I read the article regarding low watt/low profile video
cards. It appears from the article that the stated “required power” on most
cards is grossly overstated. I have had several discussions with computer literate
individuals the last few days and have been told various reasons for not using a
card exceeding the PSU wattage. It was also suggested that I might try an
external card but it appears that they are primarily used for multi-monitors. I
am a computer neophyte and have read and heard more techno speak in the last
few days than my brain can handle. I’m now more confused than when I began. Let
me tell you my situation and perhaps you can offer a reasonable solution.
My computer is a:
Dell 545S (slimline) desktop computer running Windows 7 Home
Pentium ® Dual-Core CPU E 5300 @2.6 GHz
4.0 GB Ram
64-bit Operating System
I would like to install a design (CAD) program offering 3-D
which requires a “minimum” of 256MB dedicated video memory supporting Open GL
2.1 or higher.
What card(s) are available that would work well with my
system and offer at least, if not more, than the program requirements. Please
keep in mind that I would prefer something that is as close to plug and play as
Thanks for any help offered.
With a 250W PSU, I would go with this. 19W TDP (1.6A on the +12V rail). OpenGL 3.2 Swap the included brackets.
Well for CAD I would look to Nvidia personally due to industry usage and driver support, this card has lower power needs than the Sapphire as well. But it does cost more money.
The Dell web site suggests adding no more than a ATI4350 which also has a suggested PSU of 300 Watts like this Sparkle I linked to. Even the 512 Meg version of the Sapphire suggests a min of 400 Watts.
Another, safer, option is to contact Dell and buy the 4350 that they sell for it so you know it will work and Dell will support it. They will charge a bit more than the Egg for the card however. ^_-
Which design CAD program are you running? Most likely, it's going to be starving for vertex / geometry performance as opposed to shader performance.. Gaming cards are shader heavy while the graphics cards for business (Quadro, FireGL, etc.) are geometry heavy..
When you take a gaming graphics card and shove a few million triangles, it practically falls over, and slows way down.. Games just do not put out that kind of geometry and the game engines are optimized to replace distance objects with lower quality "approximate" meshes, but CAD programs can in some situations require high geometry ALL the time to get accurate representations of what you're working with.
So depending on what kind of CAD you're doing, you might think about stepping it up to a Quadro/FireGL card. Especially since those cards dominate in vertex/triangle OpenGL performance over gaming cards which are mostly DirectX pixel shader (special effects) focused these days..
The program I am interested in is Chief Architect Home Designer Suite10. I have had the GIGABYTE GV-N430OC-1GL GeForce GT 430 and MSI N430GT-MD1GD3 OC/TF GeForce GT 430 cards recommended as good choices for my situation. Your thoughts?