Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Bren0man

Converting server to gaming rig! But can I get it to work...?

Recommended Posts

Posted · Original PosterOP

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

Motherboard: http://ark.intel.com/products/36599/Intel-Server-Board-S5520HC

CPU('s): http://ark.intel.com/products/47925/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5620-12M-Cache-2_40-GHz-5_86-GTs-Intel-QPI

 

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. 

 

<3

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Bren0man said:

I have almost the exact same server as you and have no problems. My Case is the much smaller 19" with Dual PSU and 6 HDD bay hot swap.

 

The motherboard in it is the same, Intel S5520HC, but I have dual Intel Xeon E5520 with 36GB ram and a Asus 6970 graphics card. Had to use molex adapters like you had to. I also changed out the CPU coolers for two Cosair H55's to get the noise down, now it's almost silent.

 

The hardware you have should work fine and from memory I didn't have to do anything special to get mine going nicely. It was a long time ago but I know I didn't do any firmware updates. I have seen a similar issue to what you describe and it turned out to be storage related so check these drivers and also while running a benchmark check the disk queue length in resource monitor.

 

Hope you get it working as it will be an amazingly good system.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From my experience sounds like the HDD are having some issues. Try install windows 8 or 7 on a new or known good drive. 

 

When ever I have a boot HDD or SSD become disconnected most things will work until you try some thing new. For example graphics will freeze but the cursor will work fine. 

Edited by Mixchew

|| 5820K @ 4.7GHZ - R15: 1362 || GTX 770 || 16GB LPX || MSI X99A Krait || 128GB 850 PRO || RAID 0 4x128GB SSD || NH D15 || NZXT H440 || 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
26 minutes ago, leadeater said:

I have almost the exact same server as you and have no problems. My Case is the much smaller 19" with Dual PSU and 6 HDD bay hot swap.

 

The motherboard in it is the same, Intel S5520HC, but I have dual Intel Xeon E5520 with 36GB ram and a Asus 6970 graphics card. Had to use molex adapters like you had to. I also changed out the CPU coolers for two Cosair H55's to get the noise down, now it's almost silent.

 

The hardware you have should work fine and from memory I didn't have to do anything special to get mine going nicely. It was a long time ago but I know I didn't do any firmware updates. I have seen a similar issue to what you describe and it turned out to be storage related so check these drivers and also while running a benchmark check the disk queue length in resource monitor.

 

Hope you get it working as it will be an amazingly good system.

Thanks so much for responding. It's good know that you were able to get your system working well. 

 

I wonder if the age of your graphics card makes your system far more likely to work, whereas the current generation nVidia cards might be a bit too far a of a stretch for some reason. This will possibly be answered when I try my colleague's older card. 

 

Now that I've disabled the RAID card, what drivers would I get for a standard HDD connected via SATA? Aren't SATA drives all just plug-and-pay nowadays? 

 

So I checked out the disk queue length during benchmark like you suggested. What kind of figures would I be looking for? It mostly stayed at 0.00 but spiked to around 3.00 a few times. I have some screenshots if you think they'd help. 

 

I played around with some more settings in the BIOS too, turned everything down or off that I possibly could. No change. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, Mixchew said:

From my experience sounds like the HDD are having some issues. Try install windows 8 or 7 on a new or known good drive. 

 

When ever I have a boot HDD or SSD become disconnected most things will work until you try some thing new. For example graphics will freeze but the cursor will work fine. 

Thanks for your input. I couldn't be sure but I don't think this is the case as I changed from using an Intel SAS RAID card with several drives configured as virtual drives, to a single 500GB 2.5" HDD connected directly to one of the motherboard's SATA ports. I also disconnected the SAS backplane from data and power and also disabled it in the BIOS to be sure it wasn't affecting things. 

 

I will actually be getting my hands on a new 240GB Crucial SSD tomorrow so I'll have another opportunity to further rule out drive problems. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
2 hours ago, leadeater said:

I have seen a similar issue to what you describe and it turned out to be storage related so check these drivers and also while running a benchmark check the disk queue length in resource monitor.

I played around in the BIOS with storage config settings and had some interesting results. When I changed the SATA mode to 'compatibility' (where the ports are set as Legacy IDE, as opposed to the standard Native IDE), the mouse cursor would halt continuously. It made it very difficult to use the PC. 

 

I ran the benchmarking tool as normal (Unigine Valley) and the halting of the mouse did not match up with the halting of the graphics. I don't really know what to make of this. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bren0man said:

So I checked out the disk queue length during benchmark like you suggested. What kind of figures would I be looking for? It mostly stayed at 0.00 but spiked to around 3.00 a few times. I have some screenshots if you think they'd help.

What your getting is normal. Constantly being above 30 would be a problem and spiking over 100+ was the issue a system was having with similar symptoms to what you described.

 

As for the drivers for the sata ports, yes it should just be plug and play. The motherboard/chipset isn't actually that old, X58 era. I haven't actually used the sata ports on my system for anything other than the DVD drive since I've always used a hardware RAID card with it so can't confirm much around that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Bren0man said:

I wonder if the age of your graphics card makes your system far more likely to work, whereas the current generation nVidia cards might be a bit too far a of a stretch for some reason. This will possibly be answered when I try my colleague's older card.

 

It should be just fine. The slots will be PCIE 2.0 compliant, which is plenty of bandwidth for the GTX950.

I used to have dual E5530's (now has X5650's) in my server, and with a GTX980 it was just fine.

I do run my server off SSD though, so perhaps something related to the drive/drives

 

Have found Intel boards to be problematic though, probably why they stopped making desktop/consumer motherboards - BIOS update sounds like a good idea.


Spoiler

Desktop: Ryzen 7 2700x | Aorus X470 Gaming Ultra | EVGA RTX2080 Super | 32GB (4x8GB) Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 3200Mhz | Corsair H105 AIO, NZXT Sentry 3 | Corsair SP120's | 1TB Crucial P1 NVMe, 4TB WD Black | Phanteks Enthoo Pro | Corsair RM650v2 PSU | LG 32" 32GK850G Monitor | Ducky Shine 3 Keyboard, Logitech G502, MicroLab Solo 7C Speakers, Razer Goliathus Extended, X360 Controller | Windows 10 Pro | SteelSeries Siberia 350 Headphones

 

Spoiler

Server 1: Fractal Design Define R6 | Ryzen 3950x | ASRock X570 Taichi | EVGA GTX1070 FTW | 64GB (4x16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000Mhz | Corsair RM650v2 PSU | Fractal S36 Triple AIO | 10 x 8TB HGST Ultrastar He10 (WD Whitelabel) | 500GB Aorus Gen4 NVMe | 2 x 1TB Crucial P1 NVMe | LSI 9211-8i HBA

 

Server 2: Corsair 400R | IcyDock MB998SP & MB455SPF | Seasonic Focus Plus 650w PSU | 2 x Xeon X5650's | 48GB DDR3-ECC | Asus Z8NA-D6C Motherboard | AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 | LSI MegaRAID 9271-8i | RES2SV240 SAS Expander | Samsung 840Evo 120GB | 5 x 8TB Seagate Archives | 10 x 3TB WD Red

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
14 hours ago, leadeater said:

What your getting is normal. Constantly being above 30 would be a problem and spiking over 100+ was the issue a system was having with similar symptoms to what you described.

 

As for the drivers for the sata ports, yes it should just be plug and play. The motherboard/chipset isn't actually that old, X58 era. I haven't actually used the sata ports on my system for anything other than the DVD drive since I've always used a hardware RAID card with it so can't confirm much around that.

Okay, cool. Continue down the rabbit hole! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
6 hours ago, Jarsky said:

It should be just fine. The slots will be PCIE 2.0 compliant, which is plenty of bandwidth for the GTX950.

I used to have dual E5530's (now has X5650's) in my server, and with a GTX980 it was just fine.

I do run my server off SSD though, so perhaps something related to the drive/drives

 

Have found Intel boards to be problematic though, probably why they stopped making desktop/consumer motherboards - BIOS update sounds like a good idea.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

 

This was my thinking, also. My new SSD and 450W PSU were just delivered so I'll throw those in as soon as I get home from work and hopefully rule out those two things. I also removed all RAM chips except one to rule out another variable. 

 

If I get enough time tonight, I'll look up how to update the BIOS the easiest way possible (EFI shell?) and try do that also. I hope it works lol. I really don't want to have to go down the path of trying to source a cheap LGA1366 board as that introduces additional complexities and cost, thereby defeating the purpose of the project. Anyway, one step at a time. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thread moved on over to Troubleshooting.


"It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out." - Carl Sagan.

"If you place a piece of bread somewhere on Earth, and another one on that point's antipodes, well you made yourself an Earth-sandwich." - Michael from Vsauce.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Hey all. Great news! I got it to work, and so far, she's working a treat. I won't go into much detail right now as it's late and I'm exhausted, but for some reason, it wasn't playing well with Windows 7. As soon as I installed Windows 8.1 or 10 (my preferred OS), BAM! Off she went without a hitch. 

 

I'll type a follow-up post tomorrow. Cheers. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×