Concerns on upgrading Video Card

By TheVan
Dec 30, 2009
  1. Hi Techspot community

    I have never bought a video card before but I have been reading any and everything about them. So here are my questions with what I couldn't figure out..

    My Computer is: Compaq Presario, Model: SR5710F
    built-in graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nForce 430
    OS: Windows Vista
    RAM: 3GBs

    PCI-Express: x1
    PCI-Express: x16
    Power Supply Unit: 250W Max

    what is a good video card to get for my computer?

    Are these video cards any good, too much watts? upgrade PSU?

    Sparkle GeForce 9400 GT Video Card - 1GB DDR2, DVI, VGA, PCI-Express 2.0
    Sparkle GeForce 9500 GT Video Card - 512MB DDR2, PCI Express 2.0

    Heatsink or Fan for cooling?

    Do I have PCI-E 1.0 or PCI-E 2.0?
    all it says inside is PCI Express

    Thats all for now I want to upgrade for gaming performance.
    Suggested games I would like to run fairly decent or better are
    America's Army 3 / World of Warcraft / Combat Arms / CoD's

    Thank you. =)
  2. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I forgot to ask one other question about power supply.

    Say my Power supply is.. and is 250W Max, a video card that says 250W pcu will or will not work?

    or does the card just recommend a 250w power supply unit.

    So how much watts does a video card really use.. 45-75watts?

    what are rails? and how important is amp?
    Its sloppy sorry, more than one question just want to make sure not to Blow up my computer or something for too much or lack of power if it happens?
  3. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    I believe you have a PCIEx16, which is good.
    No I would stay away from those card if possible, they are quite weak.
    What is your budget?

    No it won't blow up, and we won't be recommending anything that will :).
    You will likely need a new power supply though. It depends on what card will fit your budget.
  4. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well the video cards listed were $60 below but willing spend $75 dollars on a decent video card.

    How much is a power supply unit?
    is it hard to mix/match them so it fits in my computer?
    how much watts should it be?
    Would mine work the 250W?

    I don't need a top of the line card just one that can at least run the games above at: 1024x768 res with alright fps 50-60 at high detail.

  5. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The chipset of your board (Nvidia nF 430) is a generation 1 PCIe x 16- as are all Nvidia motherboard chipsets pre-750i SLI .The good news is that at your price/performance level it makes no difference to the performance of your system.
    As hellokitty has mentioned- your power supply is underpowered for a decent graphics card update. You will need to upgrade to a good brand supplying at least 350-400 watts.
    Two things to consider are:
    1. Pricing and availability at your location, and if you have access to etail as well as retail.
    2. Space restriction within your computer case. A better specification power supply will have more cables attached and you may need to think carefully about how to manage them (tie them out of the way using cable ties and possibly placing them in unused drive bays (DVD/harddrive). Modular cable power supplies avoid this problem as you fit only the cables you require- but be aware that modular psu's are more expensive than the fixed cable varieties.
    As for graphics cards, that will dependent upon local pricing and if you can access etailers like Newegg or Tiger Direct (or similar)
    Your cpu is good and you have ample RAM so I'd recommend either:
    ATI HD 4650 ( make sure its the DDR3 version)
    ATI HD 3850 512Mb ( this card is available as PCIe 2.0 and AGP so double check before buying). If you can stretch your budget a little more then the ATI HD 4670 is an excellent card for the money. either in 512Mb or 1Gb forms.
    If nVIDIA cards are cheaper where you are then possibly a 9500GT 512Mb -but it is inferior to the ATI cards I have mentioned.
    All will run on a moderate (400 watt) power supply.
  6. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    Sorry, not with that budget, I would personally start saving money, maybe $50 for a Corsair 400w power supply and at least another 60 for a 9600gso, much better performance at only marginal cost.

    I think it is possible to run a BFG Tech BFGE94512GTE GeForce 9400 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $40, even a ZOTAC ZT-95TEH3M-FSL GeForce 9500 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $50, but they are again, not that great.

    Not sure where your getting your prices, but newegg has them cheaper.

    @dividebyzero I thought you would be able to fit in a 9400gt or 9500gt, you'll just be pushing it.
  7. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Alright, thank you.
    the prices of the cards I listed were like 45 dollars or so.

    So I should get a 400w ps only 50 dollars? thats not to bad and I'll get that =)

    I can buy all this online newegg and the other site I think was tigerdirect

    I'm alittle unsure what video card to go with though
    will any of them do well? should I go with Geforce since I have a geforce onboard graphics card?
  8. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    ATI or GeForce largely comes down to personal preference and perceived rather than actual differences. Both will work with your system- remember that your nvidia chipset is sitting on an AMD (who own ATI) motherboard.
    In order of gaming ability :
    nVidia 9400 GT - this is the lowest spec.
    ATI HD 3670/ HD 4350
    ATI HD 3650 (DDR3) / 9500 GT (DDR2)/ 8600 GT (DDR3)
    ATI HD 4650 (DDR2)/ 9500 GT (DDR3)/ 8600 GTS
    ATI HD 4650 (DDR3)
    ATI HD 3850 (256Mb version)
    nVidia GT 220
    ATI HD 4670 ( 256Mb)
    ATI HD 4670 (512Mb)
    ATI HD 4670 (1Gb)
    nVidia 8800 GS/ 9600 GSO / HD 3850 (512Mb version) - these are the highest spec.

    DON'T skimp on the power supply- going no-name brand here could cause your computer to become a smoking ruin.
  9. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That helped alot, I'll have a look at them and check them out.
    I'm gonna get that Corsair 400w power supply.

    Thank you, so much both of you! =)
  10. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

  11. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you looks good
  12. TheVan

    TheVan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So this would be good for me?

    CORSAIR 400w - $50
    ATI HD 4670 512Mb - $70

    Just need a decent one cause my current one can't play AA3 without shuttering all the time so its unplayable, have to play all my games at low bare settings with only 35-45fps max. So this would be much better, yea? =)
  13. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    Yes it would would be tons better than what you have now.
    Remember to change your drivers when you get it...
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