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Upgrade built in motherboard graphics with card?

By Shane04
Jan 26, 2012
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  1. Hi all,

    New to this so please excuse my mistakes, and not knowledgeable with computers at all :)

    My computer seems to have a bottleneck judging by the Performance Information & Tools in Windows 7 Ultimate. I want to know if it is possible (and if so how do I go about it) to install a graphics card to enhance my computer.

    Currently I have:
    Processor - Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E8400 @ 3.00GHz
    Memory - 2x2gb (motherboard is capable of 16gb - 4 x slots)
    Graphics - NVIDIA GeForce 9300/nForce 730i
    Motherboard - P5N7A-VM

    I've been told by my local computer shop that I cannot upgrade my graphics by installing a graphics card as my motherboard has this built in. I understand not being able to upgrade the built in motherboard graphics unit without buying a new motherboard, but I thought it should be possible to install a graphics card???

    Yesterday I got my system upgraded from Windows 7 32bit to Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit so I could upgrade my RAM to 12gb (the 2 x 4gb Kingston RAM I purchased for this so I could have 12gb RAM doesn't work apparantly so I have to return them & get new ones).

    Going from the Performance Information & Tools in Windows 7 Ultimate (64bit) my scores are:
    Processor - 6.5
    Memory (RAM) - 5.9
    Graphics - 3.9
    Gaming Graphics - 5.4
    Prim. HDD - 5.9
    * Giving a base score of 3.9

    Before my upgrade yesterday my system was:
    Processor - 6.4
    Memory (RAM) - 6.4
    Graphics - 4.8
    Gaming Graphics - 5.5
    Prim. HDD - 5.9
    * Giving a base score of 4.8

    So it seems I have gone backwards in performance :( The computer seems to be very sluggish (it suffered freq. freezing/crashing problems before upgrade)...but it works ok I guess.

    I don't play games or do video editing, just general internet searching with multiple pages open as well as programs like Office (word, excel, office) running - although usually not all 3 together. I use autocad and google sketchup often. I'd just like a fast, reliable computer without spending a fortune on it and hoped that going to Windows 64 bit with 12gb RAM would do this (currently running at 4gb until replacement RAM arrives)

    Sorry to give heaps of info but I don't want to ask a question without giving as much info as I know to give (if more is needed then I will happily provide it - I just don't know what info it could be at the moment). My question is can I make it faster by installing a graphics card...and can I install a graphics card???

    Any advice would be highly appreciated :)

    Many thanks

  2. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    That is a lie, the man at your computer shop should be fired.

    But if you don't play games or do any video editing you don't really need a graphics card upgrade. Your motherboard graphics should be enough.

    RAM doesn't make your computer any faster, it only makes a difference if you have lots of bulky applications open at the same time. For you 4GB is fine, 12GB is a waste to be honest. Also your mobo only supports DDR2 so if you bought DDR3 RAM it wouldn't work.

    If you want to make your computer faster I would suggest a clean install of Windows on an SSD!
  3. Shane04

    Shane04 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your input slh28, I'll have a look around at a small SSD (I know they are expensive) and have a think about installing one. I guess I just want a reliable computer shop to be able to recommend things for me to do instead of telling me no, no, no! lol
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    A 64GB SSD (~59.5GB usable) is relatively inexpensive, and offers enough space for a full installation of Windows 7, 64bit. I use the Pro version and currently have ~15GB spare capacity remaining on it. I also have considerable software installed, like Office 2007 Ultimate, several Adobe CS5 titles and around 30 or so smaller software utilities like FRAPS, Secunia, Filezilla, Google Chrome, Virtualbox etc -- all installed alongside the OS on the SSD.

    Your existing drive could easily be used to install additional software required as well as storage of personal files. An SSD should purely be used for applications and OS, personal files filling it up defeat the purpose of the disk.

    An SSD is without a question the single biggest investment you can make that will fundamentally improve your user experience. Having used SSD's for the last couple of years I really couldn't handle using a computer with a mechanical disk (for the OS) any more. It makes even modest hardware appear considerably faster in usage, as well as providing a smoother experience.

    I have personally found the following is the best way of dealing with an SSD/mechanical disk install with Windows 7:

    1. SSD -- OS and any applications you want to load fast, like Photoshop, 3D modelling or CAD design software.
    2. Traditional large capacity mechanical hard disk -- install large software packages on it that are not performance dependant. (Can also double as personal file storage.)
    3. (optional) Traditional large capacity mechanical hard disk(s) -- to store personal files and documents/videos/photos.

    Mine is set up as above, but with point 3 being a multi disk RAID setup with data redundancy for all my personal files. I have also symlinked all my "home" folders to directories on this RAID, so no personal files (like files downloaded into My Downloads) ever touch my SSD. This ensures you maximise the smaller capacity and don't fill it up with day to day files. I also use another hard disk for virtual machines. Essentially my SSD deals with my OS, and select applications only, my mechanical disks are configured to handle everything else.

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