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Topic # 56758 22-Jan-2010 21:13
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Hi Geekzone! Laughing

I recently bought a 24" ViewSonic LCD monitor. I plugged it in, started my PC up, and when I got to the log-in screen I straight away knew something was wrong. Everything was pixelated, blurry, shabby and darn right hideous. The resolution was appalling. So, I right-clicked on the desktop and went to go change the resolution to 1920x1080 (the resolution which the monitor is intended to be viewed at and the very reason I bought it in the first place), when to my suprise I discovered the resolution slider bar stopped at 1400x1050! There were no other options! My computer was trying to tell me that was the max resolution! I couldn't believe it.

That's the story. Now my current situation.

There's no way I'm settling for this absolutely unbearable resolution that hurts my eyes because it's so pixelated and blurry. I'm getting that 1920x1080 resolution no matter WHAT.

The only way to achieve this (aside from using PowerStrip or DTD Calculator), is to buy a graphics card that supports that resolution.

My question to you is which graphics card will be compatible with my system, CPU, and motherboard.

I have no budget. I will pay whatever it takes to get this resolution.

Here are my specs:

System Specs:

Dell Inc. OptiPlex GX280
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3
3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4
2552 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
500.10 GB HDD

Current Video Card:

Name: Intel(R) 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset Family
Manufacturer: Intel Corporation
DAC Type: Internal
Approx. Total Memory: 128.00 MB
Current Display Mode: 1400 x 1050 (32 bit) (60GHz)

Please post links to any TradeMe auctions that are for graphics cards which are comaptible with my Dell Optiplex GX280 Mini-Tower PC while at the same time offer the 1920x1080 resolution. I need ones that are 512MB+ and VGA. I have heard "AGP" cards are good but I have no idea what this means.

Please help me on my quest to find a compatible graphics card which will be guaranteed to offer the desired resolution.

Thankyou so much in advance and sorry for the long post. I'm stuck and I need your help.

Regards,

~ TomHax Wink

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xpd

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  Reply # 292324 22-Jan-2010 21:21
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First thing you need to find is if your motherboard has an AGP slot - if it does, then you'll need an AGP card like a ATI 9600 Pro whch should support the higher resolution youre after and they should be cheap as theyre getting on a bit.
If you dont have an AGP slot, then youll be restricted to a PCI card which really limits your choices as PCI cards are going way of the dinosaurs......

Other option is to get better motherboard, but in saying that youd have to make sure it fits that case...but itll most likely be 2nd hand so no guarantee how long itll last.





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xpd

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  Reply # 292326 22-Jan-2010 21:25
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Looks like some models came with PCI express which is a lot easier to get a card for...... pop the side off your case and have a look is probably easiest to check :)
Look up AGP and PCI Express on Wikipedia, they should have images of what the slots look like to see which you have.




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  Reply # 292336 22-Jan-2010 22:08
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Thanks for the reply!

I am almost 85% sure my mobo has an AGP slot. I'll let you decide though. Here are some photos I just took to help you out:

https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/blog0641d712a6c7018ad8dcfb7688528bbd.jpg

https://cdn.geekzone.co.nz/imagessubs/blog21e01a4d6aed26aa0e5237d471814302.jpg

Please keep the help coming!





xpd

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  Reply # 292406 23-Jan-2010 08:18
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99.9% sure thats a PCI Express slot, so you have a lot more options open to you :)
http://www.karbosguide.com/books/pcarchitecture/chapter37.htm gives you an idea between agp and PCI express...

If youre on a budget, then you can pick up somhting like a Nvidia 8400GS for around $60 I think... else an ATI 4650 for $100 (if a gamer, then the 4650 is better than the 8400GS).





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  Reply # 292437 23-Jan-2010 10:30
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It depends which case you have, you might have to get a low profile card which restricts your choices a bit. There are 3 case sizes I know of. The smallest one needs a riser card for any expansion cards (and they end up horizontal) - you do not have this one. One size up is a low profile case maybe about 8cm thick which must have a low profile card. Then you get larger cases which takes full size cards.

On-board video is no good for high resolution or quality. Also running a high resolution screen over analogue VGA is a bad idea. You must use DVI to get a decent picture (all cards nowadays should have DVI).




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  Reply # 292444 23-Jan-2010 11:33
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Hi there,

I would not recommend using software based solutions if you can change your video card. You may find that the software does what you need/want it to, but there are two factors that will be limiting the resolution that your built in card will drive the monitor - Memory allocated and Memory speed. Higher resolutions and higher pixel depth (colours on the screen) require more memory and it will need to shift that memory a lot quicker.

Dell used to have an area on their site that you could put your serial number into and get the details of your machine - that could aid you a lot quicker in determining what is in your machine. Seeing as you mention that the machine is a mini-tower, I think that a normal card will fit in there fine.

Having said that, you definitely look like you have a PCIe card - Personally I would be inclined to get an Nvidia card (Personal preference). As you're not 100% sure about what you want, I would also try to find a computer shop physically close by to you that can give you a bit of a hand in determining what you need in your machine.

You don't mention what you want to do with your machine (aside from run in the native resolution of the LCD) - you certainly won't need the top of the range graphics cards, but remember that even if you are "just web surfing", a faster graphics card can mean less work for the main CPU to do - it can help!

Lastly - do take on board Niel's comment about using a DVI cable - if you are still using a VGA cable, that will not be helping - DVI will also help the OS determine the correct resolution from the monitor. (Note that this is possible via VGA cables, but I've noticed more success through DVI).


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  Reply # 292457 23-Jan-2010 12:56
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A friend of mine picked up a cheap Optiplex GX280 a couple of months ago to act as a HTPC, it was a low profile case and had a PCIe slot so we ended up putting in one of these: Sapphire Radeon 4550 - the nice thing about it is it's fanless and comes with both normal and half height brackets, so it fits in both size cases. You could also go for a slightly lower spec'd 4350 for about $70 (if you're not playing games it shouldn't affect you) or if you want a nVidia card the low profile ones go for about $100 (I personally have no preference, we have 6 computers in our house with an even mix of ATI and nVidia and don't notice much difference).

If you send me a message with your service tag number I can check the technical specs of your computer and confirm it has a PCIe slot, or if you'd prefer to check it yourself go to Dell's support site enter your service tag number then select "Original System Configuration". No personal information is available when entering it, just when the item was shipped and what region it was manufactured in.

Edit: I forgot to say that if you have a decent budget then don't waste your time buying from TradeMe, buy from somewhere reputable like Computer Lounge, Ascent or PlayTech.

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  Reply # 292513 23-Jan-2010 17:25
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I should have mentioned I've also got an Optiplex GX280 which takes a low profile card and yes it is PCIe. Very nice machine.

When you fit a video card you should go into the BIOS and disable the on-board video.




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  Reply # 292522 23-Jan-2010 17:40
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Thanks so much for all these wonderfully helpful replies! I'm learning heaps and I'm bound to buy the appropriate card with all of your assistance.

So it's a PCIe slot! There we go folks. Now we can move on to step 2.

@Niel -

Will that mean I will be requiring a VGA to DVI adapter of some sort? How will I go about using DVI if I do not have the slot at the back of my sytem unit? (Btw, my monitor came with a DVI cable). Please tell me how I will achieve what you have talked about.
EDIT: I've wanted to know, when I do buy this card, will I be plugging the screen directly into the card itself? In that case I see what you're saying. My PC doesn't need a DVI slot, only the card does, right?

@wazzageek -

Great to know I have a PCIe slot and not an AGP. It's great news because as you say, it means I have more options.
Also please feel free to state any of your favourite Nvidia cards that will be compatible with my PC. I have read many good things about them and would love some recommendations.
And yes, I won't need a top-of-the-line card by any means, because my sole goal is to achieve that 1920x1080 resolution. If it will help me in other areas of computing also, then all the more reason to get buying one! Also, please elaborate on the DVI situation. I am more than happy to begin using this over VGA.. but how? I've only ever been a VGA guy. Never messed with DVI. All I know is that it is digital as opposed to analog and somehow that means it is more advanced. If I don't have a DVI slot at the back of my system unit though (note the monitor has one), how do I go about applying this?

@meesham -

Keep posting links to those cards. It's a real help. I'm looking at the Sapphire Radeon HD 4550 right now and I'm impressed. I'll be honest and say I've never even heard of Computer Lounge, Ascent or PlayTech. Are they any good? Are all of them based in NZ? Have you used them yourself? How long does shipping take? What are the payment methods? Are they honest and reliable? Please tell me more.

Once again thanks for all the input on this matter. Truly appreciate it. I WILL buy a compatible graphics card and it WILL get me that 1920x1080 resolution!

Keep the support comin' Smile

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  Reply # 292528 23-Jan-2010 17:51
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Computer Lounge - been using them 6 months, 3 orders totalling about $1500, never had a problem


Ascent - using them 1 year, 17 orders totalling $5000, had one problem which they fixed within 24 hours (they send me a UK power cord, overnighted one to me)


Playtech - 3 orders, never had a problem


CL and Ascent have "free" shipping and no credit card surcharge, Playtech charge you for shipping.


Shipping times for them depends on where you are, Playtech and Computer Lounge are in Auckland, Ascent in Wellington, I'm in Christchurch and stuff arrives within 1-3 days. I have no problems recommending all 3, very professional (unlike a lot of Trademe retailers, especially if something goes wrong)
This thread over at GPForums might be useful to you, it's peoples' experiences with NZ online computer retailers.

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  Reply # 292534 23-Jan-2010 18:10
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I've used Computer Lounge and Play Tech. CL has good prices and I'm told are real experts and have heard of only good customer care. PT I've used a few times and they have good quality products. I'd recommend CL as tops. I buy from PB Technologies only if I know what I want and they have a good price and it is a known brand that is unlikely to require customer service. PB's customer service is probably as poor as The PC Company was.

CL is in Auckland City but with free shipping (I'm told it is shipped from their suppliers to you, thus free shipping). PT is on Auckland's North Shore.

No, don't use a plug converter. DVI plugs have both digital and analogue signals. Using a plug converter means you will still just get the analogue signal to the monitor. You need a card with a DVI plug on it, but it is highly unlikely you'll find any new cards without DVI. Nowadays every card has DVI and it is VGA that is optional.

Reason for disabling on-board video is that it uses some system memory if it is enabled (some don't, most do, can't remember if the GX280 does but disable it anyway if you don't use it).




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  Reply # 292551 23-Jan-2010 19:32
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@meesham -

Awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I can trust all 3. I'm really leaning towards the "Sapphire Radeon 4550" over at Ascent. It sounds great and will offer me that resolution. Here's that link again for everyone:

http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=381665

What do you guys think? It'll be compatible with my GX280 right? I can't see any major faults. Looks good to me.

@Niel -

How would I go about disabling on-board video? And when would I do this again?

EDIT:

My screen has just started to have random flickers. They are very subtle but didn't go unnoticed by me. Is this to do with power? Should I be concerned? Just putting it out there.

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  Reply # 292555 23-Jan-2010 19:49
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TomHax: 

@wazzageek -

Great to know I have a PCIe slot and not an AGP. It's great news because as you say, it means I have more options.
Also please feel free to state any of your favourite Nvidia cards that will be compatible with my PC. I have read many good things about them and would love some recommendations.
And yes, I won't need a top-of-the-line card by any means, because my sole goal is to achieve that 1920x1080 resolution. If it will help me in other areas of computing also, then all the more reason to get buying one! Also, please elaborate on the DVI situation. I am more than happy to begin using this over VGA.. but how? I've only ever been a VGA guy. Never messed with DVI. All I know is that it is digital as opposed to analog and somehow that means it is more advanced. If I don't have a DVI slot at the back of my system unit though (note the monitor has one), how do I go about applying this?



I don't really have a particular favorite card, just that I've had less issues running NVidia cards in the past.  I suspect from comments from the gamers here that it may no longer be the issue it used to.  (Note I tend not to run windows as well, so the issues have tended to be support issues as wel).


DVI refers to the physical connectors and cable between the video card and screen - refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interface 


Another reason for using DVI is that it carries digital signals from the computer to the screen, think that both the computer and the screen will operate off digital signals, by using a cable that transmits the signal in it's original digital format, avoiding an Analog to Digital converter in the screen and a Digital to Analog converter being used on the video card.


In short - it's the cable that you use, so nothing too tricker there.


Cheers!



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  Reply # 292568 23-Jan-2010 20:12
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I see.

What's your opinion on the "Sapphire Radeon 4550" ? I think it's the one for me. I'll purchase it within the next few days probably.

http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=381665

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  Reply # 292570 23-Jan-2010 20:18
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They're great cards, I have one in my HTPC that just does video play back (no gaming) and it works fine. The other option if you want to save a few dollars is this card, it's little brother the 4350: http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=378820 As the others have said get yourself a DVI cable. By using a VGA cable you're going from digital to analogue then back to digital, you're going to get some signal degradation.

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