Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

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Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby defaultusername » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:07 pm UTC

Original post:
Spoiler:
So I'm thinking about getting a new video card, but I have never before touched the insides of a computer. After reading a few threads here in Hardware, I have gathered that the two most important things to consider when changing VC is 1) Compability with the motherboard and 2) Power management (am right so far?).
I have a pre-built Dell rig, and after a bit of research I found the following specs:

Code: Select all

Expansion Bus

Bus type                                   PCI 32-bit (PCI Specification 2.2)
                                           PCI Express x1, x4, and x16 (PCI express 1.1a)

Bus speed                                  PCI: 33 MHz
                                           PCI Express:100 MHz

Bus throughput                             PCI Express:

                                                       x1 slot bidirectional speed - 500 MB/s

                                                       x4 slot bidirectional speed - 2 GB/s

                                                       x16 slot bidirectional speed - 8 GB/s

PCI
   connectors                              three
   connector size                          120 pins
   connector data width (maximum)          32 bits
       

PCI Express (x1)
   connector                               one x1
   connector size                          36 pins
   connector data width (maximum)          1 PCI Express lane
     

PCI Express (x4)
   connector                               one x4 (x8 connector wired as x4 electrically)
   connector size                          98 pins
   connector data width (maximum)          4 PCI Express lanes
     
   
PCI Express (x16)
   connector                               one x16
   connector size                          164 pins
   connector data width (maximum)          16 PCI Express lanes
     

Code: Select all

DC power supply:
   Wattage                                 375 W
   
   Heat dissipation                        1280 BTU/hr
                                           Note: Heat dissapation is calculated based upon the power supply wattage rating.

   Voltage (see the safety                 90 to 135 V and 180 to 265 V at 50/60 Hz
   instructions in the Product
   Information Guide for important
   voltage setting information)
   
Backup battery                             3-V CR2032 lithium coin cell

And I have no idea what most of this means. If I'm reading it correctly, I have three PCIe buses, with different speeds. I don't know what the speeds mean, but I suppose I want to plug a new VC into the x16? As for the PSU, I have no idea if 375 W is good or bad.
If someone would like to help me interpret all this and tell me if there is anything else I need to know, I would be very grateful.
Oh, and I currently have an nVidia GeForce 7900 GS.

This thread is hereby repurposed to Buying new PSU - Help Me Choose.
I've looked around a bit, and am now trying to decide between the following:
Spoiler:
PSUs.JPG

It's mostly in swedish, I've translated some of it, the rest should be either self-explanatory or uninteresting. "Ja" is Yes, "Nej" is No and "Ingen information" is N/A. If there's anything else, please don't hesitate to ask.
As of 2009-03-13, the exchange rate from swedish Kronor to U.S. Dollars is 100 Kr to 11.38 $.
Last edited by defaultusername on Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:57 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby Mzyxptlk » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Once you're inside the case the GFX slot should be pretty easy to find (it's usually coloured differently). Normally it's x16.

The PSU is pretty low on power, but since you have a Dell rig, I am hesistant to recommend you switch it for a better one (Dell has the nasty habit of not sticking with industry standards).
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby felixalias » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:32 pm UTC

With that sort of PSU, you won't really be able to run any higher-end video card (As in a GTX 260/9800GT) without trouble.

Also, although all newer cards say they require or support PCI-Express 2.0 x16, they will work fine in your PCIE x16 1.1 slot (just with limited bandwidth).

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby BumpInTheNight » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:47 pm UTC

What particular model of Dell is it? That'll let us determine if its possible to both replace the power supply if needed and whether or not any concern on the size of the video card physically needs to be a factor.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby Axman » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:39 pm UTC

I very recently tested a GTX 285 on my enthusiast workstation and I couldn't get it to break 330W from the wall. There are plenty of good reasons to opt for a new, aftermarket PSU but unless Dell rates their power supply max by listing the peak available power, which I'm pretty sure they don't, any mid-range gaming card will be fine.

9800 GTs and GTXs are priced right and perform admirably, but their video decode isn't 100%, although only when it comes to SD video. Otherwise, 4830s and 4850s are an equal bargain, and are slightly favored in the video playback area.

Even though Vista's driver management is much improved over XP, if your computer has an NVIDIA chipset I'd lean towards an NVIDIA GPU. If you want perfect video playback from NVIDIA, you'll have to get a 260-series part or better.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:19 am UTC

If by perfect video playback you mean awesome movie quality, then no, that's not super important to me. I'm using this computer almost exclusively for gaming, and I watch very little in the way of video, computer or otherwise.
The model is Dimension 9200, and I run XP.
If I'm following you so far, I should be fine running a high NVIDIA 9000-series GPU, yes? Is there anything besides MOBO compability and power management I should consider (cooling, CPU compability, RAM speed, ...)?
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby crzftx » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:06 am UTC

defaultusername wrote:If by perfect video playback you mean awesome movie quality, then no, that's not super important to me. I'm using this computer almost exclusively for gaming, and I watch very little in the way of video, computer or otherwise.
The model is Dimension 9200, and I run XP.
If I'm following you so far, I should be fine running a high NVIDIA 9000-series GPU, yes? Is there anything besides MOBO compability and power management I should consider (cooling, CPU compability, RAM speed, ...)?


I have a slightly different take on things like this than most people... Maybe you'll find it useful.

I used to run COD4 with a 9500GT at top settings, lowest resolution (30 fps). I now run it on a 9600GSO on top settings, top resolution (70 fps). I then overclocked my card and now obtain 80 fps (all numbers approximate and fluctuate a lot). It depends on what level gaming you do. From onboard graphics to a 9500GT (not considered a gaming card) is a MAJOR improvement. Unbelievably. From the 9500GT to the 9600GSO was also a MAJOR improvement. If you're running Crysis, look into a GTX or something. COD4, 9500 will suffice.

I think compatibility with the mobo is a silly "most important" requirement. Provided your PC is relatively new, any card should be fine. My card will run on AGP 2.0 and above, and PCIe 1.1 and above. Don't worry about that.

Power requirements can be a problem. I switched out my Dell PSU and it found new USB ports (although correlation doesn't imply causation). It had only a 300W PSU. You will probably be able to run a non-gaming card just fine. This means nVIDIA X500 (9500, 8500) and below, by nVIDIA's standards. The other, larger, "gaming" cards require a 6-pin power connector that your Dell PSU might not have (mine didn't). The size probably won't be an issue, since Dell offers the cards in their customized models with probably the same case.

defaultusername wrote:If I'm reading it correctly, I have three PCIe buses, with different speeds
You actually only have 1 PCIe port made for a GPU (x16). The x1 and x4 slots are far too small.
defaultusername wrote:As for the PSU, I have no idea if 375 W is good or bad.
That's not good, but it's adequate.
defaultusername wrote:Is there anything besides MOBO compability and power management I should consider (cooling, CPU compability, RAM speed, ...)?
Depending on your card, cooling will be a small problem. My 9600GSO (really the 8800) is made to go up to 70+. If I didn't have a very airy case, that might be a big problem. Your whole computer starts to get very hot. Fortunately, you can set the fan to come on earlier to prevent that.
I can't see any situation where the CPU isn't compatible with your GPU.
RAM speed, again, no issues.
A potential problem is with the slot directly below your x16 PCIe. If you have something important in there, you may not be able to fit your card in. Many cards only take up 1 slot, but it'd be nice to have the one below empty for ventilation.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:21 pm UTC

crzftx wrote:I used to run COD4 with a 9500GT at top settings, lowest resolution (30 fps). I now run it on a 9600GSO on top settings, top resolution (70 fps). I then overclocked my card and now obtain 80 fps (all numbers approximate and fluctuate a lot). It depends on what level gaming you do. From onboard graphics to a 9500GT (not considered a gaming card) is a MAJOR improvement. Unbelievably. From the 9500GT to the 9600GSO was also a MAJOR improvement. If you're running Crysis, look into a GTX or something. COD4, 9500 will suffice.

Ideally I would like to be able to run anything that's released this year and next, not necessarily on highest settings though, especially not next year.

crzftx wrote:Power requirements can be a problem. I switched out my Dell PSU and it found new USB ports (although correlation doesn't imply causation). It had only a 300W PSU. You will probably be able to run a non-gaming card just fine. This means nVIDIA X500 (9500, 8500) and below, by nVIDIA's standards. The other, larger, "gaming" cards require a 6-pin power connector that your Dell PSU might not have (mine didn't). The size probably won't be an issue, since Dell offers the cards in their customized models with probably the same case.

How would I check if I have a 6-pin connector?
Also, how large, on estimate, is the increase in power consumption from my 7900 to 8900 to 9800 to 290?

crzftx wrote:Depending on your card, cooling will be a small problem. My 9600GSO (really the 8800) is made to go up to 70+. If I didn't have a very airy case, that might be a big problem. Your whole computer starts to get very hot. Fortunately, you can set the fan to come on earlier to prevent that.
I can't see any situation where the CPU isn't compatible with your GPU.
RAM speed, again, no issues.
A potential problem is with the slot directly below your x16 PCIe. If you have something important in there, you may not be able to fit your card in. Many cards only take up 1 slot, but it'd be nice to have the one below empty for ventilation.

The slot directly below the x16 is the x4, which is empty. Below that is a standard PCI slot, which is also empty. Above the x16 slot is empty space for about 3 dm, so it's pretty airy.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby BumpInTheNight » Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:51 pm UTC

Want specific power requirements of a huge array of cards, check this out: http://en.hardspell.com/doc/showcont.as ... ageid=3605

53 cards, tried their best to separate the cards themselves from the rest of the machine in terms of usage vs situation.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:56 pm UTC

Interesting. According to this, I'm better of energy-wise with an nVIDIA GTX200-series, than a 9800. Thanks for the link!
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby BumpInTheNight » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:05 pm UTC

Oh right, wanted to mention that if you're curious about the 6 pin connectors and all that its easy to just pop open the case and just take a look at any extra dangling chains coming off the PSU. Worst case as well even if the system doesn't have the connector you need but you know the combined power won't exceed the supply, they typically include adapters that'll let you take say two IDE power connectors and combine them to a PCIE style connector. Its how I power one of my 8800GTXes.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby crzftx » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:39 am UTC

BumpInTheNight wrote:Oh right, wanted to mention that if you're curious about the 6 pin connectors and all that its easy to just pop open the case and just take a look at any extra dangling chains coming off the PSU. Worst case as well even if the system doesn't have the connector you need but you know the combined power won't exceed the supply, they typically include adapters that'll let you take say two IDE power connectors and combine them to a PCIE style connector. Its how I power one of my 8800GTXes.


While this is true, Dell PSU's tend to not offer a whole slew of extra connectors. The adapter is probably molex, and the PC probably only uses SATA, and the PSU probably has a couple extra molex cords laying around. So you would probably be fine.

Also, how large, on estimate, is the increase in power consumption from my 7900 to 8900 to 9800 to 290?

OOh, so you have a 7900 already? I'm assuming it's installed. Very good then, you needn't worry about space or connection requirements. There should be nothing new required on a 9X00 than the 7900.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:38 pm UTC

Yup, I've got a 6-pin connector. Sweet!
So I'm thinking I'm goint to upgrade to a GTX card. Anything less than that doesn't really seem meaningful. According to the survey that BumpInTheNight provided, those cards have power requirements ranging between 1.5 - 2 times that of my current card. What do you think guys, could my PSU pull it of?
Is there any way I could get a rough estimate of how much of those 375 W I'm currently using?
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby Amnesiasoft » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:30 pm UTC

Your power supply should have a big sticker on it detailing how many amps and such on each rail, which is how your power supply is rated. What does it say? On nVidia's website, the GTX 260 is listed as requiring a 500W PSU, and the maximum draw by the card itself as 182W. It also requires 2 6 pin connectors, not 1. If I had to guess, no, it won't work, but those power requirements are generally meant to be safe bets...

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:21 pm UTC

It says:

Code: Select all

Input:      100 - 120V ~ /9A            50 - 60Hz
            200 - 240V ~ /4.5A          50 - 60Hz

Output:     +5V --- /22A Max           -12V --- /1A Max
            +5V(FP) --- /2A Max        +3.3V --- /17A Max
            +12VA --- /18A Max         +12VB --- /18A Max

Combined power on +3.3V and +5V rails not exceed 150W
Combined power on +12VA and +12VB rails not exceed 360W
Max continuous total DC output shall not exceed 375W

The input part is pretty self-explanatory, but the rest doesn't mean squat to me. If you can make some sense out of it, that'd be great.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby BumpInTheNight » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:27 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:Yup, I've got a 6-pin connector. Sweet!
So I'm thinking I'm goint to upgrade to a GTX card. Anything less than that doesn't really seem meaningful. According to the survey that BumpInTheNight provided, those cards have power requirements ranging between 1.5 - 2 times that of my current card. What do you think guys, could my PSU pull it of?
Is there any way I could get a rough estimate of how much of those 375 W I'm currently using?


I'd still play it safe and just go grab a 500-600watt supply, despite stating they do X wattage the bottom line is they almost never really do achieve that specific max number so its a safer bet to exceed your requirement rather then push it right up to the edge of what the PSU is supposed to be capable of. I also agree that if you're already sporting one of the high end video cards it'd feel like 'stepping down' to go for anything short of a GTX series card again with the new guy.

Btw I did a quick googling over the 9200's power supply physical size and it appears to be standard, which is what I remember them being (used to be an XPS tech and they are the same as an XPS 410) so you should be able to replace it with any 3rd party PSU, that means huge savings on the cost as you don't have to go through Dell's rather high markup to get a different one.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby crzftx » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:10 am UTC

defaultusername wrote:It says:
...
The input part is pretty self-explanatory, but the rest doesn't mean squat to me. If you can make some sense out of it, that'd be great.

The 12V rail(s) are what your graphics card will be running off of.

"Combined power on +12VA and +12VB rails not exceed 360W" says you have 30 amps on your combined 12V rails. This would certainly be sufficient, except your motherboard also runs on the 12V rails. Again, 30A would cover your mobo and GPU, but read that last warning.
"Max continuous total DC output shall not exceed 375W". That means that you could pull 360W off your 12V rails iff you're pulling less than 15W off the rest of the lines.

For example, I own a 500W PSU. It only has 29A on the 12V rails. That is more than sufficient. The difference is my PSU has a max of 500W. If my peripherals and such take 100W (doubtful 20A on the 5V?) , I still have enough total power to supply 29A on the 12V (348W).
If your peripherals decided to use 100W, you'd be limited to only 23A on the 12V rails.

I think you might be OK, but I'd recommend not overloading you PSU.

EDIT: looks like the GPU core uses 3.3V, meaning even less draw. The 6-pin connector is 12V though.

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby Mzyxptlk » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:17 am UTC

BumpInTheNight wrote:Btw I did a quick googling over the 9200's power supply physical size and it appears to be standard, which is what I remember them being (used to be an XPS tech and they are the same as an XPS 410) so you should be able to replace it with any 3rd party PSU, that means huge savings on the cost as you don't have to go through Dell's rather high markup to get a different one.

I agree, better safe than sorry. It also means you can retain the PSU next time you're upgrading.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby defaultusername » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:04 pm UTC

A new PSU it is then. Any suggestions on how many W, brand, etc.?
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know?

Postby felixalias » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:50 pm UTC

Corsair makes some nice power supplies (as does PC Power & Cooling, and Silverstone). Maybe a
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817139004
(Corsair CMPSU-550VX 550W)

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby defaultusername » Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:58 am UTC

Bumped for repurposing.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby Axman » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:00 pm UTC

All of those power supplies are manufactured by Seasonic, if that helps you. I'd just get the cheapest (Neo HE).

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby defaultusername » Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:18 pm UTC

I'm mainly wondering about a few things here:

1. ATX 2.0 vs. 2.2. What does this mean, and what's the difference?
2. What is active PFC? Do I want/need it?
3. Do these all have sufficient connectors to power a new video card?
4. Size. Any chance I might end up with a PSU that doesn't fit in my tower?
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby crzftx » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:36 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:I'm mainly wondering about a few things here:

1. ATX 2.0 vs. 2.2. What does this mean, and what's the difference?
2. What is active PFC? Do I want/need it?
3. Do these all have sufficient connectors to power a new video card?
4. Size. Any chance I might end up with a PSU that doesn't fit in my tower?


I'm deciding between asshole (use Google) and helpful (long explanations requiring I use Google). I've got enough time to go somewhere in between.
1. http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/253459.aspx That's wrong...
http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/faqpsus.html
2. Image Active is better, but both will work just fine
3. All of these? All of what?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371007
03-16-2009 (3).jpg
03-16-2009 (3).jpg (84.29 KiB) Viewed 3475 times

Four is preferred because often there are 2 on each physical cord. To get one cord from the PSU to the optical to the HDD can be hard, if not impossible.
4. There's always a chance, but I say it won't happen

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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby defaultusername » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:58 am UTC

Thanks a lot crzftx, that's very helpful.
I did google (Wait, what? Chrome doesn't recognize "google" as a word?) it, so I know that ATX is a computer form factor, pfc means power factor correction, and so on. However, more sources are better than fewer so I ask here too, and I find that if you let on that you know a little about a subject, people generally assume you know more than you do, so I posed the questions in such a manner that I was certain I would understand the answers.
crzftx wrote:All of these? All of what?
All of the PSU:s.
Anyway, thanks again, all of you. I'll probably go with the Earthwatts, or the NEOHE if it has four SATA:s (I'll google that myself :D).
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby Emu* » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:06 pm UTC

I have had slightly smaller towers where the psu pushed up against the CD drive's power cable, but that was mostly due the the size of the drive and case rather than the PSU.
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Re: Buying new video card - What Do I Need To Know? (Repurposed)

Postby crzftx » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

defaultusername wrote:Thanks a lot crzftx, that's very helpful.
I did google (Wait, what? Chrome doesn't recognize "google" as a word?) it, so I know that ATX is a computer form factor, pfc means power factor correction, and so on. However, more sources are better than fewer so I ask here too, and I find that if you let on that you know a little about a subject, people generally assume you know more than you do, so I posed the questions in such a manner that I was certain I would understand the answers.
crzftx wrote:All of these? All of what?
All of the PSU:s.
Anyway, thanks again, all of you. I'll probably go with the Earthwatts, or the NEOHE if it has four SATA:s (I'll google that myself :D).


I thought maybe there was a list or something of power supplies you were considering.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=Property&N=2010320058&OEMMark=1%2C0&PropertyCodeValue=1313%3A16572%2C1313%3A9959%2C1313%3A13788%2C1313%3A10111%2C1314%3A28169%2C1314%3A31414%2C1314%3A14179%2C1314%3A28171%2C1314%3A14178%2C1314%3A28170%2C1315%3A9967%2C1315%3A9966%2C2954%3A18939%2C2954%3A18938%2C2301%3A31926%2C2301%3A31906%2C2301%3A31903%2C2301%3A31904%2C3881%3A37625%2C3881%3A37630%2C3881%3A37633%2C3881%3A37631%2C3881%3A37952%2C3881%3A37632%2C3881%3A27149%2C3881%3A37621%2C3881%3A37634%2C3881%3A37623%2C3881%3A37627%2C3881%3A37635%2C3881%3A27150%2C3881%3A37628%2C3881%3A37637%2C3881%3A32898%2C3881%3A37624%2C3881%3A37638%2C3881%3A37732%2C3881%3A37629%2C3881%3A37639&bop=And&Order=RATING
That should suffice.


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