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PCI-E 16X a Dell power edge, and many things that don't add up.

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 26, 2010 3:57:30 AM

Ok, here is an interesting one that I am sure will have allot of discussion going.
I have a poweredge sc420. On the board there is a slot labeled PCI-E 16X, but unlike PCI-E slots with one divider in them, this one had 2... See picture below.

So I did some reading online, and managed to discover that if I carefully cut that divider out, I can use it as a PCI-E slot. But this is where it gets interesting. The slot is labeled PCI-E 16X, is the same shape and size as a PCI-E 16X slot(Save for the divider) however, there are no pins after the divider. No pins after the 49th on either side.
So, I buy an nvidia 8500 GT, cut the divider out, and slip in the card. For a couple of years it ran fantastic!
I used it today for the first time in like 6 months to play a 3d game. I play the original Everquest in a private server. This game boasted the need for a video card with 32 megs of ram... I run two instances of the game, still should be not match for the cheap 8500gt, and usually it isn't. However, today it was running quite slow. After some fiddling with drivers, and the rest, I decide its time for a format. Hasn't been done in like 2 years. I had XP on it but decided to install Windows 7 on it. In the middle of the install I get this horrible stench coming from it. You know, the stench you get when you blow a cap? BSOD (the only one I got during all this), and the system reboots. Still running fine. Tells me that the system rebooted in the middle of the install, and install can't continue. I need to start from scratch. No problem. I restart the computer, and I swear if I had not turned it off, I would have started a tornado in here. The fan spun up so hard it was blowing gale force winds! So I ripped the power cord out from behind it, took a deep breath, and plugged it back in. Well no problem, started the install, and it started to act weird. After deleting one partition, the system froze and the screen went light blue (No, I didn't get a BSOD, it was lighter then that, and said nothing.) Eventually the system rebooted. Still getting that stench. So into the computer I go. One cap is puffed up a bit, but not leaking. I notice that the area by the PCI and PCI-E slots is quite hot. So I yank out a card I don't' use anyway, and feel the GPU. God is it hot.. And the fan is so ceased, it had to have been ceased for months. So I yank the card, and try and figure out what I am gonna do. And here is where I start to not remember the exact order I did things in. At some point I noticed that the power light would flash orange, and the system refused to turn on. I played around with it a bit, and managed to get it to turn on every now and then. But it didn't last. So I decide, ok, lets get a fan on this card, and get it back in there. So, I replace the fan on the card and make an interesting discovery. When the 8500 is in the system, it won't turn on. But when its not in the system, the system turns on fine. Ok, so now I am thinking, WTF? So I start poking around in there, and I see that pin 49 in the PCI-E slot on one side is damaged. Ok, I have found the problem. I get in there with a pin, poke around at it, get it back into place, and do a few things to try and make sure it connects with the card. Despite the fact I am SURE I managed to get pin 49 to connect to the card, it would not turn on with the card in the system. So, I start thinking, what is this pin 49 for anyway? I look it up.. Its a ground! Just like every 3rd pin on the GD thing! One ground isn't gonna prevent the computer from accessing the card anyway! Now I am thinking the card is dead... But, of course, I have no other PCI-E cards to test, or any MOBO's with PCI-E slots in them. The system seems to run just fine with the on board video card.
So, here come the list of questions for debate. First the important ones. Can a GPU become a bit flaky before it finally gives out? Like, I had NO glitches in the video whatsoever, just one BSOD that I was unable to pull any codes from because it was too fast, and in the middle of an install (I just formatted the partition and re-installed again) and one light blue screen. Other then that it worked fine.
I seem to vaguely recall that pin 49 being defective 2 years ago when I first installed the card. Will a ground prevent the card from working? Or is like anything else with 20 ground lines. You cut one, and its just fine?
So, what do you think the issue is? The PCI-E slot, or the card? (Don't say its Dell, cause I am already aware of that issue. I got the system for free, and that's the only reason I own one.)
Now the less important ones, and I am sure the ones that will get the most debate.
How can this be a PCI-E 16X with 1/2 the pins missing? Is this perhaps an 8X? But the 8500 requires a 16X port, how is it working on an 8X? And lets not forget its labeled clearly PCI-E 16X.
Now this amber flashing light? Anyone know what it really means? I hard heard everything from a heat issue, to a power issue, to a hardware issue, to a "general fault" condition. This leads me to believe that it is a possibility the power supply is getting flaky, and can no longer handle the power requirements of the card so when it detects the card it won't turn on.
So, there are all my questions and topics for debate. I would love to hear what you think the issue is, or if there are any other tests you think I should preform.

Thanks all in advance.
December 26, 2010 4:10:18 PM

In the end one question comes to mind. Why are you trying to salvage this very old and damaged motherboard with equally old video card? I am not sure how strict your budget is but a quick look through craigslist or ebay will likely find you a much more modern and faster pair of mobo and video card for a cheap price. In the end what happened is you modded your PCIE bus and eventually it shorted out likely down to the mobo tracing. Your mobo needs to be replaced. Your video card is probably fine but not worth keeping at this point.
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December 26, 2010 4:19:55 PM

1.Can a GPU become a bit flaky before it finally gives out?
Yes, a couple of ways. The most common way is when it starts overheating, which is what happened with your card. You mentioned not playing anything more graphic intensive than everquest, which adds weight to that theory. Once the card crashes, the system crashes with it, causing a reset.
Once you install the card in the computer, the integrated graphics shut off. Yada yada...
The blue screen is the result of your fried card.
2. Dell is infamous for cutting corners. That x16 slot is most likely a x8 slot alloting only half the power a normal PCIe slot has. By running that game, the board was working harder than it could, which would cause instability, as well as a fried cap.(assuming that cap you found was on the board, not the gpu)
The 8500 is a low profile card, which would allow it to function in that crippled slot, but not to its full potential.
The flashing light can be anything, but it mean something's wrong.

That's what I think, anyway...
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December 28, 2010 1:30:52 AM

warezme said:
In the end one question comes to mind. Why are you trying to salvage this very old and damaged motherboard with equally old video card? I am not sure how strict your budget is but a quick look through craigslist or ebay will likely find you a much more modern and faster pair of mobo and video card for a cheap price. In the end what happened is you modded your PCIE bus and eventually it shorted out likely down to the mobo tracing. Your mobo needs to be replaced. Your video card is probably fine but not worth keeping at this point.


The most graphics intensive game I play requires a 64 meg video card. The card I have is fine for what I do. I don't need a new card.
The card worked in that slot for almost 2 years with no issue. The issue just appeared one day. I didn't open the case, nothing. So, no, the mobo has not been damaged as a result of the mod, or it would have shown issues almost 2 years ago. Besides cutting dividers out of slots keeps you at least 1/8 inch away from the mobo. And that 1/8 inch is solid plastic. Unless you go in there with a jigsaw or are a total moron, you are not cutting down to the mobo.
Although most of dells stuff is crap, there server line is VERY high quality. These machines as they come STOCK with 256 megs of ram and a 40 gig HD (Maybe its 30?) STILL sell for over $400 used. So I may be able to get a MOBO and video card used cheap, I cannot get the quality of the MOBO I have.
There is honestly no point spending the money for an upgrade when I don't need one.
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December 28, 2010 1:37:35 AM

stingstang said:
1.Can a GPU become a bit flaky before it finally gives out?
Yes, a couple of ways. The most common way is when it starts overheating, which is what happened with your card. You mentioned not playing anything more graphic intensive than everquest, which adds weight to that theory. Once the card crashes, the system crashes with it, causing a reset.
Once you install the card in the computer, the integrated graphics shut off. Yada yada...
The blue screen is the result of your fried card.
2. Dell is infamous for cutting corners. That x16 slot is most likely a x8 slot alloting only half the power a normal PCIe slot has. By running that game, the board was working harder than it could, which would cause instability, as well as a fried cap.(assuming that cap you found was on the board, not the gpu)
The 8500 is a low profile card, which would allow it to function in that crippled slot, but not to its full potential.
The flashing light can be anything, but it mean something's wrong.

That's what I think, anyway...

Thank you for your very informative answer. Although a real stab in the dark, do you know of any way I can test a PCI-E video card, without a computer? Likely not, but I thought I would ask.
As far as the flashing light, from what I have read it is a generic hardware fault. 90% of the time it is the power supply, but the fact it only happens when I plug in the video card leads me to believe its the card.
One more thing I forgot to mention. What started this whole thing was my game was playing with a very slow frame rate. As I am sure you can guess, with a game so incredibly old, I am used to getting a very good frame rate. That is the ONLY 'glitch' I got from the card before the BSOD and all the funny stuff. So the next question, is it possible the card will "slow down" and give me crappy frame rates as a result of overheating? I am beginning to think more and more that my card is ready to go to the computer graveyard rather then the mobo.
P.S. Yes, it is a cap on the MOBO, but the cap is no where near the PCI-E slot. And its just buldging, its not blown (Or I assume I would have no MOBO anymore)
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