Need to upgrade AGP video card in Dell Dimension 4500 (2002) with 250 watt PSU

By JIS
Dec 14, 2008
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  1. Did I somehow stump the experts on techspot? I've seen so many intelligent, informed, and thoughtful responses to other posts requesting similar information....but no answers yet to my question below for an AGP card that'll work well for 250 Watt PSU. C'mon guys, please help me out - - I'm a desparate Dad trying to make his kid happy for the holidays. Buying a new machine (or new PSU) not an option.... what do you think will work well with my existing setup as described in my original post:

    My 11 year old son is getting into gaming and wants the game Spore for the holidays. When I ran a diagnostic from their website on my ancient but reliable Dell Dimension 4500 (purchased in 2002), it advised that my video card would not meet the game's minimum requirements. I've spent two frustrating weeks trying to find an AGP card that will work with the machine. The biggest problem area seems to be the power supply. Here are the details on the machine including from CPU-Z (thanks for the site, cfitzarl):

    1. Budget for new AGP Card - - up to $140, but preferably less (of course)
    2. CPU: Pentium 4 2.4 GHz / 1 core / 1 thread / socket 478 mPGA
    3. Core speed: 2392.0 MHz
    4. Multiplier x Bus speed 18.0 x 132.9 MHz
    5. Rated Bus speed 531.6 MHz
    6. Stock frequency 2400 MHz
    7. Instruction sets MMX, SSE, SSE2
    8. L1 Data cache (per processor) 8 KBytes, 4-way set associative, 64-byte line size
    9. Trace cache (per processor) 12 Kuops, 8-way set associative
    10. L2 cache (per processor) 512 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64-byte line size
    11. System RAM 1023 MB DDR
    12. Windows XP Home Edition with service pack 2
    13. Power Supply: Almost impossible to read the label. (Thanks Dell) Here is everything that I could makeout on it:
    Model number HP-P2507F3C. "Max Output Power 250 watt."
    The rest of the label includes the following information - - hope this makes sense to you:
    "AC Input: 100 - 120V = 6A / 200 - 240v = [illegible may by a 3A or 8A]
    DC Output:
    *5V = /22A *12V = 14A
    *3.3V = /18A -12V = /1A
    *5Vfp = /2A
    *5V and *3.3V shall not exceed 150W
    Max Output Power 250 Watt."

    14. Motherboard: Intel Model D845SEPT2
    15. Graphic interface: AGP version 2.0 transfer rate 4x
    16. Current video card: NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 420 (64 MB)
    17. I'm in the USA

    Spore's site says the game requires a minimum 128mb video card with support for pixel shader 2.0. However, I'd like something that is at least 256mb (and preferably 512), pixel shader 3.0 or higher, and ideally a card that a non-techie like myself can install without driver problems, etc..
    HOWEVER, at this point, with the holidays bearing down on us and too many frustrating calls with Dell, I'm not going to be too choosey.
    The real issue seems to be finding an AGP card that will work with the 250 Watt Power supply.
    (1) Your suggestions for a compatible and good AGP card are ver appreciated.
    (2) Also, does the card have to be DDR2 for my setup? Or can it be DDR3 (the service tech from Dell said must be DDR2 but he said a lot of things to me that were not correct so I do not know whether he was right on the DDR2 vs DDR3 issue.) will be most welcome.
    (3) And finally, if I am upgrading the video card, is it necessary or recommended that I also replace the P4 2.4GHZ chip with a faster processor?
  2. direwolf007

    direwolf007 Newcomer, in training Posts: 128

    I am at work, so I won't answer everything you asked right now (no time to look for a card, sorry), but here are the answers to questions 2 and 3:

    (2) The memory of the video card has nothing to do with the system itself, you can install a GDDR3 video card in a system which runs SDRAM for the system memory, since it simply doesn't matter. Simple examples would be my rig running a GDDR5 card (The HD4870X2) and using DDR2 for the system memory, my laptop running DDR2 system memory but a discrete 8600M GT GPU with 256MB of DDR3 and my friend's Celeron Dual Core (E1200) which is running DDR2 for system memory and a GDDR4 video card (Powercolor HD2600XT 256MB GDDR4). In other words, any video card that will run on your AGP slot, regardless of its own memory type, will work.

    (3) I have absolutely no idea about the minimum requirements for Spore, but a 2.4Ghz P4 is a weak processor by today's standards. The problem is that there aren't many upgrade options even if you wanted to upgrade. The fastest Socket 478 Pentium 4s are clocked at 3.4Ghz, but these are usually expensive. You can find 3Ghz Pentium 4s for Socket 478 for around 30-50$ on ebay, but I am not certain the 25% clock-speed advantage is worth that money. In either case, if you decide to purchase a new CPU for that computer, make sure your have adequate cooling and that your motherboard supports the particular CPU you plan on picking up.
  3. JIS

    JIS Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks Direwolf007 for clearing up my confusion on the DDR2 vs DDR3. I am trying to narrow my search for the right video card but don't want to eliminate any potential cards for the wrong reason. I'm not rushing to replace the CPU but when I get there I'll be sure to that the CPU fits the motherboard and existing cooling. Looking forward to hearing your recommendations, if you get a chance to look, for a video card that will be compatible with my system when you get a chance.
  4. sapreaper

    sapreaper Newcomer, in training

    I know it's a few months ago, but Did you upgrade the system yet? you can get a Geforce 6200 readily available or also a radeon x1650

    newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131134

    newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125249

    the 6200 doesn't take as much power even though both should work fine on your 250w psu.

    Sorry i just joined this particular forum so i cannot post proper links yet.
  5. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Just about any AGP video card will work in that computer. We have had great luck with the 4500... Limit yourself to 256 MB video card.
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