One reader wanted to install a graphics card in the spare PCI Express x16 slot in his PC. Our Helproom Expert explained the options.
QUESTION My Acer Aspire AX3400 PC has a spare PCI Express x16 slot, but I fear that its compact case will prevent me from installing a graphics card. The power supply unit is also weak at 220W. What card can I use? Reaper101

HELPROOM ANSWER The compact dimensions of small-form-factor PCs such as yours mean any upgrades require special consideration. You'll need to undertake a fair bit of research, and possibly some experimentation.

The PCI Express x16 slot is usable for a graphics-card upgrade. You'll need to choose a low-profile card, which will come with a low-profile mounting bracket. You may need to fit this to the card yourself, but the process involves only turning a few screws.

Your 220W power supply is indeed rather feeble. However, despite nVidia's minimum power supply rating of 300W, other mini-ATX users have nonetheless reported success with the GeForce GT 430. Of course, we can't guarantee its operation having not tried it ourselves.

See also: Group test: what's the best graphics card?

Another option is to upgrade the power supply. You will need a TFX-form-factor power supply, or one designed for a Mini-ITX system may fit. You may need to drill some extra holes in your case to fit it, however.

The increased amount of power available would open up new upgrade possibilities for you, particularly as more powerful graphics cards come on to the market. However, the system case is very cramped and cooling would almost certainly become an issue for a more powerful card.

Your last, and most drastic, option would be to rebuild your PC inside a larger micro-ATX compatible case. This would allow you to use any standard power supply and graphics card. You would also be free to install better provisions for cooling.

Visit: Upgrade Advisor

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