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I have an Inspiron 530 with a stock PSU. I need to upgrade it to meet my video card's needs (AMD HD6770), which demands at least 450W, to potentially fix BSODs with the latest version of the drivers (so claims AMD support).

Now, I've heard conflicting reports about whether Dell uses special/proprietary PSUs. (Examples for aye and nay to special PSUs.)

How exactly can I determine if a PSU is compatible with my PC, before buying it? I assume I will not be able to return it if it doesn't fit, or makes my computer explode in a fireball of doom.

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Dell only used proprietary psu's for a few short years long ago and the 530 is not in that group (too new). Below are the connectors used by the 530, it uses the standard 20+4 ATX connector for the motherboard. Any Standard ATX PSU with these connectors will work. Some Dell cases may have to be slightly modified to accept non Dell ATX design PSU due to position of power socket and if it has a rocker switch, but is easy to do.

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Dell Dimension 8100, OptiPlex GX400, PowerEdge 1300 and 2300; Precision WorkStation 330, and 420 are some of the bastard models that used a proprietary ATX psu.

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Is there a way to actually verify if my PSU is proprietary by looking at the cables, or staring at it at the right angle? – ashes999 Oct 25 '12 at 22:18
No need to, the 530 does not use it, its hard to tell because the non standard used the exact same 24pin connector, Dell just had them move the wires around and used an additional 16 pin motherboard connector, this is why it was easy to fry the motherboard with the wrong PSU, the 530 uses a Standard ATX PSU, I promise. – Moab Oct 25 '12 at 22:32
+1 for "I promise." If my computer explodes in a fireball, I'm coming after you :) – ashes999 Oct 25 '12 at 22:32

I've heard conflicting reports about whether Dell ships stock PSUs or forces special/proprietary PSUs.

Dell ships at least some of their computers with proprietary PSUs.

There are a few website which sell PSU models with specific mention to be compatible with a specific Dell model. Google them. (I am not going to link to a specific one).

How exactly can I determine if a PSU is compatible with my PC, before buying it?

Ask the seller to guarantee that it will work with your model. If you phone them explicitly tell them about the model you have. Or use a webshop which sells models specifically for Dells.

I assume I will not be able to return it if it doesn't fit,

Why not? Law differs per country, but most places allow you to return an undamaged, unscratched unit, with all original parts (e.g. box) still present.

or makes my computer explode in a fireball of doom.

This is actually possible since the pin-outs on some Dell PSU's are different from normal PSU.

Also, you did nt ask this but I see this a lot on the web:
a AMD HD6770 which demands at least 450W

Uhm. No. Not precisely.

Graphics cards do not demand PSU of at least XXX power. That is just how shops sell it. They do demand a certain amperage on the 12 volt rails, and depending on the card they use 6 or 8 pin connectors.

If you have a big lot-of-watts PSU then it often also supplies enough power on +12. But that is not guaranteed. You really want to check how much the PSU outputs on different rails and how much your graphics card needs. Not how much the PSU can supply in total.

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Good answer but needs moar linkz. I haven't been able to find the website you refuse to link, nor a "guide for dummies" on how to check the PSU outputs on different rails. – ashes999 Oct 25 '12 at 16:25
Links get outdated. I rather post answer parts myself. However googling on 'dell inspiron 530 psu upgrade` yielded a lot of results. In the first few links I already found "That model is one you can use any ATX PSU." and "I have a dell 530 and upgraded to a modular ocz 500w power supply." (The OCZ is also a standard PSU). -- Summarised, your specific model uses a standard power supply – Hennes Oct 25 '12 at 17:46

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