* Prices may differ from that shown
The 8400GS may be showing its age now, but that perhaps works in its favour - it is very cheap to buy now, and for a beginner looking for a quick and effective upgrade to their system, this is a great choice.
As with any graphics card, physical installation is fairly simple - just open up your desktop, plug it in, and providing the correct drivers have been installed beforehand, it should start working immediately - I had no problems when installing mine.
Depending on the PC you have, you will probably see different jumps in performance - personally, installing this card into a HP Pavillion PC, there was a very noticeable improvement in performance - not only was it now able to play some of my favourite games at a respectable frame rate, all processes in general started running more smoothly - such as minimising/maximising windows, switching between screens, and other graphical functions. If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7 with Aero enabled, you will probably notice this as well. Another good thing about the 8400GS is that the minimum wattage for the PSU (Power Supply Unit) of your PC is only 300W, which is relatively low - meaning you should be able to use this card in your pre-built PC (from Dell, or HP, etc) without needing any further upgrades.
I recently purchased this Graphics Card for next to nothing from eBay; it was £12.99 which seemed like incredible value for such a card. It is a modern specification card, designed for the latest generation of Windows Operating system (Vista and 7) but I use the card with the trusty Windows XP.
The card installs in the PCI-E x1 slot, not the x16 slot as others have mentioned. This poses a slight problem as some old motherboards do not support this interface as well as extremely new motherboards carrying only the higher bandwidth PCI-E x16. Before purchasing make sure you find out what motherboard you own and check its manual to make sure the slot is supported. Many older boards will only support PCI, the old standard, and medium age boards may max-out at AGP. Furthermore, if you have a custom built PC with an old case you may find that the slot on the back of the case does not line up with the PCI-E x1 slot. This happened in my case and a pair of pliers along with a few cable ties was required to secure the card in place.
As far as connection to monitors goes, this card is somewhat frustrating for the average user. Make sure a DMS-59 to dual DVI cable is bundled with the card as the only digital output is effectively useless on its own. The only way to utilise it is to convert it to DVI or VGA output. Secondly, make sure your monitor will support DVI, most low to middle price monitors still utilise VGA as standard so you may have to purchase the latter adapter. The other output on the back of the card is Video-Out; S-Video, an incredibly old video format which may be connected to a TV via an S-Video cable, a rarity in the UK or an adapter to other analogue outputs; Component being the output offering greatest resolution.
The card ran without a hitch without having to make any changes to my set-up, although you will need to uninstall previously installed drivers before installing the new drivers (for NVidia bundled software). If you have any experience in Graphics card this will all be standard to you. But for new comers to the scene, drivers must be installed from the CD or website in order to run your display at higher resolutions and refresh rates. The highest resolution is 2048*1536, a resolution which only the best monitors can handle successfully. I run dual monitors with a VGA output to one 14" and an HDMI output to a 42" 1080p LCD, these run using easy to obtain adapters from well-known aforementioned auction sites.
Finally, the question you have all been asking; how does it run? Well the fan is extremely quiet compared to other more powerful cards, and the built in memory designated to Graphics takes strain off the RAM. My RAM increased from 1.85GB to 2GB in system info, due to stopping my use of onboard graphics. For Video the system runs smoothly, easily running high quality 1080p movies using VLC media player, the only problem being that the fan noise, although low, can be distracting especially in quiet scenes. For gaming, which the card was not designed for, it performs well in games around 5 years old, such as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but newer games, such as recent COD instalments, falter even on low settings.
In conclusion, the card is great at filling all of the pixels on your shiny HD monitor, but the crispness of the image may not make up for the weakness in terms of connectivity for some. The 8400 GS is somewhat outdated as far as gaming standards go, but will easily convert your middle of the range PC into an HD Video powerhouse. Just make sure you have the right adapters and a relatively modern case.
The nVidia GeForce 8400 GS is a great little entry level card. Though it has been passed by two full generations of newer cards that fill the same entry level requirements (Ati 4450, 5450 and the GeForce 9400, 220 and low end 400 series). This card is still relatively competitively priced if all you want to do is play movies and enjoy some older games. It is fully supportive of direct x 10.0, and as such, had huge numbers sold as a cheap graphics solution for the early period when windows vista just came out. In 2007 I paid £38 for it.
The clock speed is around 450 MHz and it has 256 mb dedicated ddr2 ram memory operating at a standard 800 mhz speed. The memory is not speciality graphics memory (gddr2/3/4) which has greater speed and bandwidth. The memory is a rather poor 64 bit, meaning it isnt as accessible as faster more expensive cards. It has 16 shader pipelines or "graphics cores", a fraction of modern cards (480+ for nVidia). All in all, even if what I just wrote means nothing to you, they are fairly underwhelming numbers, but having said this, with low settings, it will run a decent game of UT3 offline. A feat for such a little card.
Fitting this into your PC should be a doddle, it requires no external power connectors and will not take up too much space on your pci express x16 slot. You fit it into the x16 slot (the black one (maybe blue or another colour sometimes) usually about 4-5 inches long. There do exist variations of this card, for instance a pci-express x1 slot card, which fits into any pci-e slot. These have been released a good two years after initial release circa 2008 - probably made to help what I would imagine as Dell/HP customers to use their only available pci-e x1 slot (I stupidly bought one of their dimension 3100 machines like this for £550 a while ago).
The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) as you can see does not take up much space, and can fit into low profile cases - bearing in mind the rear panel is full size - this makes it a bit pointless for a low profile PC unless you can trim the rear panel off. It has a small fan to dissipate the low amounts of heat the chip produces. Even though the chip gets quite hot, there is minimal transfer to other components as it so small. I have overclocked this card 25% without issue, having numerous 95 degrees Celsius plus warnings without incident in games - a great way to squeeze power out of the card. My card had DVI and VGA outputs, and managed to output to two independent screens perfectly fine.
For a card like this, and the comparable Ati 2400 card, you shouldn't expect the earth, or amazing visual quality. It will play 2005 games okay, and 2004 games well enough. Right now the extra couple of pounds would be well spent buying an entry level card from the current generation. If you decide to pick up one of these cards, it wont break your power supply or your bank account, and is a good upgrade from a similar time period integrated motherboard graphics (e.g. intel gma 3000).
Its a 5/5 for the price point considering what you got from it, but lets face it, like everything else computer hardware related, it barely escapes a 1/5 compared to 5 years later. Dont expect to SLi it, I tried it with my brothers card, it doesnt work.
I bought this graphics card last year to replace an old one that came with my PC. Its not the newest or most powerful graphics card around but it does its job. Brand new games that are coming out now (Q3 2010) are too powerful for it to run, but games released in early 2010 and before should run on this graphics card, if you tweak the settings.
Although the graphics card is advertised as a 256mb, and when you boot up your PC it displays it as a 256mb, video games and the DXDIAG function both read it as a 512mb card. Im not sure which to believe, but it seems to be able to run games requiring a 256mb card with no problems, so im more inclined to believe its either a top range 256mb card or a 512mb. Either way it should run the majority of games you wish to play, and at just £20 you cant really go wrong.
I recommend this graphics card to anyone who wants to run recent games but cant afford a newer card. As i said before, only the newest games wont run with it.
Although the graphics card is officially a 256MB, my computer and games that I use all read it as a 512mb graphics card, so im not quite sure what it is, although i'm happy at viewing it as a 512mb. The graphics card runs on DDR2 RAM.
For a start the graphics card is nice and cheap, will probably cost you £25-£30 if you look around on the web, well worth it considering how well it will run most games, only the most recent games will have trouble running. It will run games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on minimum.
It has Vertex and Pixel shader 4.0, which is pretty much what all the recent games require. It also supports OpenGL version 2.1 and DirectX 10.
Vertex & Pixel Shader: 4.0 (This covers any games thats been released so far)
256mb Officially, reads as 512mb.
Core Clock: 450MHZ (This is how fast the graphics card actually runs, more important than the amount of RAM)
Shader Clock: 900MHZ (I don't know what this does)
Memory Clock: 400MHZ (I don't know what this does either)
Support SLI: No (This means you can only have 1 graphics card in your PC at the same time, SLI is Nvidia's version of ATI's Crossfire)
Uses 1 PCI-E port. Designed for a x16 port.
Supports resolutions up to 1920x1200.
So as you can see, the graphics card is well equipped for its price, it will run most games, only struggling with recent 2009 and 2010 games. A good graphics card to get for the cheap price.
A newer version such as a 8600 or 8800 may be better, they're not really any dearer, and I believe they support SLI and run on RAM better than DDR2.