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Optimal GPU for 305W PSU

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January 10, 2012 9:38:18 PM

Model: DIMENSION E521
Processor:AMD DUAL CORE 5600+ 2.8GHz X2
Mem:2G RAM at 667
GPU:6150LE integrated
PSU:305W

I have another PSU 305W from another computer. Can I use this extra PSU to power a card like GTS 450 or Radeon 6870 ?

This is a Dell so will a part purchased from NewEgg or NCIX fit in the motherboard? Do I have to buy from Dell? I tried inserting 1G of RAM from my other non-DELL comp and it did not fit. I wonder does this apply to GPUs also ?

If I cannot use a secondary PSU, what GPU is best? I mean I don't mind maxing out the PSU. I just want something that will run Skyrim on 1600x900 on High. I looked at Radeon 6670 that has low power requirements. Hoping I can run a better one than that though.
Please help.

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January 10, 2012 10:15:57 PM

Some Dell computers use a standard size PSU, others use a Dell propriety part. Measure your present PSU to compare sizes. If its the same size as a standard PSU, then you should buy a PSU (from Newegg, NCIX, or wherever) of 500-650wt to power the 6870 card.

As for the ram not fitting, it could have been a different type or ram, such as DDR into a DDR2 slot, for example. GPUs also differ, in that older ones used an AGP slot, then came a PCI slot and now PCIe slots. You have to make sure you get the proper GPU to fit the slot. From what I've looked up http://www.pcworld.com/product/29437/dell_dimension_e52... it appears that you do have a PCIe slot, so the 6870 card should fit into the board.

Realistically, if you can afford it, it would be better to build or buy a new computer then to invest money into your Dell Dimension.
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a c 198 U Graphics card
January 10, 2012 10:40:54 PM

If I am correct in what you are asking, no, you cannot use 2 PSU's (well you can but its sorta complex)

Second of all, I would think that a Radeon 5670 or the 6670 would work the greatest on a 300W power supply, it has a low power requirement as you said and has the highest performance for good money.

The thing with Skyrim though, is that it is more of a CPU dependent game. That is, it uses more CPU power than GPU power. It runs best with really great quad cores, like AMD Phenom II's and my 2500K.

If anything, Skyrim would take the most toll on your CPU. Yea upgrading a GPU is fine (if you still want to do so, the 5670/6670 are your best bets) but if you want to play Skyrim on high, that's a different story.

It might be best, as Sailer said, to make your own if you have the cash. Even if you did put a new graphics card in your Dell Dimension, if would heat up the case and the rest of the components. The stock Dell case does not have good ventilation.

As far as not making your own, the 5670/6670 would be an amazing jump in performance. Dell generally makes more decent PSU's than other brands.
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January 11, 2012 12:46:38 AM

The lowest power 6850 that I see is a Sapphire 6850 at 267wts, with a high by HIS 6850 at 328wts. But keep in mind that you still have to power the rest of the computer and as a psu ages, its actual power output goes down, so your 305wt psu might not still be putting out its maximum power. Also, its not good efficiency wise to run a psu at or near its maximum power. personally, I like to keep a 20% minimum cushion between what what my computer is using and the rated power of the psu. That way if there's a power spike for any reason, the psu can handle it without failing.
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a b U Graphics card
January 11, 2012 12:48:39 AM

dravan said:
Will my 305W PSU run it?


No because the "305w" maximum on your PSU is a combined total of all the different voltage "rails" on that PSU. Graphics cards use the 12v rail. Your 305w PSU will simply not have an adequate 12v rail to accommodate a 6850 or 6870.

As someone mentioned earlier using a low-power GPU like a 6670 is probably your best bet. I think you will be surprised how much better things run even on a 6670 than on your integrated graphics. If you really want a 6850 or a 6870 then you will have to upgrade the PSU. Your system has a number of limitations (CPU and RAM) that will prevent it from really benefitting from a higher-end card like a 6870 especially in Skyrim where the CPU seems to dictate performance.
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a c 196 U Graphics card
January 11, 2012 12:51:16 AM

If your 305W PSU is one of the new 80+ bronze ones, it might have enough juice for a HD6770, but that would still be pushing it. I think you would be pleasantly surprised at how well a HD6670 performs for you. Recent games look pretty good even on "medium" settings, and at your 1600x900 resolution I suspect many games will run nicely on "high" settings.
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a c 110 U Graphics card
January 11, 2012 1:35:50 AM

sailer said:
The lowest power 6850 that I see is a Sapphire 6850 at 267wts, with a high by HIS 6850 at 328wts. But keep in mind that you still have to power the rest of the computer.....

Not quite, a 6850 does not pull more then about 130 watts(furmark and 90-110 for most games) on its own. Those numbers ARE for a full system and yes, it is too close to do it that way(assuming you have that kind of hardware in your system).

As listed above(by jtt283), if you have a good 305 watt power supply, the absolute max i would even look at is a 6770(assuming you have the 12 volt power to run it. I run an i5 750[i undervolt] with a 5770 on a 300 watt[22 amps on its 12 volt rail(s)] with no issues.).

The 6850 idea would require very careful part picking to work, but could be done. I do NOT recommend just tossing that card on in.

Failing that the safe move is the 6670. The 6670 is very power efficient and will run on most power supplies.
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a c 196 U Graphics card
January 11, 2012 1:45:40 AM

^Nice summary; thanks.
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January 11, 2012 1:49:58 AM

nukemaster said:
Not quite, a 6850 does not pull more then about 130 watts(furmark and 90-110 for most games) on its own. Those numbers ARE for a full system and yes, it is too close to do it that way(assuming you have that kind of hardware in your system).

As listed above(by jtt283), if you have a good 305 watt power supply, the absolute max i would even look at is a 6770(assuming you have the 12 volt power to run it. I run an i5 750[i undervolt] with a 5770 on a 300 watt[22 amps on its 12 volt rail(s)] with no issues.).

The 6850 idea would require very careful part picking to work, but could be done. I do NOT recommend just tossing that card on in.

Failing that the safe move is the 6670. The 6670 is very power efficient and will run on most power supplies.


My bad. Those figures were for the full system. I did see that, but I somehow didn't write it properly. Nevertheless, I would stand by my thought that an old 305wt psu probably wouldn't reliably give enough power. If a person tried to have a system that drew 80% of the psu's rated power, a draw of 267wts would require a psu of about about 334wt to run reliably, or probably necessitating a psu of 350wts.
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a c 110 U Graphics card
January 11, 2012 2:03:10 AM

Onus said:
^Nice summary; thanks.

I have been looking at computer power consumption for a while. Many would not believe how power efficient modern hardware is(for what it does).

For instance, the media center listed above honestly has trouble breaking the 200(140 is a more average gaming power level) watt mark at the wall. There are also losses in the power supply so the load on the power supply is even lower(Power supplies are rated in DC output, not what they pull from the plug). The thing also idles under 40 watts.

My 2600k(4.4ghz) system(Maximus Gene-z, 5870, 2 hard drives and a cheap SSD) idles in the 90's(My I7 920 @ 3.5 idled at 150) and has yet to pass 300 watts(Prime and Just Cause 2). Prime 95 pushes 185 watts.

I am impressed with how far technology has come.

My general recommendation is about 2x the average power the system will use. This gives you maximum efficiency(fan cooled transformer rule :)  ). There is not harm in going overkill. It is more important to have a good quality power supply(With most of its power dedicated to 12 volt production) then a bad one(its still has the right wattage, just that it is all on its 3.3 and 5 volt rails).

On modern power supplies. You drop 120/240 volts to 12(and turn it to DC) then get your 5 and 3.3 off of it, this way you can have lots of 3.3/5 or 12 or a mix of both.
The more 3.3/5 you use, the less 12 there is(thus a max combined for all rails), but very little 3.3/5 is used now days.
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January 11, 2012 4:22:38 AM

Best answer selected by Dravan.
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January 11, 2012 5:12:14 AM

Thank you so much all !
I will be getting the Radeon 6750.

http://www.hwcompare.com/10859/radeon-hd-6670-oem-1gb-v...

I see now how the 6770 could be quite a stress, it maxes at 108W.
The 6750 maxes at 86W which is between the 6770 and the 6670 which maxes at 63W; yet is a quite a bit better than the 6670 and not much worse than the 6770.
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