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GPU upgrade or not? (AGP 8x slot, 300w PSU)

By Ruu ยท 12 replies
Aug 1, 2008
  1. Hi all,

    I have some fairly specific questions that are related to graphics cards upgrades with respect to PSUs, so allow me to lay out the background of the system first and then get into my questions second....

    First, system details:

    Intel P4 Northwood, 2.6GHz
    ASUS P4SD-VX (I believe that this is a Sony OEM board)
    2 GB PC3200 DDR SDRAM (Corsair something or other, 4 x 512 MB)
    ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB
    1 x 7200 RPM IDE harddrive
    2 x DVD-RW/DVD+RW drives
    1 floppy drive
    1 Sound Blaster PCI card
    92 mm case fan, 80 mm CPU fan, stock fans

    Putting all this into the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator here gives me a recommended PSU wattage of 238W. Even with the "capacitor aging" factor turned up to 30% (the system is ~4.5 years old), I only get 309W.

    Now, my PSU is rated at 295.4W, with 17A max on the single +12V rail. It has NEVER---repeat, NEVER---overheated, been unstable, crashed, blue screened, or done anything that I didn't want it to do. Lucky me! :)

    Here are my questions:

    1) Is the current video card a "balanced" card for my system set-up? Could I feasibly run a more robust card, given the CPU/RAM, etc? FSB is 800MHz. Read---I want to run a more robust card and want to know if it's worth the effort. ;) However, I'm concerned about CPU and FSB bottlenecks.

    2) Regardless of balanced components, what is the most robust card my system can run? Also,

    3) Is my PSU enough to run a more robust card? I've gotten very wary of people hollering about more wattage because I've never had any sort of power problem with the 9800 PRO in this system, and I've seen lots of discussion about how one should have at least a 400W PSU to run that card. Then again, I could be running a dangerously overloaded system and have not known it! Please let me know. :)

    I don't have budget constraints in that the only thing I'm ready to change in the set-up is the video card. I would love to hear suggestions on how to optimize the system, but getting a new mobo/PSU/CPU isn't really an option at this point. Only game I really play is WoW, but I'm quite attached to it and would like for it to look better than it does, at this point. :eek:

    Also, given how tight the PSU/component match-up is, overclocking won't come into the picture at all.

    That's it for questions right now. Thanks in advance for reading!

    ~ Ruu
  2. Obi-Wan Jerkobi

    Obi-Wan Jerkobi TS Maniac Posts: 478

    If all you play is WoW that system should be fine. And you even said it runs perfect for you. It doesn't look like you need an upgrade if you're just playing WoW...Unless you plan on playing new games.
  3. Ruu

    Ruu TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Yes, this is true, but besides the gaming factor, I'm interested in maximizing the potential of this system. I want to upgrade the GPU and then never upgrade anything again; it's high time to move on to dual-core and PCI-E, methinks. And SATA, for god's sake. :)

    I suppose my question is more about numbers and charts than about application and practicality. That said, I'm convinced that the system can handle a better graphics card than is in there, but the question is which card that would be.

    ...plus, I want to see more sparklies while I play WoW, and my current card is barely up to that task. :eek:
  4. Obi-Wan Jerkobi

    Obi-Wan Jerkobi TS Maniac Posts: 478

    And should I mention a good AGP card will cost more than a more powerful PCI express one. It's kind of hard to find a better video card than your 9800 since most AGP ones that are ouit and bought are comparable in power to that.
  5. Boogityboo04

    Boogityboo04 TS Rookie Posts: 285

    I'm sorry that my answer almost ignores the original question, but I strongly advise against buying a new card for that system. The PSU could handle a 7600GT fine (I used one for years on a Dell 305w PSU) but you would be hemorrhaging money just to keep an outdated system out of date.

    Buying any more upgrades for that system is a lose-lose situation. The real issue is that your motherboard is using all outdated standards (IDE, DDR, Socket 478, and AGP to name a few). I would really recommend ditching pretty much the whole thing and buying a new socket 775 mobo and a c2d or c2quad. You wouldn't even need to buy high end components, 300 bucks would be plenty for a cheap mobo, c2d, SATA hard drive and memory.

    I am in the same type of situation as you with my P4 3.0 ghz. I made the mistake of buying a 8800GT and saw almost no improvement in gaming because the P4 just cannot feed a modern card. Now I am going to just buy a whole new system with the newest standards (DDR3, PCIe2, and socket 775).
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,397   +37

    You can run a 7600GS\GT with that PSU, no problem. WoW would be able to run completely maxed out.
  7. Ruu

    Ruu TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    True again, but I've always had very good luck with second-hand hardware. Knock fervently on wood, haha.

    Yeah, that's pretty much what I'd be doing with this current system once I'm at the point where I can afford a brand new one, but the brand new one is going to be completely new---like, $800 minimum, new peripherals, new---and I don't have the money or the time right now to do that. I understand quite well that throwing money at old platforms is ludicrous, but I'm also... well, emotionally attached to my baby. Lol. It got me through college and then some, and I wouldn't mind spending like $70 to give her a last hurrah.

    Any appreciable difference between the two? Is there any Internet consensus yet on memory versus clock speed, lol?
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Your current system depends on the quality of the power supply, not the wattage.
    But you are right on the edge of trouble if you upgrade anything. The enemy of good is better. You may not get better performance out of the changes you plan.
  9. Ruu

    Ruu TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    That, in fact, is my primary concern. Mayhap I should have posted this whole thing in the PSU/other section of the forum?

    The label on the side of the PSU says "NMB [registered symbol], made in Thailand." Can't quite figure out who exactly this manufacturer is; it's an OEM PSU. Model number MJPC-300A2, part number SN121J300PCW-3. No UL file number. Bah. Can anyone get anything out of that?

    As far as the GPU part of my original question goes, are there any particularly low-power models that are in the 7600GS/GT bracket? I do want my cake to have and to eat. ;)
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    The fact that it has no UL number is reason enough to change to something better... FSP Group, Sparkle, Antec, Corsair, Zalman, OCZ, PC Power and Cooling... there are about 21 good ones and 67 bad ones.
  11. Ruu

    Ruu TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Well, it's true that lack of a UL# might be indicative or poor quality/genericness, but it could also simply be that the PSU wasn't targeted to be sold separately in the USA. Since my whole system is/was a Sony, is it not possible that they assembled many of the components with Japanese parts that thus didn't need UL branding?

    ...or I could be talking out of my rear; I have no idea how UL#s work, lol. It's just that lots of Googling has led me to believe that the PSU was made by Matsushita, which isn't an unreliable company, right? NMB fans are also pretty good, AFAIK, so... I dunno, it can't be that far of a stretch to assume that their PSU is decent?

    More to the point, I'm looking to make an informed "stupid" decision---throwing money at an old system, pushing the PSU too hard, fixing what ain't broke---I know the risks, and I know that most people will disagree with my intentions, but any input is still helpful. ;) So does anyone know anything about NMB PSUs?

    And again, does anyone have a GPU recommendation in the 7600GS/GT bracket that is particularly power efficient?

    And, I might as well ask---the current PSU and tower are very small,and I would have to look into a PS3-form factor PSU as a replacement, with 20-pin+4-pin setup. Anything come to mind?

    But firstly the GPU and NMB questions, please. ;)

    Thank you everyone for your input thus far!
  12. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 6,908   +10

    Could be any of the above, but the GPU is least likely...
    It is not a matter of the PSU being unreliable... It may be underpowered for that setup... or poorly designed for that setup. The lack of a UL number means it was not designed for Use in the USA... nor tested for accuracy...
    The power supply is the most important component, because a bad one can destroy everything else, or be cause for problems. There are LOTS of good cheap ones... do not go with a no-name used one. Spend $35 to $75. Look at the long list at www.directron.com which are usually quite good, low priced, and in stock... be sure to check your power supply dimensions and which cables, sockets, and plugs are needed... they have to be the correct height, width, and length... and the power switch must not conflict with the case or shroud...
    FSP, Sparkle, Seasonic (my threee favorite choices), Corsair, OCZ, Silverstone, iStar, Antec usually, ThermalTake, Enermax, Cooler Master, FoxConn. and a few others are low priced yet very good for steady output and reserve power. Avoid Delta, Kingwin, Ultra Raidmax, HEC, Logisys, Cool max, and anything that seems too low in price.
  13. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    a 7600 gs/gt/gts will not max wow unless you play at like 800x600 but i played wow on a 7600gts for a long time it can almost max wow but the new shadows and stuff cant be maxed on even a 7950gt @ 1680x1050. I would say try to get a 6800gt or 7600gt dont go with the gs it sucks. Also wow is more CPU dependent than GPU.
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