The good news is that I found a Compaq desktop PC in a dumpster. The serial # was on the case, a 500 GB drive, Windows 7 Pro, Dvd burner, 3 gigs of ram, and a 2.7 GHZ processor. The bad news is that the drive was bad. The good news is that I had an 80 GB SATA laying around and installed it. Was able to download Windows 7 trial, install and activate. The bad news is that it has onboard graphics (Nvidia GeForce 6150SE), and I can't play intensive games without lag. The good news is that it has a PCIEx16 graphics card slot. The bad news is that a video card which would give me a decent bump in performance requires at least a 300watt power supply. And of course my power supply is a meager 250watts. The card I'm looking at is a PNY GeGorce520 with a Gigabyte of DDR3.
My question of course is, can I get by with my current power supply? If not, what's the easiest, cheapest route? I have an old Antec True 430watt laying around somewhere. But I'm not sure if the connections would fit this rather new computer. And I hesitate to start taking it apart without first asking advice from more knowledgable people here at Toms Hardware Forums.
The 520 won't be able to play intensive games without lag either. I'd say an AMD 6670 ddr3, at the least, for gaming.
I'd recommend getting rid of those PSUs, and buying a new one. Corsair do good 'uns, Cooler Master has a couple of good ones too.
Never heard of Antec, but they might be good. Best wait for other opinions.
The GT520 is not a gaming card. A DDR3 version of the HD6670 is the absolutely weakest card to consider for gaming; a GDDR5 version will be notable faster. A HD7750 would be a solid budget gaming card, or if budget permits, a HD7770.
Most Crappermaster PSUs are a notch above junk, with liar-labels and/or missing protection circuits, or their outputs aren't clean.
Seasonic does not know how to make a bad PSU. They make the PSUs for XFX and some for Antec and Corsair. The $45 380W Antec Earthwatts or $60 Seasonic G-360 are each capable of running any graphics card with a single PCIe power connector. As to your old Antec PSU, if it's not one of the newer Earthwatts units, you'd probably be best off getting a new PSU. Some of the older Antec units had capacitor problems, so it's not worth it.
Another problem you'll face is the CPU. Find out what it is; it could be a limiting factor, especially if it's something like a 240e. Buying a new graphics card and PSU won't be a waste though, as you'll be able to move them if you decide to build a new PC later.
I agree with JTT assessment above. You could get a decent new $30 PSU and lower end graphic card ($60-80), but thats not really going to get you the performance you want given the PC's age.
I think the easiest, cheapest route is to get a decent power supply to put in it, and then get a used graphic card on ebay or craigslist. You should be able to get a gaming card closer to the age of the PC for cheap (like maybe a 9800GT).
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm pretty sure that my PCI-E x16 slot is a 1.0. After some scouting, I gather that any PCI Express card(1.0, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0) will work in a PCI-E x16 slot. Will such cards lose much umph by the limitation? If so, should I concentrate on a 2.0/2.1 rather than the 3.0?
That's a really slow CPU. Even a HD7750 might be bottlenecked some by it. I would estimate that a fairly balanced match (if you're never planning to upgrade again, or will replace the whole thing when you do) would be a HD6570.
Hi jtt. Thanks for asking. Well, the Antec True 430W is actually new. I bought it a few years ago when planning on building a computer. But the economy tanked and tanked and tanked. So that's as far as I got. Anyway, I'm gonna use the Antec as soon as I get the nerve to start taking things apart. I will take your advice on the video card and get the HD7750/3.0 because the processor is also upgradable to a quad core. The ram can also be increased up to 8GB. So even for a wimpy start, it has some growing room.
Ok then, that ought to work fairly well. Check the max CPU wattage allowed though; make sure it can support 95W or 125W CPUs before putting a quad in there.
Good call. I went to my computers stat sheet online. And it listed the alternative procs...all were 95 Watts. So I'll be sure to verify that particular when finally deciding on a processor. Actually here's the list with several options:
Socket type: AM3
TDP: 95 watt
AMD Phenom II X4 9xx/9xxe/8xx Quad-Core (Deneb)
AMD Phenom II X3 7xx/7xxe Triple-Core (Heka)
AMD Phenom II X2 5xx (Callisto)
AMD II Athlon X4 6xx/6xxe (Propus)
AMD II Athlon X3 4xx/4xxe (Rana)
AMD II Athlon X2 2xx/2xxe (Regor)
AMD Sempron 1xx (Sargas)
Well, there are some 95W CPUs in those Phenom II families, and also some 125W (and a couple of 140W) CPUs.
Your 430W Antec would have no trouble with a HD7770; of course now we're starting to up the cost. A HD7750 would probably be "good enough," especially for someone willing to play on lowered settings (which tend to look pretty good these days).