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.