How Important is the Power Supply to current gen vidcards?

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about my video card taht went belly up over the weekend. I’ve looked at a whole new system, but I don’t want to spend that type of money at the moment. I’d just upgrade the video card, but I’m having difficulty since my current system is AGP. Further, I’m currently running in a Dell box with a piddling 230W power supply.

The best option I’ve seen so far is to upgrade to an X800XL for ~$250 by switching out the insides of my Dell with an Antec case/PS I have sitting around in the basement. The PS is only 300W though, and that’s the recommended minimum for the card as near as I can tell. I also run 2 HD and 2 optical drives on a P4 2.8 with an 800 FSB (or is it 400 and clock doubled… I forget) and a Hauppauge MCE150 PVR card.

Anyone have any info on whether or not that power would be adequate? (I’ve already looked into the tendency of Dell to use nonstandard parts, but according to many folks the Dimension 4600 I have is actually standard, so the innards ought to be transplantable.

Also, my old card was a Radeon 9800 (Maybe Pro, maybe not…) Would I notice a substantial difference in upgrading to the AGP 800XL, or should I just limp along with my measly Ti4200 that’s in there now until I can afford a whole-hog upgrade to a PCI-e system. Are there large performance differences anywhere currently between PCI-e and AGP?

I have a Dimension 4600 and the motherboard couldn’t be taken out at all. Have you tried it?

Anyway, depending on your specs, your best bet is to spend just a little more for a nice 6800 GT, or go all the way with a new system, but the latter option might not be viable depending on how long it’d take you to save up. Still, the prospect of gaming on a 4200 makes me cringe in fear. The 300W is probably going to be OK; I’d at least try it before I went for a new one.

I don’t think there’s any big difference between PCI-E and AGP in terms of performance right now, though the industry has certainly switched standards fairly quickly.

Also DS > PSP.

To answer the subject line: very

I’m not saying your power supply won’t power an X800XL or anything. It’s below spec, but maybe you’ll be fine. It depends on how much power your drives are pulling and so on.

But having an inadequate or unreliable power supply is a big issue these days, with high-end graphics cards and CPUs. Gotta have lots of amps on that 12V rail, and it’s got to be constant and reliable. Robert Heron here in our building had his last THREE systems fail and was banging his head against the wall trying to figure out what was wrong. In all of them, it was a flaky power supply. And they were all “big enough” when you looked at the wattage.

Ugh. No, not yet. I’ll look into that first, obviously. Though I suppose theoretically I could cannabalize my power supply alone. Frankly, the other case is nicer anyway and my last video card seems to have died partially due to the cramped nature of adding a couple of cards to this tiny little case.

Well, it’s an Antec PS so that’s supposed to help some for consistency, right?

As for being under spec, I can’t find a spec on the card, which is why I asked. The ATI website lists specs on other cards, but not their X800XL. Is there a coherent chart/list somewhere which says what takes what?

(I could always upgrade the PS in the case and the vid card, but really then it starts to become “For another couple hundred bucks you could just build a new system…” type thing.)

Speaking of building new systems, anyone have pointers/info on how much performance increase I’d get if I went from a P4 2.8/800 to an Athlon 64 3000+ (or maybe 3200+)? I believe I recall the A64s were supposed to be better at gaming, but is that enough better to be worth “upgrading” such a minimal amount?

Sounds like you’re definitely better off with just a new videocard; I wouldn’t spring for a new system unless I got at least a 3500 (that’s exactly what I did a couple months ago). Were you experiencing any flickering/clipping issues with your 9800 and ATI’s 5.7 drivers? I was on a couple FPS’s, so I’m not going down the ATI path again for a while.

Not that I saw, but I was playing mainly pirates. I did have issues with the 2D screen flickering, but that seems to be some godawful EM interference. (My Ti4200 allows me to set custom timing, and setting monitor timing at 80Hz seems to get rid of 95% of it. If I go back to ATI I have to figure out another way to hack in the timing; I suppose I can change the monitor .inf file.)

I’d have already just gone with a 6600 GT, but it still needs 300W. I was looking at the 800XL mainly because it’s on sale at CompUSA for $250, which seemed like a worthwhile bump if I’m doing this to surpass 6600 GT speeds (I assume it does so, perhaps it’s roughly equivalent in which case I’ve been stupid. :) )

I’d say go ahead and upgrade the video card and PS. You can get a good PS for fairly cheap and it’ll be something you can always use when you get the money to build a new system. I have the Ultra X-Connect 500W and it’s been pretty solid, besides having a really excellent cabling system and was around $90. Probably less online. Barring any freak failures, it should probably get me through my next few system upgrades with no problem.

My Ultra X-Connect died inside of a few days and then I went online and saw that there were quite a few reports of failures.

The Aspire is pretty nice, it has very good amperage and costs around $50 for a ~500W (I forget). It has a nice color, blue LED, lots of molexes, etc. Only downsides is I don’t think it has SATA power ends or has dual +12V for SLI rigs, and the name isn’t really that big so I’m guessing the support is crap.

Yeah, but you can look on the internet for anything and see lots of reports of problems. :) I did see a post somewhere before I bought it saying Ultra had a bad run of them, but replaced them fairly quickly. Besides that, it’s gotten good reviews seemingly all over the planet and mine’s remained problem free for almost a year so far.