Acer Aspire T180 Graphics Upgrade

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards & Displays' started by Durks, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Hey people, looking for a little infomation regarding graphics cards as im looking to upgrade but im unsure of compatibilites.

    Iv never built a computer before but would like to some time in the future once i fully understand the ins and outs of things that should be done and things that shouldnt be done.

    I have an old computer here. Its an Acer Aspire T180. I use it mainly for converting videos and storing camcorder recordings (home footage). Its quick enough for every day use (browsing, movies, music etc) but no good when it comes to a game i have recently borrowed which i thought it should be able to handle but it does not like it.

    Game Requirements:
    X3: Terran Conflict System Requirements and X3: Terran Conflict requirements for PC Games

    The specs of the Acer Aspire T180 (Running XP pro x32, AMD64x2, 2GB ram, soon to be 3GB) are Here: Acer Support: Aspire T180 Specifications

    Iv done a bit of research and in my understanding if you want a better graphics card then 9/10 you would require a PSU upgrade as some Graphics cards require a higher voltage. Also when upgrading i must take into account if the Graphics card is compatible with my motherboard. Correct me if im wrong but i believe that this computer accepts PCI-Express x16 slot type cards only.....

    1 - Does that mean i can use any PCI-Express x16 Graphics card?
    2 - Iv seen various models of Graphics cards that have 256mb, 512mb and 1GB. Can i use all of these? If not how do i find out up to which version my computer will support?
    3 - Is there a Graphics card out there i can use without changing the PSU (its only 250w) so i can just run this game without it stuttering?
    4 - How high can i go with a PSU (watt) on my computer? What are the pro's and con's?
    5 - Where is the best place to order computer components from?

    Any info is would be much appreciated

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  2. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Hi Durks,

    1. You can use any PCI Express x16 or x8 graphics card.

    2. That's the size of the onboard graphics memory. The game X3 : Terran Conflict is a rather old game so you don't really need a lot of graphics memory to run it. 512 MB of graphics memory should do the job.

    3. If you go to Tech ARP - Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide Rev. 28.0, look for graphics cards that consume less than 100 watts of power. However, some of them will require a 6-pin PCI-e power connector. Your PSU must have such a cable or you will need to upgrade it.

    4. If you looking to upgrade your PSU, a 300-350W PSU would be more than enough, as long as they come with the PCI Express power cables.

    5. I would reckon You can try this link for PSUs on Amazon - power
  3. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Thanks for the help mate :)

    I had a look at the link you left with the comparison tables. Struggling to understand exactly what im looking at. FAB process, Transistor count, Die size etc, etc.... I have no idea what all that means, If you could help me out here id be gratefull, Researching what i can as i get the spare time....
    You said to look for graphics cards that consume less than 100 watts of power so I took a guess and figured that the max TDP is what i need to be looking at. Did a little resarch on TDP. I looked at one on the table at random that stated - Radeon HD7790 - Max TDP: 85W. Did a specifications search but here Radeon HD 7790 | It says :
    Min Required PSU: 450W
    Power Draw: 85W
    Which would be roughly 125W taking into account that TDP is usually 20% - 30% lower than the maximum power dissipation according to one source i was looking at....
    1 - The table says "Max TDP" 85W. Is the table correct or have i gone wrong somewhere?

    2 - You also said "512 MB of graphics memory should do the job." If i use a graphics card with 512 MB, Would that lower the amount of Ram i can put in if say the motherboard supports 4GB, Would that mean i could only use 3.5GB?

    3 - With the graphics card on the table it shows memory type. Does the memory type matter? My motherboard supports DDR2 so would that mean i have to pick a Graphics card that is DDR2?

    4 - A graphics card with 1 x 6-pin.... Does that mean these Grapics cards require direct power suppy from the PSU?

    5 - I read somewhere that Nvidia video cards would work better/faster with Intel CPUs, as well as AMD video cards would work better/faster with AMD CPUs. Can you verify if this is true? (some forums talk utter rubbish but iv never had a problem when getting info from techarp)

    6 - Can i use any make of graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce, SAPHIRE AMD Radeon, XGI, S3, SiS etc) provided my computer meets the requirements (???W PSU, PCI Express x16 or x8 graphics card, etc)?
    If so which would you go for?
    What are the pros and cons for each?

    Upgrading a computer isnt as easy as people seem to make out is it..... there is a lot to understand or maybe its just me being a little OTT.... or maybe a lot of people dont actually know what they are doing, they just buy, plug and play then hope for the best. Saying that none of the people that i know of can explain any of the questions i have asked, nor are they interested in any form of restoration. They just buy the newest thing out and boast about thier extremley powerfull computer that was built/upgraded by a computer shop. I prefer to fully understand what im using and how it works so i apologise if reading my questions feel like you are being bombarded with the word "why" every few seconds by a 5 year old child so again, Thankyou in advance for any info you can give me :)
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
  4. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    The Max TDP specification we listed is the maximum amount of heat the card is expected to produce at full load it follows the reference design. This is often taken as the maximum power consumed by the card.

    Sometimes in other websites, an average TDP is listed, but that's not useful for your purposes because you want to be sure there's enough "juice" to power the card.

    There's no need to worry about "maximum power dissipation" because GPU and CPU designs now limit their performance to the TDP (as well as temperature) so they will never go over the TDP.

    1. It's as accurate as we can ascertain. AMD doesn't particularly like to reveal specifications like TDP.

    2. No, graphics memory is dedicated memory that is built into the graphics card itself. It's not shared with the CPU, and it won't eat into the system memory either. There are two exceptions :
    - if there's not enough graphics memory, then the graphics card can "borrow" some memory from the system.
    - if you run a 32-bit operating system, then the graphics memory will "eat" into the amount of system memory available to the operating system, because the most it can address is 4 GB, and that includes the graphics memory.

    3. It only matters when it comes to performance. From faster to slowest - GDDR5 > GDDR3 > DDR3 > DDR2 > DDR > SDRAM. For a direct comparison of memory performance, look at Memory Bandwidth.

    4. Yes, such graphics card will require a special 6-pin PCI Express cable. Most new PSUs will come with two PCI Express power cables that can fit either 6-pin or 8-pin connectors.

    5. Nope. There is no such correlation.

    6. Well, the only realistic options are either an NVIDIA or an AMD graphics card. The rest are old or defunct companies that no longer produce competitive graphics cards, or are only available together with their motherboards or CPUs (e.g. Intel).
  5. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    The Max TDP is pretty meaningless. It's probably the maximum rating of the chip series. That's why the lower end processors have the same rating as the higher end.

    It is technically impossible for a chip that runs at lower clockspeed consuming the same amount of power as the higher clockspeed versions.
  6. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    He's asking for the graphics card. The Max TDP is what's listed for the card. The reference design, that is.

    Yeah, slower chips will always consume less power than faster chips.
  7. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Thanx for all your help with this Adrian, your a star :thumb:

    Iv opened up my computer to check if it has the 6 pin connector but it doesnt. Didnt think it would with it being such a low powered PSU. At least i now know what i should look for if i go for a higher powered one.

    Iv done a little research again and checked around to see what GPUs most people seem to go for with having only a 250W PSU and they all steer towards a HD 5450. Specs are here: ATi Radeon HD 5450 Video Card - Reviews, Specifications, and Pictures -
    And its only £25 brand new: Buy SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon 5450 PCI-E Graphics Card - 1 GB | Free Delivery | Currys
    Its the 1GB version, Its cheap, No 6 pin connector and very low at 20W Max power draw.

    1 - Thoughts on this? Would you go for this one? Does it meet the requirements of the game: X3: Terran Conflict System Requirements and X3: Terran Conflict requirements for PC Games?

    2 - If not, Which would you recommend?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  8. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    It's more than good enough for the game, Durks. :thumb:
  9. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Im confused.... just recieved the graphics card and it states "400 watt or greater power supply" on the box...... Help
  10. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    It shouldn't require such a large PSU. Give it a spin.
  11. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    If i do that and it doesnt work then i wont be able to get a refund. It says on the invoice that i can inspect the item but if i decide to return the item it must be placed back in the original packaging and must not be installed.

    What is the worse that could happen if i install it?

    And also, Had a look around the net to find out how much my current GPU is using (GeForce 7300 SE 128 Bit) to compare it but doesnt show it anywhere so what i was thinking is maybe i could use one of those desktop monitors that shows everything that is going on within your computer e.g. CPU Temp, GPU Temp, HDD Temp, CPU & GPU Watt usage etc but for the life of me can not remember the name of the one i used to use. Can you recommend one that is accurate? If you can i could run the game and watch the monitor as it shows the Watt usage on full load to compare it to the Radeon HD 5450 (everywhere on the net it says max watt usage is 20watt).
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  12. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

  13. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Iv gone ahead and installed the graphics card. Seems to work fine. Runs the game nice and smooth. I have 1 small issue though, Never come accross anything like it before.....
    When i first installed it and switched the computer on i was hearing a slight clicking sound every 2 seconds with a blank screen (no bios). Couldnt figure out where it was coming from so i switched the computer off and reseated the graphics card. Switched it on a second time and still the same but this time i left it to see if i got any warning beeps but nothing. Blank screen with no bios.
    What i did get after 30 seconds of clicking and a blank screen was everything starting up as normal just as it was before. first came bios, 15 seconds later the computer is fully loaded. So install Drivers and all is good..... once it starts....

    1 - Any idea how to remove the 20-30 seconds of clicking (or maybe its more like a tick, doesnt sound bad just worries me cause i havnt a clue what it is) before the bios screen?
    Any idea what its all about?
    It happens every time i restart or turn the computer on....

    2 - If you dont know what it is could it be a bios issue?

    My current Bios: R01-B4
    Release Date: April 27th 2007

    Latest Bios: R01-C0
    Release Date: September 12th 2008
    Acer | Download

    edit: this time when i restarted it took longer. Timed it. 41 seconds....

    2nd edit:

    3 - removed the new GPU and put the old one in. No clicking, Instant boot.... Faulty??

    4 - In the bios i have the option to "Reset Configuration Data"

    From what i have read:
    "In addition to restoring the system defaults (via Load or Reset defaults/removing CMOS battery) if you've recently added new hardware or resetting the default values did not help resolve your boot issues you may also want to reset the configuration data. "

    Would doing any of the above make a difference? I'll wait for your reply before trying this....
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  14. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    I would definitely update the BIOS first. Doing so will automatically reset the configuration data.

    Where does the clicking sound come from? The monitor? The PSU?
  15. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    It sounds like its coming from the graphics card. Iv had the case off and kept me ear by each component.

    Going to look into upgrading the bios shortly....

    Edit: Downloaded the BIOS update which has WinFlash.exe located inside. The last flash i did was for a laptop which i had to burn to a disc. Should i be aware of anything before i go ahead and double click?
    (Bit nervous.... Iv heard of people frying computers updating the bios)
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  16. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    No, newer firmware updates run off the application itself. If it needs you to boot off a CD, it will inform you to do so.

    If it's from the card, it could be the fan. See if it's coming from the fan? Is it spinning right?
  17. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    Thats the thing that got me, Where is the sound coming from exactly..... there is no fan on the graphics card. It is being caused by the Graphics card i know that much. The only time the computer ticks/clicks is when its connected. Iv gone ahead and reseated the processor, Ram, HDD, Cables..... No different.
    Iv also updated the bios. Still the same....

    It runs fine its just the clicking before the bios screen comes up. What the hell is it :wall:

    Edit: Not a single result from hours of searching the net. Im going to take it back and get a replacement. Meanwhile, If you can think of anything that may be causing this, I would really appreciate it. Im stumped....
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  18. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Is there still a long delay before it boots up?

    That's really odd. There is really nothing on the card (which only has solid state components) to cause the ticking sound.
  19. Durks

    Durks Newbie

    The boot delay varied each time i turned the computer on or restarted. Anywhere between 10 seconds to 45 seconds (i timed it a few times). I really couldnt understand it. The ticking sound was almost like a clock which ticked every 2 seconds.
    My guess is its faulty. Will be ordering a new one today at some point (had none left in store for a replacement).
  20. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    I have to be frank. That is a VERY WEIRD card. I have never heard of a fanless graphics card that causes such sounds.

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