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9800 Pro in a Dell ??

Discussion in 'PC Gaming & Rigs' started by slowhand, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. slowhand

    slowhand
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    I've been looking thru previous posts, and the messages I keep getting are "don't ever buy a Dell" (little late for that!) and "Dell's are a nightmare to upgrade" (more good news).
    I can't say I've ever had any problems with mine, but then I've never really tried playing any decent/recent games on it.

    What I was planning was to go for a 9800 PRO (128 MB) and hike the memory to 1GB - £200 the lot from EBuyer.

    From what I can make out (no expert I'm afraid) the PSU is a mere 250w. Am I right in thinking this won't cut the mustard with the 9800 installed ?
    I've also read about problems upgrading dell PSUs. Anyone know if this is a problem on the more recent models - mine's approx 10 months old ?
    Here's what I've got to work with...

    Dimension 8300 P4 2.6(HT)
    512MB DDR400
    NVidia GeForce FX5200
    XP Home

    I'm not after a 'proper' gaming machine - just something to make 'Halo' creep along a little faster. :blush:

    Any help gratefully received.
    Cheers :thumbsup:
     
  2. InsertNameHere

    InsertNameHere
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    OK, I’ll keep this brief otherwise this could easily turn into an essay.

    The power supply in a Dell computer is rated at a mean of 250 Watts. However, its peak output is apparently 345 Watts. If you head over to the Dell forums you’ll see that the situation you’re in is not uncommon. Have a read through the threads (or use the search function) and you’ll see that many people have successfully upgraded their video card to a Radeon 9800 Pro without any problems. Saying that, many feel that with the extra strain that the card will put on the PSU it’d be wise to upgrade it anyway. However, heres the catch. Because of the plate at the back of the computer, you cannot simply take out the old PSU and put in a new one. (That would be too easy for the Dell customer.) Instead you’ve got to either:

    a) find a PSU WITHOUT any switch or dial at the back (i.e. have just a fan vent)
    b) cut the plate to allow the PSU to fit.

    Regarding the first option. I have seen very few PSU’s that fit the bill here and most are not of a good build. A company in the US (called PC Power and Cooling: http://www.pcpowerandcooling.com/products/power_supplies/selector/index.htm) do make such PSU’s for Dell computers and they are of a very good quality but with import tax and such it’ll set you back around £125 for the privilege.

    Regarding the second option. To accommodate the switch at the back of the PSU, it will require striping out everything from the case and using a tool such as the Dremel to cut away part of the plate. The PSU (whether it’ll be from Antec or Enermax) will then slide in and fit OK. It means more work but its around half the price of the first option.

    You also say you’re planning on upgrading the memory. Well just a hint. Corsair memory will not work – nor will any other ‘performance’ ram. In fact if you want a module that is guaranteed to work, you’ll have to buy from Dell directly or from Crucial. A quick look at the prices will promptly influence your decision as to whom that’ll be from

    You may be wondering how I know all this. Well unfortunately I’ve had the experience first hand with one of our computers and it wasn’t a pleasant one at that.

    Anyway, I feel this is in danger of becoming a bit of a rant, so I’ll stop here. The moral of the story though? If you don’t plan on upgrading your computer, a Dell computer is a great choice. They’re robust, reliable and relatively cheap. However if you wish to upgrade sometime in the future, then don’t touch one. Even installing a DVD writer meant taking out a front bracket so the tray would open and close!

    Anyway, hope that’s of some help.

    Alex
     
  3. Squiffy

    Squiffy
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    My Dell 8300 was supplied with a 9800 Pro and 1GB of Ram. You shouldn't have any problems...
     
  4. NinjaBrewCommando

    NinjaBrewCommando
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    That's why I love these forums - sensible, objective replies with actual genuine advice in them :clap: .

    I'd started drafting a reply when Alex responded, so here's an edited version:


    Don't worry too much about any criticisms of your purchase - there are as many pros as cons to buying pre-built OEM PCs. I bought a Dell a couple of years ago and I had my reasons. I was happy with the choice I made (Dell Dimension 8200, 2GHz P4) and am still very happy, although when all the PCI Express stuff settles down, I'll be building a new uber rig I think :devil: . I'm getting more interested in computers again and it is good fun.

    The truth is though that Dells are not really built for upgrading/modding, but certain upgrades are possible. At least the cases are really easy to get into (I presume yours is a tower case like mine that opens with two buttons).

    Unfortunately, the power supply upgrade seems to be a bit of an issue. Here are some links that add to Alex's points: http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=31105&seqNum=4. Also see this: http://forums.devhardware.com/archive/t-24007.

    But, I added a 9800Pro too last year. I also added a RAID controller, changed hard drives so I'm running 2x80GB IBM drives on RAID0. The power supply is technically not really enough, (still 250W) and I am being naughty not upgrading it, but I haven't had any stability problems when running. Do not do this though :lesson: until you have done some more reasearch and heard from some people with more experience.

    If you do upgrade the PSU and upgrade to 1GB RAM along with the 9800Pro, your machine should be great for most games on decent detail settings. I only have 512MB (RDRAM) and run FarCry at 1024x768 with all settings apart form shadows on Very High and I get fps in the mid 40s. Tinkering further with the detail settings can yield some quite decent framrates with still a great graphical experience. I am sacrificing some fps for image quality though, but I don't mind too much. 1GB will help remove some stutter/slowdown at the start of levels, but I haven't got round to adding some more yet.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

    Neil.
     
  5. slowhand

    slowhand
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    Exactly the help I was looking for - cheers guys :thumbsup:

    Having checked out a few other threads, I think I should be safe, so if I get the chance I'll order the stuff today.
    If I have any probs ..... watch this space !!

    Thanks again.
     

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