Computer question (in Off-topic)

Soxjr August 30 2010 8:08 AM EDT

I have an old computer. I'm thinking 3 years old. It was purchased when vista first came out. It is an e-machine w3615.

I have upgraded the ram to maximum 2 gig. I have upgraded the graphics card to a 256 meg graphics card very old.

Here is my question. If I upgrade the graphics card to one of the 1gig cards it should allow me to play games with graphics much better and have better fps correct?

If you need more info just ask. I'm not good with computers so I didn't know what to ask, but here is the deal. I can't afford a new comp, but want to be able to play games on this one while it's still working. I also wanted some info before I go to the store so they don't take advantage of me. lol

Wraithlin August 30 2010 8:23 AM EDT

yes, graphics cards allow for smoother play of games that require more intensive action.

however you have to check where your computer is lacking compared to the game.

it might be your processor even that is slowing you down as you made no mention of that.

in general one of four things will be your limiting factor with games:

1: graphics card
2: processor
3: ram
4: internet connection

of course if it's not an internet game then ignore #4.

just read the recomended settings on the box for the game you would like to play and compare it against what you are currently running, look for all 4 of those things. if you have the recommended settings you'll be good to go, otherwise it's probably time for an upgrade.

TheShazbot August 30 2010 8:33 AM EDT

a P4 3GHz is still Okay for most games. I'd recommend buying a Radeon 4850, which will do you fine.

Demigod August 30 2010 8:45 AM EDT

The answer is yes. However, you'll notice the improvement far more in some games than others. Some games are GPU intensive while others rely heavily on the CPU, meaning you'll notice a bottleneck.

Soxjr August 30 2010 9:36 AM EDT

ok. after people saying over and over that I need to upgrade the ram. First this computer is maxed out at 2 gig of ram and that is what it has. Then I started looking into it more. I then read that a 32 bit os can only read 3 gig of ram. You can put 4 in, but it won't read more than the 3 gig. So is that 2 to 3 gig of ram going to make that huge of a difference? Also, with 2 gigs of ram and a 1 gig dedicated graphics card wouldn't that do the same as a 3 gig of ram or am I not understanding this correctly.

I thought the 1 gig of dedicated ram meant the graphics card has 1 gig of ram basically on it. Is this not right?

Wraithlin August 30 2010 9:43 AM EDT

nope, not understanding it.

it's alot more complicated than can be understood in a thread, but what you need to know is:

ram /= graphics card.

you need the ram recommended settings AND you need the graphics card recommended settings. (In addition to everything else in the list).

Seriously, just flip over the game box, read the recommended settings at the bottom, make sure you have everything, upgrade what you don't, and then play the game.

btw 2G of ram covers around 95% of the games out there atm (as long as you aren't running anything else while playing).

Eliteofdelete [Battle Royale] August 30 2010 9:45 AM EDT

Another thing you will have to consider is the power supply. When I used to buy e machines their power supplies were terrible and upgrading to a more power video card would kill it.

Demigod August 30 2010 9:48 AM EDT

Also, with 2 gigs of ram and a 1 gig dedicated graphics card wouldn't that do the same as a 3 gig of ram

Nope. My understanding is that onboard RAM will be more important for the CPU-intensive games. Most modern games rely more heavily on the GPU (graphics card), but not all. There's really no way to tell which games are demanding on which which resources, but you can check out too see the results of some popular games. They do frequent benchmark testings of GPUs and CPUs using games, and it exposes which resources those games rely on.

iBananco [Blue Army] August 30 2010 9:54 AM EDT

If your max RAM is 2 gigs, I'd be worried about what sort of graphics cards you can put in. You may or may not not have PCIe slots. Also, as previously mentioned, your power supply probably won't be able to handle it if you got a computer prebuilt. 2GB of RAM is also cutting it a bit close for higher end games if you're on Vista. Assuming that a) your motherboard can fit it, b) your power supply can both handle it and has the requisite PCIe power, and c) you're not worried about RAM for the games you play, I highly recommend the Radeon 4850 as well. I have one in my desktop, and it's a very solid card for the price.

Soxjr August 30 2010 9:58 AM EDT

I guess I'll take my tower with me to the store and have them figure stuff out. lol

Demigod August 30 2010 10:04 AM EDT

You can pop off the case and compare the slots to pics online to see if you have a spare PCIe. You can also read the wattage from the PSU case to get a very good idea of whether it's anemic or not. As for room for the card, odds are, you're okay. If the tower looks cramped, you can easily measure off the dimensions by hand.

Sickone August 30 2010 10:17 AM EDT

The FPS you get will depend heavily on the game you play, on the resolution you play it at (how much does your monitor support anyway?), and on the graphic detail settings you choose.
Using DirectX11 vs DX10 or DX9 versions of the same game open up even more graphics options, which are usually GPU-heavy, but some rely quite a bit on the CPU too. The version of DirectX that you can use depends on your graphics card and your O.S. (maximum of DX9 on XP, for DX10 you need at least Vista, and only a few video cards have DX11 support).

High resolutions, FSAA, anisotropic filtering and some graphical effects depend mostly on the video card.
The amount of video RAM on the video card doesn't really _THAT_ much, there are several 512 MB videocards that thoroughly overperform a few 1 GB video cards. What REALLY matters is the GPU type.

High model detail, a few graphical effects, the game logic and physics depend mostly on the CPU.
Games that support physics acceleration do so on the GPU, but the physics-accelerated version looks different from the one without (more debris and such), you won't see a noticeable FPS difference.


Your machine has a Intel Pentium 4 631(3.0GHz) CPU, which is a single-core hyperthreaded processor. It's decent enough for older games and with older graphics cards, but for newer games and with a better video card, it's almost certainly a pretty nasty bottleneck.

The motherboard should be able to support most socket775 CPUs - some cheap but better-performing core 2 duo would be a good option, I'd say. Make sure you check though.
An Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 (3.06 GHz per core) should cost about 150$ or thereabouts, and more than double your overall CPU power.
Or you could go for a slower per-core clock but two cores, for probably under 100$, and it will still be a noticeable improvement in performance, because it's not just the clock, but the processor structure itself that's better. For instance, my junky Dual-Core @1.6 performs slightly better than my old P4@3.4. Core 2 Duo should be even better than that at the exact same clock speed. Depends on actual CPU though (cache and so on and so forth). You can check all of that on the intel home site ( ) once you look at a specific CPU.


I assume you disabled the on-board video card when you put a new one in. And I assume you have a PCI-Express video card... what type of videocard is it anyway ? You can find out by running "dxdiag" and looking under graphics, or maybe you already know the exact model.
If you already have a reasonably-powered vidcard (although it's doubtful, not many decent ones had only 256 RAM), you might want to only upgrade your CPU instead.

You should be able to buy a Radeon HD 5750 (with 1 GB of RAM) for about 125$, which should work fine enough in a decent resolution and graphic detail on most relatively new games, although you might want to spend another 20-35$ and upgrade to a Radeon HD 5770. Or you could look for cheaper versions with only 512 RAM. Depends on your budget, I guess.
If you DO NOT care about DirectX 11 (and you probably don't) so DirectX 10 is enough, then the Radeon HD 4850 will also do relatively fine (slightly slower than the 5750), the 512 MB version you could probably find for only about 100$, the 1 GB version for about 110$.

Sickone August 30 2010 10:28 AM EDT

You might want to download CPU-z and take a look at everything inside your PC...

It should tell you the exact specs of your CPU (speed, cache, etc) and the same story for the memory chips. It should not only tell you what type of memory you have (how many chips and what each chip is), but also at what frequency they function right now.

System RAM

Your machine came with a default of 1 GB DDR2@533.
Does your motherboard even support dual-channel RAM or is it single-channel ? What is the maximum frequency it supports ? HOW MUCH total RAM does yourmotherboard support ? It could be that 2 GB is the maximum (although 4 GBmax is far more common).
The question is, did you just add 1 GB of a different blend of RAM, or did you take out the old memory chips and put new ones in ? Single of dual channel ? What frequency do they run at ?
If the shop did the upgrade to you, I'm almost betting they're at 400 MHz now, and they're single channel.

As for Windows XP (or any other 32-bit OS), it's trickier. The TOTAL amount of RAM they can support, combined system RAM and video card RAM is 4 GB. So, if you have 4 GB system RAM and a 512 MB vidcard, you'll only "see" 3.5 GB of RAM. Put in a 1 GB vidcard, and you're down to just 3 GB of system RAM.
Switch to a 64-bit OS (of course, you first need a CPU that can run it) and you no longer have that limitation, and it's only about how much you can stick on the motherboard.

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