After many arduous hours of searching forums and trying every trick or combination of things, this is what did not work for me.
* Nvidia NVS 290, PCIe-x1, boots perfect, Windows 7 sees it, but no video using the NVS 290.
* Removed the DRAC card as suggested, and restarted the server. I had a 6 minute boot time, got the extended monitor to work once, then epic fail on each restart. I concluded the NVS 290 definitely does not work.
* Tried an Nvidia NVS 280, PCIe-x16 as suggested in another post I read. I nodded the cars by removing pins 50-52. Installed the cars in PCIe-1. Started the computer, Windows loaded fine, but again no video on the NVS 280. I again removed the DRAC, but this time long boot hang with no video ever. Conclusion, the NVS 280 does not work.
What finally did work for me!
* I accidentally stumbled across an Nvidia NVS 285, PCIe-x16, HP model P283. Instead of modifying this card, I used a x8 to x16 ribbon cable, and installed the card in the PCIe-1 slot after removing the DRAC card.
* I booted the computer perfect. No hangs, no bangs, even scanning the raid drives and everything, I had a total boot time of under two minutes.
I don't know of this will work on any other system, model, or configuration, but this exact card, a P283 using a ribbon cable in slot 1 worked for me. I now have dual screens, an extended desktop, and a very happy client.
This was my server I had used:
Dell Poweredge 2950 III
CPU: Dual Intel Xeon Quad Core 2.5GHz
Bios: Newest version as of 10/23/2014
HDD: 4x500GB in RAID 10, 2x2TB in RAID 0
PCIe-Slot-1: Nvidia NVS 285, 128MB, P283, PCIe-x16 mounted upside down using a x8 to x16 adapter.
PCIe-Slot-2: Sound Blaster Audigy FX 5.1. PCIe-x1
PCIe-Slot-3: Cmedia 5.1 Digital Sound Card PCIe-x1
Removed DRAC card completely. No other changes or mods to the system.
I hope this helps someone. I built this for a client I had that needed a new radio station server and it ended up turning out awesome, once I found the right card to use.
The 2950 isn't going to support using a graphics card in the server, as the on board video will conflict with it. That's not saying you wont find one that works, but it isn't a certified configuration for the server. If you do get it functional you will lose the ability to access the Drac as well, as that uses the on board.
Let me know if this helps.
A few notes about the 2950 and putting in a videocard.
Like Chris stated; this server was never designed to have a videocard put in. So you'll just have to try and see what works.
The system does not have any PCIe 16x slots and has no way to provide cabled power to a videocard.
So you can try a PCIe 1x card (limits you to fairly entry level cards, but still better than the onboard video option). To use a PCIe 16x card (that doesn't require more power than a PCIe slot can provide), you can either cut open the end of the PCIe 8x slot (doing this wrong could cause permanent damage to the PCIe riser and may require replacing the whole riser (the 2950 won't work with the risers populated)), or cut your videocard's PCIe connector to have an opening so it can fit in the 8x slot. There are some posts on these boards with a picture of someone having done that with the videocard.
Member since 2003
A second issue to check is that the unconnected overhanging part of the video card may possibly collide with capacitors or heatsinks, so check for this before you start cutting into the PCIe slot or the video card.
Any board/component collision problems can be solved by completely cutting off the card edge pins that won't be connected to anything, though this risks damaging the multi-layer circuit traces in the video card.
Though in general the concept is sound. PCIe will use all available lanes so you can theoretically still get at least 8x performance out of a 16x video card.
Also, you might be able to find an 8x to 16x riser card, designed to work with low-profile video cards. Some Google searching turns up this possibility:
With most PCIe video card, you should be able to use a fine toothed hacksaw blade to cut way pins 50, 51 - 53 so as to create a slot that will allow the card to be placed into a x8 PCIe socket on your server mobo. Normally you should not have an issue manufacturing such a slot within this area since most multilayer PCIe graphics cards i've seen don't seem to run tracks between the pins (though it's not defined as a safe area according to the PCIe docs i've seen). Simply, don't make the slot go further into the card body than is needed to allow the card to seat into the PCIe socket itself.
Such mods work due to the nature of the PCIe protocols which negotiates how many lanes should be used by a card itself at system boot. This was done to allow lower lane count cards to be inserted into larger lane count slots but luckily the reverse is also true if we ignore the mechanical issues when you don't have open ended PCIe sockets (hence the need for the mechanical mod).
You will also be able to cut all the remaining overhanging pins from your x16 PCIe graphic card by also using a hacksaw blade. Careful cutting will result in a x8 graphics card looking like it was made that way...
However, this does not mean such a modified graphics card will work in your server as the card will need to take control over the embedded graphics function since your server can not disable the embedded video within BIOS. This is where most people run into problems - finding a graphics card that will take over the embedded video function...
Another issue that can sometimes occur is that a system will fail to boot which may be due to the presence detect logic needing to be helped by forcing the correct number of lanes in the slot to be detected. For x8 lanes, you can connect a thin wire between pins A1 to B48 of the PCIe slot itself (to force detection of x8 lanes) which should allow the system to boot (if you had this booting problem that is).
Then there is the added issue that your x8 is not defined as a 'graphics capable slot' !! What this means is that you can only safely push 25W of power to the inserted card. You may be able to extend this limit a little (in theory my card pulls 32W max but i never work it that much...). But expecting 75W to be pulled by the graphics card via the x8 (on x16 non graphics) PCIe slot is asking more than the server can likely provide (as there is possible firmware and/or electrical issues limiting PCIe power draw - more research is needed here).
So, get yourself a cheap low power card that others have stated works in your server and mod it to fit a x8 slot. Test it in a desktop to verify it works before trying it in the server. If your lucky and have found an appropriate card, then you will be able to enjoy better graphics from your server, just don't expect to be able to turn it into a fantastic gaming machine :)
Anyway, here is a pic of my modded graphics card before i cut the rear overhanging pins...
The PCIe riser cards mentioned in the previous post can be good in that they may allow you to sidestep the 25W PCIe slot power limit (though i haven't been able to find any real info on what exactly limits the slot power draw - more research needed).
And if you use a 'powerful' graphics card, you will need to provide graphics card auxiliary connectors. Such PEG connectors don't exist on your server power supply so you will have to mod the power supply cabling to provide these and sort out the 25W PCIe limit also :)
If you don't enjoy lots or research associated with real hacking, and simply prefer a plug and play approach, trying to get a powerful graphics card to work in your server will simply frustrate you so consider a cheap desktop....
Well good luck anyway...
So I ended up not going with the gtx because it needs power and I didn't feel like doing that, but I've tried a few different cards, and all of them except a dell branded display adapter that came with an older computer, booted right into it no fuss, I'm using an ATI Radeon HD 3470. I chose this card because it is better than the built in by a long shot, has dvi, and doesn't need external power, and honestly I'm pretty sure it doesn't have the hardware to use more than 4x pci-e. ATI Radeon HD 3470 Specs | TechPowerUp GPU Database here's the card if anyone is interested, the one I'm using is similar to the picture but mine is only a half height one, no vga
Getting ready to try this card. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121778
It's 8x so no mods will be needed. From what I have researched it will be necessary to unplug the drac (I don't need) to avoid conflicts.
This is the card I purchased. It fits the 8x slot but you are correct, there is nothing clearly stating it is 8x. I make the assumption that it is.
I plugged the card into both 8x slots and got the same result. The display works during the initial bios boot, (which I believe would indicate that it has taken control) but Windows Server OS fails to launch. It would be great if there was a way to force Windows Server to launch.