TechSpot

Help with Upgrading Video Card

By frankielee07
Dec 21, 2007
  1. I am wanting to upgrade my video card and don't know which one to choose. We are going to buy from ebay so the price isn't that important. I do love to play lots of Sims 2 games though. I have been looking at other posts and have most of the information I need. I am not sure how to find the rest of it. I have had some trouble with finding my power supply. I looked all over the back of my computer but I couldn't find it. I did find something that said 1.8v. My processor is Intel Celeron 356 and my core speed is 3333.3 mHz. The mainboard manufacturer is Intel Corporation and the model is d945gcl. The memory type is ddr2, the channel is single, and the size is 512mbytes. I am upgrading my memory to 2gb ddr2 dual channel ram which is the maximum for my computer before I get the video card though. Also, I am from KY, USA. I will keep trying to figure out the power supply. Thanks ahead of time.
     
  2. http://www.techspot.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/968/cat/501

    you have to open up the case to physically see it. in the top left of the box...that silver box that has all the power cords coming out of it leading it to the motherboard....that's the power supply. and more than likely it is both in the same place in your machine, and looks the same.

    as for the graphics card...the good news is that you have a PCI-express 16x slot. so you can buy any graphics card there is right now.

    if price isn't important, get an 8800 gt 512mb, 8800gts 512mb, 8800gtx 768mb, 8800ultra, or the radeon 3870. any one of those would be perfect for you.

    i'm not sure how good a card off of ebay is going to be. it likely has something wrong with it. i would strongly advise against it, and buy from an online site like newegg.com or tigerdirect.com. price is an issue for a good reason...quality. you'll know you're getting a good item for a decent price and it likely won't die on you..

    but anyway. there you have it. that's the list of recommended cards at the moment.
     
  3. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Power Supply

    What do I need to know about the power supply that relates to the card I buy. I mean, what does it have to do with it? How will I know if the card will work with my computer by the power supply that I have? Thanks so much for replying so quickly!
     
  4. no problem. i try.

    well, as you might be able to guess...the better the part, the more power it needs, and if you have something as powerful as a graphics card like the ones i suggested, you need a hefty power supply to supply it.

    an easy way to figure it out is to use a wattage calculator. just google for one, plug in the parts you're using and put in the video card you're going to use, and then add about 30% to that figure and that's about the wattage you might need.

    but to make things simple, you're better off just buying one that's good quality. an Antec NeoHE 500watt power supply will power your system very very nicely and even leave a little bit of head room. it's about 90 dollars from newegg.com. you might find it slightly lower elsewhere maybe but i doubt it.

    that's the easiest way to tell if you can power it...by getting one that overcompensates and you know is good quality.

    as a rule of thumb, the power supply that comes with the case is usually a piece of crap that you wouldn't want to keep around. they tend to die a lot.

    someone that knows more about power supplies than me would be able to answer you in greater detail. i just know what is a powerful power supply for the price, and that it will easily power a top notch system.

    it gets more intricate. a power supply usually has a given amperage that it pumps out to the processor and graphics card. and that figure is important. i don't know how to calculate it, or figure it out by looking at a power supply's specifications. so you'll have to ask someone else about that...sorry.

    but that's how it relates to the graphics card. and that's what you'd need to know.
     
  5. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Power Supply Reply

    Okay. Thanks. I will go ahead and shut down and check my pc and see what the power supply is and let you know. I will shop around for the one you gave me in the last post if mine sucks. LOL. Thanks for all your help!
     
  6. most cases come with a power supply rated between 200, and maybe...maybe 450 watts at the most. these are regular stock parts that weren't designed with quality in mind.

    it's like giving someone a really short pencil. if they need something to write with, it gets the job done. but if you want to write a few pages, it's just not good enough. you'll wear it down in no time and you just can't write anymore.

    it's highly likely that the PSU you have sucks too much to support a better card. in fact, everyone that i've helped with this sort of thing that had a stock power supply had one that was too crappy and needed to upgrade.

    to be sure, and for your own peace of mind...get a new one anyway, or at least plan to. you'll be better off, and you won't have to worry.

    and here's a general rule of thumb with buying a power supply...if you see a very high wattage....say 550 or 600 watts going for less than 75 dollars, assume it is poor quality.

    generally a power supply that's over 80 dollars that offers 500watts or so is a good one. that antec i suggested is a tier 2 power supply that offers huge performance for the price. in fact, i'm looking to buy it for my build that i'm doing.

    get that power supply, and one of those cards i mentioned, and your PC will be unstoppable.

    the sims isn't a hard game to run. in fact, you don't really even need a card like any of the ones i suggested. you could go with a lower end model for cheaper and it would easily get the job done.

    these models that i've listed are the top of the line. good enough for running games like crysis, bioshock, call of duty 4, and the like.

    it's up to you. if you'd like to, you could go with a high end card. but if you're looking for Good Enough performance, i can look up a cheaper model that will do the same work.
     
  7. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Video Card

    Yeah, you were right. My power supply was +12v and only 300 watts. It sucks! LOL. I will upgrade after I get my memory. As for the video card, I checked those out and they are pretty high even on ebay. I was looking at one geforce 7200 gs 256mb ddr2 onboard up to 512mb turbocache technology. What do you know about that one? Also I was thinking on the geforce 7300 gs 256mb. If you know any other good ones then let me know. Thanks.
     
  8. just a note on the power supply. all power supplies come with 3 different..well..there's no other term for it...rails. 3 rails. a 3v, a 5v, and a 12v. the 12v is the group of cables that supply power to the processor and video card and other major components. the 12v offers varying amperages. the higher the amperage offered on the 12v rail, the better. usually around 27-33 amps is pretty decent. but i don't know how to figure out how many amps a power supply will offer. i don't have that skill yet.

    as for the video cards...avoid anything that says ONBOARD or INTEGRATED. because those are both different terms for the same thing. it means a card that is literally built into a motherboard.

    it's incredibly easy to distinguish just looking at them.

    anyway...the problem with the models you chose is that they're....well...old. and they won't have very much power. those are for...bare minimum at this point.

    it would help a lot if i could get an idea of how much you're willing to spend. i know you said price isn't an issue. but i'd like an idea of exactly what your upper limit is....like "i'd like to spend no more than..this much" type of thing.

    that will help me find you the best card that amount of money can buy.

    it's the easiest way that we techies work. if someone wants to either add parts or build a whole computer from new parts, the best thing to do is give the ideal computer you want a price tag. that allows us to finagle with the parts and balance it out so the price matches and the computer still maintains quality/performance.

    once i know your upper limit, i can find you an appropriate power supply, and then graphics card.

    and if your spending limit is too low, then you'll either have to find money/agree to spend a little more, or abandon the idea until you can get more cash.

    the unfortunate thing with modifying computers is you can't do it half-@$$ed. you have to do it right the first time. and that means buying components that are good quailty...a.k.a. you have to be willing to spend money.

    if say you had a 300 dollar limit...i could get you a radeon 3850, the little brother of the 3870, and the 90 dollar power supply i mentioned. that would bring your computer to a level where you wouldn't have to upgrade at all for a while.

    that's just an example, and it's a worst case scenario. i'm going with the prices i know off of other websites. not ebay. in the worst case, you'd have to spend maybe 300 dollars or so.

    but yeah...i think i've said my piece. i think you get the idea.
     
  9. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That sounds great to me. I may be waiting until I get my income taxes anyways so 300 dollars is a good price. The deal with me not worrying about price before is because when you buy something off of ebay you never know what the price will end up being. But since the ones you suggested are so great they are even very high on ebay. I only buy from power sellers with great feedback. I am a big ebay so thats where I get most of my stuff from. I have told you the computer I have and I want to build it up good. I want good stuff for a good price like you said before. Also, is there any certain type of ram that I should look for or are they all the same? I want 2gb which is all my computer will hold.
    I have another question I was wondering if you could help me with also. My husband just ordered this new laptop and he was wondering if you could tell him if it was a good one or not or if there is anything he can do to make it a good gaming laptop. It is a Dell Inspiron 1420. It has Intel Core 2 duo processor. It is 1.5ghz/667mhz. He is upgrading it to 4 gb of ddr2 dual channel ram. It has 128mb nvidia geforce go 8400m gs video card. I think I covered everything though. Anyways, just get back to me whenever you can. Thanks for everything!
     
  10. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,675

    tell him to not go to 4 GIG of mem. 3 is all the comp. will use unless his OS is 64BIT. also the 8400m gs is not a very good video card, get the 8800GT
     
  11. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Can you get the 8800gt video card for a laptop? he was told you couldn't upgrade laptop video cards from a nearby computer store. Thanks.
     
     
  12. there's a lot of misinformation here...

    the 8800 was made into a mobile video card. and you CAN upgrade laptop video cards. that store lied to you. BUT in fairness to them, it depends on the model you have. some gateways that i've seen can have the video cards upgraded or changed out. maybe they just swap out the mainboard for another one and keep the hard drive. but its definitely possible. whether or not you can do it with your husband's laptop, i haven't got a clue. i wish i did.

    but anyway...

    there are all kinds of memory. there are models that operate at faster and slower speeds. and there are three different types of memory. ddr, ddr2, and ddr3. each of those types have all those various speeds. for instance, the most common is ddr2 800mhz. also known as pc2 6400. (you take the 6400 or whatever number and divide by 8 to get the memory speed in mhz.)

    your desktop can support up to 667mhz ddr2 memory. specifically, pc2 5300 ddr2 667 240pin.
    i would go with these for your desktop:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146567
    graphics chip
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814241066
    psu
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817103940

    your husband's laptop isn't bad. the 8400 is a decent card and can run most modern games. it's a little on the weak side if you want to play games like crysis or bioshock. but it can handle itself alright. the dual core intel chip could also be better. i've seen them start at 1.6 or 1.66 ghz rather than just 1.5. the extra megahertz really do make a difference. it's the difference between being able to play a game and being able to play a game well. the RAM should make up well enough for it though.
     
  13. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So even though my pc uses pc2 4200 ddr2 240pin right now, I can go up to the pc2 5300? I didn't realize that. Is there any certain website I can go to that tells me all about my computer like how to figure all that out that I can use as a reference if I need it? Thanks.
     
  14. all i did was go to google, i typed in your exact motherboard model, and it told me the specifications of the motherboard. perhaps you'll find the same thing i found. type in "intel <insert model number>", and click on the overview. there's a section about memory, and it lists that it can support ddr2 400, 533, and 667. so you can indeed go up to 5300. perhaps that will give you a considerable boost. a boost from 533 to 667 would be pretty cool. you'd be surprised about the difference.

    i guess to make things easy...i'll just post the site i got the info from.
    http://www.intel.com/products/motherboard/D945GCL/index.htm

    see for yourself and/or show your husband :3
    the parts i posted in my last post should do quite well i would think. that would pin your PC fairly close to the top. the 3850 was actually a very recent release. it's a part competitor for the 8800gt and the rest of the 8800 series from Nvidia.

    if you'd like a better background of the cards, i can give that to you as well. i'm pretty well versed with graphics cards.

    i hope that helped a bit :D
     
  15. frankielee07

    frankielee07 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I am really interested in the graphic card you gave me. So you mean the 3870 is competitor for the 8800 gt? Thats cool.. But yeah you have helped me quite a bit and I'm very thankful! I'll be sure to come back when I have more questions! Thanks again!
     
  16. no problem. happy to help. and like nickc said, make sure your husband doesn't get 4 gigs because his operating system won't recognize more than 3
     
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