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Help with video card upgrade for Alienware x51 r2?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Psykolord1989, Oct 19, 2017.

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  1. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    Hey all, I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding something. For background, I know just enough about computers to fix a few common problems on my and my neighbor's computers, things like the wireless connection suddenly shutting off. I've been forced to learn a bit more since I got this computer in 2013 and had problems from within 4 months of purchase.

    When this was purchased for me as a Christmas gift, it came with, among other things, a 240W AC adapter power supply (As a further example of the limitations of my computer knowledge, I thought all computer supplies were power bricks like mine, I didn't know a lot were internal) and an nVidia GTX 645 video card. Well, its been 4 years, and I decided I'd like a bigger video card since we had some money for a new one and the old one had to be replaced once already, partially as a result of me not knowing that I was supposed to clean my computer out every 6 months (my prior computers were all laptops).

    So I talk with my friends, and am told I should get a GTX 1050 TI, which I am told will probably not need me to upgrade my power supply. I call Dell 4 times during this, and am assured that the card will work with my configuration each time. I buy the thing, and call them when it arrives because they said that my warranty would allow me to have them install it free of charge; the last time I opened up my computer, I dropped a screw behind some hardware and was having an anxiety attack while I tried to dig it out, so I don't open up my own pc without supervision ANYMORE. Dell tells me that the card won't work because I've got a 240W supply, and the 1050ti draws 75 W and thus needs a 300W supply minimum. They say they have a 330W supply for the computer that I can purchase.

    Now here is where it gets interesting. Looking up the GTX 645, it has a manpower draw of 130W and recommends a freaking 450W supply, but it is running in a computer with a 240W supply.

    1) How is it possible that the computer can run the 645? Does it have to do with the 130W being the maximum draw?
    1b) How can it run the 645 but not the 1050ti? The 1050ti lists 75W as its maximum power draw, I think.
    2) Can I get a non Alienware power bricks that's better quality for under $65 that won't damage my computer?
    3) If I use an underpowered supply, will I damage my computer? Or just run the risk of the computer crashing?
    4) Is this (the recommendation of 450W for the 645) the reason why I started in summer/fall 2016 to have my computer crash when running WOW in silkscreen, but not with any other game? Or was that's result of the card being damaged by my lack of maintenance?

    My primary goal is to come out of this with a video card upgrade (preferably enough of one that I can run witcher 3 on at least mid-low settings without a frame rate in the teens that makes it feel like I've got bad lag), and without having to buy a new computer (we don't have the money for a new one). We've already shelled out sometuing in the vicinity of $175 for the video card, so my secondary goals are: to resolve this without having to spend more than $75 more than I already have; to learn a bit about the problem and why things are working this way; and to get an upgraded power supply if necessary/recommended.

    If you need any more information to help me, I am going to be away for a few hours, but plan to be back at my desktop before the end of the night. Apologies if I take a little time to update, currently caring for a family member who nearly broke their foot. Please forgive any spelling/grammar, I am typing this on a tablet while out and about.
     
  2. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    I think you're right about the 1080 TI needing less power than the 645, your figures agree with ones I found online.
    Dell might refuse to fit the new Graphics card for free unless you upgrade the power supply too, even though that makes no sense. I would check that with Dell before going any further.
     
  3. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    The only reason I'm leery of talking to them again, is that they did tell me 4 times that the card would work, and then after I bought it told me it wouldn't. It's really starting to seem like they're lying to sell hardware.
     
  4. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    The Dell Alienware X51 R2 desktop comes with either a 240W or 330W external power adapter.
    Yours apparently came with a 240W.

    The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 645 graphic card appears to be a popular model that comes in some Dell desktops.
    I purchased 2 refurbished Dell OptiPlex 7010/9020 desktops in the past year that came with that same graphic card.
    The 7010 has a 275W internal power supply and the 9020 has a 290W, and they both run that graphic card just fine.
    I don't game though, so I haven't pushed their power supply to the limit.

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    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  5. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    I'm just curious how the card can say that it recommends a 450W supply, yet run on a 240, a 275, and a 290.
     
  6. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    The GeForce GTX 645 1 GB GDDR5 graphic card that's in my refurbished Dells appears to use only 64W, so that's probably why their 275W/290W power supplies can handle it.
    I also don't video stream or game or do anything that's graphic-hungry.

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  7. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    So then is it that my 240W supply actually *can* run the 1050ti and they're just fudging the truth to make me buy a $65 power supply? Or will it overload the supply and fry my hardware?
     
  8. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    From what I can determine, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphic card uses 75W of power and requires a minimum of a 300W power supply.

    If your Dell Alienware laptop did indeed come with a 240W power adapter, it looks like you'll need to switch to its more powerful 330W power adapter.

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  9. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    So from what I'm gathering, the 645 isn't normally running at its full power draw...which would explain why my system was rebooting after spending too long running World of Warcraft on fullscreen mode. On the other hand, if I get the new power supply and use the 1050 TI, I could run the 1050 TI at its highest power level without worrying about overloading my system, right?
     
  10. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    I'm not a hardware expert nor a gamer, so I can't comment on your question.
    Allan or someone else here will need to answer it.

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  11. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    If it was mine I would take a chance and fit the new graphics card without upgrading the power supply.
    You may have to fit the new card yourself though.
     
  12. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    What would I be looking at for worst-case scenario if the 240W supply didn't work? Are we talking my computer just refusing to boot up, or are we talking components getting damaged?
     
  13. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    Two things usually happen if a power supply isn't sufficient to handle the power needs of a computer's hardware:
    1. The computer won't start up at all.
    2. The computer will start up, but its monitor won't display.

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  14. Psykolord1989

    Psykolord1989 Thread Starter

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    Alright, the installation instructions want me to uninstall the driver for my old video card, and also disable the graphics chipset, before I install the new card. Are these actually necessary? I can understand having to uninstall the old video card driver, but shutting off the chipset seems like a bit much to me.
     
  15. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

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    You're removing a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 645 graphic card, correct?
    What graphic card are you replacing it with?

    When a graphic card is installed, the BIOS should automatically disable the on-board graphic device.
    When a graphic card is removed, it should automatically enable it.
    It shouldn't require any intervention from you.

    The usual steps for replacing a graphic card are:
    1. Uninstall the driver for the old graphic card, then completely shut off (do not restart) the computer.
    2. Remove the old graphic card.
    3. Install the new graphic card.
    4. Start up the computer.
    5. Install the driver for the new graphic card.

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