Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

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Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:00 pm

Hi guys.
I just bought the below desktop and was wondering if someone could give me recommendations on a graphics card to shoot for.

I am shooting for a computer that I can play l4d and l4d2 with. (I bought two. One for myself and one for my girlfriend. Tired of always having to go out to a PC room to play.) I will probably be playing other games as well, but I am going to be playing casually. I'm not really that great with computers, so I really wont be too hardcore into this. Just looking for something I can use for a little while at a budget price.

Oh. My old desktop fried about 3 years ago, so I will be using this as a primary home computer as well. It's not going to be exclusively for gaming, but I think the gaming is the most demanding portion of my needs. I'll also probably play tf2, rainbow six vegas 2, overlord and games like that. I really don't think I'll ever be going near something like crysis..

Seeing as how I spent 400 bucks on the desktop, I don't plan on getting an over the top graphics card. I'm hoping below the $100 range.
Initially, I was aiming for a price range of $70, but have been notified that I should spend a little more.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814161287
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814102820

At the moment it seems like I'm caught between a GeForce9800 and a Radeon 4850. 1gb. 256-bit.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814500113
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product

The desktop is a MicroTower and I have also been notified that the power supply on this desktop is 300w.
How would I know if the card will fit?
I also want to make sure I wont fry or blow anything up with such a.. meager power supply. Should I upgrade the PS?
If so, are there any recommendations? Will that fit in the default tower?
How would it perform with the 4670's? Would I still risk frying anything? I really don't want to be paying $450+ for a dinner I can't even eat.

Ideally, I would prefer to not change the power supply and hope to still get decent performance from the desktop with a less costly but less powerful video card. I can always upgrade in a year or two if I feel that I need stronger performance from my computer.


Anyways, here's what I bought. Got 2. I'll need 2 of everything else buy as well.
http://www.pcconnection.com/IPA/Shop/Pr ... ceID=k1971

Thanks in advanced for all your help.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:58 pm

It would help if we knew a little bit more about the power supply. Do you have any idea what the efficiency is on it?

300 Watts isn't a small power supply and I would expect that unless it is high efficiency, it probably won't be able to support a 4800 series card. I could be wrong, but that would just be my guess.

What is the monitor resolution? Your graphics card needs can change significantly depending on the resolution that you'll be running games at.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:40 pm

The 4670 is a good choice. The 9800gt would be ok if it was of the energy-efficient variety (no external power needed). However, you would save a couple dollars if you went for the 4670 and you would be able to play L4D maxed out. I dropped a 4670 into a friends dell w/ a 300 watt power supply and it has been going strong for 4 - 5 months now.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:01 am

What is the resolution of the monitor?

Those 4850's and 9800GT's are overpriced. I think the SAPPHIRE 100255HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 would be the best choice depending on high of a resolution you plan to game at.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:08 am

Prices have been increasing in the past month.

The price of Radeon HD5750 has crept up to $145 due to high demand.

Similarly, Radeon HD4850 has gone up by more than 20% in two months.

Radeon HD4770 might be a decent choice for a gamer on a tight budget.

Radeon HD4770, HD5750 or HD5770 are likely to have low enough power usage that you shouldn't need to worry about your power supply.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:50 am

For those cards that require the PCIe power connector, the OEM PSU may not have it. The cards should include one but in case they don't, it is no big deal to get an adapter.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:33 pm

turtle, eric:
I will probably be using a 1280 x 1024 60hz monitor. I'm not too familiar with different monitors and their differences. To be honest, about two weeks ago, I had no idea the monitor really made a difference. I have to double check the monitor I have sitting at home later to see it's exact information, but it should be about the same.

nimajneb:
Thanks for the input on the 4670. I'm almost sure I'll be going that direction. It seems to have the highest recommendations.

engineer:
What's the difference between the 4770 and the 4670's? Would they be noticeable for casual gameplay?

flying:
How would I know if the PSU has the PCIe power connector? (I can't find pictures online, but I did just learn some useful tidbits regarding PCIe's off Wiki.)

Also, what would be the difference between a 512mb and 1gb graphics card?
I'm pretty sure I'll need to go for a card at 128-bit ddr3

Thanks for all the input, guys. I'm not very good with computers (both hardware and software), but all the advice is really helping me get a better understanding of these things.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:54 pm

Radeon HD4770 is substantially faster than the HD4670. It should be capable of playing all current games decently at your chosen 1280x1024 resolution. Radeon HD4670 may be a bit slow for some newer games.
http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/16820/4
http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/15559

I wouldn't recommend anything slower than the Radeon HD4830 or GeForce GTS250 for gaming. Among the Radeons, HD4670 < HD4830 < HD4770 < HD4850 < HD5750 < HD5770 < HD4870 < HD4890 for performance in most current (DirectX 9, 10.0 and 10.1) games. The 5000 series represents a new generation, with support for DirectX 11 features.

Because the Radeon HD4770, HD5750 and HD5770 are built using advanced chip manufacturing technology, they consume less power than other GPUs, making them well-suited for OEM PCs with relatively small power supplies.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:07 pm

Engineer,
Thanks for that info. I am currently looking at the following 4770 on newegg, and was wondering if you might know if this would fit into the Microtower on the computer I ordered. Also, how likely would you say the PS would be able to handle this without worry?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814150369
would you suggest I go for the 512 or 1g card?
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:31 pm

There may be a label on the side of your power supply that lists the total +12V power capacity in amps or watts. We don't have any more information about it than "300 watts". You should be okay with a Radeon HD4670, HD4770, or HD5750 and even a generic 300-watt power supply. If you're considering the Radeon HD4850, the true capacity of the power supply might be more critical.
http://support.acer.com/acerpanam/deskt ... 0sp2.shtml

For most current and older games running at 1280x1024, there will be relatively little change in performance between 512 MB and 1 GB graphics cards. If your budget is tight and there's a significant difference in price, the 512 MB card could be quite satisfactory.

Graphics card memory is mostly used for the frame buffer (to hold the images that you see) and for storage of textures. At low resolutions, the frame buffer doesn't take up much space so 512 MB cards will still have enough room for the textures used by most games. On my 4 MP display, some games take a significant performance hit at 512 MB vs. 1 GB -- probably because the frame buffer is large enough that there isn't enough remaining memory on the card to keep as many textures loaded at once as the game requires for maximum performance.

The XFX card that you linked has a volume discount for purchasing two cards at once, free shipping, a double lifetime warranty and all of the adapters that you could possibly need. If you're willing to spend $220 for a pair of these, I expect that you and your girlfriend will be able to enjoy most games with excellent performance.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:11 pm

With the power supply that you have, you cannot run the 4770. So you either get the 4670 or the 4770 + new PSU. Pretty much the bottom line.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:20 pm

TR's powerful test rig (Core i7-965 Extreme) with the Radeon HD4770 pulled only 216 watts from the wall, under load:
http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/16820/11

Figuring in 80% power supply efficiency, that's only 173 watts being used inside the case. If we assumed worst-case and put it all on the +12V rail, we would need less than 15 amperes. I'm certain that the Q8300 in the OP's system uses less power than the test rig, dropping our power requirement by another 4 to 6 amperes.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:34 pm

I'm sorry. You guys lost me now. I have an idea of what's going on, I just can't follow.

How do people check their power usage?
How can I set a graphics card's fan and stuff?

Should I wait till I get the desktop before buying something?
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:41 pm

Backward Ben doesn't believe that your cheap "300-watt" power supply can actually provide the necessary 125 to 175 watts of power that your system will require. I believe that it should be okay. XFX includes an adapter to allow you to connect a hard-drive power connector to the 6-pin PCIe power connector on the front end of the graphics card.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:56 pm

Doing some digging, it appears it's a 300 watt LiteOn power supply with a combined max 20A on the 12 volt rails.

Someone who bought one of those systems posted the label of the PS here.

Their post can be found here.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:01 pm

Thanks, insulin_junkie72. If that power supply can operate reliably at 1/2 to 2/3 of its design capacity, the OP should be just fine with the Radeon HD4770.

The other photos in the excellent link that you provided show that there is sufficient room for a large graphics card, though something as large as the Radeon HD5850 would probably require relocating the hard-drive to a different bay.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:06 pm

Sweet. Thanks for the links, insulin.

From the looks of things, it seems like the 4770 is what I should shoot for. I just need to make sure I fully understand what all that stuff going on over in that thread means....
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:12 pm

Here's my thinking:

They guy doesn't want to overspend. His rig probably has a dual core running 2.2 Ghz to 3.0 Ghz, at most. He only has a 300 watt power supply. He only plays games like TF2 and LFD which are not hard on graphics cards. First off, his psu probably does not have a pci-e power connector. Fine, you say, he can get an adapter. Well the problem is that you dont know what kind of CPU he has and what kind of power draw it has. 45W? 125? 140? As per the system only drawing 175W: That is over half of the total psu power and that is true only if this (quality?) psu can handle being run for hours at a time that close to its theoretical limit.

Now I wouldn't recommend an 850w power supply to run that card but he should have more than 300w. What do I base that off of? Well, personal experience mainly but also the manufacturer recommendation of a 450w power supply at minimum. I know some people may be star-struck by Mr. Engineer's recommendations of dancing ponies and unicorns on rainbows but the fact of the matter is that when putting any system together, you have to consider the balance. Got an i7? YOU DO??? Great! Your video card is a geforce 7200? Guess what? You might as well have a pentium 4! You won't see the performance (not in gameplay at least).

To reiterate, this man will not see any difference in his gameplay between a 4670 and a 4770 when playing LFD or TF2 because a 4670 will max those out in the same way (at playable framerates) that a 4770 would. The only difference is that he would spend more on the 4770 and put his 300w power supply (as well as the rest of his computer) at risk.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:46 pm

nimajneb5000 wrote:Well the problem is that you dont know what kind of CPU he has and what kind of power draw it has.


Re-read the original post - he linked to the systems he ordered (Acers with Intel Q8300s inside):
http://www.pcconnection.com/IPA/Shop/Pr ... ceID=k1971
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:25 pm

As insulin pointed out, all the specs are listed, so if you could review that and give me feedback based on that, I would really appreciate it.

Even so, taking nimajneb's thoughts into consideration, would I be (just about) 100% safe with a 300w PSU with the 4670?
How much more risk am I taking with getting a 4770? Again, I could always upgrade my PSU and graphics together in the future.

At what quality will L4D2 be able to run at with the 4670? At the moment, l4d2 seems like it might be the most my desktops will ever have to deal with.

Realistically, I wont be spending any money on those more expensive games. I'll probably even be waiting a while before buying L4D2. We have many achievements to farm for in the original L4D. In addition, my girlfriend has no interest in games such as counter shoot, modern wellfare, and the ever extensively growing list of money sucking war games, so I really don't need graphics that could support those more taxing, hardcore, 30 vs 30 player, insult spamming, 8-hour at a time marathon, trillion-gun toting, angry-German kid inspiring, michael bay non-stop-explosion type, mega army games. Oh. And I wont be watching ultraporn, so I won't need graphics that can make movies come to life and all that fancy stuff. We're probably going to just play hello kitty island adventure, zombie games, and the occasional bloons tower defense.

But seriously. I don't want to end up with an over-cooked computer.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:19 am

The difference is power consumption between the Radeon HD4670 and the HD4770 is less than 20 watts when fully loaded. If your power supply were going to spontaneously explode with the HD4770, it's quite likely to do the same with the HD4670. Since we're talking about putting only 50-60% of the rated load on the power supply, it should work fine. The cooler on the XFX Radeon HD4770 that you selected exhausts heat outside the case, reducing the chance that you'll need to add another cooling fan to your case. All the Radeon HD4670 cards except the HIS IceQ model exhaust their heat inside the case, warming up all of your other components, as well.

The difference in gaming performance between the two graphics cards is substantial. The only reason to choose the Radeon HD4670 over the HD4770 would be to spend $130 (or $160 for HIS) vs. spending $220 for a pair of cards. That may be a good reason.
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gami ... 2849%5D=on
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:08 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:The difference is power consumption between the Radeon HD4670 and the HD4770 is less than 20 watts when fully loaded. If your power supply were going to spontaneously explode with the HD4770, it's quite likely to do the same with the HD4670. Since we're talking about putting only 50-60% of the rated load on the power supply, it should work fine. The cooler on the XFX Radeon HD4770 that you selected exhausts heat outside the case, reducing the chance that you'll need to add another cooling fan to your case. All the Radeon HD4670 cards except the HIS IceQ model exhaust their heat inside the case, warming up all of your other components, as well.

The difference in gaming performance between the two graphics cards is substantial. The only reason to choose the Radeon HD4670 over the HD4770 would be to spend $130 (or $160 for HIS) vs. spending $220 for a pair of cards. That may be a good reason.
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gami ... 2849%5D=on



In the original post, he said he was hoping to keep it under $100.

Lowest price 4770:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150369

Lowest price 4670:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121329

Like I said, with the rig he's running and the games he's playing he won't see a difference.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:11 pm

You guys both have very good points. It's making a decision hard to reach, haha.
engineer, from your advice, the 4770 seems like in the mid-long run, it would be the best choice to go for. If I bought it now, I wouldn't have to upgrade anything in the near future except maybe the power source.

And insulin, from what you've been saying, it is very plausible that I will not be seeing the differences in performance that 4770 would bring because of the level I will be playing at for a while, because my needs for the graphics card wont be as intense.

Either way, the cost for both the cards seem to be worth the money in terms of performance. I can buy something I can use very contently now for about $65 and swap it out later -or- I could buy something that will exceed my needs by a number of steps for $110 and will not need to change very soon. In terms of practicality, I lean towards the 4670, but in terms of an investment, I'm looking at the 4770. For now, I guess I will wait for my rig to arrive before jumping to a decision.

I have a couple more questions.
How do you adjust the speed of the fan on the graphics card? Is there a program?
How do you check the temperature of the Rig and Card? Thermometer?
How do you calculate the power consumption of the computer?
What is the best way to push a computer to the point of frying itself? And how would I avoid this?


I also wanted to thank all of you guys for helping me out with this. Coming into this, I would have had no idea of what was going on, but I have gotten a much better understanding of all this mumbo-jumbo talk. Especially you two, insulin and engineer. At the moment, I would be comfortable with either the 4670 and the 4770 because of your disagreements. It seems that neither card would disappoint me now.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:56 pm

I think that your system will be fine with any card that only needs a single extra power connector, that is, a 4850/9800GT/GTS250 should be OK even if you have to use a Molex to 6-pin adapter. Of those, the Radeon 4850 is going to be the best, as long as the card physically fits in the case.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:32 am

So before I continue on to answer your questions, I have to say I have my GF's box running on your PSU with the following specs:

Athlon 64 X2 89w @ 2.5ghz
Visiontek HD3870 512MB
3GB of Ram
Gigabyte 785G Motherboard
3 HDD's and 1 CD drive
1 Wireless Ethernet Card

Its been running for about 6 months now and has has zero issues, I've also stress-tested it for 8 hours and nothing overheated or cut the power out. In-case you don't know the HD3870 draws far far more power than either of the cards your looking at. You'll be fine with a 4770, so I highly recommend that option. Also, compared to the 4670, it has the new 40nm die shrink, which means its going to run cooler all around.

So after that...onto your questions:

How do you adjust the speed of the fan on the graphics card? Is there a program?
There are many programs that will do what your asking. Many times the Graphics Drivers will allow you to do this natively. On an ATI card, this would be called the Catalyst Control Center, than you would navigate to whats called "ATI Overdrive" and manually move the fan speed there. Another option you have is MSI Afterburner (for those of you who don't know, this is based of riva-tuner but is fully compatible w/ ATI now), this program has a great read-out and is very user friendly for changing fan speeds, clock speeds, etc. Also, you can have Afterburner change the fan speed depending on what the current temp is. That is very useful for low-maintenance builds. Another program would be Riva-Tuner.

How do you check the temperature of the Rig and Card? Thermometer?
The things mentioned above will also to Temps for you. All of them will, and will be more accurate than an external Thermometer (it has built in sensors). If your worried about heat the 4770 has a dual-slot cooler. That will help keep it nice and cool, as the hot air isn't pumped back into the case but is pumped out of it. Way more efficient.

How do you calculate the power consumption of the computer?
There are some power-supply calculator's floating around the internet that you could use, but really I would not recommend them. You can go to your local home-depot and pick up a watt-meter for about $6, or one off newegg called a kill-a-watt. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 20a%20watt These will show you what the draw is from the wall, which is IMO the important thing, though if you wanted to figure out what the actual draw was, you would use the efficiency rating of your PSU and than factor that into the electricity being drawn from the wall.

What is the best way to push a computer to the point of frying itself? And how would I avoid this?
There are many programs for this. CPU wise we are looking at OCCP, Prime95, Intel Burn-Test, Hyper-Pi, and Linx. Any of those will push your CPU to a heavy load/heat/power consumption point. I would recommend them in that order, though Prime95 is probably the easiest to use. As for graphics, you could download ATI-Tool, which has a rendering stress test that does a pretty good job presuming you don't have a stupidly powerful graphics card. For testing memory/overall stability use memtest, and fill it out to use your appropriate amount of ram. I need to mention that all of these can be found through a quick google search and are free! Presumably to test the system under stress you would run all these tests at once, and you are pretty much assured a good figure of how stable it is.

Avoiding damage to your computer is simple. Keep it dust free, and good ventilation. Most systems, including yours, should be fine with the cooling they came with. If these stress tests don't raise your CPU temp above 60C, or your GPU above 85C, you are good to go. To monitor temps of all hardware at once you can use a program called Hardware-Monitor. Its not as exact with readings and utility features, but it gives a good overall display of your temps all at once on the same page.

I hope I've been some help, goodluck and tell us what you decide on! Last, but not least...

Welcome to TR!
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:22 am

Thanks for the input, future. From the looks of everything, I probably wont need to be too worried about frying my computer.

Stug,
Wow. When I read how your post started, I was thinking how your information might be irrelevant to my issue because you put in all those specs and it threw me off. I guess I couldn't have misjudged the book more. Your responses have been through almost to a point of fault. Thank you very much for all your help. I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a 4770 now, as engineer also suggested.
nimajneb, thank you for your help too. I understand you're help came in with strong consideration of my cost needs. If I'm in a situation where I need to build a cheap computer fast, I will be sure to buy the 4670 due to is cost effectiveness as well as performing capabilities. For now, though, that extra fan on the 4770 helps me feel more secure with my tower's internal temperature.

If you guys still have advice or input, I would be more than happy to hear them. I'm sure I will start building computers myself in the future. With the help everybody has been providing, it really is best to custom build something that will fit my needs instead just buying a prebuilt rig.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:41 am

The thread that insulin_junkie72 linked mentioned that there is 10¼" of clearance for a graphics card before hitting the drive bays.

If you're very concerned about cooling, you could add a 92mm fan at the vent on the back of your case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185076
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835209003
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811999617
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835209004
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835610005

A 1500 rpm 100mm model from Scythe is what I use in my compact micro-ATX case. It has mounting holes to match up to the 92mm fan mount.
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JustAnEngineer
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:07 am

StuG wrote:How do you adjust the speed of the fan on the graphics card? Is there a program?
There are many programs that will do what your asking. Many times the Graphics Drivers will allow you to do this natively. On an ATI card, this would be called the Catalyst Control Center, than you would navigate to whats called "ATI Overdrive" and manually move the fan speed there. Another option you have is MSI Afterburner (for those of you who don't know, this is based of riva-tuner but is fully compatible w/ ATI now), this program has a great read-out and is very user friendly for changing fan speeds, clock speeds, etc. Also, you can have Afterburner change the fan speed depending on what the current temp is. That is very useful for low-maintenance builds. Another program would be Riva-Tuner.
Unless you are trying to overclock or want a cooler running video card. Modern cards with Nvidia and AMD chips feature drivers that can auto adjust fan speeds already according to the temperature. Today's fans on the video cards are not very pleasant when spinning at 100%.

StuG wrote:How do you check the temperature of the Rig and Card? Thermometer?
The things mentioned above will also to Temps for you. All of them will, and will be more accurate than an external Thermometer (it has built in sensors). If your worried about heat the 4770 has a dual-slot cooler. That will help keep it nice and cool, as the hot air isn't pumped back into the case but is pumped out of it. Way more efficient.
Nitpick: actually the sensors and software won't give you the complete picture. Notice how various reviews actually stick one of those IR thermometers? Now that's hardcore. ;)

StuG wrote:How do you calculate the power consumption of the computer?
There are some power-supply calculator's floating around the internet that you could use, but really I would not recommend them. You can go to your local home-depot and pick up a watt-meter for about $6, or one off newegg called a kill-a-watt. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 20a%20watt These will show you what the draw is from the wall, which is IMO the important thing, though if you wanted to figure out what the actual draw was, you would use the efficiency rating of your PSU and than factor that into the electricity being drawn from the wall.
You can also study the required readings and get a pretty good idea already before buying, but the main thing is still the 12V amps.

StuG wrote:What is the best way to push a computer to the point of frying itself? And how would I avoid this?
There are many programs for this. CPU wise we are looking at OCCP, Prime95, Intel Burn-Test, Hyper-Pi, and Linx. Any of those will push your CPU to a heavy load/heat/power consumption point. I would recommend them in that order, though Prime95 is probably the easiest to use. As for graphics, you could download ATI-Tool, which has a rendering stress test that does a pretty good job presuming you don't have a stupidly powerful graphics card. For testing memory/overall stability use memtest, and fill it out to use your appropriate amount of ram. I need to mention that all of these can be found through a quick google search and are free! Presumably to test the system under stress you would run all these tests at once, and you are pretty much assured a good figure of how stable it is.

Avoiding damage to your computer is simple. Keep it dust free, and good ventilation. Most systems, including yours, should be fine with the cooling they came with. If these stress tests don't raise your CPU temp above 60C, or your GPU above 85C, you are good to go. To monitor temps of all hardware at once you can use a program called Hardware-Monitor. Its not as exact with readings and utility features, but it gives a good overall display of your temps all at once on the same page.
To avoid pushing the system to the point of frying? Do it slow, don't go crazy and shoot for 100% overclock in one shot. You can start by larger jumps and then see if the system fails. Most components can withstand just a bit of pushing without the magic blue smoke. So you can immediately shutdown, reset the CMOS, and try again with a lower setting. The key is patience, systematic approach, and lots of testing. If you are not ready to put in the work, then stay away from overclocking (I would argue that even at stock you still need to test the system thoroughly, but that's just me).
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:04 pm

I have no idea where this thread is going, but speaking to where it came from - what kind of card does supertoast need to play Left 4 Dead at 1280 x 1024 - this should do the job just fine:

$65 4670 512MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814102820

Pros:
inexpensive
won't tax your PSU
won't generate much heat
should play lots of games pretty decently at 1280x1024
should have PLENTY of horsepower for Left 4 Dead

Cons:
I can't think of any that are applicable to your circumstances.
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Re: Cheap Desktop help - Graphics card/PS

Postposted on Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:08 am

engineer, thanks for that extra input on the fans. I'll probably look into that at a later time though.

flying, thanks for the additional info. I will definitely be using the provided information when I have everything set up.

flip, thanks for adding to this thread. Put simply, the 4670 definitely will be all I really need for gaming purposes. The 4770 option was considered as an investment, but after thinking it through, I really don't think the investment will ever be necessary, especially for my girlfriend. If I need to make improvements, I will probably do that with the graphics card, power supply, and whatever else is needed at the same time.

As always, thanks guys, for all your help. I'll probably be placing the order tomorrow morning. Pushing for 4670 at the moment, but if anything new comes up that compels me to get the 4770, I'll have to take that into debate.
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