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Help with new graphics card for Inspiron 546

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 27, 2012 12:04:25 AM

Recently my cousin's Dell Inspiron 546 has started to have problems. The screen has gone very dark, we tried playing with the settings, no change. Tried a different monitor, no change. This has led me to the conclusion that the graphics card is bad. Nothing on the computer has been changed since purchase.
I'm really not sure as to what I need to know when doing this or how to obtain the information I need. The only things I know of are that I need to make sure there is room for the card, it's interface is compatible, it does not generate too much heat, and it gets the right amount of power. I understand that the PSU is a limiting factor, as well as space inside the case. Other than that I am a bit lost.
What I would like to know is: What is the best video card it can take without upgrading the PSU? What is the best graphics card it can take with an upgrade to the PSU? And what is a good brand/model of PSU that will work with this system? As fas as price goes, we'd like to keep it below $250(but we'd like to know our overall options.) At this point no upgrades are planned, but will be in the future, of course. This isn't going to be used for any high-end games of any sort. Case modification is not an option, so I would assume that would play a factor in the choice of card, considering heat. The motherboard would also never be upgraded.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. I hope the information provided is enough, if not, let me know.

Current Specs:
Dell Inspiron 546
Dell 0F896N MoBo
Windows 7 Premium SP1(64-bit)
AMD Athlon II X2 215 Processor 2.70 GHz
4GB RAM
ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics
May 6, 2012 10:21:59 PM

Any help would be appreciated. At least things to consider and needed information to make a decision or a direction to go from here.
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Best solution

a c 292 U Graphics card
May 7, 2012 1:37:23 AM

That board has a PCIex16 slot. So you can use any modern graphics card with the caveat that you must pick one that doesn't require an external PCIe power connector for extra power... i.e. one that gets all its power from the slot it's plugged into. The next thing to decide is if you have the Inspiron that is a full sized case or the slim line case. The slim line case needs to use a 'low-profile' card due to its limited size.
Full size case card example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Slim line case card example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

There are other cards available that will also suffice, but these two are near the top for gaming frame rates for their class/price.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

I'll leave the other questions you have for another time. I need to run...
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May 7, 2012 6:34:59 AM

Best answer selected by trd10.
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