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Hi all, I have become totally confused by all the hype so here goes. I have a Gateway GT 5670 it has, one PCI Express 16 slot. 1. I have ...
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  1. #1
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    First time buyer of a new GPU please help in separating hype from fact


    Hi all,
    I have become totally confused by all the hype so here goes.
    I have a Gateway GT 5670 it has, one PCI Express 16 slot.
    1. I have DDR2 RAM in my PC. Most cards I see use DDR3 does that make a difference?
    2.As stated I have a PCI Express 16 slot. I see PCI Express 2.0 on quite a few cards. Does this mean it'll be compatible with my PC?
    3.Is there anything else I need to know that I haven't asked due to inexperience?

  2. #2
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    Well to your first point Discrete Graphics cards use GDDRX where x is what ever version the card uses which is a totally different thing than DDR Ram for a system
    Secondly PCI Express X16 slots can be 1.0 - 3.0 The different versions denote the bus speed and generally are backward compatible but when it comes to hardware sometimes quirks of the individual manufactured component might render that a untrue statement.

    Since your posting on a linux forum research before you buy to make sure the card you choose has linux compatible drivers if you want to use the OEM drivers from nvidia or ati aksi further check to make sure your distro is compatible as well with those drivers.. (this is not required but and i can only speak for ATI but the ATI drivers are 2000 times better for 3D than the opensource drivers

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    I'm using Opensuse with nvidia drivers. At present I have on board nvdia geforce6150, which works well. for this reason I would like to use nvidia cards.

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    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    There are several factors to take in to consideration when upgrading an older out of the box system with aftermarket components, especially graphics cards:

    1) I couldn't find specs for your system at Gateway. But I did find them at CNet. Judging by the included software the manufacter date was sometime in 2007. Which means that you could have either PCIe 1.0, 1.1 or 2.0, depending on when in 2007 it was built. There should be documentation that came with your system that will tell you which one is on your motherboard (MoBo).

    2)Backwards compatibility: All new versions of PCIe cards (3.0, etc) will work with older slots on your MoBo (1.0, etc). But, you will be paying for a lot of performance that you can't take advantage of. It would be kind of like putting a Ferrari engine in a Pinto. Your engine totally rocks, but your tranny totally sucks. You're still not going to be doing the quater mile in 6 seconds flat. So what's the point? Find a card that matches the specs for the slot on your MoBo. Since it's older tech it will be a lot cheaper than newer stuff and your system will be able to use all of its capabilites. Why waste money on spiffy features that you can't use any way?

    3) Power supply: You've only got a 300W power supply. Have you added anything else to the system? How much power is your system currently consuming? Do you have enough "juice" left over to power an upgrade. If you have a stock system with no other upgrades then the answer to the last question is: Yes. But, and this is very important: If you get a new, big, powerful, spiffy 3.0 card then you may not have enough spare wattage on your system to run it. Which is another reason to go with an older card; one that matches the specs from the time your MoBo was made. But, even then you still need to make sure that you have enough juice to run it. If not then you'll have to upgrade your power supply. And a lot of times, on the proprietary systems (like Gateway), they use non-standard size cases that are built just to fit the main stuff (MoBo, PS, DVD, etc) that comes with them and there is no room for a bigger power supply.

    4) Then there are the software issues: Drivers, kerenel compatibility, etc.

    Hopefully this will help you track down the info you need to do your upgrade.

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    Thank you for your replies Alpha & Steve.
    So at worst I'll lose some capability but I'm not a gamer,no real loss there. As long as it does well for video I'm fine. Also I've done no upgrades(this'll be the 1st) the cards I'm looking at are 300W cards they are:

    A GT 520
    eVGA GeForce GT 520 Graphics card - 1 GB - DDR3 SDRAM

    A GT 430
    eVGA GeForce GT 430 Graphics card - 1 GB - DDR3 SDRAM

    GeForce 8400
    PNY GeForce 8 8400GS Graphics card - 1 GB - DDR3 SDRAM

    I'm not sure if you guys needed the links but just in case there in too.
    One more thing I have the stock 300W PSU.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Well, I'm using a 4 year old 8800GT nVidia board (512MB w/ dual HD displays) that works very well with the proprietary nVidia drivers. I don't recommend the default open source Nouveau drivers - still not quite "there" yet, but getting better all the time. I think that the GT520 is newer technology - the 8400GS is older, so go with the GT520. Even with 512MB, my 8800GT board (bleeding edge when I bought it 4 1/2 years ago) can run two full motion, full screen HD videos (1080p) simultaneously, so the 520 should not have any problems in a similar situation.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Of the three that you're looking at the PNY is the dog of the group. The other two cards are both good cards. Of those two it is just matter of driver / kernel / hardware compatibility and what you intend to use it for. Look around the web (do some Googles) and check out the *nix drivers / performance issues for both cards (if any). If one is way better then go with it. If it is same / same then it becomes a toss up. Both cards have a good set of features that make them both well suited for general use. But, the 520 is tuned with a little more emphasis on hi-def video and the 430 is a little more focused on gaming performance.

    Oh, BTW, since this is your first upgrade; make sure you order a static strap and read up on how to ground yourself so you don't burn out your system with a surge of static electricity.

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    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Almost forgot: A set of insulated and / or nonconductive micro / precision screw drivers is also real handy to have. You should be able to get the drivers and strap for well less than $20 US. And it is worth the investment, even if you never do another upgrade, to keep from ruining your system or doing something like chewing out the head of a screw or stripping it.

    Hint: (For those who are not real mechanically inclined) If you stick your screws to a piece of tape and label them then drop them in a baggie you won't lose them and you'll know where they all go back to.

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    For a combination of video & futureproofing I'll be getting a 520, using the proprietary drivers from the Nvidia site. I use them in my Opensuse PC.
    Also Steve, thank you for the advice on the strap & which card to not get, in the rush of it all I didn't think of a strap & the screwdrivers is something I never heard of before.
    I'll get those too.
    Once again thanks Steve!

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