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N54L + GT 730 + E1G44HT NIC


tswalker
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I had some fun this weekend and did a few changes to my N54L.

 

I removed the SYBA SY-PEX24028 cards that I've had in the system for about a year and upgraded to a single 4 port ADDON E1G44HT-AOK (in x16 slot, reasons below). This card is "exactly" like the Intel version, but 80$ cheaper... detected as a I340-T4 server network adapter. To bad it doesn't have SR-IOV. Works like a charm in 2012 R2 and I'll be doing throughput tests this coming week with MPIO on it.

 

I also wanted to give VDI a try with RemoteFX, and so I picked up a Zotac ZT-71107-10L GT 730 to be used in the PCIe x1 slot (it's the only one available for x1 slot). While other GT 730 cards are x16 or x8 (?), I couldn't afford to put it in the x16 slot, as I really needed the bandwidth on the bus for the 4 port network adapter (x4). So... ya, it works! The TDP (based on NVidia) on is only 23W, and it barely registers 1 Volt (via GPU-Z).

 

I wouldn't rush out to buy one though without knowing what you're getting into, cause I had to do some serious modification to it to get it to fit.

 

* The heat sink is passive, and is so wide that it actually extends just enough over the x16 slot to make metal-to-metal contact on the backside of the card in that slot. I removed it, and took the Dremel to it. Polished the contact area to the GPU, applied some Arctic silver to it, and re-seated it. You only have approximately 3/8" between the two PCB's (x1 slot and x16), so... a really tight fit in there. Got it in though with about 1/4" gap between the two cards (or less :) ).

 

* The VGA port is extended via ribbon cable and can be simply removed. I thought this would be fine as I would use the DVI port or HDMI to the display; however, Zotac seems to have some QC issues. The DVI port did not have any of the C1-C4 pins nor the center post! Even though the PCB has all the traces for it.. it would not work and left me with the impression that the system wasn't posting until I plugged in the VGA ribbon cable and it was actually working. So, I removed it... completely. (as in, removed the DVI female port from the PCB). I then cut the full height bracket down (it has the PCB mounting screw for stability), attached it to the card, and then attached the half height bracket used for the VGA extension using the jacket screws to hold it in place. It works.

 

I unfortunately didn't take any "before" pictures as I was literally winging it, but I may pull the system out tomorrow and take a few snap shots of my ineptitude. I'm sure some engineer or professional tool smith is rolling in their grave.

 

Just a few notes:

- since these 730's are GT cards.. it seems that the sink mounts are standard with the old GT cards (like from a few years ago). I had an old MSI GT card in a crate, and sure enough, it's heat sink would fit the mounts. I used it as a test for cutting and layout before obliterating the Zotac sink. It's highly possible to maybe find a replacement sink or one with pipes if it is shallow enough... one with a fan would be good.

 

- after all that, I probably should have gone ahead and purchased the GT 730 1GB with DDR5 memory and cut the traces out to fit the x1 slot. The performance would probably have been considerably better in the long run. And it only requires 25W... since being limited on power in the N54L (140W + 65W, @rail +12V 11A) these passive GT cards are the way to go.

 

- I have yet to do any 3D tests on the card, but anything has to be better than that HD4200 on the mainboard. The plus is, it support DirectX 12 (feature level 11_0) and the NVidia windows 8.1 344.48 driver will install on windows server 2012 r2 with no issue. RemoteFX recognized the card right away and now I can run some VDI tests with it. I'm not expecting miracles in performance though, that x1 slot is pretty limited (even though it is PCIe 2.0)... we'll see.

 

Zotac GT 730: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500355

Addon Ethernet: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833516163

 

GPUZ: http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u400/tswalkbucket/Misc/n54l-gpuz_zps2a639bec.png

Edited by tswalker
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just finished my initial round of testing with just MPIO with two paths (or NICs I should say)... performance is up a bit to as high as 710Mbps on both, so that will be helpful. The I340-T4 seems to be holding up nicely.

 

Just in general, the target server (dx4000) was reconfigured for 4disk RAID 5 subsystem with 64K stripes and 64K allocation units on the data volumes holding my test VHDX files serving MPIO on the two 82574L NICs, while I use a Surface USB3>Ethernet adapter for the management side. Performance is considerably better on that end with reads up to as high as 530MB/s and writes (depending on transfer size and other things of course) as high as 246MB/s. I'll do some averaging later with the DiskSPD tool.

 

This brings the iSCSI Initiator on the N54L up too with the best performance for writes at 131MB/s and reads well above 120MB/s with a high of ~170MB/s. That may not sound like much compared to a local SCSI array, but it actually beats the tar out of the eSATA performance with my TR4M-BNC (UhClem's post: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4727-successfully-enabled-port-multiplier-on-esata/?p=53110 explains all that mess with CBS).

 

I think as I go back and test the issues I was having with running a DC over iSCSI with these new intel adapters and see if the problems occur again before I venture further into VDI. I rebuilt everything from scratch and left the MPIO configuration as default and only tweaked some minor adapter settings (like Jumbo Frames, Interrupt Moderation Rate, Tx&Rx Buffers).

 

I did run into some serious problems though, not at all related to the hardware/network changes I've been working on. I'm going to post to TechNet about it, but there is something fishy going on with FSRM and SMI-S with a few of the latest patches. I think I've narrowed it down to KB3000061, but for now I've got those roles removed and iSCSI is working well again. They seem to be breaking WS_Management and a few hooks with WMI Providers.. I dunno really the reasons, but I'll post a link here to it when I'm done.

 

[edit]

here the link: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/0b4711e1-a29f-4c9c-ab67-ea29334f3ebc/fsrm-smis-and-iscsi-problems-error-code-2147749892?forum=winserverfiles

Edited by tswalker
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I have had zero issues after changing out those SYBA SY-PEX24028 adapters to the Intel I340-T4... too bad, they seem to work fine for just pass-through VHD, just when HyperV running a DC in a VM would those time-outs happen.

 

I suppose I could use them in other machines for hosting member servers, just not domain controllers. :(

Edited by tswalker
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