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Newbie, looking for video card upgrade advice.

Hello community of Tom's,

I recently came upon an old desktop pc my folks game me awhile back that got the blue screen of death. I've managed to salvage it and put Windows 7 on the machine, and it has some decent specs (or so I think). I want to be able to use this machine on my television set to play some old classics (SimCity 4, some emulators from my childhood past etc.). So it's all hooked up nicely, but the graphic acceleration/quality is horrible. I see new video cards have HDMI outputs which I think would work out fantastic, or standard VGA, doesn't really matter to me. My new laptop puts out better results than this computer, which I don't understand because the video memory is less than the desktop. Here are the specs of my desktop computer:

System
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Manufacturer Gateway
Model GT5670
Total amount of system memory 3.00 GB RAM
System type 32-bit operating system
Number of processor cores 3 (AMD Phenom(tm) 8400 Triple-Core Processor 2.1Ghz)
64-bit capable Yes


Graphics
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Display adapter type NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nForce 430
Total available graphics memory 1343 MB
Dedicated graphics memory 128 MB
Dedicated system memory 0 MB
Shared system memory 1215 MB
Display adapter driver version 8.17.12.5896
Primary monitor resolution 1280x1024
DirectX version DirectX 9.0 or better


------
So I've only upgraded a video card once in my life on an old Dell so I could play Fable on it based on an employees' recommendation. This Gateway has several spots to put a PCI/PCI-E card. But I'm at a total loss on what to get. I've been googling, and searching on these forums. I was also thinking to upgrade the RAM from 3GB to 4GB. But for what I'm trying to do, play SimCity 4, emulate ps1/2 games, would a $30-40 budget be good enough? I'm not looking to play Skyrim, just have an adequate 60 frame/sec rate. I've been searching on this site as well, but I don't have a big budget. I'm not too sure what I am looking at, or what I should compare what I'm trying to do to which current game is being tested on each video card accordingly. I'm assuming that I need like a 512MB or 1GB video ram, or something of that nature, I'm not too sure. All this 8500GSXTR and 6000GGR stuff is greek to me. If anyone has any advice for a n00b like me, I'd be much obliged. Thanks for any help you can afford me, and if you have any questions, let me know. Thanks.

EDIT: forgot to add

This is what I'm looking at
http://www.amazon.com/XFX-G210-589M-Video-GM210MZNF2/dp/B0058SHD3Q/ref=sr_1_5?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1325138124&sr=1-5

or this one which comes out to $20.00 after rebate.
http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Radeon-PCI-Express-Graphics-100292DDR3L/dp/B004N3BH0C/ref=sr_1_4?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1325138124&sr=1-4

Am I on the right track, and am I reading these right? From what I understand DDR3 is good, and 1GB of what I believe to be is video ram? Thanks for any advice.
23 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about newbie video card upgrade advice
  1. for a budget like that and the need you should be able to make do with something cheap like a radeon 5450 and have it perform well.

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131338

    the ammount of ram in the video card doesn't matter and you don't need to upgrade to 4 gigs of ram since you are on a 32 bit OS.
  2. It mentions 64 bit in the product, does that matter since I have a 32 bit OS ? Also, am I still able to upgrade to 4gb of ram anyways for just some optimization on the performance end. You mentioned I don't need to because I have a 32 bit OS. What's the reason behind that?

    Thanks for your help, one more question I want to ask is what should I be looking for in particular so I can tell how quick a video card would run ?
  3. Just comparing my choices to that one mentioned @refillable. Based on the differences, I should be looking at is the 'Engine' clock, which I'm assuming is that 700mhz that's listed in the title right ? I saw another card that mentions shader clock as well.
  4. 64 bit on the card just says its compatible with 64 bit os it will work fine on a 32 bit one.

    Windows will only be able to see 3.25 gigs of ram on the computer when its 32 bits so adding more ram would not be usable by the OS.

    shader clock is the engine clock probably and all the models of the same card should have the same unless its overclocked which won't happen with these card. I'd say just buy the on refillable posted since its free shipping and will do what you needed it for.
  5. Don't mind about the shader clock and stuff. It can change by overclocking the card...
  6. esrever said:
    64 bit on the card just says its compatible with 64 bit os it will work fine on a 32 bit one.

    Windows will only be able to see 3.25 gigs of ram on the computer when its 32 bits so adding more ram would not be usable by the OS.

    shader clock is the engine clock probably and all the models of the same card should have the same unless its overclocked which won't happen with these card. I'd say just buy the on refillable posted since its free shipping and will do what you needed it for.



    When I went to Gateway's website, it states that it has 64-bit processor.
    http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/1015320R/1015320Rsp3.shtml

    I'm not at the desktop now but I believe when I look at the properties of 'My Computer' it states it is 64-bit compatible. My questions is, if I'm able to run a 64 bit OS (Windows 7) can I upgrade the Ram to let's say 6GB or more ?


    @refillable, I purchased the one you mentioned. My PC has a 300W power supply, I just noticed that may determine whether or not that video card may work or not. I couldn't find the requirements on Amazon, but I'm sure it will work out okay.
  7. Don't worry much, Just about any 300W or higher rated PSU will run low end cards like 5450. It also get the power from the 12V Motherboard, so no 6-pin stuff.

    http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/ati_radeon_hd_5450,9.html

    See that the system power consumption and it's only 161, it should be fine.
  8. To play games, you may find the HD5450 will be rather disappointing. If you can increase your budget, HD5450 < HD4670/HD5570 < HD6570 < HD6670; get the strongest of those you can afford. Your Phenom I will probably bottleneck a HD6670 some, but that's still the one I'd get. It will run on a decent 300W PSU.
  9. Just got a 5450 from CompUSA and your are right about that.
  10. Yeah, the HD6450 is the minimum you'd want to consider for gaming, not sure why people were saying to get the HD5450. The HD6450 is much more powerful than the HD5450 and not much more expensive($40.)
  11. With budget like that you can't complain...
  12. The HD6450 is $40 and less after rebate so it is within his stated budget.
  13. Is it really that faster?
  14. Yeah, roughly 60-70% faster.
  15. OK, OK

    That would be nice if OP can get it. It's $50 http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Radeon-Silence-Profile-PCI-Express/dp/B004X8EO6Q/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1325223888&sr=1-5

    But you still can't complain on how much the OP has the money.
  16. Tomorrow I'm returning this one, ATI Radeon HD5450. I couldn't wait for the Amazon shipment because I'm too damned impulsive. The video card I just bought plays SimCity well (lol), but when it comes to the emulation it's rather slow. Just checked out 'Can I Run It' and I'm not at a very good point. Also, I understand emulation is not 100% either but it crawls at certain parts when playing Katamari, and picks up at other less crowded parts.

    I just compared it to my laptop's stock GPU power, and it only beats it by about a hair. I basically bought what was already on my laptop. *sigh* Oh well, trial and error I suppose. Thanks for all of the feedback on this. Great help. I may increase the budget to $50, it seems this makes all the difference.

    I'm going to do some more shopping/homework, can anyone let me onto some cues as to what I'm looking at when I see certain numbers. I see now that ATI/Radeon (not sure if the same or different) has 5450, which is lower than their 6450 and so on. But when browsing around, there's also a lot of this from NVidia it seems: GT210, GT240 and so forth. I'm going to keep this simple and just stick to ATI/Radeon and NVidia.

    So my question is, which out of these 3 is better technically (not monetarily)? I can make comparisons via their technical details, and make future assessments for myself rather than bothering you guys here with this. Thanks for any time you can afford this beginner :)

    Choice 1:
    http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-Express-Graphics-01G-P3-1521-KR/dp/tech-data/B004W3F9XO/ref=de_a_smtd

    Choice 2:
    http://www.amazon.com/Evga-GeForce-Express-Graphics-01G-P3-1430-LR/dp/B0046HAW7Y/ref=pd_cp_pc_2

    Choice 3:
    http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-Express-Graphics-01G-P3-1302-LR/dp/tech-data/B0049MPQA4/ref=de_a_smtd

    My desktop only has a 300W power supply, is there an easy way to tell if these video cards would be supported? Thanks again so much.
  17. refillable said:
    OK, OK

    That would be nice if OP can get it. It's $50 http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Radeon-Silence-Profile-PCI-Express/dp/B004X8EO6Q/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1325223888&sr=1-5

    But you still can't complain on how much the OP has the money.

    They are as low as $40($20 after MIR) with free shipping on newegg.
  18. refillable said:
    OK, OK

    That would be nice if OP can get it. It's $50 http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Radeon-Silence-Profile-PCI-Express/dp/B004X8EO6Q/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1325223888&sr=1-5

    But you still can't complain on how much the OP has the money.



    Just saw this one from you. That one looks really well being that it's the 6450 model which jyjjy was mentioning before would produce much better performance for only a slight increase in $$$$. What's my best choice do you think out of the previous ones I listed and this one you put here refillable? $50 or less.
  19. Best answer
  20. Yea, buy from newegg to get better prices.
    If those are your budget, better get this: http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Radeon-PCI-Express-Graphics-100323L/dp/B004XLPJOY/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1325231062&sr=1-1 (this from amazon, you like it)
  21. Thanks you guys so much, this looks like the best deal right now. The newegg store seems to have some sort of deal with free 2-day shipping and a $40 coupon off select games from the vendor as well. Thanks again, I'll be getting this one. I returned the HD5450 today, made it look like I never opened it :) so I could get a full refund. I'd like to get both of you guys as the best answer. Thanks so much for your help. See you around the internets.
  22. Best answer selected by edrockjr.
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