[SATLUG] Adventures in HW upgrades

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at gmail.com
Sat Jul 26 21:10:28 CDT 2008

I thought I'd document what I just went through in a HW update.

I wanted to add a 2nd 1920x1200 monitor to my Dell 370n system, so I did some 
research.  To get a video card that I need to get the resolution I want, I need 
to first upgrade my 350W power supply.

Well I ordered a  Silencer 500 Dell Power Supply from PC Power Zone ($100 + $10 
shipping).  It seems that Dell has some special needs/requirements for a power 
supply, but they don't have a power supply upgrade for my system.

It went in just fine.  There are a *lot* of cables.  The biggest problem is how 
to shut the clamshell case with all those cables.  The power supply is nice and 
quiet.  You can't tell when it is on.

Then I ordered a Nvidia 9800 GTX from NewEgg($200 + $9 shipping).  It is a 
*large* card.  It takes up two slots and is quite long.  The fan is at least 3 
inches in diameter and is a centrifugal type.

Removing the old video card was slightly tricky as the PCI-E slot has a plastic 
lock at the back of the slot and I had to figure out that I needed to pull the 
lever to release it.  It was kinda hidden and not obvious.

Then I plugged in the new card and turned on the computer.

Nothing.  Some red lights, but no fan motion and no boot.  Oops.  I checked the 
documentation.  It was basically "plug in the card".  Now what...

Examining the card a little more closely, there is a black tag on a black body 
that says in small print: This graphics card may not function or boot without 
both auxiliary connectors attached.

Looking around, I see two connectors on the new power supply that are labeled 
PCI-E.  They fit.  So I power up and the video card fan works and the system 
boots, but no video output.

I use the adapter to try VGA.  It works!  Now I plug in the DVI and nothing.  I 
reboot and DVI works.  Success, but not easy.

Final results:  glxgears gives me 10322 FPS.  That's about twice what I had 
before.  The DVI input to my monitor works and the VGA smearing that was there 
before is now gone.  (The old card only supported 1600x1200 for DVI output.)

Now, to get a second monitor and configure TwinView.  Onward.

   -- Bruce

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