Am I nuts? Probably.
Here’s the deal: I have a surprisingly powerful Gateway SX2800-01 that I really like, except that its small case size made upgrading the lame video card really difficult. I ended up finding a low-profile, low-power card that fit, and it worked great for 2 1/2 years. For the record, it was a Galaxy GEForce GTX 9600 LP/LP, and its fan stopped spinning last week, and Iz had a sad since then. And it’s been discontinued, and I can’t figure out which low power, low profile card it was replaced with (or compares to it in size and… powerlessness). Probably the GT6520, but it’s hard to say.
After some research and agita, I’ve decided that rather than try to find a replacement card that’s just going to burn out eventually due to space and venting issues in the case, I’m going to swap the whole, literally hot mess into a new case, get a bigger power supply, and get a decent graphics card.
So next weekend, I’m going to have my friend Bobbo come to our house, bringing his expertise. My partner Rock has swapped computers out before, we’re just having Bobbo over for geekly support, lunch, and snax.
Before you start picking parts, a builder should clearly understand the machine’s intended function. General purpose systems that deal with tasks like 2D games, Internet browsing, and document creation will obviously have modest hardware requirements. In contrast, high-end 3D gaming systems require better graphics, better cooling, and a larger power supply. Special applications, like 3D model creation and home theater PC use, should also be considered. These tasks require specialized hardware.
My intended function is two-fold: The first is pretty much normal desktop computer tasks like blogging, reading news, Facebooking, and working with RL photos in GIMP. The second is Second Life and Open Sim – building, texturing, terraforming, and photographing pretty views, and also product photos.
Now, I’m not planning on doing this crazy thing to my SX-box:
/me shakes head. “Dude, that is just wrong, but the radioactive hazard stickers are a nice touch. However, I wish I’d been brave enough break out the Dremel and the drill.”
You can see where he lifts out the card from the top – that hole is a solid plate with accessories tray on the top of mine. The 9600 used to fit snugly up against that because of how high the motherboard sat.
Anyway, we’d already debated whether it’s possible to cut ventilation holes in the top of the case… too much could go wrong, like bits of plastic or metal getting into to the works. And I’m sure not willing to hack the top off just to fit a full-height graphics card in there like that guy did. We’re going to fit the whole shebang into a case. I’ve already got the graphics card, and will either get a case and power supply at the local TigerDirect, or from Fry’s.
For the GPU, I’m really hoping that this will work. Because, um, I already buyeded it. It wasn’t available from the TigerDirect place nearer us, and we were at Fry’s today. I’d already narrowed my choices down to this model. It seems there’s a 2G model, but I’ve found a couple of places saying the extra gig of memory (VRAM?) wouldn’t make that much of a difference unless I had multiple instances of Second Life running, plus a heavy graphics editing program or 3D modeling session going.
I went with the EVGA 560ti because the price was about as high as I’d go, it gets good buzz on Second Life and SLuniverse fora, and I literally can’t wait for the prices to drop now that the 600-series nVidia cards are out – I bet they drop in a few weeks, but that’s too long. I’ve got stuff to make for Relay for Life events with the Steelhead Salmons.
Oog, my geek is peeking.
So yeah, since I’m upgrading my machine based on this card, I’ll be really crushed if we can’t get it to fit in the bigger case. I’m told that it depends on how high or low the motherboard sits, but it’s a micro-ATX motherboard, and I’ll be getting a mid-tower with plenty of space. I’m not too worried, but of course we won’t know for certain, until we install the motherboard in the case, whether the card I picked will fit right. It’s still in the original box, and we will measure everything carefully before opening it up.
My motherboard doesn’t support dual cards, and I’m hoping to avoid flashy-blingy LED lights, yet still have extra fans. I have a couple of cases in mind; either an Antec 300 (kind of a classic for this kind of SX2800 case-swap) or a Cooler Master Elite OR quite possibly a roomy Corsair with… lights. I may change my mind and get something with more fans that’s QUIET. Tiger Direct had some breathless fanboy product videos for some of the nicer ATX cases I was considering, one of which is touted as “Silent” in its description. The video that made me laugh is the one for the “Scout” case that had red LED fan lights, but it also had nice options.
Sorry about the boring tech detail, this is really so that I’ll have a record of my thought process before Everything Goes Horribly Pear-shaped.
Time to put my overclocked brain to bed. Meanwhile, because of all the incessant searching for GPUs, cases, and power supplies, my Google Reader is chock full of case ads, and the blogs I read with Amazon embeds are full of graphics cards.