Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

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Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:11 am

I need some suggestions on a new video card (and perhaps a sound card). But first, here is some background.

Last month, I upgraded from an old HDD to a new Crucial MX100 SSD (based on some great feedback on this forum). This new SSD has added new life into this older system and I've been very happy with it....with one exception. Since this new SSD installation, I am now experiencing occasional freezes with both my video and audio on this PC (with a loud buzzing noise when it occurs each time). I had hoped the issue would go away after I reinstalled the driver for my Nvidia 8800GT video card. Unfortunately, the problem persists. My sound card is the original Creative SB X-Fi, but I haven't received any specific error messages related to the sound card. At any rate, this problem is not going to go away without me taking some action.

So the question is, if I want to try upgrading my video card, what can my older PC accept? This is a Dell XPS 410 with an Intel Quad Core 2.4 Ghz processor and a 425W PSU. The power supply was upgraded from 375W PSU to a 600W PSU several years back. I am running X64 Win 7 with 6 GB of ram. I don't want to break the bank spending too much money on this older rig but I need to do something to resolve this issue. Also, what about a new sound card. What can this system take? I'd rather try to fix this issue versus replacing the PC. This is still a very capable computer; and I am not ready to give up on it. I appreciate any feedback.

PS I find it very interesting that my problem has occurred since I upgraded from the old HDD to the SSD. But I cannot imagine how the new storage drive would have any negative impact on the video/audio.
Last edited by scott784 on Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:42 am

I couldn't speak as to the cause of your problem, it's possible the card was on its way out already, maybe jostled during installation of the SSD and that was the "last straw", so to speak. The issue you're describing sounds like problems I remember having with a 7800GT a long ways back (and a 7950GT I'd gotten as a replacement) where they were overheating.

That aside, for replacements for both parts, 1 quick question. How many 6-pin PCI-express power cables are coming off of your power supply? As I recall the 8800GT required one, but the PSU might have two.

If you have only one, then a Radeon 270 would be a good bet. If the power supply provides two, you could look at a Radeon 270X or GeForce 760.

I think it's worth pointing out there there are expected to be new video cards launching this fall, starting as early as next week with the Radeon 285, which may shake up the mid-range a bit. It's possible there will be cards with more oomph that will fit into a smaller power envelope, so while you could buy one right now, you might at least want to wait until the 285 launches next week. If nothing else, it may result in some price drops in other cards.

For sound, if you want to replace the X-Fi and keep using a discrete sound card, Asus' Xonar series is well liked. They have a few different models, but basically you've got the option of the Xonar DSX for about $50, or the DX, which adds some extra stereo virtualization capabilities (great if you game with headphones) for about $80.

Also, I highly recommend checking out TR's latest system guide:

http://techreport.com/review/26747/tr-j ... stem-guide
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:11 pm

Thanks for the quick post and suggestions. To answer your question, I believe the PSU is a single 6-pin PCI-express power cable coming off the PSU.

Today, I took my Dell XPS 410 do my local computer shop and left it. I am going to leave it there for a few days to see if they can pinpoint the problem with the audio/video freezing. This is a $50 charge to put the PC on the bench and run diagnostic tests. I probably should've just stuck my old HDD back into the system prior to taking the PC to a local computer shop. But I really want the problem resolved with the new SSD. Once you get one of these SSDs, you don't want to go back to an old HDD. Still, if I have to, I will do put the old HDD back into the system....and see if the problem persists. Again, I never had this issue prior to the upgrade to the new SSD. If I learn the video card is the culprit of the audio/video freezes....then I will spring for more dollars on the cost of that. But I don't want to break the bank on an older system b/c it doesn't make good economic sense to spend too much money on an older PC. So if I cannot resolve the problem with a reasonable amount of money, I may consider going with a new rig.

Speaking of new PCs, I did get the cost on a new custom build PC from this local computer shop for a mid-range system (in case I decide to go that route). The specs are as follows:

case: cooler master N200 Micro ATX case with USB3
power supply: 500W EVGA Power supply, 80 Plus Certified, Active PFC, Haswell Ready
processor: Intel Core I5 4460 Quad Core Processor 3.2 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache, On-chip Graphics, Socket 1150
motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H87M-HD3 Motherboard, matx socket 1150 1150 gb, LAN, Raid, HDMI, SATA 8g, USB 3.0
8GB DDR3-12800 (1600 MHZ Memory via 2 X 4 GB modules
hard drive: Samsung 840 ECO 250GB solid state drive, SATA 6GBps 2.5
2nd hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 SATA 6 Gb/s hard disck drive, 64mb cache
Optical burner drive: Samsung 24X SATA Dual Layer DVDRW drive OEM
Flash Card Reader: all in 1 internal flash memory card reader/writer USB2.0 Port 3.5
video card: nVidia GeForce GTX650 TI GB PC-E Video Card

OS : Windows 7 Home Premium Edition, DVD, 64 bit, OEM
warranty: limited lifetime hardward repair labor, and 12 years parts/warranty

The price quote is $1,145.88. However, the local shop would knock off the value of the SSD that I've already purchased. So that would bring down the total cost to near a $1,000 bucks. Does this seem like a fair deal on a new-mid-grade custom model? I haven't looked around in so long.....I am not sure I see a great deal when it's presented!! IF I end up buying a new PC, I may put that old HDD back into the Dell to see if the problem with the audio/video continues to freeze. (it never did it before installing the new SSD). However, that could have been mere coincidence....I am really not sure.

The PSU on my current Dell XPS410 is actually a 600W versus 425W. But the computer shop guy indicated that I might have problems with the connectors as well as trying to keep the system cool....if I try to go too far up end on the graphics. I will consider upgrading the graphics card one the system problem is diagnosed. We'll just have to see what comes out of this. Again, I would prefer to keep the XPS 410 as my primary desktop if I can get the video/audio problem resolved with the SSD.

Thanks for any additional feedback on my random video/audio freeze, as well as my question concerning whether or not the above specs for a new rig (as described above) appear to be fair market value for a custom build system.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:50 am

They're making a lot of profit on that build; You could newegg those parts for a whole lot less than that, if you're confident building it yourself. TR has done a pretty idiot-proof video though - even if you've never built one before it should be doable for someone's first build.

Assuming the shop finds and fixes the fault with your freezes (could be anything really) you could comfortably do a lot with that PC with a simple graphics card upgrade. I would stick to 150W cards because there's a limit on what you want to pull from an older power supply and the case isn't cooled as well as it could be. The R9 270 (vanilla, not 270X) is pretty cheap - around $150 with MIR and uses only a single 6-pin power connector. The R7 265 is a little cheaper and a little slower.

Nvidia's 750Ti is also around $150 and whilst it's slower than either of the AMD cards above, it's very low power - the 6-pin power connector isn't really necessary, but it's there on some boards to allow overclocking. A GTX 660 isn't a bad deal if you can still find one for $150 but their price seems to have risen again as stocks dry up.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:55 am

For that part list, if you were to buy them on your own from Newegg, it's:

N200: $50
EVGA 500W bronze: $50
i5-4460: $190
H87M-HD3: $80 (well, this price is for the H97 chipset version of that motherboard, since those seem to be replacing the H87 chipset boards right now)
2x4GB DDR3-1600: $80
Samsung SSD: $140 (I'm assuming that was a typo and you meant EVO, I can't find any ones marked "eco"
Seagate 1TB: $55
DVD Burner: $25
Flash card reader: $25
650Ti video card: $110
Windows 7: $100

So, $905. a $200ish markup for labor, profit and warranty (sounds like they have pretty good warranty coverage, too), plus the convenience of being nearby for repairs, that's not unreasonable.

If you went that route, I'd make one change, basically what Chrispy said: the 650Ti is no longer in production, and 750Ti video cards retail for about $40 more than that. It might be worth the extra cash to get the newer card. TR's review showed it outperforming the 650Ti by enough, I think, to justify the price difference. Alternately, an R9 270 or 270X card would be even faster, but again, more expensive.

Also: I hear ya on the SSDs. Mechanical storage just crawls in comparison for me.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:58 am

Time to move on to Windows 8.1 as the OS if building new.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:14 pm

I keep thinking about that video/audio freeze and wondering why it never happened before I upgraded from an old HDD to the new SSD. I was very methodical about only putting the latest drivers on Win 7 when I did a clean install of Win 7 on the new SSD. Plus, all the programs on the PC are current. The only thing (out of the ordinary) that I did was reinstall Win 7 in the BIOS mode of 'ATA Auto Detect' versus the Dell factory default setting of 'Raid On'. This was done because I was having problems getting Win 7 to reinstall under the Dell factory default BIOS setting of 'Raid On'. I recall this was a known issue years ago with the 410 when it came to reinstalling windows on the XPS 410 (this was all over the forums years ago). The workaround was to take some of the memory out of the PC (temporarily) 'before' doing a clean install of windows. But (this time) I didn't think about removing memory until I had already got Win 7 up and running on the new SSD. So to avoid crashing the computer several weeks ago.....and starting all over again, I used the following fix by Microsoft:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922976

This fix was very easy and it allowed me to change the BIOS back to Raid On....without reinstalling Win 7 again on the new SSD. Question.....Is there any chance this could have created the current/random problem of the audio/video freezes on the new SSD? I left the XPS 410 with the local computer shop on Monday morning and didn't mention anything about this. Does anyone have any thoughts on what I have outlined here? In other words, Is there any chance that the Microsoft fix (as outlined in the above link) created this audio/video random freeze issue? I should emphasize that I did not go into the computer registry at all. I simply used the link above to allow me to change the BIOS setting from ATA Auto Detect back to the factory default setting of Raid On....without having to reinstall Win 7 (as would normally be required when changing those settings after the BIOS setting has been selected) I would be surprised if this caused my problem as it is Microsoft's own fix to their own operating system. And aside from the random video/audio freezes, everything was working great.......to include an instant bump in my Windows Experience Index Score by about 5 percentage points, simply by changing the BIOS back to Raid On versus the less desired ATA Auto Detect.

When I get my Dell back from the computer shop, I will put the old HDD back into the PC as a last resort to get rid of this problem. But it sure would be nice to pinpoint the issue with the random video/audio freeze. If I end up buying a new custom built PC, I will take the advice on this forum and get the Nvidia 750 TI video card or comparable one. I appreciate everyone's input here to include what you thought about the price quote I got for a new custom PC.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:04 pm

This is an update to my previous posts. After having diagnostic tests ran at my local PC shop, it was determined that the driver for my Nvidia 8800GT was somehow corrupted. This obviously happened at the time I did the clean install of Win 7 last month on the new SSD. I previously suspected this was the issue and tried (a week ago) to correct the problem myself by uninstalling the driver through Control panel and reinstalling the driver. But it seems Control Panel does NOT always do the job in removing all the junk. So my previous efforts were useless. But my local PC shop guy was able to use an app and clean the registry; thereby resolving the video/audio freezes.

This PC is over 7 years old; but it's still a very capable system. And now with the new MX100 Crucial SSD, I plan on keeping it around for a while. However, I doubt I will be allowing the system to update the driver for the video card. As the old saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!'. And I've just made a new system image of my SSD that I have on an external HDD.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:07 pm

Chrispy_ wrote: You could comfortably do a lot with that PC with a simple graphics card upgrade. I would stick to 150W cards because there's a limit on what you want to pull from an older power supply and the case isn't cooled as well as it could be. The R9 270 (vanilla, not 270X) is pretty cheap - around $150 with MIR and uses only a single 6-pin power connector. The R7 265 is a little cheaper and a little slower.

Nvidia's 750Ti is also around $150 and whilst it's slower than either of the AMD cards above, it's very low power - the 6-pin power connector isn't really necessary, but it's there on some boards to allow overclocking. A GTX 660 isn't a bad deal if you can still find one for $150 but their price seems to have risen again as stocks dry up.


I got a Nvidia Geforce GTX 650 Ti 1GB GDDR5 DVI/HDMI DirectX 11 MSi OC edition. This isn't the newest model, but its a big bump from the old 8800 GT card that I had taken out of my PC today. And of course, it was also less expensive than the 750Ti. I think it's breathed new life into my Dell XPS 410. And hopefully I will not experience anymore video/audio freezes. The system is running great, especially with the new SSD.
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Re: Dell XPS 410 and new graphics card

Postposted on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:03 am

Nice, thanks for the update.

The 650Ti is a great little card, especially since you can pick them up for so little now.

Its only drawback is the 1GB frame buffer, but large frame buffers are usually only needed at higher resolutions and ultra/very-high graphics settings. If you're only running a 1280x1024 screen as was common 7 years ago, the 1GB frame buffer is probably more than enough to tie you over until the whole PC needs replacing.
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