I just bought The Orange Box for PC, and I was quite disappointed to discover that my video card can't handle it. The computer is about 3 years old. I need a video card that can support at least DirectX 8. My computer fits the other minimum requirements (processor speed and memory), though it doesn't have enough memory for other new games, like BioShock.
1. Is it worthwhile upgrading just the video card (and possibly the memory at some point, and maybe the hard drive after that), or would it be easier to just get an entirely new computer?
2. If I do install a new video card, what do I have to watch out for? I've seen people say to make sure that my power supply is sufficient for a new video card. Is there anything else to consider?
3. How hard is it to install a new video card?
The computer is a Dell Dimension 4600, if that helps any.
Well the cards you want these days are PCI-E, and E is the important thing. You have to make sure your motherboard has a PCI-E slot on it first. Then you can get a cheap one that will work out fine to run games, just not at full resolution. Something like an Nvidia 7600 should be fine and cheap and probably won't need it's own power source, though I can't promise that, but I'm pretty sure. Anything more than that like a 7900 or 8800 and yes you must have a power supply that has a specific type of connection just for the card, which you likely don't.
I'd say yes it's cheap enough to warrent just getting a new card if you have a PCI-E slot. It can be a decent improvement. If your motherboard doesn't have that type, but instead has the older AGP or really old PCI...yeah I would scrap the whole thing and start again.
And installing something like a 7600 is very easy. Very.
Maybe it's for the best though. For some time I've been looking for a computer to turn into a homebrew DVR, and hopefully this computer has the specs to do something like that.
Yeah AGP is ok, but it's not being used really on most motherboards made the past year. It's all switched to PCI-E at this point. So while you could get a decent AGP card it wouldn't extend the life of the PC itself very long and wouldn't be as good as a similar priced PCI-E.
Go here: http://www.gotapex.com and look at the deals on the Dell systems. Then, look at the price for upgrading your current machine. The odds are it is cheaper to buy a new system and set the old one aside than it is to upgrade. This is especially true if you want to upgrade your OS, as the OS license will be 1/4 of the price of a new system by itself.
It's not the greatest card, but that is a DX 9.0c card for $125 that should be fine for the Orange Box. HL2 is a few years old as it is.
That was the second product I hit on Google's product search for AGP. Just do some research for the performance point you want and then look for an AGP version.
I would guess you can get a decent card for under $70
I just meant that yeah you can get AGP cards, but I personally didn't see much point in it since the format has pretty much been phased out of current boards. To me it would be like buying a VCR. Sure it'll get the job done, but why waste money on the old stuff when it's just not as good and the new stuff is just as cheap?