Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 31, 2009
How my wife got a new graphics card

In February this year I bought a new computer. High-end system, except for the graphics card, a Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX (1 GB), which even at the time was more upper mid-range. So the idea was to replace it when I could find a better card without the ridiculous price tag of a GTX 285 or 295. So meanwhile Nvidia launched the GTX 275, and I was reading nice things about it.

At the same time my wife said she wanted a new screen for her computer, replacing a 17" 4:3 screen with a 22" wide screen. Great, one "find a present for the wife" problem solved. But her computer has a Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB) graphics card, and I worried that this card wouldn't handle a 1680 x 1050 resolution all that well. So I came up with this brilliant plan: I buy a new GTX 275 for myself, and put my old 9800 GTX in my wife's computer, everybody happy.

I mail-ordered the card last week, and it arrived yesterday. First surprise was the box it came in, which was bigger than my computer. At that moment I was still laughing, because I correctly assumed that much of the content of the box was packing material. I unpacked the card, unplugged my computer, opened it up, removed the old graphics card and tried to put in the new graphics card. No luck! The Gainward GTX 275 is *really* bigger than my computer. Or rather, it's too long, having a full 9.5" length, and there being only about 8" of space for a graphics card in my Antec 900 mid tower case. Doh! They didn't mention card length in the system requirements!

My wife's computer however has a much longer case ...

So now my wife got a brand new GTX 275 graphics card. The jump in performance from a 8800 GTS to a GTX 275 is astounding, for example the Furmark score jumps by a factor of over 3. This solves the problem of her having a card able to handle a new screen with higher resolution. But I'm still stuck with my 9800 GTX. And I have no idea how to find a new graphics card which would be an upgrade, and actually fit in my Antec 900 case. The sites selling graphics cards don't even mention card length, and even most of the reviews you can find don't include physical measurement. Those I did find for other GTX 275 cards show that other brands are even longer, not shorter. I doubt that the GTX 275 even exists in a short version. :(
Heh, that's what one gets when manufacturers ignore almost-obsolete standards. I've had a few close calls where the hard drive enclosure was so close to the card that I had to unplug the extra power cords to work with the hard drives. There was also one case where the designer had miscalculated the lengths of the screws, so that the lowest 5.25' bay wouldn't lock properly and removing and replacing the plastic front panel required a worrying amount of force. Also, in my current case the front panel I/O wires (USB, Firewire, headphones & microphone) are barely long enough to reach the connectors on the opposite side of the motherboard. Fortunately I managed to snake them below the expansion cards.
I have an Antec 900 as well (great case btw). The longer video cards will fit into this case if you take the upper 3.5" drive carriage out. Had to do this for my ATI Radeon HD 4890 and now she fits perfectly.
I ran into almost a similar problem. My new card barely fit into my old box. The new card at the time didn't really fix my fps issues so I figured it was just time to shell out money for a new comp.
Think you can normally go to Nvidia's site for card length. ie.

Standard Graphics Card Dimensions:
Height 4.376 inches (111 mm)
Length 10.5 inches (267 mm)
Width Dual-slot

I'm actually really surprised your wife had the power supply for it.
As mentioned above me, I hope you have an ample power supply for your wife's new computer. :)
Power supply shouldn't be a problem. My wife's computer is my old Alienware with a completely overdimensioned 700 W power supply. That is one of the things I learned early in computer buying: Saving a buck on taking anything but a big supply is always going to come back and bite you in the behind.
I had to upgrade my case and power supply when I upgraded to a GTX 260 earlier this year. Like you I almost died when I saw the card in the box.
Yeah, new graphics cards are getting longer, the new ATI cards are 9 inches long, and the GTX 285s can get up to 10.5 inches.

This trend isn't going to reverse itself anytime soon (you have put all that ram somewhere), so you're going to have either remove your 3.5 drive cage, I move to a bigger case.
Like everyone else said, removed the 3.5 drive bay and it will fit. I had a Antec 900 for a long time and got the GTX 260.

It barley fit so I upgraded to a full tower (Coolmaster HAF). Sure the case is way to big for what I need but it allows for a lot more breathing room.

The 260 is a nice card, what manufacturer did you get? I always go with EVGA for my Nvidia cards.

If you do not care about brand then the ATI 4890 I have heard is a great card as well.

Here is a review from ARS Technica:

On Newegg it is 50-75 dollars cheaper then the 275. However ATI tends to have their cards run hotter which for some can be an issue. Just depends how many graphic intense games you play and if you OC or increase stock settings at all.

Also have to add that even if you do not have an EVGA card you should get the precision tool from their site.

If you do not have it the software is free and should work with any Nvidia card. It lets you control the memory clock, core clock, fan speed, and lets you see temps.

If you do have an EVGA card you can OC your card using the software and it will not void the warranty on your card.
The surprise is not that your wife's power supply had enough wattage, but the requisite dual 6-pin plugs.

But yes, the new nVidia cards are, shall we say, huge. Ironic that you can downsize almost every other part of the computer, except the graphics card.
I've been running a BFG 8800GTS 640 for well over a year on a 22" Samsung at 1680x1050 just fine. But of course if she's playing all the latest high-end shooters of course she'll need that extra horsepower...
Switch computer casing with your wife!
We just ran into the same problem a few weeks ago! Fortunately the card *just* fits in my husband's case. However it's sticking into the harddrive enclosure area, so he had difficulty connecting his hard drives.

It's now running into major heat issues (I'm guessing because there's no room for air to circulate in the box).

We haven't yet managed to find a case that's big enough to suitably hold the card :(
I have an antec 900 with a gtx 295 that fits quite easily. Not sure why you can't fit a 275 in.
My Nvidia 8800 GT still runs everything I throw at it at 1650x1050 on high detail. Maybe I have to lower a few things but it still works fine.

The card is less then two years old. Game companies won't deliver games that only run on a state of the art machine.
I did not have a space issue with my 295GTX fitting into the Alienware case, but even with the 1000w power supply, I had to use some connectors to get a 8pin and 6pin to the card (my power supply only has 6 and 4s).

It's too bad Alienware looks like it has been fully swallowed by Dell now, they did great work. I'll have to do some serious research in the next few months or year when it's time to upgrade again, it was so nice/easy knowing anything from Alienware was not going to disappoint.
I believe the ATI Radeon HD 4890 (and siblings) should fit. I have an Antec Solo and it fits the card fine. It drives a 30" monitor at high settings on most games, and the card runs cooler than Nvidia.
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