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Graphics card for Dell Inspiron 531

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June 20, 2011 7:43:29 PM

Hello,

We have just purchased the Windows Flight Simulator X pack Gold edition. We have a Dell Inspiron 531 PC with 2GB RAM. We have read that we would need to upgrade, but to what? and would we need to upgrade the RAM as well? Please help as we are new to all of this. Thanks in anticipation
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 7:53:59 PM

You may need a dedicated graphics card to run that game. I'm not sure. Did you try it?

A dedicated graphics card is a piece of hardware that you install in your computer. If you get a graphics card, you will need to make sure your power supply can support it. I think you have a 300W power supply which is kind of limited. You may be able to call dell and ask them to recommend a graphics card that will work with your system.

Do you know whether or not you have a 64-bit version of Windows Vista?
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June 20, 2011 8:13:51 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
You may need a dedicated graphics card to run that game. I'm not sure. Did you try it?

A dedicated graphics card is a piece of hardware that you install in your computer. If you get a graphics card, you will need to make sure your power supply can support it. I think you have a 300W power supply which is kind of limited. You may be able to call dell and ask them to recommend a graphics card that will work with your system.

Do you know whether or not you have a 64-bit version of Windows Vista?


We have Windows Vista and the power supply is 300w, the graphics card, that is in the dell is a NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nforce 430.

We have not tried any other Graphic Cards as it seems an expensive mistake to make if you get it wrong!

Thanks


a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 8:35:50 PM

That graphics card is integrated onto the motherboard which is pretty common. Typically integrated graphics are adquate for most applications (light gaming, watching movies, etc). However, dedicated cards are much more powerful. I think Flight Sim X will run with your onbaord graphics processor but you will probably have to turn most graphics settings way down (it won't look as nice as it might if you had a really good graphics card). You should just try it since you have the game already. If it does not work, just uninstall it. No harm done.

If you buy a dedicated card from Best Buy or Newegg, you can simply return it if it does not work with your system. However, if you do this you will be out the cost of shipping. Plus it's inconvenient for you, so it's best to do everything you can to figure out whether the card will work before you purchase it. The closest thing to a guarantee that you will get that one will work would be to call Dell and ask them.

There are two compatibility factors to consider. One is the graphics card's compatibility with your motherboard. The second is its compatibility with your power supply. Dell should be able to point you in the right direction. Might as well use that customer service since you paid for it! :)  If Dell can't help you out, these forums can. However, we can't guarantee anything. Call Dell first and tell us what they say. :)  Just ask them "is there a dedicated graphics card that I can install in my system so that I can play some 3D games like Flight Sim X?"

As far as RAM goes: 32-bit operating systems can only utilize about 3GB of RAM. 64-bit operating systems can use much more. There are both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Your upgrade strategy for RAM will depend on which you have. *If* you have a 32-bit operating system, upgrading from 2GB will only be a minor upgrade. If you have a 64-bit, then upgrading your RAM will help with games like Flight Sim, although not as much as a dedicated graphics card would. To find out if you have 32 or 64-bit:

1) Click Start (or press the "windows button), find "Computer".
2) *Right click* on "Computer".
3) Click "properties"
4) Under "System" find "system type". This indicate either 32 or 64-bit.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 8:38:22 PM

A small, energy efficient dedicated (one that isn't fused to the motherboard) graphics card that could run flight simulator X (though probably not on the ultra setting) would be the Radeon HD 5570. 2gb of ram should be enough, it doesn't hurt to upgrade to 4gb, but getting a dedicated graphics card is the most important. Not sure if your power supply can handle even a small dedicated graphics card though (you can buy and install a new power supply, but let someone with more experience do it for you).
June 20, 2011 8:59:12 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
That graphics card is integrated onto the motherboard which is pretty common. Typically integrated graphics are adquate for most applications (light gaming, watching movies, etc). However, dedicated cards are much more powerful. I think Flight Sim X will run with your onbaord graphics processor but you will probably have to turn most graphics settings way down (it won't look as nice as it might if you had a really good graphics card). You should just try it since you have the game already. If it does not work, just uninstall it. No harm done.

If you buy a dedicated card from Best Buy or Newegg, you can simply return it if it does not work with your system. However, if you do this you will be out the cost of shipping. Plus it's inconvenient for you, so it's best to do everything you can to figure out whether the card will work before you purchase it. The closest thing to a guarantee that you will get that one will work would be to call Dell and ask them.

There are two compatibility factors to consider. One is the graphics card's compatibility with your motherboard. The second is its compatibility with your power supply. Dell should be able to point you in the right direction. Might as well use that customer service since you paid for it! :)  If Dell can't help you out, these forums can. However, we can't guarantee anything. Call Dell first and tell us what they say. :)  Just ask them "is there a dedicated graphics card that I can install in my system so that I can play some 3D games like Flight Sim X?"

As far as RAM goes: 32-bit operating systems can only utilize about 3GB of RAM. 64-bit operating systems can use much more. There are both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Your upgrade strategy for RAM will depend on which you have. *If* you have a 32-bit operating system, upgrading from 2GB will only be a minor upgrade. If you have a 64-bit, then upgrading your RAM will help with games like Flight Sim, although not as much as a dedicated graphics card would. To find out if you have 32 or 64-bit:

1) Click Start (or press the "windows button), find "Computer".
2) *Right click* on "Computer".
3) Click "properties"
4) Under "System" find "system type". This indicate either 32 or 64-bit.



Thanks again for such an informative response
The operating system is 32 Bit, We tried Dell and they couldnt or wouldnt commit to what would or wouldnt work! So here is the the system specification

Specifications
Processor

Processor type
AMD™ Athlon™ 64 X2 dual-core processor
AMD Athlon 64 processor
AMD Sempron™ processor

Level 2 (L2) cache
Up to 2 MB for Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor
Up to 512 KB for Athlon 64 processor
Up to 256 KB for Sempron processors



Memory

Type
667-MHz, 800-MHz DDR2 SDRAM

Memory connectors
four

Memory capacities
512 MB or 1 GB

Maximum memory
4 GB



Computer Information

Chipset
Nvidia® MCP 61

RAID Support
RAID 1 (Mirroring)(For Windows Vista® only)

DMA channels
seven

Interrupt levels
24

BIOS chip (NVRAM)
4 Mb

NIC
Integrated network interface capable of 10/100 communication



Video

Type
Nvidia integrated video (DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Graphics Processing Unit) or optional PCI Express x16 graphics card



Audio

Type
Realtec ALC888 (7.1 Channel audio)



Expansion Bus

Bus type
PCI 2.3
PCI Express 1.0A
SATA 1.0 and 2.0
USB 2.0

Bus speed
PCI: 133 MB/s

PCI Express:

x1 slot bidirectional speed - 500 MB/s

x16 slot bidirectional speed - 8GB/s

SATA: 1.5 Gbps and 3.0 Gbps
USB: 480 Mbps high speed, 12 Mbps full speed, 1.2 Mbps low speed

PCI


connectors
two

connector size
124 pins

connector data width (maximum)
32 bits

PCI Express


connector
one x1

connector size
36 pins

connector data width (maximum)
1 PCI Express lane

PCI Express


connector
one x16

connector size
164 pins

connector data width (maximum)
16 PCI Express lanes



Drives

Externally accessible:

Bays
one 3.5-inch drive bay (FlexBay)

two 5.25-inch drive bays

Available devices
Serial ATA drives (4), floppy drive, USB memory devices, CD or DVD drive, and Media Card Reader

Internally accessible:
two bays for 1-inch high serial ATA hard drives



Connectors

External connectors:

Video
15-hole connector

Network adapter
RJ-45 connector

USB
four front-panel and four back-panel USB 2.0-compliant connectors

Audio
six connectors for 7.1 support

System board connectors:

Serial ATA
four 7-pin connectors

Internal USB device
one 10-pin connector (supports two USB ports)

Floppy drive
one 34-pin connector

Processor fan
one 4-pin connector

Chassis fan
one 3-pin connector

PCI 2.3
two 124-pin connectors

PCI Express x1
one 36-pin connector

PCI Express x16
one 164-pin connector

Front panel control
one 10-pin connector

Front panel USB
two 10-pin connectors

Front panel audio HDA header
one 10-pin connector

Processor
one 940-pin connector

Memory
four 240-pin connectors

Power 12V
one 4-pin connector

Power
one 24-pin connector




Power

DC power supply:

Wattage
300 W

Maximum heat dissipation
162 W

NOTE: Heat dissipation is calculated by using the power supply wattage rating.

Voltage (see the safety instructions located in the Product Information Guide for important voltage setting information)
115/230 Vac, 50/60 Hz, 7 A/4 A

Coin cell battery
3-V CR2032 lithium coin cell



Physical

Height
36.2 cm (14.2 inches)

Width
17.0 cm (6.7 inches)

Depth
43.5 cm (17.1 inches)

Weight
12.7 kg (28.0 lb)


We appreciate that it's not guaranteed what you or the people on here recommend but it has to be better than what we have and where we are now.

Thanks again



June 20, 2011 9:16:21 PM

Gulli said:
A small, energy efficient dedicated (one that isn't fused to the motherboard) graphics card that could run flight simulator X (though probably not on the ultra setting) would be the Radeon HD 5570. 2gb of ram should be enough, it doesn't hurt to upgrade to 4gb, but getting a dedicated graphics card is the most important. Not sure if your power supply can handle even a small dedicated graphics card though (you can buy and install a new power supply, but let someone with more experience do it for you).


Thanks for the reply

If we installed a new power supply and we have a spare external 5.25 slot (i understand that you can do this?) what would be the Graphics card to go for?

Thanks
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 9:31:50 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is my pick. It says "300W PSU or greater".

Can you open your case and figure out exactly what model of power supply you have? What we need to know is how many amps your powersupply can supply on the 12 volt rail. There should/may be a number of amps (18A or something) under +12V. Or we can look it up if you give us the model of the PSU.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 9:32:41 PM

andersonsheffield said:
Thanks for the reply

If we installed a new power supply and we have a spare external 5.25 slot (i understand that you can do this?) what would be the Graphics card to go for?

Thanks


Well, a 350W power supply, like this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... could easily power an HD 6670 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which is probably the most powerful card that will run without problems on your PC. It's actually a pretty decent gaming card as well.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 9:33:33 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is my pick. It says "300W PSU or greater".

Can you open your case and figure out exactly what model of power supply you have?


That might work with the 300W power supply but it's not worth the $40 in my opinion.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 9:47:00 PM

Gulli said:
That might work with the 300W power supply but it's not worth the $40 in my opinion.


I found a geforce 240 that would work for $55. :D  Changed the link on my earlier post. But, yeah, they could probably find a better deal if they weren't restricted by the PSU... but then they would have to spend the $$ on a new PSU. Dilemma.

a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 10:04:06 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
I found a geforce 240 that would work for $55. :D  Changed the link on my earlier post. But, yeah, they could probably find a better deal if they weren't restricted by the PSU... but then they would have to spend the $$ on a new PSU. Dilemma.


No, the GT 240 draws too much power (69W TDP), even more than the more powerful HD 6670, so they'd still need a new 350W power supply, the GT 240 is comparable to the HD 6570 which uses much less power. $55 is a usually a good deal, but not in this case.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 10:49:26 PM

How can you tell 69W is too much without knowing the specs of their PSU? Just curious.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 10:53:48 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
How can you tell 69W is too much without knowing the specs of their PSU? Just curious.


I can't, not without seeing the side sticker of the PSU, but it's an educated guess for a 300W OEM PSU.
a b U Graphics card
June 20, 2011 11:02:16 PM

I see. Yeah, it's best if we have that info.

I agree that it's maybe pushing it. I made the suggestion after finding the following in the reviews section of a Palit version (same bitrate, memory, and has a fan) of the 240 GT:

"Purchased as a gift to be refit into a Dell Inspiron 531 tower with a 300W PSU, 2.1 dual-core AMD X2, and 3GB DDR2 (4 banks). No problems with compatibility as others have noted here and the PSU ran everything just fine with CPU and GPU..."

This is not a guarantee that it will work as it will depend on other hardware connected to their system.

Obviously, as you said, a good aftermarket PSU with more overhead would be better.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 9:51:10 AM

eightdrunkengods said:
I see. Yeah, it's best if we have that info.

I agree that it's maybe pushing it. I made the suggestion after finding the following in the reviews section of a Palit version (same bitrate, memory, and has a fan) of the 240 GT:

"Purchased as a gift to be refit into a Dell Inspiron 531 tower with a 300W PSU, 2.1 dual-core AMD X2, and 3GB DDR2 (4 banks). No problems with compatibility as others have noted here and the PSU ran everything just fine with CPU and GPU..."

This is not a guarantee that it will work as it will depend on other hardware connected to their system.

Obviously, as you said, a good aftermarket PSU with more overhead would be better.


Well, to be on the safe side we could recommend the HD 6570 which uses less power.
June 21, 2011 2:07:08 PM

Hi Guys,

1st of all thank you for your responses and help, this site has amazed me!

The reason we have the PC and are attempting to get the game to work properly is for my partners father to enjoy and to get the best from the software. It seems the best option is to replace the PSU with a higher power one and then choose the best graphics card to suite.

So could we have your recommendations for both the PSU and the Graphics card and if we set the budget at say £200 - £300 ($300 - $450)

Look forward to what you suggest

Thanks again in advance
June 21, 2011 2:08:00 PM

eightdrunkengods said:
I see. Yeah, it's best if we have that info.

I agree that it's maybe pushing it. I made the suggestion after finding the following in the reviews section of a Palit version (same bitrate, memory, and has a fan) of the 240 GT:

"Purchased as a gift to be refit into a Dell Inspiron 531 tower with a 300W PSU, 2.1 dual-core AMD X2, and 3GB DDR2 (4 banks). No problems with compatibility as others have noted here and the PSU ran everything just fine with CPU and GPU..."

This is not a guarantee that it will work as it will depend on other hardware connected to their system.

Obviously, as you said, a good aftermarket PSU with more overhead would be better.


Hi Guys,

1st of all thank you for your responses and help, this site has amazed me!

The reason we have the PC and are attempting to get the game to work properly is for my partners father to enjoy and to get the best from the software. It seems the best option is to replace the PSU with a higher power one and then choose the best graphics card to suite.

So could we have your recommendations for both the PSU and the Graphics card and if we set the budget at say £200 - £300 ($300 - $450)

Look forward to what you suggest

Thanks again in advance
June 21, 2011 2:08:28 PM

Gulli said:
Well, to be on the safe side we could recommend the HD 6570 which uses less power.



Hi Guys,

1st of all thank you for your responses and help, this site has amazed me!

The reason we have the PC and are attempting to get the game to work properly is for my partners father to enjoy and to get the best from the software. It seems the best option is to replace the PSU with a higher power one and then choose the best graphics card to suite.

So could we have your recommendations for both the PSU and the Graphics card and if we set the budget at say £200 - £300 ($300 - $450)

Look forward to what you suggest

Thanks again in advance
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 2:37:45 PM

andersonsheffield said:
Hi Guys,

1st of all thank you for your responses and help, this site has amazed me!

The reason we have the PC and are attempting to get the game to work properly is for my partners father to enjoy and to get the best from the software. It seems the best option is to replace the PSU with a higher power one and then choose the best graphics card to suite.

So could we have your recommendations for both the PSU and the Graphics card and if we set the budget at say £200 - £300 ($300 - $450)

Look forward to what you suggest

Thanks again in advance


Ah, let's see, this power supply: http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/49138/Corsair... for £36 and this graphics card: http://www.microdirect.co.uk/home/product/48893/gigabyt... £117, totalling £153. Those components will max out your PC, no need to look for something more expensive.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 3:46:35 PM

The PSU has 18A on the 12V+ rail, so a GT 240 would work fine.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 8:24:13 PM

yummerzzz said:
The PSU has 18A on the 12V+ rail, so a GT 240 would work fine.


That's 216W. They have a 90W CPU, so CPU + GT 240 + hard drive consume up to 170W, that's 80% of what the power supply supposedly can supply, and remember the DVD drive might spin up during a game as well, adding up to 20W. I'd say this is pushing it, even for a certified brand power supply, let alone for a cheap OEM power supply. Yes, it might run for a while but don't be surprised when components start dying after a few months. The HD 6570, which is just as powerful as the GT 240 uses less power and would thus be safer, but the best thing to do would be buying a new power supply which would give a lot more headroom.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 8:38:06 PM

Gulli said:
That's 216W. They have a 90W CPU, so CPU + GT 240 + hard drive consume up to 170W, that's 80% of what the power supply supposedly can supply, and remember the DVD drive might spin up during a game as well, adding up to 20W. I'd say this is pushing it, even for a certified brand power supply, let alone for a cheap OEM power supply. Yes, it might run for a while but don't be surprised when components start dying after a few months. The HD 6570, which is just as powerful as the GT 240 uses less power and would thus be safer, but the best thing to do would be buying a new power supply which would give a lot more headroom.


For what it's worth, I agree with this. For trouble-free operation and a degree of future-proofing, more power overhead is a good idea.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 8:47:49 PM

Erm, Dell's PSU's are high (Enough) quality, and will live up to their standards, they have a max output of 22A, this is listed on the PSU, also, the HD 6570 does not come in PCI-E 2.0 IIRC, only PCI-E 2.1, his board is an old 0RY-206, Dell made Mobo, which hasn't had a BIOS update since 2008(?) and that was "Newer CPU Support", so there is a high chance it will have issues.. The Dell 300W is not a "Cheap OEM" PSU.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 9:34:23 PM

yummerzzz said:
Erm, Dell's PSU's are high (Enough) quality, and will live up to their standards, they have a max output of 22A, this is listed on the PSU, also, the HD 6570 does not come in PCI-E 2.0 IIRC, only PCI-E 2.1, his board is an old 0RY-206, Dell made Mobo, which hasn't had a BIOS update since 2008(?) and that was "Newer CPU Support", so there is a high chance it will have issues.. The Dell 300W is not a "Cheap OEM" PSU.


You said it was 18A before, so which is it? Also, in the unlikely event PCI-E 2.1 would cause trouble, Sapphire makes PCI-E 2.0 HD 6570s.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 3:18:42 PM

It is 18A, but has a combined output of 22A, search it up, it's kind of hard to explain, also my bad on the HD 6570 PCI-E 1.0 thing.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 6:37:47 PM

yummerzzz said:
It is 18A, but has a combined output of 22A, search it up, it's kind of hard to explain, also my bad on the HD 6570 PCI-E 1.0 thing.


Right, 216W on the 12V rail, that means 80% of this capacity is utilized under heavy gaming with the 70W GT 240 (the CPU has a 90W TDP, hard drive adds 10W), even without the DVD drive spinning. I think that's pushing it, even with a gold certified power supply from Corsair or Seasonic and I would always advise against it. The 60W HD 6570 is doable, by *this* much, the 70W GT 240 pushes it just to far.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 9:48:06 PM

Actually, it has a 65W TDP, it is the later model of "Windsor" architecture.
!