Solved: Need to upgrade RAM and Graphics Card

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Daskill

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I want to upgrade my memory and my graphics card in order to enable my computer to run a game "Empire: Total War".

I want to know how to select a video card and RAM that are compatible with my computer.

How does it work, is everything compatible with everything generally, or do you have to be very careful to look out for compatibility?

What should I know, what should I look out for?
 

Triple6

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It depends on what you have. If its a brand name computer, you need to post what make and model of the system. If its a custom built system then we need to know what motherboard, CPU, power supply, RAM, etc that you have.
 

Triple6

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Empire: Total War Requirements:
- OS: Windows XP (Service Pack 2), Windows Vista 32
- CPU: 2.4 GHz single-core
- RAM 1 GiByte (Windows XP), 2 GiByte (Windows Vista)
- Graphics card: DirectX 9.0 compatible 256 MiByte graphics card (Shader 2.0 or better)
- Sound card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
- Windows compatible mouse and keyboard
- 15 GByte free hard drive space

Does your Dimension 4600 have a video card or is the video integrated into the motherboard? How much RAM do you have and how fast is the CPU in your Dell?
 

Daskill

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CPU: 2.79GHz (Intel Pentium 4)
RAM: 512MB
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 (I don't think that's an integrated card, is it?
 

Triple6

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You definitely need this:

512MB DDR RAM: http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=2D988E29A5CA7304
OR
1GB DDR RAM: http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=E61EC373A5CA7304

AND If your Geforce 5200 is not a 256MB version:

ATI Radeon HD 3650 AGP 512MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131173

AND this as well:

Thermaltake 430 watt PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153023

To find out if you video card has 256MB of RAM go to Start -> Run -> type DXDIAG and pres ENTER. This should bring up the details on the system and video card.
 

Daskill

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Why those particular ones over other products?

I was hoping to buy one from my local PC World store. How do I know what's compatible with my PC?

And will I definitely need to get a new PSU, or are there options that will enable me to keep my current one? I was kinda hoping not to go overboard with the spending.
 

Triple6

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Well the memory has to be DDR, PC2700(333Mhz) or PC3200(400Mhz).

The video card has to support at least Directx 9.0c and be AGP(the older interface). If you go to high it'll be wasted as your CPU just isn't powerful enough for the higher end AGP cards. And the lower end AGP cards that are DX9 or higher are pretty weak for gaming.

Any decent video card requires something more then the standard Dell 250 watt power supply.

The Geforce 6200 states 250 watt with 18 amps on the +12 volt rails, you can check the label on the power supply(inside the case) and see if its 18 amps or higher. And the 6200 is a much weaker card then the 3650 for gaming.
 

Daskill

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Are power supplies fairly uniform, or could there be compatibility issue there too? What do I need to look out for there?
 

Triple6

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They are standard, but there's a lot of junk out there for power supplies. You need to make sure its a good brand such as Antec, OCZ, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, Enermax, Seasonic, and FSP to name a few. You want o make sure its at least 400 watt to cover most AGP video cards and have head room. The +12 volt is critical, should be no less then 18 amps and preferable significantly higher - it can have more then one +12 volt rail though. Anything under $30(before rebates) is almost automatically not worth looking at. A basic quality unit costs about $40 and higher.
 

Daskill

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Do I need to worry about cooling at all, or am I fine with just the components you suggested?

Are you sure all these components will be compatible with my computer? Is there anything else I should check?

Will it be easy to install?
 

Triple6

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Cooling should be OK, you can't add fans to the case being a Dell anyway.

There's never a 100% guarantee, it should work. The installation should be straightforward, there will be some instructions that come with all the parts. The memory just snaps in, the power supply just replaces the existing unit and plus into all the same places plus the new video card.
 

Daskill

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One other thing, I bought the ATI card you suggested.

On the website for the shop it said that it required at least a 550W psu, on the box it says at least 300W. On the ATI website, it doesn't have model specific info, but it says at least 400W on the page for the series.

I've bought a 400W PSU. Do yo think that will be ok? (Looking at the ATI website, I think 550W is just for CrossfireX)
 

Triple6

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400 watt should be fine as long as it a quality unit. ATI has 380 watt units on the approved list, and you have a fairly basic machine. 550 would only be needed for a CrossFire setup, which you could never run.
 

Daskill

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Ok, another problem. I installed the psu, the gpu and the ram. The psu and the gpu seem to be working for now.

I had a problem with the RAM. The one I bought is this one here: http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/techguys-pc-3200-ddr-400-dimm-ram-memory-module-512mb-00925829-pdt.html

As you can see from the picture, this module has two notches at each side. The modules already inside my computer only have one notch. The holders in the socket didn't clip into the notches on the new RAM module properly.

When I check on "My Computer", it says that the computer still only has 512MB of RAM, so it seems like it's not recognising the new RAM module.

But according to the system's specs, (http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim4600/en/4600i/sm/specs.htm#1105699) it supports the type of RAM that I installed.

So what did I do wrong?
 
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