Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Video card question

So, my computer has a very weak video card (it's a Vostro, created for business needs, and so the video card has a hard time handling some games). My current video card is Intel(R) G45/G43 Express Chipset. My desktop is a Vostro 220. I've been trying to study up on what video card would work for my needs; I need at least a NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (around $40 on ebay).

My two questions: first, I don't want to mess with getting another power source. How do I find out what watts my computer has, and what video cards would be compatible with that? From what I've read online, a Vostro 220 claims 300 watts, and the 6800 claims that it's 350 watts, but most people say that, as Dell underestimates the power and most video cards overestimate the power, mixing 300 with 350 should work. However, I couldn't find reports of anyone combining a Vostro 220 with a NVIDIA GeForce 6800. And I'm not sure how I can confirm that my computer's power is 300 watts.

And second, where is a good reliable place to buy?


JorgenMan said...

You can open up the computer and look at the power supply. There should be a label pretty evident on the power supply.

I wouldn't bother with a 6800, that's super old. If you're going to fork out some money for a new card, save up a little and get something current. Look here for ideas. For example, you can find Radeon HD 5550 GDDR5 or 5570 DDR3 for $65-70.

As for power, your power supply puts out a certain number of watts of power (minus 20-30% inefficiency). The components you have now will use up some of that. If you have enough power (watts) left, you can also power a video card. I'd be surprised if a 300W power supply wasn't enough to power the type of video card you're looking at (but I make no guarantees). The super expensive stuff sucks a lot of power, but nothing at the price range you're talking about. For example, in a review of the cards I mentioned earlier, the power draw of their whole test system never got much above 200W. Looking around the web, it looks like people are even running a 5670 on 300W.

Just make sure you don't buy a card that requires a separate power connection from the power supply, because I'm pretty sure your power supply won't have the right plug.

I buy most of my computer parts from NewEgg. They've got good prices, and I've always been treated well.

Email me if you have any questions - I realize this comment is getting a bit long.

Tim said...

Thanks, Aaron. I knew you'd come through.
I was looking at the 6800 because I'm a poor graduate student, but I'll consider something a bit more pricey.