R900 Video Upgrade


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R900 Video Upgrade

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I have acquired a R900 to be used as a workstation. I need to run multiple monitors. I have added my NVS440 x1 card and Win2K8R2 recognizes it. I've added the drivers. Unfortunately, the second monitor doesn't come up and the NVS 440 and it's one test monitor doesn't show up when I go into "Screen Resolution" to try to activate the second monitor. I've looked through the R900 documentation and could not find a reason for an add-in adapter not to work.

I need either the on-board video to work with the add-in NVS 440 adapter or I need two add-in adapters to allow me to add at least a fifth monitor.

  • Does the R900 allow one or more video adapters to be added?
  • Does it allow use of both the on-board video and an add-in adapter? If no, how do I disable the on-board video?
  • Does it allow two add-in video adapters?

Being the greedy person I am, I would like to continue having the DRAC console redirection work if possible.

  • If the on-board video will work with an add-in card, will the on-board act as primary video and allow the DRAC console redirection to continue working?
  • If the on-board video will not work with an add-in card, is there any way for the DRAC console redirection to continue working?

If I can get this thing to work with more than 4 monitors it will be a nice improvement over the Inspiron 530 I'm using now. If I can't get at least 4, I may have to rack it and use RDP from the Inspiron to maintain at least my 4 monitors but, I was hoping to consolidate to reduce the impact of the R900 on my environmental control and electric bill. Any help would be appreciated.



All Replies
  • Tom,

    Most of Dell servers do not support the use of 3rd party video cards, except the 12th generation servers that use it for GPGPU purposes, not for display. That being said, it doesn't mean that every card won't work, ut it isn't a tested thing on our servers so we wouldn't be able to specify a specific card. It would be trial and error.

    Chris Hawk

    Dell | Social Outreach Services - Enterprise
    Get Support on Twitter @DellCaresPro 
    Download the Dell Quick Resource Locator app today to access PowerEdge support content on your mobile device! (iOS, Android, Windows)

  • Whether the server would work with my specific adapter was not one of the questions I asked, although I think the card is a Dell OEM version of the Nvidia Quadro NVS 440. What I need to know is...

    ...whether it will work with ANY add-in video adapter?

    ...whether the on-board video and/or DRAC remote console will still work with  the add-in video adapter?

    ...how to disable on-board video if necessary?

  • As I said it could work with some 3rd party adapter, but which one is unknown.

    I am not certain whether they will work together or not. As the driver may interfere with the embedded video.

    There is not a way to disable the embedded in the R900 BIOS.

    Chris Hawk

    Dell | Social Outreach Services - Enterprise
    Get Support on Twitter @DellCaresPro 
    Download the Dell Quick Resource Locator app today to access PowerEdge support content on your mobile device! (iOS, Android, Windows)

  • Fortunately, the integrated video on my Inspiron 530 can be, and has been, disabled. Also fortunately, the Dell position that the Inspiron 530 cannot support two video adapters is not quite true. I took the NVS 440 out of the R900 and put it in the x1 slot right beside my NVS 450. I won't be able to decommission my 530 but, at least once I move most everything over to the R900, I can downgrade my 530 by putting in a single 500GB drive in place of my 2TB [fake]RAID1, whose annoying behavior was the tipping point leading to my R900 purchase.

    So, for now, my solution is to rack the R900 and forget about getting the add-in graphics working and use the multi-monitor support in RDP to connect from my 530. As more folks, with more patience and hardware aptitude than I, get R900's and turn them into workstations I may revisit putting a couple NVS 440's in it and decommissioning the 530. I'm sure I can't be the only IT person that works with a lot of test VM's and needs a workstation with lots of cores, lots of screen real estate and real [hardware] RAID.

  • I am not familiar with the R900 but within your BIOS, under "Integrated devices" section, IF you have a grayed out option for "Embedded Video Controller" within the "Integrated Device" screen,  then your in luck as there are possibilities.

    If you do have such an option, all you need to do is install a PCIe graphics card into a slot and again jump into the BIOS, but this time the "Embedded Video Controller" option will not be grayed out and you will now be able to set it to "Disabled".

    This has some consequences though as the embedded video controller will not output any video signals and the DRAC features related to video will no longer function. Such a set up is also not supported by Dell.

    And there are other issue that one must consider, mechanical, electrical(logic) and power. If you don't have a x16 slot you can't install a decent card into your system. The PCIe slot only supports 25W cards (not 75W as i think there is a BIOS logic limit) and there is no graphics card PEG power connector available. In my case, I got around the mechanical/logic/electrical issues by modifying a x16 32W (close to 25W) graphics card and installed it into the x8 slot of my T610. All works well for us. In your case, there may be a more appropriate NVS x16 cards you could consider (the x8 mods are easy) that support 4 monitors. I havent looked into SLI styled multi card configurations on my server yet so don't know if it will work...

    If you don't have an ability to disable the embedded video option within BIOS, then unfortunately it's like pushing it uphill as finding a card that will not conflict with, and take over from the embedded video is a hit miss affair.

    Search the server forum as i have made lots of posts on the subject.

  • skylarking, thanks for the input. The PowerEdge R900 does not have the appropriate entry in the BIOS for disabling the integrated video. Windows was able to see the video adapter in device mangler and load drivers. Unfortunately, the single monitor I attached never displayed anything and the adapter and the monitor did not show up when I tried to set the resolution under personalize. Could be a driver problem, although since the monitor did not even show VGA, probably not.

    Regarding power, the Quadro NVS 440 I tried to install is an x1, no fan and Only 256MB. I have another Quadro NVS 440 that is x16 but, other than than slot requirement, it is identical to the x1. Its successor, the Quadro NVS 450 is also x16 but, has 512MB. Still no fan or external power requirements.

    None of these cards would be decent by today's standards. Fortunately I do not need decent video adapters for my needs, just an over-abundance of monitors. I currently drive four monitors at 1920x1080. It handles web surfing using a browser window of around 1900x2000 across two monitors, with 4-14, or more, tabs open. Another monitor for all things communication: email, IM and Skype. My primary monitor is where I connect to my work PC via RDP and where I keep my gadgets for keeping track of the time in various parts of the world where I support customers, monitoring PC performance and the weather. Eve Online is the most taxing gaming I do and I usually run three or four instances, each full-screen on its own monitor.

    I had hoped to retire the 530 but, putting my data, and all my VM workload, on the R900 with *REAL* RAID, 24 cores and 32GB, and  getting rid of the annoying fake RAID on my 530 will be almost as good. I was also hoping to get multiple video adapters working in the R900. By buying the x1 version of the NVS 440 for the R900, and just giving it a try in my  530 when I couldn't get it to work in the R900, I stumbled on a way to achieve the impossible on the Inspiron 530 by going beyond the 4-monitor limit I have been living with for the last few years. The relatively low power requirements of the 440 and 450 is what allows me to now have both in my Inspiron 530. BTW: Officially, two graphics adapters in the 530 is not possible.

  • If BIOS does not allow you to disable the matrox G200 integrated video adapter, then you will have a very difficult time getting PCIe video card to work despite the fact that Windows sees the card and loads drivers.

    The problem is that BIOS does initial configuration and sets up the G200 as the default adapter and outputs the boot progress to the G200 (which integrates nicely with the DRAC and allows you to record boot issues and view them remotely). Any other PCIe video card which is inserted can cause conflicts at boot time possibly resulting in halting the boot process. In your case you're lucky and boot continues into Windows which sees the G200 and the PCIe video card but Windows/graphics driver does not allow you to set a PCIe video adapter as the default adapter. That's just Windows. With Linux on the other hand, you can specify which adapter is the default adapter though you can't get around the initial boot process outputting to the G200. There are posts to this affect on the server forum.

    For successful results you need to disable integrated video and for that you need a new Dell BIOS (don't hold your breath) or you need skills to hack the Dell BIOS and allow the feature to disable integrated video. I haven't looked into hacking the BIOS so can't comment on how difficult this would be.