Do I just need a new graphics card?

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Dell Dimension 1100 Celeron 2.6Ghz 512 MB RAM
Windows XP Home
80GB Hard drive, 30GB free
*Onboard Intel 855G Graphics Card
*15" LCD Monitor

I am going to get Splinter Cell Chaos Theory and Pandora Tomorrow,
Splinter Cell Double Agent, Hitman 3 and 4, Black and White 2, Sims 2,
Half-life 1 and 2, Warcraft III and WoW, maybe final fantasy 10 with
all expansion packs, and many other games. I want to know if I just
need to upgrade my graphics card, as I am aware that it is really bad
card. What is the best kind that will run my games a normal speed
without any skipping or slowness.

How about my CPU, I can't really upgrade it too easily but is 2.8Ghz
that fast, as I'm not really aware what *FAST* CPUs are today. RAM, I
probably could get an extra 515MB to make it 1GB, probably better

I am getting another computer with a 17" CRT monitor, will that bring
better gameplay with my new graphics card soon to come? I hear that CRT
monitors are better as they can take more damage and don't have the 90
degree viewing angle.

Please don't recommend a new computer, as I can't get a great 3GHz+,  2
gig ram computer with a $600 graphics card and 21" Inch monitor

Re: Do I just need a new graphics card?

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One problem I have with Dells, is getting thorough and correct
product information. For example, this description mentions
three PCI slots for expansion, but no AGP slot is mentioned.
Are you absolutely certain there is a place to plug a
video card in that computer ?

Game play requires a balance of CPU power and video card power.
If you have a wimpy CPU and the world's best video, it will
still be slow. If you have the world's fastest CPU and integrated
graphics, the result will also be slow. So both aspects have
to be balanced, to get your money's worth from an upgrade.

You say you are getting another computer. It is possible the video
card slot type in that new computer is PCI Express x16. That kind
of slot would not be compatible with an AGP video card. So you
may not be able to move a video card from one computer to the
other. It may be best to forget about the little 1100, and
purchase a system with better CPU and expansion capabilities.

To do effective planning, you need precise details about both
systems, to figure out whether video cards can be moved around,
or whether a video card can even be installed.

The single biggest surprise for Dell purchasers ? Opening the
computer and discovering there is no place to put a video card,
when they find out just how bad game play is with "integrated
graphics". Really low end Dell boxes don't have video slots,
while the more expensive models may have room for expansion.
If buyihg pre-built machines, this is a detail to be checked
out, before you buy it.

If you have to buy a prebuilt computer, some things to check for:

1) Uses latest processor ? A computer purchased today should have
   a Core2 Duo in it. Buying a box with an older processor in it,
   may limit future upgrades. On the AMD side, an AM2 socket processor
   would be current technology, and still good for gaming. Both
   choices are likely to use DDR2 RAM.

2) Video card slot uses the latest standard ? The computer should
   have a PCI Express x16 slot, that really runs at the x16 rate.
   Some "budget" chipsets only have x4 lanes to offer, so be careful
   with the really cheap computers (more of a problem with a mom&pop
   computer store build).

3) Is the power supply beefy ? Is the power supply a standard ATX type ?
   Is the computer case a full sized box, and not something with a
   microATX motherboard in it (9.6"x9.6") ? If there is room for
   a standard ATX power supply, you can always upgrade the power
   later, if using a really hungry graphics card. And having room to
   work inside the computer is important if you  like to tinker

To summarize, if you don't want to build your own, then accept
whatever crap comes in the box. Upgrading a pre-built, is admitting
you made a purchase mistake. Either buy a pre-built that claims
to be a "gamer box", or build your own, if you expect to be satisfied
with the resulting box. Don't expect to be able to buy a bargain
computer and "fix it later" - the builder of the bargain computer
cuts corners on features needed for later upgrades. The example
of finding no video card slot, is just one  way that the bargain
computer saves on parts cost.


Re: Do I just need a new graphics card?


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I recommend a new computer.  If you can't get a "great" one
then get a reasonable one.  There's your box, then there's
high-end, then there's the middle road which is what most
gamers use.

Figure out if your current system has an AGP slot, you'll
have to look inside because software might suggset AGP but
the slot might not have been put on the board.

Get something like a Geforce FX6600GT, or whatever likes on their VGA CHARTS on the
day you're looking to buy.

You will need to at least up the memory to 1GB, and I doubt
you'll enjoy the game very much on a 15" LCD or a 17" CRT,
but it'll work and the lower resolution will make the most
of a slower system/video.    Then again, the cost of these
items is not delaying the inevitable for very long, soon
enough you'd want to upgrade again and you won't be able to
reuse an AGP video card, and maybe not DDR(1) memory either.

The best long-term strategy is to replace the motherboard
with one using DDR2 memory and PCI Express video.  This
gives you the longest useable life on newly purchased video
card or memory, and as for the CPU, what's an old Celeron
2.8 worth anyway?  Sell it on ebay, you should be able to
recoup enough to buy a new CPU for less than $50 difference.
If this all costs too much, don't buy all those games yet,
put some of the $$$ towards the hardware.

Re: Do I just need a new graphics card?

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Well there's not a lot you can do with that computer. But you could
get a PCI video card. They don't make any high end video cards in PCI
anymore. But there are a bunch of budget cards that would look fairly
good with those games.

Go to and look for PCI video cards NOT PCI-Express video
cards. The most expensive one is 50 bucks right now. At one time their
type of performance was top of the line.

You should also max out the memory on your computer. All these games
need memory like crazy. I think you can fit one gig of memory in that
thing. That's pretty good. Memory is cheap these days.

That's a good start. If you spend a certain amount of time gaming you
should invest more in your machine. that's up to you.

Video Card ~ 50 bucks

Memory about 130 bucks

That's the best way to go.

If you play a lot of games I'd tell you to build  a new machine with
maxed out memory and get a video card worth at least 250 bucks.

If you play as much as I do 350 for a video card is cheap for the
amount of enjoyment I get out of it.

BTW try out Battlefield 2  It's great. 40 Bucks

you can also download the demo
Gulf of Oman Multiplayer Demo (546MB)

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