First, I'm a software guy, not a hardware guy. I'm not afraid of hardware, but I don't stay current on the technology. You can probably assume that I know the basics (I know the difference between amps, watts, and volts), but not a lot more.
My teenage son has a Dell Vostro 220s (slimline) desktop. It's a couple of years old now. It came with a 250W power supply, and an Intel G45/G43 Express chipset on the motherboard for graphics.
Now, he's all over powerful video games, and wants a more powerful video card. The game he has in mind requires, at a minimum, an nVidia Geforce 7800 or an ATI Radeon 1800. His display is a Dell 1920x1080 LCD (average quality).
The problem is that, as best I can tell, these cards require at least 350W from the power supply. Most cards video adapters require 400W or 450W. The most powerful power supply I found online (sticking to ones that said they would fit in the chassis) were 300W.
Within 6 months, I will probably get a whole new computer for him. He can't wait.
What's a moderately inexpensive and competent way to upgrade his video adapter? Is there a video adapter that will run with 300W, but has basically the same characteristics as the nVidia or ATI adapters? If he doesn't have lots of slots filled, can we get away with a smaller power supply?
I'm going to encourage him to wait; I'm not looking for parenting advice. But I'd still like to know if there is a way to do this.