Greetings fellow Linus (and co) lovers!
I bring you frustrating tidings. I'll try to keep things brief but I'm not sure how successful I'll be. This is my story, thus far:
A few days ago, work was disposing of a perfectly good ASI Clarendon SP252 server running dual Xeon e5620's, 12GB of DDR3 RAM etc. After watching many of Linus' videos where he utilises server hardware to create a gaming system, (eg.
) I immediately offered to take it off the company's hands and see what I could do with it. I mean, how often does all this perfectly good hardware just fall into someone's lap?! )
So, I quickly did some googling, decided a GTX 950 would fit my moderate 1080p gaming needs, and promptly visited the local computer store where I acquired a Gigabyte Windforce 2GB GDDR5 OC GTX 950 card for $250 Australian pesos. If I could turn this behemoth (the thing is huge, and heavy) into a respectable gaming rig for only $250 and a bit of time, a penny-pincher like me would be loving life! Alas, it was not to be.
When I got home and yanked the side off the case, I realised that the dual 750w redundant PSU's didn't have a 6-pin graphics card power connector. Fail. Will have to wait 24 hours to visit aforementioned PC store again and obtain a dual-molex to single 6-pin graphics card type power connector.
24 hours later, power cable adapter/connector connected, card installed, Windows 7 Pro loaded, nVidia drivers installed, moment of truth: To my simultaneous joy and disappointment, the performance is very nice when it works, and very not nice when it doesn't work. To be more specific, the frames are smooth and normal for about a second or two, then all the graphics pause for about a second or two, before resuming for a second or two etc etc.
I've tried several things up to this point and I have many more things that I will try in the near future but I thought I'd get a post up here and see if anyone can suggest directions to try first.
Some links to my hardware:
Server (mine is the SC5600BRP): http://www.asicomputers.com.au/Servers/ArchivedServerModels/ClarendonSP252.aspx
Graphics card: http://www.gigabyte.com.au/products/product-page.aspx?pid=5549#kf
I initially was using the supplied Seagate 400GB drives in some RAID0 configuration (virtual drives) via the Intel SAS RAID card, but as part of removing as many variables as possible, I've just gone with a single 2.5" 500GB HDD connected directly to the motherboard via a SATA port. I've also disabled the RAID card in the BIOS and unplugged the power and data cables from the backplane because I don't want to use it anyway, as it's unnecessary for my needs. The only thing I'm putting on this box is Steam and some Steam games. It does not matter at all if the data is lost as I have it all stored on a NAS (and backed up additionally) anyway.
There have been a couple of BIOS revisions but despite doing a couple of hours of reading, I can't find a user-friendly (WIndows/GUI) way of updating the BIOS. It looks as though I'm going to have to learn how to update a BIOS via the EFI shell, which will take a bit of time to learn and be confident in.
I've loaded all the drivers I can find, no change. I've ordered a Corsair VS450 (watt) PSU in case the stock server PSU's aren't delivering enough power or doing something funny. For the time being if it works, I'll be powering only the GPU off the Corsair PSU and I'll leave everything else powered by the server PSU's as I'll need to get a proper ATX case to house everything on a more permanent basis. This should arrive on Monday. If it works, I'll probably get a beefier PSU, long-term.
I'll also be swapping this card for a colleague's older card (I think he said it was a GTX 560) for a day or so to see what happens. He is also going to try my GTX 950 in his ~3 year-old rig just to make sure the actual card isn't faulty.
The PC store said I could return it, minus a meagre restocking fee, if it doesn't work, but that offer won't last forever. So I guess I'm on somewhat of a limited time-frame here.
So the things I'm looking at doing in the next couple of days in addition to the aforementioned steps:
• Trying other versions of Windows (eg. 8.1, 10, server 2008)
• Disabling the on-board video output in BIOS
• Fiddling around with various BIOS settings
• Eventually updating the BIOS firmware
I think that about covers the whole thing thus far. This is where I turn to you, dear reader. If you think you have an idea what could be causing this, please suggest it as it could save me further headaches (both figurative and literal)!!
Also FYI, this problem affects ALL graphics (all games, all benchmark tools, Windows effects) with one exception: The mouse pointer. When everything freezes/pauses, the mouse pointer stays smooth.
Apologies in advance for my first post being so long! Also apologies if this is in the wrong section. If a helpful mod could move it to the appropriate section, that'd be grand.