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"Graphics advice, HP400" Topic

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GeoffQRF Inactive Member25 Dec 2015 8:55 a.m. PST

My wife has bought my son a new computer. It is an HP400G2 Prodesk with an i5 processor. Nice computer… But…

As far as I can tell, the only graphics it has in Intel HD 4600 (built in) which won't run the sort of graphic intensive games that he likes to play (Arma, Skyrim, etc).

There is a pci-e slot inside, although the power supply in integrated (and obviously designed for the box as it is long and thin rather than the normal box you find in desktop PCs) so I don't think there is any spare capacity for additional power feed to a separate graphics card.

Also the case is pretty compact and although there is a spare pci-e slot the graphics card would need to be quite small to fit in it.

Can anyone recommend something that would fit in this, or has she bought something (while very nice) that is pretty much useless to him?

napthyme Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Dec 2015 1:09 p.m. PST

If he wanted a new gaming machine it would have been easier to have just built him a custom one to start with them trying to retool a box standard one like this one.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member25 Dec 2015 2:36 p.m. PST

I know. Someone didn't listen to me. Apparently the only graphics card it takes is the Nvidia 310, which is ok for video conferencing….

Anyone want to build me a PC? :-)

napthyme Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Dec 2015 2:02 p.m. PST

I have always wanted to take a crack at building one, but I do not have the knowledge to know what to order for a gaming machine.

Check tigerdirect, they sometimes have a builders kit that is half there already. You'd just need to add the better graphics card and OS.

CeruLucifus26 Dec 2015 5:57 p.m. PST

If it's one of the standard motherboard sizes you can buy another case for $50 USD-100 and move all the components into it. That will give you room to expand without wasting the rest of the investment already made.

Google "PC power supply calculator" and figure out if the power supply that came with it has enough headroom for the graphics card you pick. If not a bigger power supply that matches your motherboard is likely $50 USD-100.

I recommend NVidia's Maxwell architecture which has set a new standard of efficiency, so you get more graphics horsepower for your wattage (and less risk of overheating). This is the 9-series except for the entry model which is the 750 TI from the 7 series. Prices start at $130 USD, and go up in increments around $100. USD The more you pay the higher resolution/higher frame rate you can run with maxed out detail. Remember your monitor will set your max resolution and unless you are going bigger than 1080p (1920x1080 = HD TV), most graphics cards can handle that nowadays.

The Toms Hardware recurring article "The Best Graphics Cards for The Money" is a great reference for gamers building or upgrading a PC on a budget. There will be non-NVidia Maxwell cards in some categories but I just ignore those. There's also a hierarchy chart ranking all cards so if you find something else on sale you can compare to their recommendations.

Toms Hardware
Best Graphics Cards for the Money Dec 15 2015

GeoffQRF Inactive Member26 Dec 2015 11:55 p.m. PST

Cheers. Unfortunately the motherboard seems to be very much non standard. Luckily we are able to return it.

I've built a couple, taking stuff from one case, changing CPUs, power supplies and cards, it's not too difficult.

Now that we know it's not suitable and can return it, I'm on the hunt for a decent gaming machine for about £350.00 GBP-400 :-)

Jakse375 Inactive Member27 Dec 2015 6:49 a.m. PST

I'd start with either or both sell barebones kits which is all the parts just not assembled. I have never bought a complete RTG computer in my life. I've built many a rig this way. And the best part is you can keep upgrading a little here and there to keep the machine relevant.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member27 Dec 2015 12:32 p.m. PST

Yeah I'd need something uk based, or I will just get walloped for import tax 😄

CeruLucifus27 Dec 2015 1:49 p.m. PST

(I apologize for US dollar prices below as I'm not familiar with UK PC choices.)

Glad you could return it, that makes it simpler. That budget is $500 USD-600 at today's conversion rates? That is pretty low so make sure what you buy/build is expandable in the future.

Do you have a suitable monitor already? You can save $100 USD-150 by putting off until later buying a 24" 1080P monitor.

For CPU on a budget I'd say an Intel Core i3 and stock cooler ($110-$150) then in the future when gaming performance becomes CPU bound, replace CPU with Core i5 or i7 ($165 up to $350 USD). Again with stock cooler unless you want to overclock, in which case get the K series versions of those processors (same price range but fewer choices) and a closed loop liquid cooler for the CPU ($60-120 depends on fan placement locations in case).

You can go with AMD CPU but the performance options to expand up don't go as high, and they use more power/generate more heat. AMD versus Intel drives your choice of motherboard and possibly constrains you to 1 Nvidia graphics card so make this choice early.

This Tom's Hardware article is good guide for choosing CPU: Tom's Hardware Best CPUs for the Money Dec 3 2015: link

For the graphics card, you have 3 choices at the low end if you stay with Nvidia's Maxwell architecture for best power/heat management:
1) onboard processor graphics with plan to add discreet graphics card later such as GTX 960 or GTX 970 ($0 now, $200 USD or $350 USD later). Of course you already rejected this plan, but worth mentioning.
2) GTX $750 USD TI with plan to replace later with better card such as GTX 960 or GTX 970 (~ $140 USD now, which is replaced by $200 USD or $350 USD later).
3) Motherboard that supports Nvida SLI (dual video cards) with single GTX 950 or GTX 960 now, adding a second card later (~ $30 USD more for motherboard now plus $150 USD or $200 USD, and same $150 USD or $200 USD later to improve performance).

All of the video cards above can run games at 1080p as well as higher resolutions, and support multiple monitors (and exceed recommended specs for Arma III and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim). The more you spend, the better frame rates at high graphics quality for more demanding games and/or at higher resolutions.

You'd want to be sure your power supply has additional wattage headroom to handle your largest planned graphics card expansion 750 TI = 60 watts, 950 = 90 watts, 960 = 120 watts, 970 = 145 watts each). And also your largest planned CPU replacement (check Intel site but I believe 90-200 watts). I imagine this works out ~650 watts.

Get minimum RAM (e.g. 4 or 8 GB) but look for a motherboard that can take another pair of DIMMs so you don't have to throw away RAM to upgrade.

And get minimum hard drive (e.g. 1 TB for ~ $60 USD) and forego either SSD boot drive ($60 to $200 USD) or solid state hybrid drive ($150 to $300 USD) as you can add these later.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member27 Dec 2015 4:35 p.m. PST

Yes, there are currently 6 monitors in this house :-)

Yes I know it's low, but for a 7 year old that's all he's getting…

Very useful data Ceru, thank you. Found a nice little package on an i3 3.5Ghz with 4gb DDR3/1TB and Nvidia GT730 which I think will suit him, and the case has plenty of capacity to upgrade later. I may have a spare modular 600w psu so may swap that out at some point when I upgrade the card.

Then once he's happy I need to think about sorting out mine 😄

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