and now my idiotic self just thought about whether or not my computer would be able to handle it. is the PSU strong enough or should i upgrade it? if so, wants a decently priced PSU under 150 (amazon is having awesome deals for cyber monday week).
It should reach today, should i try testing it or should i not since it may screw somehting up. Also, does the card get hot? will i need to look into better cooling options?
your help is appreciated, as I'm new to hardware and would love to learn without frying something hahaha.
You definitely need a new PSU, 350 Watts isn't enough for a 6870, that card will use up to 168 Watts on its own, not leaving much for the rest of your system. Something in the 500 Watt range would do fine with that card. Some good brands include Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, XFX, all of those should definitely have a 500 Watt unit available for less than $150.
I would watch the temperatures on the card, the stock Dell case probably doesn't have great airflow. You can use MSI Afterburner to set custom fan profiles to really crank up the GPU fan when the card gets hot, the default fan profile video cards ship with is sometimes inadequate. As long as your 100% load temperatures don't exceed 80 to 85 degrees celsius, you're fine, though running the card cooler than that will extend its lifespan. If the temps get too high, you may have to consider a new case or do some serious modding on the Dell case. If you do need to go for a new case, just hope Dell decided to be nice and actually follow ATX standards with their motherboards and PSUs. OEMs are known for using all sorts of proprietary solutions to prevent people from making too many modifications.
Yea thats what I was thinking... plus I have 2 HD's in it which uses up even more power. The only reason i thought to ask is because i've read in this forum in other threads that people say that Dell underrates their PSU's for a 350W dell would really be about 400-415W but i wasn't sure how accurate that information was. and the main question in my mind is how do you figure out how much power your computer really uses (cpu, Mobo, HD, etc) or do people just really take an educated guess.
What happens if i try it with out upgrading the PSU, could something fry? or would it just not work?
A standard ATX form factor power supply should work unless Dell has done something proprietary with the PSU for that particular computer. I wouldn't try the 6870 with your current PSU, at best your computer will shut down when it demands more power than the PSU can deliver, at worst you may damage components.
Don't worry too much about form factor, most PSUs, including the Antecs you listed are ATX. Assuming the Dell PSU is similar to those, you will be fine. There are microATX PSUs out there, but those are for slimline cases.
Of the two you linked to they're both the same, but one seller listed SATA and PCI-E connectors in the product title, both will have these connectors, SATA and PCI-E connectors have been standard features on any decent power supply for a long time. So go for whichever one is cheaper, it's the same product.