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Thread: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

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    Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Hey,

    Just built myself a new computer and at the moment I am running onboard graphics.

    The system is:

    *400w Silverpower SP-400P2C - psu

    *AMD Phenom II x3 720BE - cpu

    *Asus M3A78-EM 780G chipset / AM2+ socket - motherboard

    *HD 3200 - onboard graphics

    *1gb DDR2-1066 Crucial Ballistix - RAM

    *Generic DVD ROM Drive (taken from old p4 setup, see below)

    *500gb WD Caviar green - Hard drive (low power consumption)

    *CoolerMaster Elite 341 micro ATX - Case


    Basically it is a bit of an odd system because I was upgrading an old p4 system and adding a few things and putting in a new case plus the new psu to make it more stable and get a bit more use out of it before I went for a completely new rig.

    Unfortunately the long and the short of it is, is that I couldn't get the p4 mobo out of the case because it was an old pre-built system and it was welded in or something crazy. So I had to build a new PC. Unfortunately I didn't want to pay for the same stuff twice so I used the case, psu and what not. Obviously with only a 400w psu I was worried about power consumption, hence the tri core cpu (I wanted more than a dual core but I was worried the psu wouldn't handle a decent quad core cpu).

    So far everything seems fine, it does seem perfectly stable. Problem is now I want to play a few games at reasonable settings (my mate just bought be MW2 for my birthday), so I need a new GFX card and in an ideal world I think I would want HD 4890 performance, obviously I have heard a HD 4890 is a little bit of a power hog so I am looking at maybe a HD 5770. Absolute maximum spend is 150 quid, ideally a couple of quid less as I really want to get another gig of ram.

    These are the specs for the psu.

    So what do you guys think, can I get away with a HD 4890 or will it have to be a HD 5770 or should I wait for this?

    Thanks in advance for suggestions.

    p.s Sorry for long post, wanted to justify my odd purchasing

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Your PSU is perfectly fine unless you're going for a dual-GPU card.

    Although I would say most if not all the games that can utilize the performance of a 48xx or 57xx card will certainly struggle with even 2GB of system memory.

    Perhaps first upgrading to 4GB then get the graphics card later?
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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurleung View Post
    Although I would say most if not all the games that can utilize the performance of a 48xx or 57xx card will certainly struggle with even 2GB of system memory.
    Like?

    I can only think of one or two games that push ram usage over 2gb, and even then they're only in extreme situations.

    On the other hand, graphically intensive games like Crysis, Far Cry 2, Fallout 3 etc don't get anywhere near a problem with 2gb of system ram. 2gb is plenty for gaming.

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    The point of 4gb is so that you have plenty in reserve, less disk paging, the system will use more ram if more is avaliable, so a faster experience, and also alt-tabbing will be quicker.

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    I agree, but the difference is barely anything compared to upgrading from onboard graphics to a 48x or 57x + series card when gaming.

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    I would get another 1GB of RAM and an HD5770.

    Ebuyer has a HIS HD5770 for under £120:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/186468


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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Like?

    I can only think of one or two games that push ram usage over 2gb, and even then they're only in extreme situations.

    On the other hand, graphically intensive games like Crysis, Far Cry 2, Fallout 3 etc don't get anywhere near a problem with 2gb of system ram. 2gb is plenty for gaming.
    Windows 7 boots at like 800MB ram usage and start paging the HDD at 80% memory usage, with 2GB ram that means 800MB of ram actually usable for games before performance is degraded.

    While the problem is not so great using a low-end GPU (smaller texture get loaded to memory -> less ram usage), the memory usage does go up significantly when you increase texture quality.

    When I was playing supreme commander years ago it was incredibly ram demanding (had 2GB back then). I do agree it is one of the few exceptions but on the other hand you could say there is only a few games that actually need the performance of a 57xx and hence buying a 48xx and 4GB ram would be a more balanced choice.
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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurleung View Post
    Windows 7 boots at like 800MB ram usage and start paging the HDD at 80% memory usage, with 2GB ram that means 800MB of ram actually usable for games before performance is degraded.
    No it doesn't - there's plenty more available as win 7 just reduces the pre-fetching as required. I used to run 2GB ram and there was no degradation in performance on any modern game, save Supreme Commander if I played 8v8, which I tended not to.

    While the problem is not so great using a low-end GPU (smaller texture get loaded to memory -> less ram usage), the memory usage does go up significantly when you increase texture quality.
    System memory usage hardly increases at all, you're talking about video ram usage. Unless you're talking Vista pre SP1, which had a bug.

    When I was playing supreme commander years ago it was incredibly ram demanding (had 2GB back then).
    Supreme Commander is the only example I know of of a game that could push 2GB. I've pushed more using toolsets and other programs as well, but that's not game playing.

    If you're speccing out a new system then it doesn't cost much to get 4gb so you might as well, but it's simply not needed for gaming yet.

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Thanks for the advice so far! Before we all go off topic and on to ram, does everyone agree that my 400w psu with 18amps on two 12V rails (36amps in total) will be enough for a HD 4890 or similar?

    With regard to RAM I intend to eventually get 4 gigs, maybe even 6 (would that be worth it!? I think the most demanding thing I intend to do is play games!?). Although my mobo is mATX I have 4 dimm slots so I am staggering the purchasing some what (hence getting a mobo with integrated graphics aswell) as I am just a student :S.

    With regard to GFX the games I intend to play are:

    Borderlands
    Fallout3
    Left4dead 1+2
    COD:MW2
    and a little bit of CS 1.6 and Source

    Before now I have only really played games on 800x600 and on occasion 1024x768, as I am a bit of CS 1.6 fanboy, so fps has always been way more important to me than resolution. But I thought I would give playing games at a high resolution a go. Not too fussed about AA and AF and what not, just want a solid 60-80fps (ideally 80-100fps but that might be a bit of a pipe dream!) at about 1024x768 or slightly higher, no AA or AF.

    Would a HD 5770 be suffice for this or should I push the boat out a bit and get a HD 4890!?

    Sorry for another long post!

    Thanks!

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by c.ruel View Post
    Thanks for the advice so far! Before we all go off topic and on to ram, does everyone agree that my 400w psu with 18amps on two 12V rails (36amps in total) will be enough for a HD 4890 or similar?

    With regard to RAM I intend to eventually get 4 gigs, maybe even 6 (would that be worth it!? I think the most demanding thing I intend to do is play games!?). Although my mobo is mATX I have 4 dimm slots so I am staggering the purchasing some what (hence getting a mobo with integrated graphics aswell) as I am just a student :S.

    With regard to GFX the games I intend to play are:

    Borderlands
    Fallout3
    Left4dead 1+2
    COD:MW2
    and a little bit of CS 1.6 and Source

    Before now I have only really played games on 800x600 and on occasion 1024x768, as I am a bit of CS 1.6 fanboy, so fps has always been way more important to me than resolution. But I thought I would give playing games at a high resolution a go. Not too fussed about AA and AF and what not, just want a solid 60-80fps (ideally 80-100fps but that might be a bit of a pipe dream!) at about 1024x768 or slightly higher, no AA or AF.

    Would a HD 5770 be suffice for this or should I push the boat out a bit and get a HD 4890!?

    Sorry for another long post!

    Thanks!
    An HD4890 requires a lot of power to run and would be pushing your PSU.

    An HD5770 will do the job with much lower power consumption!

    Look at this review of the HD5770:

    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2009/...o_card_review/

    The HD5770 should be able to max out Crysis Warhead at 1680X1050 IMHO.

    My overclocked HD4830 will run most games at 1440X900 and 1680X1050 using decent settings and the HD5770 is far more powerful AFAIK.


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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    An HD4890 requires a lot of power to run and would be pushing your PSU.

    An HD5770 will do the job with much lower power consumption!

    Look at this review of the HD5770:

    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2009/...o_card_review/

    The HD5770 should be able to max out Crysis Warhead at 1680X1050 IMHO.

    My overclocked HD4830 will run most games at 1440X900 and 1680X1050 using decent settings and the HD5770 is far more powerful AFAIK.
    HD4890 doesn't really need that much power, my HD4870 VRM shows around 78A@1.2V during gaming, and that equates to ~8A@12V, the PSU have 2x18A rail which is plenty.

    My fastest rig (my sig) use 300W from socket at full CPU+GPU load. Barely pushing my 450W PSU with 8 HDDs.
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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Ok in that case I won't risk it and I will go for the HD 5770 rather than the HD 4890, I have been using a 6600gt (AGP) until now on an old p4 setup so I am sure that HD 5770 will be like night and day.

    I was thinking of this one since I like the sound of the crazy cooler it has and I trust sapphire more than HiS (heard bad things about HiS, I could be completely wrong though).

    What do you think!?
    Last edited by c.ruel; 16-01-2010 at 04:28 PM. Reason: qualifying a statement

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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurleung View Post
    HD4890 doesn't really need that much power, my HD4870 VRM shows around 78A@1.2V during gaming, and that equates to ~8A@12V, the PSU have 2x18A rail which is plenty.

    My fastest rig (my sig) use 300W from socket at full CPU+GPU load. Barely pushing my 450W PSU with 8 HDDs.
    The HD4890 needs more power to run at load than an HD4870.

    Also,you have not taken into account the age of the PSU. I have used and recommended the aforementioned Silverpower in previous builds and it has been around for a few years.

    If the PSU is a few years old ageing of components will affect its ability to supply the maximum rated power. Also the VX450W is a more modern(and more efficient) design than the Silverpower SP-400P2C even though the latter is decent for a budget PSU.

    The HD4890 cards are also usually much more expensive(around £140) and the one available on Scan for around £130 is very noisy it seems.

    The HD5770 is virtually the same speed in games as an HD4870 with launch drivers.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 16-01-2010 at 04:40 PM.


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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by c.ruel View Post
    Ok in that case I won't risk it and I will go for the HD 5770 rather than the HD 4890, I have been using a 6600gt (AGP) until now on an old p4 setup so I am sure that HD 5770 will be like night and day.

    I was thinking of this one since I like the sound of the crazy cooler it has and I trust sapphire more than HiS (heard bad things about HiS, I could be completely wrong though).

    What do you think!?
    The card you linked to is meant to be very quiet although OcUK charge a lot for postage.


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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The HD4890 needs more power to run at load than an HD4870.

    Also,you have not taken into account the age of the PSU. I have used and recommended the aforementioned Silverpower in previous builds and it has been around for a few years.

    If the PSU is a few years old ageing of components will affect its ability to supply the maximum rated power.

    The HD4890 cards are also usually much more expensive(around £140) and the one available on Scan for around £130 is very noisy it seems.

    The HD5770 is virtually the same speed in games as an HD4870 with launch drivers.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...0,2262-13.html
    I guess you're right on the power consumption but its only 15W higher than my 512MB HD4870.

    Aging at 10% per year and it will take at least 4 years to come down to the power usage of OP's system with a HD4890 assuming a moderately high overclock (~240W actual). This is not even talking about running at close to 7x24 so aging shouldn't be a problem at all.

    I just realize how expensive are HD4890s though so I guess HD5770 is a good choice then. But then HD4850s are quite cheap. Not as powerful though but still will be quite a huge jump from a 6600.

    Isn't that most if not all Radeon cards (that use reference design) are made by the same OEM which makes most if not all cards the same apart from warranty and heatsink? Can't comment on the cooler as I find the HD4870 stock fan very quiet at 30% speed (although temperature is around 85'C). I'm normally put off by the type of heatsink like the one on Vapor-X, although quiet, doesn't discharge the hot air out the case right away, so the heat stays in the case which increase the case temperature.

    Off-Topic on ram: I'll see if completely disabling the prefetcher reduce ram usage. I have 4GB of ram and once mem usage hit 3.2G (x264+avisynth) Windows 7 start paging to my hdd, stalling all my encodings (90% CPU -> 25% CPU). Tried clamping cache usage using setcache.exe and it only work up to a certain extent. Need that last ounce of ram available (can't overclock with 8GB ram).
    Workstation 1: Intel i7 950 @ 3.8Ghz / X58 / 12GB DDR3-1600 / HD4870 512MB / Antec P180
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    Re: Graphics card advice for a 400 watt psu

    That psu might have two 12v rails listed as 18a each but the combined max is only 26a Max, not sustained
    http://www.nanopoint.co.uk/de/gfx/pr..._400P2C_en.pdf

    I would look at a 4850 or gts250 or a 5770
    The 4850 or gts250 can still cope very well at 1680x1050

    I'd also consider another 1gb of memory at least.

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