Power Supply

Hopefully this can be a catch all thread for this discussion going forward.

Here’s my dilemma. The Dell I purchased has a 330W power supply. I’d like to upgrade the video card to a Radeon 5770. I’m not really willing to wait out the price on the 5850 and performance will be more than satisfactory given the $180 price of the 5770.

I ran across this thread at Dell…

…and that seems to indicate I’m probably good to run this card with this power supply. I know all the hardware types will probably flip out and want me to upgrade the PS, but the bottom line is that will probably void my warranty, cause me a lot of grief to rip it out and rewire everything, and I’m just not sure it’s necessary.

I could always do it anyway if the card doesn’t work, but what would I find if it doesn’t work? What happens?

Any help on this for me and future similar questions would be great. I’m running Core i7 860 w/8GB of RAM and a 1TB drive. One DVD drive and that’s about it. Current card is a GT220, stock on the system.

Generally it just won’t boot, or sometimes the fuse in the PSU will blow (awesome scary sound and sometimes smell!). Other times it will almost, but not quite, be enough for the card you and will get lockups and other random crashes.

Never lost anything other than the PSU trying stuff like this, and I likely could have fixed even that if I cared enough. So for my money I would give it a try, then upgrade later if you run into any of the above.

These days I just buy PC Power and Cooling power supplies and worry about nothing.

Also I am so not responsible if the computer bursts into flame and burns down your house.

Off-hand I’d guess you’d be fine. All the reviews I’ve read show the 5770 as pretty low on the power consumption for a midrange GPU; only the 5750 is routinely lower than it, unsurprisingly. AFAIK Dell uses pretty good power supplies. And the 5770 has only one PCIe power connector; one presumes the ATI folks knew what they were doing when they designed the thing.

But like Gendal, I am not responsible if you punch a hole in the space-time continuum. If you’re really worried, you could step down to the 5750, but that’s only a 20-25W difference, AFAICT, and fairly hefty step down in performance. Why hold back your i7 like that?

You should be fine.

As others have said, you should be fine. There are two things to consider. First, newer video cards have largely moved away from the traditional idea that newer cards automatically use more power. Second, and probably more importantly, a good quality PSU doesn’t need the same “output wattage” rating to do its job. Since videocard makers don’t really know whether you are using something good or something crappy for power, they tend to err on the side of caution and suggest you need a more powerful PSU then is likely the situation. This also came about because people used to run multiple hard drives and multiple disk/CD/DVD type drives, all of which required power.

I appreciate the replies. Very much. I’ll be sure to report back after I get the card and get it installed.

What card are you looking at? I’ve decided to go the same route and not pay for a $300+ card. XFX seems the best candidate so far.

Just for reference as to what computer components actually use, power-wise, I have:

Core 2 Quad 9550
4GB ram
512MB 4870
HDTV dual-tuner
X-Fi sound card
2 mechanical hard drives
1 optical drive

At maximum peak, the external power meter I use never goes above 250W-ish. And that’s before power supply inefficiences, which presumes roughly 200W actual power draw by the components (Mine is 80% efficient or so)

Your Core i7 uses less power than my Q9550
Your 5770 uses far less power than my 4870

You should be fine with the components you have.

There are power calculators. That one has the 5770.

I purchased the XFX today. This one…

I debated spending the extra ten or twenty on one of the overclocked models, but it just didn’t seem worth it since that also meant I had to pay for shipping. $179.99 sounded right for about two years worth of time in the machine or possibly more.

BTW swapping out a PSU isn’t quite as nerve-wracking as you might presume. it’s just a few screws and a handful of plugs, really.

Not in a Dell it’s not. I took a look inside. I’ve built tens of computers through the last ten years, and I could see that it was a lot more than “just a few screws and a handful of plugs, really” by the way they have the cables secured in there.

Plus I’d read enough stories of the one in there not being “standard size” that I wasn’t interested in cutting holes either.

I know everyone at Qt3 thinks I’m a dummy, but I’ve done all this kind of thing before. I’m just sick of the hassle so I bought a Dell this time.

I haven’t built tens of computers but I have a Dell, found a compatible PSU and swapped the low power one out for a better one. And my wife is the hardware nerd in our house, so I was intimidated by the prospect and pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.

Snaking the cables was a bitch, but the whole thing was pretty easily done.


A surprising number of us own Dell’s at this point. There’s no shame in admitting that you saved time and money this time around.

And as Troy points out, Dell is not really a proprietary vendor anymore.

I wasn’t attacking you, I was merely speaking from personal experience. There’s no need to be hostile.

Nice, I’m looking at the newer one with the different cooler.

This thread is a hardware question in a hardware forum. All men and women are to be stripped of their preconceived notions of others. Only machinations and logic permeate these grounds.

Have fun testing out Crysis.

In my experience (and I work with Dell PCs, laptops and servers most of the time in my IT work for my clients), Dell is still frustratingly proprietary when it comes to these niggling things. Any old P/S might fit in the chassis but they will manage to move the plugs on the mobo or the location of the hard disks just out of reach for the average cable. And don’t even get me started on their SATA cables.

That being said, you should be fine. :)

The way the cabling was secured was the primary thing that bugged me when I looked inside. That and as I mentioned, the concern that a PSU wouldn’t fit right and I’d have to secure it with some new holes in the back of the case.

Sorry if it seemed hostile. I’m so used to being attacked on this board that I’m always in defense mode.

I installed the Radeon 5770 last night. Zero problems from startup through playing a few games. I think I said the PSU was 330W above. It’s actually 350W.

It was a slightly tight fit to get the card into the case. It takes up two expansion slots, but the way the motherboard is configured the RAM is just above where a long video card would extend, so even a larger card would fit. You just have to be careful weaving it in among the cables.

When I turned it on, it actually wasn’t much louder than the GT220. I don’t have any way to measure, but I do have my old machine (Athlon 3500+, 8800GT) next to it still and that thing is a leaf blower. The Dell is inaudible much of the time. During gaming, it might’ve spun the fans a bit more, but I certainly didn’t take notice. So yeah, all that you’ve read about the 5-series cards is true… they’re quiet.

I’ll see if I can’t do a little benchmarking at some point, but so far so good. Seemingly plenty of power and awesome performance. With the GT220, performance in Dragon Age was probably worse than the Athlon 3500+ w/8800GT, although resolution could be higher obviously. I’m now at 1920x1080 with everything turned all the way up. It’s super smooth. Combat was where I noticed the most. Spell effects going off all over and lots of stuff fighting at once and there wasn’t any slowdown. In fact, the game was so much quicker that I was pausing more often to keep up with what was happening.

Well worth the upgrade and power doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.