Blog DavTar

March 11, 2007

Dell SC440 and a Different Video Card

Filed under: System Administration — cygnl7 @ 1:28 am

People loved the SC400 and SC420 because you could make some minor modifications to allow a nice video card and have a pretty sweet desktop solution on the cheap. When people tried the same thing with the SC430 (of which I have one) it seemed as though Dell had disabled this through the BIOS. Since I recently received an SC440 I figured it would be worth it to give the regular mods a try.

See, what happened in the earlier days (from what I’ve gathered reading various forums) was that Dell took one of their desktop systems and turned it into a server system by dumbing down the video card abilities and charging a lot less, which was probably to entice small businesses to buy these. What people figured out with the SC420 was that there was a PCI-e x8 slot that kind of looked like an x16 slot except that it had an extra notch of plastic on it. Once people removed the extra notch regular x16 cards would fit and some even worked! So people basically got the desktop system with the card of their choice for a lot less money.

Dell caught on to this (or so we assume) and made the BIOS in the next revision, the SC430, not accept video cards in the x8 slot. So people tried the x4 slot. And it worked!

Now, with the SC440, I had high hopes that Dell had decided it wasn’t worth the extra effort and had gone back to an x8 slot that could accomodate x16 cards. I had two notches to cut out this time. Using an exact-o knife and a candle (to heat up the blade to make cutting easier) I started cutting the notches. I had to be very careful not to bend any pins that were next to the first notch. (There are no pins beyond that first notch, so I started with the pinless notch for practice.) I was also very careful to cut enough out to make sure the card made good contact with the pins. At first I hadn’t cut enough and I could see that the slot was bulging a little. I also noticed that you can see when the pins are pushed back some through the little holes in the face of the slot. Those close to the cut notch were not being pushed back enough.

Once I had cut enough of the notches away, I crossed my fingers, plugged it in, and, amazingly, video displayed on the card! Yes, this is in the x8 slot! I’m using an evga GeForce 7300 GS. So far so good. Ubuntu sees it just fine; so far even without accelerated drivers the 2d is still so much better than the integrated video.

I’m happy.

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96 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    Your idea seems great! I will try it someday, when the Dell SC440 is out of warranty!

    I’ve just bought an SC440 because it came full charged at a great price. I was wondering if I can plug a PCI video card (for example, an ATI 7000 64Mb PCI Card), and try to make it work simultaneously with both, the integrated video plus the new PCI video card.

    If the new PCI Card comes with dual vga port, do you think I can plut 3 monitores to it !!????

    bbbguy.

    Comment by bbbguy — April 26, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

  2. I don’t know if a PCI card will work or not. From what I’ve read with the older SC4* models is that it’s hit and miss depending on whether the BIOS will allow it or not. If I can find a PCI card lying around I’ll give it a shot.

    Comment by david — May 2, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  3. Howdy form Texas!

    Thanks for the super informative post. I was actually just fixin to try the same hack on my 440 because I did it with success on a sc400 some time ago. Dying to check out XGL for the first time and was afeared I was gonna have to wrangle another box for the task. To top it off, looks like the card you used works well with xgl.

    Comment by Schlomo Shmageggie — May 24, 2007 @ 8:55 am

  4. I have a SC440 and I was led to belive all the pci-e slots in a SC440 where limited to 1x, As you can see in this post on the forums here:

    http://www.poweredgeforums.com/showthread.php?t=3689&highlight=sc440

    Also this post here tell you about it

    http://www.poweredgeforums.com/showthread.php?t=3213&highlight=sc440

    Could you check your card to see what its running at please as this is something I want to do but don’t see the point if its going to run at x1.

    Thanks!

    Comment by techguy — June 14, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  5. I’m running Linux on that box and I’m not sure how to check what the card is running at. I’ll try to look around and see if I can find something in the logs.

    Comment by david — June 15, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  6. Heh, that didn’t take long.

    (II) NVIDIA(0): Detected PCI Express Link width: 1X

    Bummer.

    Comment by david — June 15, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  7. When you put that card into the PCI-E 1X slot does it actually affect the speed of the card? I’ve heard that there are currently no video card able to ultilise the full bandwidth of 16X.

    I’ve modded an ATI X600 into a SC430 with no loss of speed, now wanting to buy a SC440 to do similar.

    Comment by Alvin — July 17, 2007 @ 5:40 am

  8. 3rd Hard Disk on PowerEdge SC440
    I am willing to buy PowerEdge SC440 Server. I want to remove CD/Floppy drive as i want to add 3rd SAS Hard Disk of 73GB.
    But Dell Technical support told it is not possible but and also added that SAS 5/iR card support 4 Hard Disk Channel and motherboard have 4 SATA Port. I want to confirm removing CDROM / Floppy Disk Drive can i install 3rd SAS / SATA Hard Disk.?? SAS 5/iR card install in pci-express x8 slot2

    Comment by shekhar — August 3, 2007 @ 12:54 am

  9. I can confirm that this works. I am using Linux (F7). I am using an nVidia 7200 and it works fine on the PCIe 8x slot. Also this can be done with a box cutter if you are careful. It’s actually easier this way since for some reason the 2 notches are very brittle but the sides weren’t. Very easy mod and nice way to save some moola :).

    Comment by neopran — August 9, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

  10. I meant nvidia 7300gs :S

    Comment by neopran — August 9, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

  11. The 8x slot only runs the card at 1x speeds. Stupid Dell with their BIOS tweaks. Anyway what I did was, I modded the 4x slot so I can run the card in there. PCIe 4x is about the same speed as AGP 8x so it’s still pretty decent. Especially since I just need a better video card compared to the onboard, not that I will be gaming or anything.

    Anyway the 4x slot drives the card on all 4 lanes so that’s good.
    I just thought I’d post this for anyone who is curious. BTW all I did to the slot is cut the end piece off and the card fit beautifully. The card I used was an eVGA 7300 256MB.

    Comment by neopran — August 10, 2007 @ 6:45 am

  12. Did that fix too! nVidia-Tool says 1x@8500GT. Will try the 4x Slot tomorrow.
    – Any issues on how to re-tweak the Bios?
    – Did the SAS5iR run @8x in the big PCIe? Now runs in the 4x..

    Will look back ..
    Grz.

    Comment by Flip — September 6, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  13. I can confirm that the x4 slot runs at x4 speed. I have an x300se that I hacked (literally) to fit in the x4 slot. The card was just laying around so I didn’t think twice about cutting the card. ATI CCC (linux edition) reports the card as “Radeon X300/X550/X1050 Series” and “Bus Setting x4″.

    Comment by Dave — September 10, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  14. I confirm – brand new gf8400gs with little hardware hack (cut in two places, 3 pins width on both sides) in x8 slot works with x1 speed and in x4 slot works with x4 speed. Checked with sisoft sandra and windows XP (ubuntu7 livecd nv driver doesn’t support 8400gs).

    Comment by Emcej — October 4, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    • This port that you have on SC440 is PCIe-x8 (with x16 connectors) right ? And, it works ? I just tried it with Nvidia 8400GS and I just get a blank screen. Could you send me a picture of your Motherboard and the Graphics Card ? It would be really helpful.

      Comment by Anoop — October 22, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  15. Intel Core2Quad Q6600 CPU – works perfectly (both with BIOS revision 1.3.0 and 1.4.1)

    ASUS EN8600GT SILENT (nVidia) – works in x4 slot perfectly!

    MSI HD 2600XT SILENT (ATI) – does NOT work, makes the Dell SC440 to crash randomly, 3Dmark2006 crashes, output on second DVI is flashing, etc.

    First thing I did was replacing the original CPU (Pentium D 925 3.0GHz) with Intel Core2Quad Q6600 2.4GHz, it worked perfectly. Then installed Windows and upgraded the system BIOS from 1.3.0 to 1.4.1. After this I did the modification of the x4 PCIe slot using a soldering iron and a box cutter. Then I inserted the MSI HD 2600XT card into the modified x4 slot and it barely fit because of the card’s extremely large heat pipes and heat sink… I managed to put the card in, but it didn’t look good esthetically. Anyway, it seemed to be working, however the computer kept crashing randomly. Windows sometimes rebooted itself, the system was not stable at all. ATI Catalyst reported the card working at x4 speed in the PCIe slot. But the display refresh felt slowish, and the second screen was flashing when something got updated on the main screen. When I tried to run 3Dmark 2006, then whole computer crashed so hard, that it did not even post anymore until I physically removed the video card from the slot! Yes, I tried to de-power/re-power the SC440, it didn’t help! I just got a black screen, and that was it. So I bought an nVidia based card insted, the above mentioned ASUS EN8600GT SILENT (256MB) card. It fits perfectly in the x4 PCIe slot, no problems with its heatsink. However, you can use one PCI (perfect for a sound card) slots after you insert any of these video cards. So the ASUS card works, but only with the lates nVidia drivers which I downloaded from the nvidia site. The one that comes on the CD did not worked for me in Windows XP. After installing the downloaded driver everything started to work perfectly. I also added 1 more GB RAM, my SC440 shipped with 2 x 512MB Hynix made memory modules (ECC of course) and I purchased two more Kingston made 512MB modules. Now I have 2GB of RAM. I use a 150GB Western Digital SATA Raptor Drive (10,000rpm) as my primary drive, it is very fast, but it is a bit loud. The SC440 itself is pretty quiet, but the WD Raptor is giving some noise… :-( And one more thing: YES, Windows XP uses all four cores of the Q6600 quad core CPU, however you must use Windows XP Pro. Windows XP Home only uses two cores out of the fours!

    Comment by TSS — October 5, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  16. XP Media Center Edition also supports 4 cores.

    I’m looking at the $249 deal this weekend on the SC440.
    I have two SC400s and they were (still are) great machines, other than having to replace the leaking capacitors.

    Comment by ubiquityman — November 9, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  17. I picked up 2 of the $249 SC440s over the weekend, thanks to what I read in this blog and over at the PowerEdge Forums. I’ve now got them set up as personal computers and they’re super fast. I can’t believe how good these machines are for the $.

    For any others who, like me, may not be real comfortable with a box cutter and a soldering iron on the pci-e slots (sorry :-), what I did was order two ati x1300 at x1 from newegg. Got a couple sound cards there also and ordered a couple gigs of ECC RAM for each from Crucial. We don’t do games, and these cards seem fine for anything I’ve done so far on Photoshop. I wiped all the pre-existing partitions off the hds that came with the units and just installed a copy of XP Pro and one of XP home that I had here. Went like a charm. I noticed in some fine print that you need XP with SP-2 (possibly driver compatibility?), so before I got hung up, I slipstreamed the XP HOME SP-1 disk (http://www.theeldergeek.com/slipstreamed_xpsp2_cd.htm) and it worked fine. I made sure to install all the Windows Server 2003 drivers right after the XP installs for the hardware. Again, super ez. The info you all posted here made it a lot easier, thanks.

    Comment by rturner — November 18, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  18. Same here–pop an XFX 8400GS into the x4 slot, get it running with no problems at all in Vista. CPU-z confirmed it works at 4x speed.

    Comment by jazzblue — November 28, 2007 @ 10:53 am

  19. [...] to mod it to take a decent graphics Card (at your own risk) Blog DavTar » Blog Archive » Dell SC440 and a Different Video Card The Motherboard tech Spec / diagram … Documentation Review of the Machine here Dell PowerEdge [...]

    Pingback by Dell PowerEdge Server €149 - Irish SEO, Marketing & Webmaster Discussion — December 7, 2007 @ 5:18 am

  20. Thanks for the great info….I bought one of the SC440 on sale last week, and ordered a dual head PCIE video card from Newegg. I thought I was going to have to send all of it back, until I read your post. THANK YOU. I carefully cut the end off of the 4x slot, cleaned up the contacts and plugged in my new 16X ATI SaphirePro. It booted right up with no problem. The only issue I had was that after I installed the ATI drivers, I got blue screened on reboot. I restarted in Safe Mode, disabled the onboard video in device manager and had no more problems. As you know, the onboard video cannot be disabled in the bios. The only remaining problem yet to be fixed is finding a driver for the onboard NIC. It seems that Dell is only publishing a driver for SERVER. (doesn’t work for XP) Can anyone help with that one?

    Comment by rhvjr — December 11, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  21. Solved the NIC driver problem….
    Dell’s automatic driver installation utility will not run on Windows XP,….
    BUT, if you run setup.exe with “/a” afterwards, setup.exe /a then the utility will not try to install the drivers, it will simply extract them to a folder of your choice. Then you can go into device manager and update the driver for the onboard NIC.
    I found this tip in Dell’s release notes for the Broadcomm NIC……seems like they just wanted to make it difficult to use this computer for anything other than a server.

    Comment by rhvjr — December 12, 2007 @ 7:24 am

  22. Excellent post and comments, y’all. I was about to buy a simple x1 card based on the poweredgeforums postings, but it’s worth it to know that I can get an x16 card running at x4.

    I’d like to point out something for clarification purposes regarding the PCIe slots on this system. I’m copying this straight from the User Guide, pg.56:

    ………………………..
    PCIe Expansion slots
    2.5-Gb/sec PCIe x1, 3.3-V, 12-V (slot 1)
    2.5-Gb/sec PCIe x8, 3.3-V, 12-V (slot 2)*
    2.5-Gb/sec PCIe x4, 3.3-V, 12-V (slot 4)*
    *NOTE: The size of the expansion card connectors for the PCI x4 card is PCI x8, and for the PCI x8 card is PCI x16.
    ………………………..

    So, just to be clear, you all are modifying SLOT_4 (x4 speed with a x8 connector) to accept a PCIe x16 card and getting to run at x4?

    That works for me because the SAS controller is supposed to go in SLOT_2. (I picked up a SAS 5i card on ebay for $40, found the proper SAS cable for $20, and was given a couple of big SAS drives for free! YAY!)

    Having previously worked in Dell’s server engineer department for 7 years (though I didn’t work on this particular system and can’t find any current techs there that have tried to hack it), I can definately see them throttling down SLOT_2 from x8 to x1 if a video card is detected. Especially given their experience with modifications being made to the SC400/420. The reason they do this is simply because the SC4xx systems are designed as loss-leader models for selling into small businesses. In other words, Dell takes a loss on these fire sales to attract new business buyers. They certainly appreciate your interest in hacking their boxes, but they’re not going to make it easy on you when they’d rather the masses buy Precision workstations where they have some margin to bank.

    Comment by BoBo — December 14, 2007 @ 12:51 am

  23. Followup regarding mod to the SC440….
    I read on other sites that modifying the 8x slot would result in a slow 1x connection speed, so I decided to modify the 4x slot. (Note that I said I “cut the END off of the slot”). Modifying the 8x slot requires cutting out dividers in the middle of the slot. I used a hot wood burning tool with an exacto knife attachement for the job,….it was very difficult to keep melted plastic from getting on the metal contacts,..just take your time…….try cutting up an old PCI card and sticking a piece of it in the slot to protect the contacts……it will help. I have not tried to run any tests to determine the speed of the video card,….mainly because it just doesn’t matter at this point…..the computer is running great and I have no complaints.
    ANYWAY…..I have been running the SC440 with the mod now in heavy daily use for about two weeks, …..no issues whatsoever……no blue screens, no freezes, lockups… Nothing except pure speed and and a truly great machine at a bargain price…….

    Comment by Henry — December 15, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  24. If you look at the electrical contacts in the PCIe slots on the SC440, you can see that the 8x slot and the 4x slot have the same number of connectors…..for whatever that is worth….

    Comment by rhvjr — December 15, 2007 @ 8:16 pm

  25. and one more thing……
    I must say that I am amazed that it works at all……
    The video card has 75% of it’s contacts hanging out in thin air over the motherboard…..I guess the extra contacts is where it multiplies its speed..

    Comment by rhvjr — December 15, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  26. Thank you, Henry. The PCI cutout blank is a good idea.

    Comment by BoBo — December 16, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  27. rhvjr, “The video card has 75% of it’s contacts hanging out in thin air over the motherboard…..I guess the extra contacts is where it multiplies its speed..” Yes, Grasshopper, that is the Way of PCIe Lane Aggregation Kung Fu. http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/pcie.ars/5

    Comment by BoBo — December 16, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  28. PCIe Lane Negotiation:

    http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/pcie.ars/6

    In fact, the whole article is good. Page 1:
    PCI Express: An Overview

    http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/pcie.ars/1

    Comment by BoBo — December 16, 2007 @ 8:27 am

  29. Hi there,

    For people like me who are not very at ease with modding a card, is there some adapters PCI-E 16x to PCI-E 4 or 8x?

    cheeers

    Comment by Fiscelan — December 16, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  30. Hi all,

    I found a PCI Express X4 to X16 Adapter for people like me who do not want or like to cut their PC components ;)

    Hope it helps

    http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/pciexpressx4tox16adapter-p-4568.html

    Comment by Fiscelan — December 17, 2007 @ 5:01 am

  31. Remember that depending on how the adapter is designed it’s going to add some height (width?) to the card. So with the adapter it may not fit snugly (or at all) in your case.

    Comment by david — December 18, 2007 @ 12:42 am

  32. I decided to try the 4x slot tonight One bent pin and a cracked slot later (a needle to unbend the pin and some glue to fix the crack) and I’m up and running. Very good!

    (II) NVIDIA(0): Detected PCI Express Link width: 4X

    Thanks to all those who have posted their experiences.

    Comment by david — December 18, 2007 @ 1:36 am

  33. David, which graphic card have you used?

    Comment by Fiscelan — December 18, 2007 @ 3:53 am

  34. Hi guys im abit of a noob at all of this i have read through the post and most people seem to have opted for modding the x4 pcie slot could someone please post a pic of which bit they cut and which cards can actually fit into the sc440 i was hoping to put in a 8600gt if it is possible.

    thanks

    great post

    Comment by imran — December 20, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  35. Hi all – good read.

    I have bought a sc440 and need to update the graphics. Before i go for the mod is there any PCI graphics cards that will work in this server?

    Thanks for the help

    Andy

    Comment by Andy — December 24, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  36. i have sc440, xeon 3040 (2×1,86) 1GBram, 160GB disk
    I running the SC440 with the mod 4x slot and Gigabyte 8600GT GV-NX86T256H

    http://www.gigabyte.cz/Products/VGA/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2499

    3dmark 2001 (default after install) – 26500
    3DMark05 v120 patch (default after install) – 9500
    with 169.21_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql
    windoxs xp
    photo later

    Comment by martin — December 25, 2007 @ 7:27 am

  37. Andy, all,
    The Nvidia 5200 FX (regular PCI interface) works on SC440/Ubuntu 7.10. The machine detects card after you plug it in, you may need to get nvidia-glx package and run dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg to get the window manager working. You may also need to get emerald and enable advanced desktop effect to get fancier features out of the card. Follow this link: http://www.howtoforge.com/compiz-fusion-ubuntu-gutsy-gibbon-nvidia-geforce-fx-5200 .

    Happy New Year…

    Comment by Eureka — December 28, 2007 @ 12:50 am

  38. Eureka,

    Thanks for the info.

    I am running Windows Vista on my SC440 and tried a Nvidia FX 5500 Geforce 256MB PCI DVI. My 440 did not even beep. When I turned it on the fans started moving but nothing else. I believe there is a conflict with the graphics card and dell machines. Before I purchansed this card I even phone dell technical support to see how I could update the graphics. They told me that they do not support any updates to there system that have not come from dell. But off the record the guy said that a PCI card “should” work, which it didn’t. Im starting to get annoyed as all i want to do is try this server as a media centre and i just need to improve the graphics.

    Do you think the 5200 FX PCI will work with Vista?

    Im tempted to go for the mod as people seem to be getting more success, the only annoying thing about this is that it will void my warranty which has a year left on it!

    Thanks again

    Andy

    Happy New Year….

    Comment by Andy — December 29, 2007 @ 5:27 am

  39. hi there,
    can i get some advice please? Was thinking of upgrading to the q6600 from the x3060, will i need a new heatsink/fan? the one in the sc440 seems pretty heavy duty but i dont want to burn out my new cpu!
    thanks
    allister

    Comment by Al — January 2, 2008 @ 4:29 am

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  41. hey guys, you sound like an optimists like me! i am about to do the pci-e x16 card in a x4 slot mod to my sc440, slot 4 seems to be the x4! also did it just work or did the on board gfx need disabling in cmos or tweaking?
    i’m planning on using an nVIDIA geforce 6600 256MB, has any one tried it or got an advice?
    thanks
    ross

    Comment by ross — January 3, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

  42. So basically, if I understand well, the 8x speed slot is not REALLY a 16x size slot! I do not understand why it is written in the User Guide:

    “*NOTE: The size of the expansion card connectors for the PCI x4 card is PCI x8, and for the PCI x8 card is PCI x16″ …

    I bought a basic 16x card to plug it easily in the x8 speed slot=x16 size slot (I dont mind it runs at 1x), but I realise that a 16x graphic card wont even fit in this wrong 16x size slot (x8 speed slot)?!

    DELL is then lying??!!

    Comment by Fiscelan — January 4, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  43. I used a PCI Express X16 to X8 Adapter (PEXP16-SX-16/8) with a nVidia 7300 LE and it works like a charm, without the hassle to to hack the x4 slot. Just a problem of aesthetics, but I dont mind since it is at the rear of the machine. Detected as a x4, graphics are much more accelerated. Great!

    Comment by Fiscelan — January 10, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  44. Fiscelan, SLOT_4 is “wired” to be a PCIe x4 slot, but Dell attached a x8 connector for our convenience (we can use x4 and x8 devices in this slot with the understanding that the lane width is limited to x4). It is correctly described as a PCIe x4 slot in the Dell literature, so we were not lied to. You did well to buy the X16-to-X8 Adapter. I wish I had seen that before I tried to mod the slot and thereby void my warranty. Although, I would have been worried about the card actually fitting inside the case with the additional 1.05″ rise. How were you able to close the slot cage? Is your video card low profile?

    http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/pciexpressx8tox16adapter-p-755.html

    Everybody, take heed. ^^^^ >>>> After using the machine for some time to establish that the motherboard was stable, I went ahead with the slot modification tonight and prayed that I wouldn’t muck it up and wish for warranty support. I used a simple utility knife w/ a sharp new blade. I began by carefully and deeply scoring a rectangular shape into the end of the SLOT_4 connector.

    Because I opted to not use a hotknife and worry about melting plastic, I didn’t create a protective slot filler from an old PCI card as Henry mentioned far above.

    After many swipes, along the three sides of my rectangle… I was finally able to push out the rectangular cutout and then shave down the insides of the cutout. However, when I was admiring my work I discovered that I had somehow smashed a pin deep into the active x4 pins. My first attempt to straighten it out smashed it further. I was sweating bullets…. brand new server with a voided warranty! I set up a bright light and began fashioning small-hooked tools using a paperclip and two paper staples. Using needle nose pliers with my little hooks, I eventually resurected the pin. I had to cut into the side of the PCI slot with the utility blade so that the gold pin would slip inside it’s notch when the video card was inserted. This took me nearly two hours. In the end, I could insert the card without misaligning the gold pin and it successfully booted to a Xubuntu live CD.

    If I had gone ahead and cut an old PCI card to create a slot protector, I would have saved myself that hassel and risk. I could have very easily smashed more than one pin. Now, anytime I insert a card into this slot, I will have to have my little hooks on hand to keep the pin straight.

    Because the slot will negotiate the card to x4 lanes – similar in speed to AGP 4X – I went for a value card that didn’t require additional powersupply rails. I chose the $50, HIS Radeon X1650 Pro. So far it boots fine.

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16814161036

    I think Imran’s choice of a Nvidia 8600 gpu would be overkill due to the X4 lane width.

    Ross, I don’t believe there is an option in the SC440 BIOS to disable the onboard video. In my configuration, the Radeon X1650’s D-SUB connector put out video immediately on the first boot.

    I seem to have lost my digital camera, or I would upload some pictures for those that asked.

    My suggestion to others is to go with a low profile, low power consumption, video card and use the PCIe X16-to-X8 adapter in SLOT_4 at PCIe x4 speeds. You’ll spare your warranty and avoid disasters.

    Comment by BoBo — January 15, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  45. ….or if you have an old PCIe x16 card laying around, cut out a notch in the card itself as Dave mentions in the Sept 10th comment above.

    Comment by BoBo — January 16, 2008 @ 1:23 am

  46. Nvidia GeForce 8500GT drivers for windows vista…

    no kidding!…

    Trackback by Nvidia GeForce 8500GT drivers for windows vista — February 1, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

  47. I can confirm that a 2900III’s 8x slot can be modified (cut) to accept a 16x card. It will run at 8x (confirmed). I used a Visiontek ATI HD 2600 Pro with good results. I tried a evga 8600 GT – It would not get to OS choice menu or bios setup, though it did show everything up to that just fine. Not sure what happened there, but I really wanted to use that card. 3DMark2001 score was around 25,500, with latest standard drivers. This is a huge improvement over any PCI card (scores were around 4000). If I were to do it again, I would have just cut the card – though there was no way I could verify the thing would work. I should have waited for an adapter… John

    Comment by John — March 16, 2008 @ 12:18 am

  48. utility knife blade…

    After hardening, the blade is tempered to remove stresses and make the blade tougher. You just have to remember they are not toys nor…

    Trackback by utility knife blade — April 2, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  49. Has anyone else been able to verify operation at 8x as per Johns post? I have an SC440 on order and am trying to choose a reasonable budget graphics card and either the Nvida 8500 based cards or the ATi 2600 Pro seem like good value.

    Comment by Mike — April 22, 2008 @ 5:23 am

  50. can someone confirm the best performance i can get WITHOUT cutting the board (i dont mind modifying the card!) and a cheap card to suit??

    many thanks,
    dan

    Comment by dan — April 26, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  51. worked for me

    Comment by jim gumbley — May 22, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

  52. Can I fit a diamond radeon 2600xt 16x card into the 8x slot cutting the two notches in the slot (or alternately getting a X16 to X8 adaptor? Any advice appreciated.

    Thank you

    Comment by inner_d — May 24, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  53. Where can i buy an adapter from ? I’ve just bought a SC440 and don’t really want to void the warranty

    Cheers.

    AG.

    Comment by AG — July 9, 2008 @ 7:55 am

  54. Got a SC440 with Dual Core 2.0 CPU last given through week from work. Bought and fitted a Asus Nvidia 8600GT card to modified 4X port (Recommend getting adaptor if you can as potentially dangerous modding this but no one stock them here in NZ!). Anyway it works great, been playing Doom 3 & Supreme Commander with dual screen support with no problems at all. Wouldn’t consider trying 8X mod without Adaptor just too risky in my opinion. Thanks all for good advice given.

    Comment by Digiserf — July 14, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  55. Have been reading all the postings. Adaptor cards are made by:

    http://www.ably.com.tw/main.htm

    They have agents listed on the site (see “contact us” page). I am just waiting until they are in stock in the UK before I mod my SC440. I am currently running dual boot (XP Pro / Edubuntu) on standard graphics at max resolution, usable but clearly underpowered.

    Comment by Maury — July 18, 2008 @ 2:37 am

  56. well thanks, you got me into it. so i used a tiny saw blade. a saw to make the barrier disappear, because melting didn’t work at all. and a big exacto knife. i ended up being very exited and hit some pins. you have to be very VERY careful. use good light. and take breaks. so the pcie card fits in the 8x slot, running at 1x. maybe i’ll stick it into the 4x to see, but another time because it is one scary operation.
    cheers!

    Comment by ray ocw — August 20, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

  57. And then i used the kalyway 10.5.2 osx installer and its running percfectly on the sc440. it is a nice, quiet, well manufactured computer in a quality case. its a keeper – sweet!

    Comment by ray ocw — August 21, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

  58. Used a tiny dremel blade to modify the x4 slot for a Gigabyte 9500 GT OC 512mb, DDR3 (700/16000).

    averages over 10170 points in 3DMark05 when overclocked. Runs almost silent, draws less power at all times than an 8600 GTS, which is the closest card to performance of the OC 9500GT. I’d be interested if this is the limit of useable bandwidth for the SC440, or has anyone gotten a faster card to work with more performance.

    Have your cake and eat it too!

    Comment by Mark — August 28, 2008 @ 7:13 pm

  59. Installed an MSI 9600 GT 512mb DDR3 in the modded 4x slot (4x speed). 4meg ram, Windows Vista Premium 32bit, 3dMark05 score 10681, CPU 3721. I got this for use as a test system (I need to learn Vista and Ubuntu.) The card covers up one of the PCI slots also.
    When modding the slot work s l o w, really slow, and protect the traces on the mb. The 8x connector has the same # of pins as the 4x slot, so why make 2 cuts?
    Thank for the help.

    Comment by Bobby — September 14, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  60. Here is the US distributor of the adapters.

    http://www.ameri-rack.com/PCI-EXPRESS.htm

    What’s not clear to me is what I need to get. I’m trying to avoid doing any cutting of the slot. I have a GEForce 7300GS PCI-E card that I want to put in the SC440.

    What adapter would I need for the card and what is the optimal slot to install it in?

    TIA for any advice.

    Comment by Kevin — September 24, 2008 @ 8:14 am

  61. Hey, everybody. I have read the above posts and am a little confused. If I want to use a PCI-E card on SC440, which slot should I use for good performance, PCI-E x4 or PCI-E x8? If I am right, the PCI-E x8 on SC440 can only work at x1 speed, doesn’t it ?
    Thanks a lot !

    Comment by Hong — September 26, 2008 @ 2:58 am

  62. i put a graphics card into the debarred 8x SLOT2 (12) and it runs at only 1x.
    you might want to try cutting open SLOT4 (13), as others have reported that this slot will run at full speed. however i am leaving the system the way it is for now, performance is good.

    For slot numbers (12)(13) see the Dell documentation for the sc440 layout:

    http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/pe440sc/en/HOM/HTML/jumpers.htm#wp1055448

    Comment by ray ocw — October 2, 2008 @ 4:58 am

  63. Kevin: the x4 PCI-e slot has an x8 connector so you can use either a 4x to 16x adaptor or an 8x to 16x one. I used an 8 to 16 one, confirmed my graphics card worked OK with both XP and Ubuntu (the latter was naturally much quicker to set up). Then I marked the graphics card with a marker pen to show where the end of the x8 socket on the motherboard was, five minutes with a fine toothed saw and a needle file to cut a slot in the graphics card and it now fits in the x8 slot and the adaptor is in the spares box.

    One word of warning – be very careful that you don’t get any dust from cutting the slot into the cooling fan on the card, also make sure the card is well supported while attacking it and check that the slot is nice and clean with no whiskers of metal at the new slot as these could break off when the card in inside the case and do some damage.

    If you make a mess of the graphics card it is easy (and cheap) to replace, not quite so if you make a mess of the connector on the motherboard.

    Comment by Maury — October 2, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  64. After reading, I bought ASUS EAH3450 video card (under $40, no fan) and installed on PCI-X 4X slot. I opted to use utility knife and very fine hobby saw to cut of the end of X4 slot after inserting a stiff cardboard to prevent pin damage. Put masking tape on other slots and m/b around the 4x slot. In comparison to Optiplex desktop, SC440 is noisier, but it is a reasonable machine since I wanted legacy IDE port. I would not have purchased it had I known about odd thing Dell did with PCI-X.

    For LINUX (CentOS x86_64 for E2180 CPU), ati-driver-installer-8-10-x86.x86_64.run worked well. Its catalyst control panel shows X4 operation.

    For WinXP(32bit), I used 8-10_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu_69561.exe also available from http://ati.amd.com/support/driver.html

    In both cases, audio device (RV620 Radeon HD 34xx series) comes with the video card, which I assume is available on HDMI port. For now I use a PCI sound card for PC spkr.
    At least I could choose which sound card I want to use under both Linux and WinXP.

    Tela, OCT 08

    Comment by tela — October 15, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  65. I am about to modify my SC440 Xeon 3060 w/Raid controller to accept a Palit GeForce 9600 x16 GT Sonic w/1GB DDR3. Per JOHN post about modifying the SLOT_2 (PCIe x8) to accept the x16 graphics card & having it working at true x8 speed, what Dell BIOS version does he have? Or this SLOT_2 mod will ONLY work at x1 speed? Please confirm.

    Or should I modify the SLOT_4 (PCIe x4) to accept the x16 graphic card for x4 speed. Any clarification will be great appreciated!

    Comment by Lenny — October 16, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  66. Hey dude….up and running (almost on Ubuntu 8.10 on my Dell SC440 using slot4 (x4)…so far so good…

    I used a soldering iron with a flat head and opened up the end…fyi for others adventuring out.

    Using an eVGA 8500 GTX 1GB …

    Comment by Wendell MacKenzie — November 17, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  67. Why do people mess with a $100+ board – cut the PCIE slot end to invalidate the warranty and potentially fry the entire board? Isn’t it easier to mod the video card?

    Check out: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-scaling-analysis,1572-4.html

    The extra pins are taped. It would seem logical (and easier) to get a $30 x16 card and cut out the right pins off the middle to fit the x4 slot…

    Comment by Alic — November 25, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  68. Does anyone have a tv capture card working in this unit? Newegg has the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 on sale (1x) but it isn’t low profile. Does this mean that it wouldn’t fit in my case? It also doesn’t list 2003 as a supported OS.

    Comment by muchgooder — November 29, 2008 @ 8:21 am

  69. I’m using the HD-5500 although I’m thinking of going for an HDHomeRun (in which case it wouldn’t matter what computer was being used).

    Comment by david — November 30, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

  70. Can anybody post the picture of how it should look like after the notches are cut? I recently purchased a PCI-E X16 video card which i am planning to use it in SC440.

    Thanks for your help!

    Comment by RT — December 1, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  71. can anybody tell me whether this video card would work with SC440? I have XP Media Center 2005 installed.

    http://www.buy.com/prod/visiontek-radeon-x1300-xge-512mb-agp-ddr2-directx-9-video-card/q/loc/101/209199998.html

    RT

    Comment by RT — December 2, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  72. Hey All,

    I just completed this mod to my SC440 by using a Dremel Moto Tool – I have installed an ATI Radeon 3450 PCIe x16 and it works PERFECTLY!!!!

    I am running Linux Mint and it detected the card & set the correct native resolution straight away…

    Comment by wphkeeper — December 3, 2008 @ 3:37 am

  73. RT,
    The SC440 dos not have an AGP slot. You want PCI or PCI-e (mode required). He is a link to a photo. of Slot 4 modified by cutting out the back end.

    http://thebsdbox.co.uk/photos/v/PowerEdge_Hack/DSC_0006.JPG.html

    Comment by Bobby — December 13, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  74. Bobby,

    Thanks for the picture and correcting the cart type. There are some video cards which are PCI-e. like this one.. http://www.buy.com/prod/pny-geforce-6200-256mb-64-bit-gddr2-pci-video-card-pny-geforce-6200/q/loc/101/205520335.html

    If this works then what is the reason of cutting the notches?

    RT

    Comment by RT — December 15, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  75. Thanks very much of this, my mum is really pleased that we didn’t blow up her computer fitting the graphics card. For your information, we used a Stanley and a gas cooker to cut out the bridge-dividers. We cut out as much as we could, but couldn’t get the corners. Forcing the card into the slot and screwing it tight worked.

    Comment by David Newcomb — December 23, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  76. Great comments – really helped me out.

    I just want to confirm all of this:
    – Options between modding the 8x or 4x
    – 8x runs at 1x
    – 4x runs at 4x

    So if I don’t want to void warranty I order something like this:

    http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/blackpciexpressx4tox16adapter-p-8227.html

    Is that all correct?

    Thanks – really helped me out.

    Comment by Shanksta — December 28, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

  77. @Fiscelan: I’m still using the same card as I mentioned in the post; the GeForce 7300 GS. It’s a combo mythtv front/backend and I’ve had no video problems. (I’ve had minor issues but they haven’t been video related.)

    Comment by david — December 30, 2008 @ 7:55 am

  78. @Shanksta: Yes, that sounds about right. Remember what I mentioned earlier, though, that the adapter might add some height to the card so the card’s outputs might be off from the cage on the back of your machine. If anyone has had experience with that or finds out from the manufacturer please comment.

    Comment by david — December 30, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  79. @David: I’m planning on getting a cheapo low-profile PCI Express 1.0 card to try this out.

    I found a similar product sold by NewEgg that converts a 16x slot to a 1x slot. It says it should work with low profile cards so I’m going to bit the bullet and order the 4x adapter and hope everything will fit in nicely.

    Comment by Shanksta — December 31, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

  80. If you get a chance comment here and let me know how it works. I almost bought one of these instead of performing the mod, so I’m really curious (maybe for next time?).

    Comment by david — January 6, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  81. Hi I have a Dell Poweredge sc430 and I wanted to use a second screen with it so purchased an nVidia 7100 and sliced of the end of the pcie x4 slot. Yes the Graphics card works well but I have lost the on board vga. I have looked in the bios for a setting to have both but nothing there. Would there be a jumber on the M/B ? or any ideas to get both working at the same time?

    Many thanks

    Comment by Steve — January 31, 2009 @ 8:05 am

  82. A few years back I remember being able to do what you want to do but it was with non-Dell hardware. I believe the bios automatically disables the onboard vga when another video card is plugged in. I don’t have experience in this; it’s just what I remember reading.

    I could be remembering incorrectly, though. Be sure to check all and any bios settings related to video.

    Comment by david — January 31, 2009 @ 11:05 am

  83. I’m not doing gaming or anything that intensive, but I am a Photoshopper.

    I just installed a PNY VERTO Nvidia GeForce 8400GS PCI (*not* PCIe) into my SC440 with no hacks or modifications, and after 3 reboots, driver installation (used Vista 32-bit drivers on Swerver 2008). It works SMASHINGLY! I connected up a new Acer P241w 1920×1200 monitor, and I am experiencing Photoshop CS4 as never before! Thanks for this forum. I hope my reply can help.

    The PNY card above can be had for around $70, I got mine at Fry’s Electronics. Mine is a 512MB, supports DirectX 10, and uses only one PCI slot. Enjoy!

    Comment by milkmood — February 11, 2009 @ 7:27 am

  84. Oh my god be so careful not to bend the pins.

    GS7300 installed and working fine, little bit worried for a few minutes , two bent pins…

    Comment by Declan — February 13, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  85. I want to upgrade the CPU on the SC440 with a Intel Q8200, anyone has an idea about compatibility?? thanks.

    Comment by Sean — March 8, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

  86. Sean,
    It looks like the SC440 won’t support the 8200 or any 45nm chip.
    I just tried an 8200 in mind and it won’t post.

    http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Servers/Q_24074208.html

    Comment by That guy — April 8, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  87. [...] Dell SC440 and a Different Video Card « Blog DavTar [...]

    Pingback by asus radeon video cards Photo and Review | ASUS RADEON — April 12, 2009 @ 12:38 am

  88. Has anybodoy try any pci-e x1 card how PNY Quadro NVS 290
    Retail, PCIe x1.

    It can be a very good option for two monitors and don’t made any mod.

    Comment by Rolling — May 6, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  89. EN6200LE in modified with boxcutter 4x slot works for me. Recommend protective glasses.

    Comment by Björn — May 24, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

  90. Finaly i buy onr Radeon HD2400Pro PCI. Only insert it and run perfectly on ubuntu 9,04 with latest ati drivers (ver 9,5).
    I install one SB Live PCI that runs ok.
    The i install OSX iDeneb ver 1.4 with update to 10.5.7 and safari 4.0.

    All system works fine except the Radeon that have support for PCIe and AGP connectios but not for PCI.

    Comment by Rolling — June 10, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  91. I just updated mt SC440 with a Quad core Q6600 from Newegg ($170). The SC440 will not support 45nm chips. Had to reboot Vista after the new CPU was detected. I had to run DRMreset file from Napster for Media player because of my capture card (Haup 2250). Old 3dMark05 score 10681, new score 13775 with no overclocking. I’ll be trying kalyway 10.5.2 osx next.
    Thanks,

    Comment by Bobby — July 7, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  92. i was wondering if a 256-bit pci express card would work in any of these slots my video card that i want to buy for my sc440 is a evga geforce 460 gtx 1Gb of video memory would be nice if it worked

    Comment by rico — June 7, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  93. 9-13-11

    HI

    I just successful cut away the SLOT4. As mentioned, be carefull about bending the pins. Those pins are not soldered into the slots. As you are cutting away, they do moved. I have to bend one of the pins back into position.

    I didn’t run into melting plastic. I used a sharp kitchen knife and used the flame in the oven and burn it until it turned red. The cut took me about 10 minutes. It help to practice on another board that you’re not using. I cut away at another PCI slot just to see how the hot knife will feel when in contact with hot plastic.

    After the cut, I installed a EVGA 8000 video card and my monitor was blanked. I was wondering if my cut was bad or the pin was bad, or I need to change something in the BIOS? It turns out just a compatibility issue. I went to FRYS and got a Raeon HD 5450 and the monitor comes back on right away.

    Whew! a successful hack! Thanks for all the input which gave me the courage also to try.

    Comment by Jason — September 13, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  94. I decided to upgrade my SC440 (which I bought in Dell’s £100 offer a few years back), and this page was very helpful – thanks!

    When I got the machine I added an extra SATA card, so I could get 5 hard disks in it, and I put in 3 GB memory (2x 1GB + 2x 512MB), and it sat like that for a few years with Solaris 10 on it.

    However, I recently decided I wanted to up the CPU and add VT support, so I upgraded the processor to an Intel Q6600. I had a bit of a fright when I bought the CPU off ebay and put it in – the PC just beeped, the orange light lit, and the fan ran continuously. I took out the CPU and found out I’d been sent a Q8200, which isn’t supported. I’ve now got the correct Q6600 (quad-core 2.4 GHz) in and it’s fine.

    I also upped the memory to 4 GB (4x 1GB). I’d like to try 8, but 2GB PC2-6400 ECC unregistered/unbuffered memory is a bit rare.

    I found that the OS I wanted to install (Solaris 11) didn’t like the onboard CPU, so I temporarily put in a plain PCI Mach 64GT to get things going, and then set about getting a PCIe nVidia one. I don’t need gaming, but I did need to match my screen resolution (1680×1050), and so I got a (Dell) GeForce 7300LE, which arrived today. Of course, the card doesn’t fit in the stupid mobo slots, so I’ve just hacked a couple of extra slots into the card using a junior hacksaw (I decided I’d rather risk messing up the card than the mobo), and I’ve plugged it in and it works!

    Whilst fooling about I also installed VMware ESX and Red Hat Linux, which both work. But it’s back to Solaris now, where I’ll be doing ZFS and Zones stuff.

    Comment by Paul Rowlands — February 2, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    • (I said “onboard CPU” – I meant GPU…)

      Comment by Paul Rowlands — February 2, 2012 @ 2:23 pm


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