Upgrading from a Radeon Hd2400 pro, oh boy.

Hi guys.

I'm looking to try and find a new GPU that would be able to handle recent games. Not looking for maxed out settings at all, I don't have the processor or money for it, I'd just like to be able to play them on medium-high(if I'm lucky) at very reasonable resolutions (1400x900 and down, as my monitor is 19").

I'm currently on an Acer Aspire M5610. Haven't got the motherboard model number for you, sorry, but here's some of the specs:

Intel core2duo E4500 @ 2.2Ghz

2GB Ram, But will be upgrading to 4gb (3.5 or whatever, as am on Vista 32bit :p )

ATI Radeon HD2400 Pro

250w PSu (Willing to upgrade, but see budget below)

Any more info you need, ask and I'll try to provide.

The kind of games I'm eying up are things like Skyrim (how many times have you heard that recently), MW3/Black-Ops. But if it's at all possible i'd like my upgrade to future-proof me at least until next november, obviously not on future games high settings.

The Budget! Unfortunately it's meagre. I can't spend more than around £80 (~$130) on the Card, and if I get a power supply as well, I can't reasonably go above a total of£110-120 (~$175?).

I've spent a couple of days reading threads and websites trying to learn about what's important in Gpus and makes them good/bad, but there are just so many variables, I just can't judge well enough when looking at the wide selection of cards whether any of them will be any use. For example, I've been looking to try and find cards with at least 128-bit memory interface as I read somewhere that 64bit (as my current hd2400pro has) just isn't viable for gaming, but my instincts tell me that this assumption is still wrong, or out-dated.

Is my goal even possible? Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated, and thanks in advance.

Also I'm in the UK, hence the £ usage, so any example cards from UK suppliers would be great.
7 answers Last reply
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  1. The PSU is almost certainly going to be a problem. 250W almost certainly means you won't have any PCI-e power connectors. For a mid range card, you should look into either the GeForce 550 Ti (if Nvidia is your thing), or the Radeon HD 6770. Because you'll need to upgrade your PSU, you may need to step down on the video card with your budget. Your CPU should be fine, as long as it can keep up or you overclock it.
  2. Thanks for your quick response Ulill. I've no real preference over either Nvid or ATI, but the GeForce 550ti appears to be over my budget.

    Also, could you explain to me what it is about the certain cards (ie specs/features) that make them suitable for my gaming needs / better than other cards? I want to make the most informed decision, and learn to be able to judge better for myself. Thanks.
  3. 5770/6770 seems to be a good choice. They're the same card basically. Don't worry about new generation.

    Anyways, on slickdeals.net for the US I've seen then hit $100 like a year ago so now they should hit $80 after rebate... meaning you got a good $50 to invest in a LEGIT PSU. Here's what you should use for psu's so you calculate wattage correctly AND you pick a psu that will last you many years rather than blow up.

  4. Maxwellok said:
    Thanks for your quick response Ulill. I've no real preference over either Nvid or ATI, but the GeForce 550ti appears to be over my budget.

    Also, could you explain to me what it is about the certain cards (ie specs/features) that make them suitable for my gaming needs / better than other cards? I want to make the most informed decision, and learn to be able to judge better for myself. Thanks.

    The GTS 450 is probably about the best you'll get on the Nvidia side for your budget. The 6770 from AMD is much better for price over performance (this is AMD's primary advantage - cost for performance efficiency, better bang for the buck if you will).

    You can search Google or Wikipedia for the terms.

    Bus interface is almost always PCI-express x16. The version differs though, depending on the generation. Chances are, you'll be getting either a 2.0 or 2.1 card. Do note that if your motherboard doesn't go beyond the card's version, you can still use that card, you just won't be able to take advantage of the newer features.

    Memory is the amount of VRAM (completely independent of system RAM), and is used for storing textures, vertex buffers, polygon buffers (these 2 used to determine the shape of the 3D game object), and a few other details. I don't know what "core config" or "SM count" are.

    Clock rate generally determines how fast the card is. Obviously, a card with a higher clock is faster than one with a lower clock. However, through optimizations, it's entirely possible for a card with half the clock to seriously overpower a different card (from previous generations or even different manufacturers) with a higher clock.

    Fill rate is how many pixels or texels the card can render per second, usually in the billions. The pixel draw rate is used for 2D games and various on-screen info in games such as health bars, text, message windows for character dialog, and other purely 2D elements. Texels (texture pixels) are used for 3D game objects, such as the player character, and the game's scenery.

    Bandwidth is something I'm not sure on.

    DRAM type affects memory speed, in a way. GDDR5 is twice as effective as GDDR3. This must not be confused with system RAM being DDR3.

    Bus width is something I'm not sure on either, but the higher, the better.

    DirectX, OpenGL and the newer OpenCL are used for hardware acceleration. Higher versions have more features available, but the annoying thing with DirectX is that, you can't use the latest without the latest operating system. XP won't take DX 10 or 11 as far as I'm aware and I don't know why.

    Gigaflops (giga floating-point operations per second) is a measure of the calculation rate that the card provides. Obviously, the higher, the better.

    TDP (thermal design power) is something I'm not entirely sure what it does or how it affects video cards or CPUs.

    It's a lot of detail, but if you search Wikipedia, you can learn a lot more. I'm recalling off memory so these details may not be entirely correct (I'm stuck on a very dated GeForce 7600 GT right now, even below your current card).
  5. I did a similar update for a buddy about 6 months ago. He had an HP with a core 2 and $150 bucks to play COD blops on medium – high settings. This is what we did and so far he has been thrilled.
    This cooler master PSU is cheap but I have used 3 of them over the last 2 years and they are all working great.
    ATI 6770. This card is an all around winner. Lower electrical needs. Low heat, great performance and its cheap.

    With this setup you should be able to get good FPS at medium-ish settings.
  6. On a side note I noticed that acer calls that a mini tower. Pop the side cover off and make sure you have 10 inches or so of clearance for the new video card.
  7. Thanks for your replies so far guys, really informative :)

    Ullil, you mentioned "customizations" that could make a lower-clock, older-gen Gpu beat a newer one. By that, did you mean overclocking the old card? I won't drag on you for an explanation of overclocking right now as I can google that later, but are you suggesting that by buying for example an old card with 500mhz clock speed, I could "overclock" it and raise that speed to something like 800-1000mhz to match newer cards?

    Bucknutty: Lol I don't know why they call it that, it seems like an average tower to me. I measured inside the case anyway, it's a little cramped in there but I think there's just space for a new card.
    I've got 22cm x 15cm length and depth wise. In terms of width, there's about 2cm space before you reach a couple of capacitors, but they're only just taller than the pci x16 slot itself, so hopefully I should juuuuust about have the space! Right?

    One thing which confuses me is that every different manufacturer of the same card I look at tells me different size dimensions. I know they all slap their own fans and heat sinks and whatever on, but surely this can't make SO much difference? For the GTS 450 for example, one lists 6cm x 25cm while another is 18cm x 11cm! What's the deal with that?!
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