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Need computer tech advice


Inactive Members
OK, Civ IV isn't working well for me right now, and I don't have theliquid funds to purchase a new PC yet, so I'm probably going to buy one of the cards my friends recommended. But in all likelihood, I WILL need a new power supply. I currently have a 250 W, but I think 300 W will more than do the trick for me, since I've compared wattage of various videocards on the market. My current crappy GEForce MX 440 is 30 Watt, and VERY few cards on the market go more than 80 watt, so it should be fine with a 300 W power supply

SO my question is, what's a decent, reliable, affordable power supply that's around 300 W (it can be more), and will work in my current computer? I have Dell Dimension 4550 with a P4 processor 2.0 gig. It's also a mini tower. I have all the specs if anyone needs more information,


Message for Upgrade
While I can understand your want to be economical, choosing to go with a 300w psu is rather self limiting. I'd recommend going with something a little more powerful with an eye to upgrading in the future - why buy a 300w now when you may well upgrade in the next year or so and require an even bigger one. There are some good budget psus out there, I found this one on Newegg.com for less than $35:


I've found over time that I do not trust 'generic' or off-brand power supplies (having had more than one fail in systems I've worked on), but Coolermaster is a brand I would trust, and this particular supply is highly rated by the folks who've purchased one.

Hope this is helpful!


Inactive Members

Dell has been known for making it difficult to upgrade the motherboard and power supply in their computers by making a very special power connector on their motherboard that makes it incompatible with standard power supplies on the market. The only way to get around it is to buy both a new mobo and psu. (plus new memory and a processor to boot!)

It *might* not be the case with every one of their PC's, but its been such a common thing in the past that its very likely. Check with Dell first to see if you can do an upgrade yourself or not. You *might* be able to get a power supply directly from them but I've never tried that myself.

Also, as Listle says, 300watt is very limiting. Today 400, 450watt and up is becoming standard to power computers.


Inactive Members
Yeah, I'm getting very acquainted with all the subtle ways that Dell makes it difficult to upgrade :p See in the beginning, I knew that I needed a videocard. Then I discovered to get a decent videocard, I need a new power supply, and now it's agreed here that I'll need almost 2 times the wattage that I have already, and most likely, I'll need a new motherboard. It sounds like I'm replacing a good fraction of what I have now! :? I'll just wait to buy a new PC ...


Staff member
I agree

I agree with Shoey If you are upgrading do not just do the mininmum required, especially since the minimum required and somthing more is only a few dollars difference. check http://www.pricewatch.com/ you will find more than a few at good prices. i mean i just did a glance and a 450 watt for 40 bucks is attainable. I know what it means to be hard pressed for cash. But i also believe sometimes it is worth the extra effort of sacrifice to get the extra.

I experienced the Dell Dilemma once. and when i discovered what i had to do I rebelled lol., So i went on price watch and bought a tower case for 26 bucks. it came with a 400 watt power supply and 2 80mm fans i then waited for a awhile and found a motherboard on ebay for 40 bucks,

2 weeks later i found a AMD 2600 chip on ebay brand new with heat sync for 40 bucks on a buy it now. from best buy i purchased a 60 gig HD 20 bucks after rebate, ( i hate huge Hard drives unless i am doing alot of media storage)

Now understand this process is taking a few months to occur. i was just patient and like you was on a tight budget. so i managed to rummage through my stuff and find a old CD rom drive (nothing special about it) and a 3.5" floppy drive both of which are really cheap to buy if it is required. I reccmend you buy one of them grounding devices that strap on your wrist like a watch and has a lead with clip that you clip to the fram of the case when you work on it, i have seen more than one board and CPU wrecked because of static electricity.

Now Video Cards I am afraid is a item where you get what you pay for. i wont tell you my preferences and it depends on what you are going to do, but most Cards are going to be expensive if they are to be worth their salt. If you are a WoW player or Eq player i would reccomend no less the 256 Ram,, yea there will be those to answer this and say that is over kill and to those i would say if you are using second rate cards then you are missing half of what is available.

of course Nvidea Rules,, but Radeon if very nice too. so this is really up to you and your pocket book, me, the two things i will never sacrifice on is a video card and my Ram , which brings to the last piece,,,

RAM ,, now the Mobo i bought was a DDR type ram and like I said i would never shortcut on RAM ,, cheap ram is usually to low and leaks memory this causes faults and lots of crashes. it is possible to buy ram in sycrhonise pairs which i would reccomend unless you are buying one big Chip Corsair of course is the only brand of RAM to own hands down and no argument accepted. when 99.99 percent of all Nasa and SETI systems and the 100GHz system at the NSI and the Pentagon run on Corsair RAM something is to be said for it. I personally use 1024mb single Corsair Chip it is expensive but a non negotiable item. I would run a 80286 PC if i had that kind of RAM.

Computers have just about developed to the point where all the Speed numbers are obsolete. I mean now we are dealing in FSB front side bus and 32 bit and 64 bit systems (which btw is what you want if you can afford) RAM, Video is the current market where speed and use differences are made. so with the PC i built above lets see

Case, 26.
MOBO 40,
Chip 40,
HD 20,
Total 126.00

Now I mentioned i would not sacrifice on Video, my card cost 400 bucks.
Ram i did not Sacrifice on and in this system i s put 1024 mb single corsaid ram at the time was 250 bucks.

These are a choice i made based on what i used if for but on the low end you could build this PC for 300 dollars or less. Much like Dell sales them for. The only difference . Mine is upgradeable. , I can wait until the newer CPU get cheaper and pop mine out and a faster cpu in (mine holds up to 3800) Dell is not the only Monster that does this,, Compaq, HP, it is a trend among the giants.

So in the end you have built your own with pieces you want, you can upgrade it, down grade it , over haul it, and make it work in what ever field you want. ie gaming, Mathematics, etc.

to end this I will say while it is understandable to be on a budget we all are in one form or another. the old adage "You get what you pay for" definitely applies to the PC world. So my advice is decide what you want and if you need to sacrifice a couple weeks extra to save for it. then do so, the results will be more enjoyable entertainment with a product the will last longer before being surpassed with technolgy.

Let me know if I can help in any way. One of the things in this world i do know a little about is Computers. have a good one Cie,,, Slohand


Inactive Members
Thanks! Judging from the advice, I think I'll go for something big rather than one small step.

Yesterday I used omegadrivers.net, and cleaned out the inside of my PC, and I noticed some improved performance.


Staff member

Coupled with a recent post you made about not having room on your hard drive. i have a feeling you have to much stuff, and to many processes running. you may want to consider just backing up the stuff you want to keep and reformating. a fresh install does wonders to a old PC. and reinstall only what you use. keep the rest of it put up... Just a suggestion.

As for the Video Card and Power Supply. do not try and match exactly the power supply to you rpower consumption. good rule of thumb is have 50 percent more power than you will use. i have seen PC's shut down when to big a Vid Card gets put in them. so yea good idea to get the bigger PS it is just best to not have to worry about anything. new Video card , clean up your processes an dyou may be a happy fellow :) Slohand


Inactive Members
Thanks for the power supply tip, Slo. I wouldn't have known until too late. I guess it's the same with hard disks, don't assume you can fill up the whole thing -- which I've been keeping it for a while. I never formatted. there's so much to back up, and I only have a CD-R ... it's going to take a long time. :/


Inactive Members
There are some good budget psus out there, I found this one on Newegg.com for less than $35:
BTW, Newegg rocks. I buy a lot of computer and network gear and they have the best prices, fast delivery and great customer service.

Just my 2 cents.


Staff member

newegg is a good place. I only mentioned Pricewatch as she mentioned Newegg and Pricewatch is a price engine rather than a resale site. They offer products from hundreds if not thousands of businesses who may or may not have their products on sale at the time. so i always browse pricewatch to find the level at which to compare pricing. before shopping in to many places... Slohand