Advice on limited graphics card upgrade possibilities

By Exhume2Consume
Nov 4, 2009
  1. I'm not an expert on computer tech really so I'm stuck in a bit of a dialema, I read through the thread started by vnf4ultra about gaming with PCI not PCI-e, and it gave me a little bit more insight into the issue that an upgrade will help instead of abuse about having conventional PCI, but I still have a few questions that need answers.

    Well, basically I'm an under-privileged gamer, stuck to a very low budget, and stuck with a Dell Dimension 2400. I recently upgraded it to 2GB's of ram and acquired a 500GB external harddrive just to clear up the internal harddrive. But my main issue is I badly need to upgrade my graphics card, I'm still using the In-built chipset, The Intel "extreme" and its horrible! But I've only come across the funds to upgrade lately. Its been a tight year:( and I just don't have the funds to upgraded to a better system or to build from a naked motherboard.

    I have my eye on 2 cards, and I've only got a limited selection due to the obsolite PCI slots that I have. But my concern is, what effect would a 64-bit in comparison to a 128-bit card have? And compatibility factor between a 128MB card and 256MB card? The AXLE nVidia Geforce 5500 FX 256MB is no.1 at the moment, no.2 would be the Geforce 6200, but any of them I've seen are a different sort of PCI . Are they compatible? (Amazon is only for reference, any better deals, please link), My computer is at the moment just barely able to cut my audio work, as far as recording with low latency goes anyway, but its okay, I don't need anything more from what I'm getting from it now, but its my final upgrade is the video graphics for gaming! I love gaming and really would like to play games smoothly not the frame a second effect I have now:(

    I just need a little advice really, I don't wanna end up spending money for nothing.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Your first limitation is the power supply, which on most Dell Dimension 2400's is about 240 watts.... certainly no more than 300 watts... then your video graphics card must be a PCI card... and there are not many cards that will work very well in that system.
    So you need a PCI video graphics card, and a power supply that can handle it.. I would get the 256 GB video graphics card... The 2400 cannot handle anything larger... but a 128 GB card would be more likely to work with your power supply, whereas the 256 might overload the system.
    If it were my system, I would start a savings program, and get a better computer for gaming... rather than trying to make the 2400 work.
    The Dell Dimension 2400 is a good computer with few failures... But, it is a basic budget low end computer, and it is already at least three or four years old... some components may be close to an upgrade anyway.
  3. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    my advice save up and build a $500 computer that will destroy the one you have.
  4. electromagnetic

    electromagnetic TS Booster Posts: 205

    Hi Exhume2Consume
    You don't need to upgrade power supply I got a Dell Dimension 3100 and a Pny 6200 Nvidia card 256MB 64bit. There's a PSU 230watt. Card works great no problems. Just disable Intel Integrated Extreme Graphics in Device Manager before adding card.

    Try these cards: Visiontek HD2400 Pro PCI same as above Powercolor HD4350 PCI Evga 9400GT PCI

    Or use 3D Analyze.
  5. electromagnetic

    electromagnetic TS Booster Posts: 205

    Sorry double post.
  6. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Nonetheless, the Dell 3100 suffers greatly from the 230 Watt power supply when a graphics card is installed, based on the experience of a number of our clients who have attempted to get away with it. We have seen enough failures with enough clients to convince us.
    Dell power supplies are more stable than most, but not stable enough for all users.
    This applies to the 2400, 2400C, 3000 3100, and 3100C
    True, many get away with it, but not if they tax their system at all.
    You should also push your memory to the maximum.
  7. electromagnetic

    electromagnetic TS Booster Posts: 205

    Give an example please raybay ?

    If you got a DELL you got a good PSU.


    Team Fortress 2 on my card.
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,433   +143

    I will support raybay on this one, its simply bad advice to stay with that power supply, while moving to a semi-decent graphics card.

    This is a good idea, or better yet, sell it for extra cash...
  9. electromagnetic

    electromagnetic TS Booster Posts: 205

  10. JieMan

    JieMan TS Rookie Posts: 63

    I support Raybay as well , the psu in a Dell is the most minimal of what they can get away with putting in , they give you almost no headroom for upgrades even on the high end gaming PC's , this is just one example of how Dell is able to save money in mass production costs and sell underpowered PC's on the cheap

    To the O.P.
    Your option to "upgrade" to a gaming computer is non existent for that PC , your best option is to save your money and instead spend it towards a building your own gaming rig, you must have heard of!
  11. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    No ....not okay electro!
    how can you say that? do you even know what PSU make model or brand is in there? most likely a Bestech, or something of that ilk...and that's not good. secondly, a 6200 PCI is not going to afford him playability in anything post 'Amber', Raybay,Jieman,HK and Klepto are right, he will not be able to upgrade his machine to any kind of a competent or satisfactory gaming machine.
  12. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    i say if you need advice read reds cheap gaming machine post i mean heck you get a ton of performance for very little now days and that my friend is sweet :) in all i say $500 to $600 would afford you a nice setup far superior to what you currently have.
  13. Exhume2Consume

    Exhume2Consume TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cheers for the help guys, unfortunately not able to upgrade to a better pc, maybe in a year or two but for now its just max out the 2400 as much as I can
  14. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    The advice to go with a better power supply and maxing out your system RAM is good. If you can get away with just adding a good PCI DX9 video card. You should go do it
  15. Exhume2Consume

    Exhume2Consume TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The PCI input on that card is .. ...... .. in that arrangment though? Where as my pci slots are .......... ... in that arrangement
  16. Exhume2Consume

    Exhume2Consume TS Rookie Topic Starter

    New system is not an option. Don't have the funds and have set aside money now. Its not for high end gaming like games from 08/09 with top graphics settings. Its just to run my games I own now smoothly with some decent level of detail. I love games, more so older one's, should have made that clear earlier. I can get away with the system I have for now, I just need advice on the best route to go with making it better.
  17. Breech

    Breech TS Member Posts: 76

    I was in your exact situation not too long ago with a Dimension 3000. Like you I maxed out the RAM at 2 GB's and then put in a Chaintech GeForce 5200FX (128 bit interface 256 MB RAM). The fan on the card died in about a month so I put on a cheap little copper HSF off of ebay and was good to go. It made a huge difference in quality on the older games that I played, I was happy with that card for quite a while. I then decided I wanted to try to squeeze more out of the system and stepped up to an EVGA GeForce 9400GT. To my suprise my in game performance actually dropped a good bit. I thought perhaps the power supply was being overworked so I upgraded to a quality 500w unit from PC Power&Cooling and it made no difference. I had successfully wasted over $150 on those "upgrades" only to get less performance.

    If your budget is as tight as you are saying then I think you'd be best served to look at a GeForce 5200 or 5500. I'd recommend the 6200 but they all seem to utilize a crippled 64 bit interface which will only degrade performance further. I'd rather have 128 bit with some slower clocks. With an upgraded HSF those little 5 series will overclock really well anyways and they can be had for fairly cheap prices. Just keep in mind that it won't allow you to play any of the modern, GPU intense games..........but will be more than acceptable for games that are 3-4+ years old. Also, the PCI Bus does not have dedicated bandwidth meaning that every card you put into your PCI slots have to share it. The fewer cards that you have in there, the better the performance will be. Hope this helps and good luck :)
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