Birthday for my son...need a new graphic card for his Dell PC. Help?

By g_m_reynolds ยท 26 replies
Nov 28, 2005
  1. Christmas is coming, and my son keeps complaining about the graphics card in his Dell PC...purchased 2 Christmases ago. I have no clue what to get him or where to buy, but my budget is about $150 dollars. Can anyone steer me to the right kind of card that will fit with a dell system without clashing? Thanks ahead of time... Clueless Mom :hotbounce
  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    Help a mom to help her son get a new graphics card?

    SURE!!!! :grinthumb

    First, we NEED to know a little more about his computer number. Take a look on the case for the Dell model number. We need that before we can suggest what will work.
  3. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Im sure your son will be thrilled to have some new 3D gaming power this Christmas season.

    As Don mentioned, we need to know what model Dell you are running. Such as Dimensions 3000, Dimensions 2100, etc.etc. Different Dells are limited to different upgrade options.

    For $150 you'll be able to get a very nice upgrade for your son. If you're in the USA, NewEgg has excellent deals and the best support/service for mail-ordering PC hardware.
  4. g_m_reynolds

    g_m_reynolds TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Re: Dell model

    It's a Dell Dimension 2400. Does that help? :blush:
  5. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    That's what we needed!

    I'll have some info in a minute or so....
  6. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    Well, some not-so-good news I'm afraid.

    That particular computer was not really put together with gaming in mind, and more not-so-good news is that it is not very upgrade-friendly :(

    There are two things going against that computer.

    1. In order to upgrade the graphics card, you need what is called a AGP slot. It is an empty socket that the new graphics card could fit in. Your computer does not have an AGP slot.

    What you DO have is an empty PCI slot. You could pop a new graphics card in there, however PCI graphics cards are very weak. Your son WOULD notice a difference if he upgraded to a PCI graphics card, but would still not be able to run the newer games. It will run the OLD games a little better than what he has now, but will not be enough to run any newer games. A PCI graphics card is just not fast enough.

    2. The other problem with your system, is that it only has a 250W power supply. Most of the newer cards require a minimum of 300W power, so even if you do upgrade to a PCI card, the power supply you currently have may not be enough to power it...

    Your power supply MAY be enough, but it is going to be close. I would hate for you to buy a new graphics card and find out AFTER the fact that your power supply isn't strong enough.

    I wish I had better news. :hotouch:
  7. g_m_reynolds

    g_m_reynolds TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Boo hoo....

    Aw...dang. Shoot. I had heard him asking his relative, who has a new Dell Dimension, what card they had because he liked the graphics alot better. They told him he could get an NVidia GeForce FX5200, because that's what theirs had.
    Well,...what if I purchase a newer model? They've got a Dimension 3000 Celeron for only $299 on the Dell site. I'd have to combine his birthday and christmas presents into one spending that much, but they're only a month apart, I don't think he'd mind too much. Would the graphic card it comes with be better because it's newer?
    I really appreciate all your help, especially the speed in which you respond. You're awesome!
  8. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    I don't want to make you think there is NO hope, as that just isn't in my character...

    If you really want to try and squeeze as MUCH as you can out of what you have, here's what I would recommend.

    That card there would probably be a good fit for your system. Again, it is a gamble. There is a chance that your power supply isn't going to like it.

    Now the next thing to keep in mind is that dell's can be a little tricky to install these things in. It CAN be done, but it is not as simple as plugging it in and turning it on.

    Your son probably knows all about this kind of thing, but the current graphics would need to be disabled. After he gets his new card, he can come back to this site for help in how to install it.
  9. g_m_reynolds

    g_m_reynolds TS Rookie Topic Starter


    At $61 dollars it's worth a shot I long as my house won't go up in flames. Is that what you mean by won't like it?
    P.S. I'll make sure he comes back here for help...again, you are awesome. Free expert advise in less than 20 minutes online. Who'dathunk?
    Your site is now "favorite"d.
  10. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    By the way, hold on for a while and see what some other people say as well.

    I am far from a DELL wizard. There may be someone who has upgraded that model before, and can confirm whether or not your power supply will be adequate!
  11. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    No worries about flames. Once the new card is plugged in, the worst thing that could happen is, it won't work.

    That's what we're here for. :rolleyes:
  12. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    There are a lot of people who use this forum who are STRONGLY against purchasing Dell systems, and to be completely honest... I do agree with them.

    Even if you do purchase that new 3000 model, it is not very upgradable. It still does not have an AGP slot for graphics. It's newer graphics (compared to what you have now) will do a LITTLE better, but it is still not made for playing 3D games.

    Still, $300 for a computer. Amazing price. My graphics card alone was $500! :eek:
  13. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    I'd have to agree with Don on this one.

    Your current system has (possibly) two problems concerning an upgrade to play games:
    1) The 250W power supply may not be enough power to drive a new videocard.
    2) The Dimension 2400 only has 256mb of memory by default, compared to the 3000 which has 512mb. Is it possible you got 512mb vs, 256mb when you originally bought the system? There was a time 2 years ago when Dell had a "Free memory upgrade offer" so it's possible this may not be an issue.

    The good news is- the Radeon Don has linked for you would be a much, much better upgrade for games than the 5200 your son has marveled at from that other Dell system. The bad news is- putting that Radeon in your existing system would still have barely enough memory to play games reasonably well if it's a 256mb Dell model and it's already a close call with the power supply.

    I wouldn't think the new Dimensions 3000 would be a very good option. It's still a Celeron system, albeit with a slightly faster bus speed- it's still a 250w powered system, still only has PCI slots.. and it's integrated video is basically the same as what you have (very, very small difference- not enough to play games decently).

    The bottom line is- if you have 512mb of memory on your son's Dell, I'd get the Radeon 9250 linked above and cross your fingers there is enough power to drive it. If not, the system will either fail to boot-up with it installed -or- be somewhat unstable (freezing up, restarting, shutting down, glitches, etc.etc.) A replacement power supply- say a 300-350W would only run about $49-$60 so worst case is he may have to wait a week or two and replace the Power Supply as well for a little extra expense. It's no small endeavor to replace the PSU, but if your son is crafty, he can likely manage it.

    Hope this helps!
  14. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Hmmm.. one other suggestion I might have for this holiday idea..

    How much of a PC-guy is your son? Is he reasonably into PC stuff?

    If so, you might just consider getting him a NewEgg gift certificate and send him over here.

    If he's reasonably versed in PC upgrades, he can likely use a gift certificate to piece-meal a very, very nice system from parts on NewEgg from parts of the Dell for around $200-$250. If he's techie enough to know how to swap hard disks, install XP and install cpu/memory, he can likely scavenge the Dell to make a real PC system that will be future upgradeable, 400-450W power and nice PCI-E or AGP 3d video.

    Depending on his age- getting him into an upgradeable system is a wonderful thing for future academic or household chore motivational trades. Just think- by May 2006, you could have him paint and clean the entire house for a little more memory or a cheap CPU upgrade... and believe me- once he gets into 3d games, you'll have his fully attention for making it a little faster/better looking. lol.
  15. mcbig

    mcbig TS Rookie

    Father in need

    Don and Shark, you guys are alright for helping a mom in need, how about a Dad? I should start a new thread, but this one is right on the money, hope you don't mind me tagging...A couple of years ago I bought my son a Dell, he likes games, but loves music more. He too wants more PSI. Is there any hope for this system? It's a Dimension XPS Gen. 3, I got it with a Graphics (P/N 6W523), 128 MB, 9800, Dimension card, and a Multi-Media (P/N J0997), AUDIO, 1394, SB0243. iT SOUNDS LIKE HE NEEDS UPGRADES for the video, sound cards, and more memory (dual line 256mbs, 512 total at present). Is it worth upgrading this machine? Thanks in advance guys.....
  16. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    mcbig, your son's xps3 should have a lot of potential for upgrade. He could install more ram about 1-2gb total would be good. So if he has 4 memory slots and two are full, you could either get a new 512mb kit(2x256mb), or a 1gb(2x512mb) kit to add in the empty slots. If the system only has two ram slots you'll have to remove the old ram first and get a 1gb(2x512) kit or a 2gb(2x1gb) kit.

    512mb kit
    1gb kit
    2gb kit

    If your son likes music, he should get a new creative x fi extreme music sound(or even a higher model x fi) card, they're like $130 usd.

    If he wants better graphics he could get an agp card like a x800xl, 6800gt, or if he has a bigger budget a x850xt pe.

    g m reynolds, you could get a pci card as was previously suggested, the 9250 would be ok, but this card would be the best you could get for pci, but it's currently out of stock.

    Best wishes to you both.
  17. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    mcbig, I don't think you have a generation 3 XPS...

    The generation 3's have PCI express graphics. If yours has a 9800pro, then yours is either generation 2 or 1.

    Most importantly we need to confirm what kind of graphics slot you have. Is it AGP or PCI-express. I am assuming it is AGP since you have the 9800pro in there.

    And if it IS AGP then the cards vnf4 links you to above will work.

    And I would also agree with him on getting a little more ram if you are only at 512mb now. 1Gb will make a nice difference.
  18. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Hi mcbig,
    I did some part # lookups on what you have provided. They revealed the following:
    P/N 6W523
    6W523 Video Card (VGA)
    Dimension 8300, Dimension XPS, Dimension XPS Gen2
    Radeon 9800 Pro w/TV Out, 128MB, R350,
    Dimension, AGP, UHMGA8

    P/N J0997
    Sound Blaster Audigy II (Viola) with IEEE 1394,
    Audio, PCI, SB0243

    So, this XPS is most definately not a Gen 3. It's likely a Dell Dimension XPS Gen 2, but you'd have to be absolutely sure in order to ensure memory upgrade. Videocard upgrade wont matter as we know you have an AGP slot to upgrade.

    On the soundcard- I would not upgrade this as an Audigy2 is actually a very, very capable soundcard.

    On the videocard- a 9800 Pro is also no slouch, albeit a bit dated today. It's an 8-pipeline card, 256 bit. There are 16-pipeline cards out now. If he's using the stock Dell LCD though, it has a very limited resolution. The biggest complaint with the XPS's is the display truly isn't well matched for the graphics power within.

    My best suggestion would be:
    Pick up some more memory. If it's a Gen2, get a 1gig kit. I'd recommend nothing but OCZ or Mushkin on an Intel/Dell system as they can be finicky with lower quality/value memory:

    OCZ - 2x512 (1 gig) - $112

    Mushkin - 2x512 (1 gig) - $119

    If you wish to also upgrade graphics, you have a great deal of choices to select from. The only limiting factor would, once again, be the Power Supply. Without the exact model, we could only guess if it's a 275W or 400W+.

    As the system already has a decent, 8-pipeline 3D card, upgrades that would yield measurable improvement wont be too cheap. As mentioned above, I'd also recommend either an X800 XT/XL or 6800-series AGP card.

    The best deal I've seen running is the AIW X800 XT for $269 after rebate:

    It has a TV-Tuner, capture board, video in/out and a 16-pipeline/500mhz core.

    The NVidia equivalent is the 6800GT, which is also a 16-pipeline card for $274:

    Tom's Hardware has a nice shootout with most 3D/AGP videocards. You can have a look at the various benchmarks and game results here:

    Hope this helps!
  19. g_m_reynolds

    g_m_reynolds TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So, Sharkfood....
    If I give him $200 instead, he could piece together a good system?
    He's very into the PC and gaming, and knows alot about how to run them, but he's never put any parts into the machine. He actually connected the computer when it first arrived, but the way they color code everything now, that's not a big deal.
    I'd be happy to give him $200 to do that, but could he really bother you guys for all the step by step instructions he'd need to get it together?
    Thanks again...
  20. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    To get a nicer, open-ended system... it would be between $200 and $300 and would surely trounce any of the systems Dell offers for the same price... plus be open ended so as he can expand it cheaply in the future.

    Gigabyte GA-K8N51GMF-9 - $72
    Socket 939 motherboard (for AMD 64-bit processor)
    PCI-Express videoslot for adding any current (and future) 3d videocards.
    Geforce 6100 3d card already built-in
    Gigabit Network card
    8-channel on-board sound.

    Athlon 64 Processor. Even the higher end, XP 3000+ is $145

    Case + power supply- Midtower case with 480W Power - $55

    Grand total of $272
    For an Athlon XP 64 system, Geforce 6100 3d card, and the ability to upgrade down the road to more memory, more CPU power (even dual-core XP's), the latest PCI-E 3d cards coming out, etc.etc. He'd have to pull the memory chips, hard disk, and dvd drive out of the Dell.. as well as find the Dell restoration XP CD's and re-activate Windows XP on the new system. No small task, but if he's into PC hardware at all, I'm betting he can manage.

    There are other solutions as well- where he can move his Celeron CPU (not well suited for games) and memory to some of their Bare Bones systems and have a nice AGP upgrade path as well.

    Alternatively, he can also just decide to use the Gift Certificate to get the 9250 Radeon for his existing Dell and possibly more memory. It would all depend on what games he wants to play and which way he feels most comfortable going.

    Without blowing the surprise, you might want to talk to him... if he's into PC gaming, I'm sure he'll blow a gasket over possibly having a nice, PCI-Express capable, XP 64 system for a xmas/bday present. :D Maybe even mow a few lawns or pick up some part time odd work to scrounge a few bucks on his own. hehe.
  21. mcbig

    mcbig TS Rookie

    dell memory

    Greetings guys,
    Thanks again for your help guys, you put Dell to shame, Dell is the reason its taken me so long to get back to you! India, Texas...they sent me on a world cruise, and I still didn't get good answers!
    I found out that my system is a Dimension/XPS GEN 1 and the part number for 512mb dual memory sticks is J0202. After researching everything I've decided to go for increasing my memory to 1 and a half Gig. My mother board has room for 4 Gig (4 dual slots), it has 2, 256mb memory module in it now. Like I said, I would like to add the 2, 512mb (P/N J0202) module to it, but I don't want to pay Dell $162.00 for the pleasure.
    I've seen much cheaper memory around, but I've also heard the horror stories of Dell systems being touchy (a rumor started by Dell?) to non-Dell parts. Could you guys please give me the skinny....
    Thanks in advance guys....
  22. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388
    Looks like you just need some ddr400(pc3200) ram that's non-ecc.

    As long as you get a reputable make you should be fine. It should only cost about $80(half the dell price) to get a 2x512mb kit online.
    For example, this should be fine.
  23. mcbig

    mcbig TS Rookie

    Thanks & 1 last ?

    Greetings, Vnf4ultra, Don Nagual, and Sharkfood, you were of great assistance! One more hit on your collective frontal lobes, I went with the MEM 512Gx2CORSAIR D400 VS1GBKIT400 ($75@newegg), how will I know if there is a compatibility problem? What should I look for? Thank-you many Yodas...
  24. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    If it's not compatible, it will either beep at you and not boot properly, or it will not detect all of your ram, and therefore not use all your ram(the more likely situation, since you already have 512mb installed that you know work.) If your pc detects 1.5gb and boots properly, your good to go.
  25. meNOname

    meNOname TS Rookie Posts: 96

    look sliek i made it to late...
    i have a dell 2400 to...bought a geforce 5500 PCI card...256 megs...
    i think it was 80

    whoa...pretty impressive is all i can say
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