TechSpot

Do I need to downgrade?

By Nascarpepper
Feb 21, 2012
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  1. I wanted to purchase a computer mostly to use for everyday Internet browsing, college homework or the occasional game. I saw and fell in love with the look of the Dell XPS 630i. My sales tech told me over the phone that getting the XPS system would be way more than I need but I decided to spend the money anyway. It came with a Nvidia GeForce 8800GT video card. I have had this system around 3 years now.

    A few weeks ago, I turned on the computer but the screen was all pastel coloring and all my icons were large. It would't allow me to change my settings. I restarted a few times but same result. A few days later I started it up and everything was back running perfect. Later that evening I shut it down again and the next day, back to pastel colors,etc. Thinking it could be my video card, I opened the tower, removed the card, dusted little dust and reinserted. When I turned the power back on, all I got was a long continuous beep. I read on this forum it was probably my card.

    Yesterday I took a video card out of one of my fathers computers he had lying around. I installed it and my computer started without beeping. However the screen was very discolored and I could barely see to click so I shut it down.

    Question 1 - Does this mean it was for sure my video card but that my computer is too powerful for it?

    Question 2 - Do I need to get another GeForce 8800 or can I downsize? I do watch movies online but the most "graphic" game I play is the original Command & Conquer Red Alert.
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +98

    I would try another display with your original graphics card. I realise it refused to boot once you had been doing some cleaning, but it is entirely possible that the GPU wasn't fitted quite right, or you forgot the power connectors (if it has any).

    To answer your questions:

    1. No, it does not completely rule out of your GPU. If you swap it for something else it is possible Windows will boot, but appear with a very low resolution or discolouration due to not having the correct graphics card driver installed. It is not possible for your computer to be too powerful for any GPU.

    2. I'd upsize if you confirm it needs a new GPU. The Geforce 8800 series is very old now and newer, more powerful and power efficient models are available. What is the wattage of your power supply, and how much is your budget, should you need to replace it?

    In case you aren't aware, GPU equals graphics processing unit, which is the video card. The PSU is the power supply unit.

    I would first check:

    1. Another display with your original GPU.
    2. Then remove the GPU driver from Windows, remove the GPU and boot up and install the correct GPU drivers for a test GPU in order to confirm it resolves the problem.
    3. It could also be a power supply issue, or a issue with the motherboard -- Is the machine doing anything else like cutting out completely when gaming or other unintended actions?
  3. Nascarpepper

    Nascarpepper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Correction

    Thank you. Your reply was very helpful. Here is my update:


    The original GPU is actually a GeForce 9800GT not 8800.

    I realized after making this post earlier that after installing the "mystery GPU" I got from my father, I had place my HDMI cord into the GPU. Thus creating the impaired view on my screen. After replacing it with my regular monitor, my computer has started up and is working properly. After trying to view a video on youtube, I can however tell a difference in quality.

    After review online, I have found that this "mystery GPU" is actually a Radeon 9200. This is a drastic reduction in performance compared to the GeForce 9800.

    Based on my needs, I believe the 9800 was going somewhat unused. I guess maybe a step down may suit my budget. I am looking for something $150 or below.

    1.) Any suggestion on which GPU I should pursue?
    2.) Is buying a used or refurbished GPU like buying a new car?

    My PSU is 750 W
    Processor is: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q9400 @ 2.66GHz
    Memory is: 4.00 GM
    (Not sure what everything means completely yet. But learning fast.)

    Thanks again.
  4. Buckshot420

    Buckshot420 TS Enthusiast Posts: 467

  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,977   +1,487

    These cards have roughly twice the performance value of the 9800 GT and operate with less power required. Both cards are sold well under your $150 budget.
    • Radeon HD 6770
    • GeForce GTX 550 Ti
    Here is a newegg search for the cards listed above.


    .
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +98

    I would agree with the above two suggestions, assuming you aren't suddenly going to start playing the latest games.

    Two other options at the top end of your budget would be the HD6850 and HD6870. Assuming you got a refund on the mail in rebates you could get a HD6870 delivered for just under $150.

    Your power supply is more than capable of powering even the most powerful single core GPU on the market, assuming it is a quality brand. It could actually run 2x HD6870's with power to spare, so there is no need to worry about that.

    P.S. You mentioned you were learning, so just an explanation for you in regards to your system memory. RAM and hard disk capacity are expressed in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB). You have 4GB of RAM. :)
  7. Nascarpepper

    Nascarpepper TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks

    Thank you for responding. I think I am going to go with the HD6870. And the tutorials are helping.

    3 last questions for you'll

    1.) The specs I mentioned before about my PC. Other than this GPU I am getting, is their any other upgrades I should really do considering I do not plan to be an elite gamer?

    2.) I have an Intel Core 2. I have been told before something about Pentium being better. Should I/Can I switch? Is 4GM of Ram enough?

    3.) My current operating system is Vista. Is it necessary to upgrade to W7 or should I wait for W8,W9,etc?

    I want this XPS to last many years and do not want to get behind the curve. :)


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