consume too much power to recommend them in a budget system.
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June 2, 2011 9:06:41 AM

Just wanted to say thanks again for all the help. I think I'm going to gather the courage and make some purchases. Hopefully everything works out.

Thanks again! This forum has been incredibly helpful. :) 
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June 2, 2011 9:12:04 AM

Best answer selected by secretmoblin.
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