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Any suggestions for upgrades?


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Hi, everyone.

I'm looking to upgrade a Dell 5150 that hasn't even been delivered to me yet. I know I probably should have built from scratch, but I'm not that clever. My main concern is that I end up with a graphics card and sound card that will neither under - or over - perform with the rest of the funny looking things that seem to be inside the box on the pictures. I've read dozens of reviews of cards, and frankly, I'm a little lost.

Right now it's mostly mid-range, from what I can tell by reading around.

1. Pentium 4 640, HT technology, (3.20GHz, 800MHz fsb, 2MB cache).

2. 512MB DDR2 400MHz (2x256) Memory.

3. ATI Radeon X600 256MB HyperMemory.

Perhaps most oddly, I somehow missed getting a sound card shoved in there, and I've read that integrated-sound solutions are slightly less than hot. And opinion seems to be heavily divided over whether an X600 is worth the time of day or not.

My main interest is, as you've no doubt guessed, running Ghost Recon with shadows turned on (oh, the bliss!). Can the above components manage that, at a guess? If not, what would your recommended purchases be?

Thanks for the help. Never bought a PC before, so I'm a little out of my depth. Constructive criticism is fine, such as: 'if you knew you'd be buying a new graphics card, why did you pay extra for the 256MB model'?



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Regarding the sound card, or lack thereof, it depends what effects you are looking for. If you have a full 7.1 speaker setup then you may notice some difference between onboard and "offboard" sound, but if you play 90% of the time with headphones it won't matter. Taking the sound off board also helps processor power so you might notice an improvement in frames per second. The current hot sound card is the X-FI range which is supposed to be great so have a look at some reviews.

You would probably want to stick another 512mb of RAM just to help it along a bit. Can't help with the graphics cards, I'm so out of the loop on PCI-E technology.

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a good idea with the dell would be too intall some more fans. Im not sure what cases dell are using at the mo, but they may have some unused mounting holes. Failing that, you could 'mod' the case with a jigsaw and install a nice big 120mm fan in the roof.

If you want to stick a bigger GFX card in there itll start cranking out heat, and that PIV wont exactly run cool, youll need a bit more airflow

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Be careful about sticking another video card in your Dell. If it is a narrow case, a full height card will not fit. Then you have the PSU issue. Dell PSUs are made for Dells and cannot be upgraded easily, they have propriety wiring schemes. There is only one company that sells Dell compatible PSUs and they are quite expensive.

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Well, if you have money and have cooling problems just buy a whole new case, thats what i did , just make sure it has room for 2 or more fans..

Any other cooling problems then you should get bigger fan for your proccessor, or video card (warning - that voids the warranty of the card!) Big case fans from 40mm up to 120mm are good enough depending on the case, if you dont have room or sufficient funds then do alot of cut outs on the case with a tool or power saw or something, and make sure your case is ATX if you want sufficient cooling, the micro atx case and motherboard i had burnt all to hell along with a radeon 9800, so i cant imagine it with the card your considering.

512 RAM with 333 FSB/DDR atleast or 400DDR or more, if you can get 1 GB (people have reccomended that to me out the ass)

If you care bout the looks and you have a cool case buy a few 3$ LED lights and stick it in your case and your all set :)

also, ive had a Nvidia GeForce 4 MX Integrated with 64 mb memory and 512 mb ram and it ran gr fine back then, then i went to radeon 9800 pro and never had problems with GR, and since that burnt and the a-holes at Sapphire didnt replace it i have had an Radeon 9250 which i havent been able to try, but judging by my friends comments he runs gr on all high with the same card but without the 50 (Radeon 9200se)

Edited by Foxtrot23
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Many ppl at work get Dell PC coz of the discounts we get (10-15%). But many comes to me (as if I know any better) asking about upgrades after 2 yrs. Sometimes less.

So, with the headaches of specific memory,PSU, parts specific to Dell, I just tell them, use the discount and max your configuration with budget.

If it comes only with 256RAM, or 512, go ahead and double it.

The thinking is, if it last 2 yrs on factory specs, then maybe doubling certain parts, increases its use by twice.

See I told you I don't know nothing.

With the exceptions of the higher ends, the XPs and 9300 laptop, I found them very impressive.

Search around Dell Forums, I'm sure theres a forum somewhere in Google Space.

Good Luck.

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