Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

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Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:16 am

Hello,
I've picked up an OptiPlex 9020 SFF desktop that:
  • Shipped with a Core i5 4570 which has onboard Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • Has 1 PCI Express x16 slot that accepts only single-slot low-profile cards (low profile due to SFF, single-slot due to PSU proximity)
  • Does not have any spare PCIx or Molex power connectors from the PSU

I'd like to know what are the best options for discrete cards, for gaming at 1920 x 1200. This is my daily use PC, and I will be building a proper gaming rig in the future, but would like to enable whatever gaming is possible on this one for the moment. However, I'm a bit nervous about the card length and card thickness, giving the limitations of my case.

Based on my research, I'm looking at:
  1. Sapphire Radeon R7 250 1GB GDDR5 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J06F4HE/
  2. VisionTek Products AMD Radeon 7750 SFF 1GB http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008RLHFQ6/
  3. PowerColor AMD Radeon R7 250 2GB GDDR5 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JQU6WQ6/

Are there other options that I can look at? I need only 1 display output (in any digital form, since it'll drive a Dell U2410).

Here's how the innards of the OptiPlex 9020 SFF appear (images from the Dell support page):
ImageImage

Here's the Dell page for replacing the graphics card, that has a slightly different view http://www.dell.com/support/Manuals/in/en/inbsd1/Topic/optiplex-9020-desktop/OPT9020SFFOM-v1/en-us/GUID-0E0A12E4-15EB-433E-AC8A-ACC22777D277
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:44 pm

Hello!

I recently made a lengthy post describing current available low profile video card options, including single-slot versions.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=94408

I have a system I've set up which has the same size/space and power requirements as you, and I'm watching for good options that may appear.

However, I must warn you: if 1920x1200 (or 1080p) is your target resolution, don't expect to be running with high quality settings.

Your best bet is to hope that someone puts out a low profile, single slot version of the GeForce GTX 750, but that doesn't seem likely right now. I expect, like me, you'll be better off waiting for the fall refresh from both AMD and NVIDIA.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:03 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:I recently made a lengthy post describing current available low profile video card options, including single-slot versions.


Wow, that's some awesome information you've collected there, particularly on the Nvidia options. Thank you very much. :)

I agree that at my target resolution I'll have to sacrifice quality - I understand that, and I don't intend to run the latest and greatest on this box.

I shall await the refresh in a few months' time and see what that has in store for us.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:42 am

I was just reading up on the power delivered by PCI Express, and was surprised to see that Wikipedia states at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#Power:
All sizes of ×16 cards are initially 25 W; ... half-height cards are limited to this number while full-height cards may increase their power after configuration. They can use up to 75 W, though the specification demands that the higher-power configuration be used for graphics cards only, while cards of other purposes are to remain at 25 W.


Does that mean that motherboards designed explicitly for use in SFF PCs (like my OptiPlex) may deliver only 25W over the PCI Express x16 slot?
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:32 am

Those pictures show a graphics card with a heatsink in the closest slot to the PSU, meaning that you could easily install a dual-slot GTX750 in there if your motherboard's adjacent slot is also PCI Express.

Even if the slot next to it is not an x16 slot, you would still be fine using an x4 slot. As mentioned, your only real limitation is 75W total for the power draw, which all GTX750 card satisfy. You may even find a 750Ti that doesn't need a 6-pin because in theory the stock-clocked options are only supposed to draw 60W.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:22 am

Chrispy_ wrote:Those pictures show a graphics card with a heatsink in the closest slot to the PSU, meaning that you could easily install a dual-slot GTX750 in there if your motherboard's adjacent slot is also PCI Express.

Even if the slot next to it is not an x16 slot, you would still be fine using an x4 slot. As mentioned, your only real limitation is 75W total for the power draw, which all GTX750 card satisfy. You may even find a 750Ti that doesn't need a 6-pin because in theory the stock-clocked options are only supposed to draw 60W.

On page 11 of the manual you can see that the other slot is not a full-length x16. I think it's an x4 with an open back - I don't know if it'll provide enough power.

http://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/optiplex ... _en-us.pdf
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:37 am

Chrispy_ wrote:As mentioned, your only real limitation is 75W total for the power draw, which all GTX750 card satisfy. You may even find a 750Ti that doesn't need a 6-pin because in theory the stock-clocked options are only supposed to draw 60W.


But is the power draw limited to 75W or 25W? Requoting my question above:

arunphilip wrote:I was just reading up on the power delivered by PCI Express, and was surprised to see that Wikipedia states at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#Power:
All sizes of ×16 cards are initially 25 W; ... half-height cards are limited to this number while full-height cards may increase their power after configuration. They can use up to 75 W, though the specification demands that the higher-power configuration be used for graphics cards only, while cards of other purposes are to remain at 25 W.


Does that mean that motherboards designed explicitly for use in SFF PCs (like my OptiPlex) may deliver only 25W over the PCI Express x16 slot?
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:43 am

That depends on how Dell did the motherboard. Nearly all PCIe x16 slots on motherboards that are full x16 slots will also provide the 75W power for a video card, regardless of if the card is full height or half height. If you see some that are physically x16, but state they only run in x4 mode, or somesuch, it's possible those won't supply the necessary power - they're likely intended for add-in cards (RAID controllers, sound cards, NICs, etc).

Looking at the specs for your system (Dell has the manual posted here), it looks to me like the full x16 slot will be just fine, but the other one is listed as only supporting x4. A double-wide video card probably won't work there - it looks like the x4 slot is intended for a non-video add-in card (the manual mentions wifi specifically, but I expect just about anything that isn't a video card would work in that slot).

The manual also specifically mentions an x16 graphics card as a discrete video option (page 53), and doesn't say anything about power limitations, so a low profile, single slot ooption ought to be fine.

I seem to recall seeing some integrated motherboards that specifically mentioned the x16 slot on them wouldn't support video cards, but I can't find the information right now. I was looking at desktop Kabini solutions (some with the processors onboard and some with the socket) but I don't recall which it was.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:34 am

Ah okay. An X4 slot won't provide enough power, period.

The R7 250 will be about 2x the speed of the HD4600 graphics, more if your HD4600 is currently bottlenecked in single-channel mode using a single stick of RAM.
If that seems worth it to you then go ahead and enjoy the marginally improved gaming.

1080p would be nice but it's realistically only going to work at 720p smoothly for newer games.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:37 am

deruberhanyok wrote:it looks to me like the full x16 slot will be just fine, but the other one is listed as only supporting x4. The manual also specifically mentions an x16 graphics card as a discrete video option (page 53), and doesn't say anything about power limitations, so a low profile, single slot ooption ought to be fine.


Thank you. I agree and am in line with your reasoning.

I've got a thread running on the Dell Community discussing the same topic. Over there, I'd mentioned the below, which supports the argument that the x16 slot offers more than 25W.

I've been digging into the power limitations a little further, and am probably more confused than ever! Big Smile

Firstly, according to Wikipedia, the PCI Express specification does state that x16 low profile cards are limited to 25W draw.

However, on the Dell.com (i.e. US) site, one is able to configure the OptiPlex 9020 SFF itself with an AMD Radeon HD 8570 card. This card has a 66W TDP despite it being low profile. The support manual states that all OptiPlex 9020 SFFs ship with a 255W 90% efficient PSU.

I've examined my motherboard, but don't see any wattage indications similar to what SpeedStep has posted.

I know that Dell have bespoke motherboards for their models. So, are they providing additional power to the x16 slot to enable power draw > 25W?
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:35 pm

There have been low profile video cards that draw 50-60 watts around for years now and it has never been an issue for anyone in the past. Those low profile GeForce 750Ti cards I mentioned in my roundup use the same amount of power that a full height card does, for instance. If they didn't, we would have seen all sorts of news about how Zotac had managed to drop power consumption of the 750 by more than 50%.

I don't know how the guy replying to you there knew about the standard PCI Express power specs but didn't know about the additional power delivery available for video cards (as long as the slot supports it). It's been that way since the first generation of PCI Express. Of course, if you spend all of your time dealing with OEM systems, this could be an actual problem, whereas most end-user assembled systems (buying your own motherboard and such) will never run across it.

Also, as you pointed out on that Dell thread, the system can be ordered with a ~60W video card. That's pretty telling.

Don't go too far down the rabbit hole on this. If you're especially concerned about it, buy from a place with a good return policy. If there's a Micro Center near you, they're really good about returns, and they have a few different models of cards that will work for you.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:00 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:Don't go too far down the rabbit hole on this.


LOL, the endless pit of research and agony :D

Thanks for your input, I've gone ahead and just ordered the PowerColor AMD Radeon R7 250, that has a 75W TDP. I've gone for the 2 GB variant for future-proofing/multi-monitor; with GDDR5.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:10 pm

Regardless of PCIe spec, I've had bad luck adding cards to similar systems with skimpy PSUs. I installed a lowly Geforce 210 into an HP with a ~230w proprietary PSU (needed extra display outputs), and got occasional random driver crashes. Those OEM half-height systems run their PSUs close to the redline with no headroom. I don't like your chances if you install anything remotely close to the 75w limit. You'd be much better off spending the money on a decent case and PSU. Make sure it's not a proprietary power connection on the motherboard.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:16 pm

To confirm, you can 100%, definitely, without question, put an R7 250 in there.

The R7 250 is one of the official Dell options at purchase.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:26 pm



Wow, awesome! :)

I never thought of checking Dell's UK site, assuming the US site would have the best options/combinations. Moreover, that ships with the same 255W PSU, so that is extremely reassuring.

Thank you very much.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:37 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:To confirm, you can 100%, definitely, without question, put an R7 250 in there.

The R7 250 is one of the official Dell options at purchase.

Are you sure it's for the same form factor? Also, checking that option might result in the system getting a larger PSU.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:32 pm

The Egg wrote:Are you sure it's for the same form factor?

This particular configurator has specced out the SFF with the R7 250 half-height variant.

The Egg wrote:Also, checking that option might result in the system getting a larger PSU.

The point about the PSU is a fair one, because that configurator does not name the PSU, it just states the PSU is "OptiPlex 9020 Small Form Factor Chassis w/ up to 85 Percent Efficient PSU (Bronze V2)". However, what I've received with my desktop is "255W up to 90% efficient PSU".

The Newegg listing for the video card has a review from a user who's used it in a SFF PC with a 240W PSU.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:20 am

I expect it would run on an even smaller PSU, as well. Even if it was drawing the full 75W of power from the PCIe slot, there's plenty of headroom for other components if you've got at least 150W.

I'm not speaking from experience, yet - the SFF box I built doesn't have a video card yet, trying to hold out for the fall refreshes - but if you look up, say, the Antec ISK 300-150 and see what video cards people are putting in it, I think it's definitely capable to run a system with decent video card on 150W or less. I've done whole system minus video card on an ISK 300-65 (65W PSU), and that was with a Core i3-530 that was rated for 73W by itself. You'd be surprised how much power you actually need. :)
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:36 pm

The 1.5x CPU+GPU rule of thumb usually means you can run for several years including some capacitor ageing.

In this case 1.5 x (84+75) = 238W, so that 255W PSU should be plenty.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:48 pm

Hrm... I'm seeing that the SFF system comes with a 290W power supply in the US.

With regards to the PCIe power, I haven't found a source for this device but systems like this will post a shared limited for slot power across all slots. Thus the PCIe 4x and PCIe 16x slots could be allocated say 90W between the two. If you use a 25W card in the 4x slot, you hypothetically would only have 65W availbile in the PCIe 16x slot.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:13 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:I expect it would run on an even smaller PSU, as well. Even if it was drawing the full 75W of power from the PCIe slot, there's plenty of headroom for other components if you've got at least 150W. You'd be surprised how much power you actually need. :)

Chrispy_ wrote:The 1.5x CPU+GPU rule of thumb usually means you can run for several years including some capacitor ageing. In this case 1.5 x (84+75) = 238W, so that 255W PSU should be plenty.


Thank you both, that's quite reassuring.

the wrote:Hrm... I'm seeing that the SFF system comes with a 290W power supply in the US. With regards to the PCIe power, I haven't found a source for this device but systems like this will post a shared limited for slot power across all slots.


Is it the SFF you saw with the 290W, and not the mini tower? I've seen the MT comes with 290W, but haven't seen the SFF with 290W till date.

With regards to the shared limit, I think as long as the total limit is at least 75W I'll be good, since I don't intend to use the x4 slot.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:16 pm

arun, did you get your card yet? wondering how you like the performance on it.

If you get a chance, can you run a quick benchmark or two on it? Curious to see how it handles 1080p on something like Unigine or whatever else is free these days.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:27 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:arun, did you get your card yet? wondering how you like the performance on it. If you get a chance, can you run a quick benchmark or two on it? Curious to see how it handles 1080p on something like Unigine or whatever else is free these days.


I've ordered this PowerColor AMD Radeon R7 250 from Amazon, and am waiting for it to arrive (US -> India shipping :)) It should reach me by the 30th, and will bench it then.

If you're looking for a single-slot LP card, also consider this 7750 from VisionTek, since the 7750 slightly edges out the R7 250.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:58 pm

A proper R7 250 (Oland XT 384SP@1050MHz boost clock) gives these scores.

It's important not to look at a review for R7 250's that are just rebadged 7750's since those have 512SP cores and higher power draw.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:03 am

Very true. I was actually reading an article just yesterday afternoon at Tom's, and the higher clock speeds of the R7 250 actually have it sticking very closely to the 7750, even at 1080p. Very impressive. That's probably why we haven't seen too many of the 250E cards (the rebadged 7750).

I think an R7 250 is the best option for a low profile, single slot card right now.

Ultimately I'm going to try to hold off until the AMD/NVIDIA GPU refreshes towards the end of the year, but with the kind of power these cards have, it's already pretty tempting.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:05 am

With the HD7750 having a higher shader count and I own one myself and most will run at 1000mhz or higher on the core. Mine runs at 1125mhz and outperforms a 7770. Looking at the low profile card compared to my standard sized card it seems to have the same power delivery system so overclocking it will give it a decent boost as long as temps stay at 90c or lower for safety and longevity.

I game @ 1080p with the 7750 equipped gateway system with a i3 2120 and a 300watt generic non rated PSU, 3 HDD and a extra chassis fan.
It does BF3 at 60fps on a mix of medium-hi settings. You can lower the setting in the newer games and still get a good smooth experience. Also the 7750 pulls around 50watts maybe 65 tops overclocked.

That's my input...happy hunting.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:54 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:arun, did you get your card yet? wondering how you like the performance on it. If you get a chance, can you run a quick benchmark or two on it? Curious to see how it handles 1080p on something like Unigine or whatever else is free these days.


I've run the Unigine Valley 1.0 Benchmark against both the Intel HD Graphics 4600 IGP (using the 10.18.10.3621 drivers), and the AMD Radeon R7 250 (using the Catalyst 14.4 drivers). Settings used for the Valley benchmark are:
  • Render: Direct 3D 11
  • Mode: 1920x1200 2xAA fullscreen
  • Quality: Ultra

Surprisingly, GPU-Z v0.7.8 reports the AMD card as being part of the Cape Verde family (and not Oland), and having 512:32:16 shaders:textures:ROPs (and not 384:24:8). I'm not sure if I should feel elated or otherwise.

Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • FPS: 3.6
  • Score: 149
  • Min FPS: 2.1
  • Max FPS: 5.9

AMD Radeon R7 250
  • FPS: 13.2
  • Score: 552
  • Min FPS: 8.1
  • Max FPS: 22.1
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:23 pm

Cape Verde should overclock quite well (the silicon should hit over 1000 without even a voltage boost) but you'll be limited by your PSU, air circulation and power draw without a 6-pin power plug.

512 shaders x 800MHz = 409ShaderHz
384 shaders x 1000MHz = 384ShaderHz

They'll perform pretty similarly unless you're ROP-limited in which case the Cape Verde will wee all over Oland. Honestly, I doubt ROP limitations are an issue these days though.
You get more performance with Cape Verde but at the cost of typically higher power draw. If it's working without stability issues then that's just free bonus performance.
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Re: Which discrete graphics for OptiPlex 9020 SFF?

Postposted on Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:03 am

It's an impressive gain in performance given the form factor it's operating in. Glad to see it's working out (and that you got the "free" upgrade to Cape Verde).

Are you happy with the extra performance? How's the noise?
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