how to choose video card for upgrade?

  John Ross 17:06 10 Oct 2009

I am looking to upgrade my daughter's Pc to allow her to play games that are not the latest or most demanding.
She has a secondhand Dell Optiplex GX280 minitower with 3.0GHz celeron CPU. It uses onboard graphics, described as Intel 82915G/GV/910GL Express chipset family display adapter X2. I think the free video slot is PCI express.
She has a 17.2 inch Viewsonic TFT monitor 1440 X 900, with only analogue VGA input.
Therefore I am looking for a v cheap likely 2ndhand video card to allow her to run movies and play multiplayer games (currently she is playing Trackmania and Halo Combat Evolved).
I am struggling to judge what the spec of the onboard graphics is compared to a separate video card.
Could you let us know what specs to look for and sugggested cards?

  GaT7 17:54 10 Oct 2009

You're right, from the specs click here. it does have a PCI-E slot.

There are 3 models in the GX280 range click here. Which one do you have exactly ? You mention 'minitower', but is it the same as the one they also refer to as 'Small Mini-Tower' in the above link?

If it is indeed the 'Small Mini-Tower', then the best card you could install is a ATI HD4670, e.g. click here. Open the case & have a look at the PSU rating (in watts) & also the physical space available next to the 16x PCI-E slot. These graphics cards can be quite broad due to the large cooler & occupy 1-2 adjacent slots. G

  John Ross 20:09 10 Oct 2009

Yes, thank you, you are right it is the small mini tower (I did not realise there was a full size GX280 until I saw your link.
I will look for the card you suggest: it sounds like a very sensible choice.
Are you suggesting it because other cards will need a more poserful PSU and/or more space?
Any other suggestions gratefully received : either current or older cards, specific suggestions or general specs.

  GaT7 21:16 10 Oct 2009

Yes, it's arguably the best 3D card you can install without having to upgrade the PSU as well. Space-wise it should be OK as well.

It doesn't even require a dedicated power connection from the PSU, but your Dell PSU will need to be at least 250W or more I think.

"I did not realise there was a full size GX280 until I saw your link." - it's the one you have isn't it? Also pictured here click here.

Installing a PCI Express Card click here (if required). G

  John Ross 20:40 18 Oct 2009

I searched for a cheap card with HD 4670 chip, but all seemed to be about 50% or more of the cost of the old PC.
Also, I checked the PSU, which is actually rated only as 250W according to the label, and I ahve already added extra USB slots, a 2nd DVD drive and wireless card!
I found a 2nd hand 8600GT card for £15 (presumably because it has had bad write-ups), which seems to be doing fine for the games I mentioned.
No instability or smell of burning coming from the PC yet!
Thanks for the advice.

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