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HD4350, a PCI-E x1 Slot and a Dremel (Tons of Pics Warning).

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#1
First, a public service announcement:

WARNING:
There is almost no room for error and you need a very steady hand with a Dremel (Or more professional tooling) to get this done. If someone attempts this and kills their card, I take no responsibility. Be careful with taking power tools to your video cards :eek:

Don't do this to a piece of hardware you'll miss if something goes wrong. Killing it is real easy.

And now we return to our scheduled report:

With the possible acquisition of a new TV and with the wish for a third monitor in any case, the need arose for a second video card in my system to drive that display. Since I did not want to take up the second PCI-E x16 slot in my system, and since PCI video cards are relatively expensive (and nearly impossible to find here locally), I decided to mod a Sapphire HD4350 (availiable everywhere here and el cheapo) to use a PCI-E x1 slot. I did not want to cut the slot on the motherboard (to make it open-ended), since the motherboard cost me plenty and is still under warranty, whereas the card was cheap.

In the process, I decided to also benchmark the effects of the HD4350 being run at full bandwidth, at PCI-E 2.0 x1 and PCI-E x1. Considering it is a weakling of a card, I thought the bandwidth might not matter, but as we shall see shortly, I was wrong. No issue for me, I only use it to drive two more monitors, but interesting to see nonetheless.

The testing system is my main rig in my system specs tab (The leftmost one in the list) and the benchmarks are ran were 3DMark06, 3DMark Vantage and Crysis at 1680x1050 on Low settings.

Here's the victim's box:


And here is the victim from the front:


And from the rear:


And how small it is next to my HD4870X2:


To check whether I am going to cut off the right number of connectors, I first tested the card with some of the golden fingers taped over. The card looked like this with most of the connectors covered:


And here's the back of it:


Dismemberment !


And here it is in the computer for testing:


And here it is sitting above my HD4870X2 (Temps on both are alright this way):


Success !


Okay, I promised some benchmarks, so here they are:
Crysis was benchmarked by running through the early game (Contact) until the GPS jammer on the beach (Including taking it out and watching the fireworks) and recording the FPS with FRAPS. 3DMV and 3DM06 were run on their defaults. The card was OC'ed to the maximum CCC Overdrive would allow it just for the heck of it.

First, the card running at half-full bandwidth. It comes up at PCI-E 2.0 x8 in GPU-Z since that's what the slots on the mATX DFI P45 are wired as, but this shouldn't have any effect on its performance - Even far more powerful cards do not mind the PCI-E 2.0 x8 bandwidth.

Crysis:
Min: 7
Avg: 16.559
Max: 24

3DMark06:


3DMark Vantage:


Now, the card running at the PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot in the pre-cut testing, taped over to reveal only one PCI-E lane. Resulting bandwidth is a single PCI-E 2.0 lane.

Crysis:
Min: 7
Avg: 15.009
Max: 23

3DMark06:


3DMark Vantage:


Finally, the chopped down card in the PCI-Ex1 slot.

Crysis:
Min: 6
Avg: 13.633
Max: 21

3DMark06:


3DMark Vantage:


As you can see, getting chopped down to a single PCI-E lane had an effect on the card's performance, with the biggest drop occurring in 3DMark06.

I hope this is informative and of use to someone. I had tons of fun doing it and was a little surprised I did not kill it in the process :toast:
 
Last edited:

exon1

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#2
what the... o_O'
 
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#3
Nice work, I wonder if I could do this with an 8400 GS and have me a physics card!
By removing the majority of the PCI-E slot, does that reduce the electrical power available to the card, or is that supplied through the second tab of PCI-E lanes?
 
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#4
very nice, props man
 
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#5
Wouldnt it have been better to cut the mobo slot or something?
 
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#6
Wouldnt it have been better to cut the mobo slot or something?
The video card costs about a fifth of the price of the board, so nope, cutting the mobo was not the better option. I did not want to void the warranty.
 
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#7
The video card costs about a fifth of the price of the board, so nope, cutting the mobo was not the better option. I did not want to void the warranty.
Fair enough

I still cant work out why there is a difference between taped pins and cut off pins tho.


:confused:
 
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#8
Fair enough

I still cant work out why there is a difference between taped pins and cut off pins tho.


:confused:
The PCI-E x16 slots on my mobo are PCI-E 2.0, while AFAIK, the PCI-E x1 slot is PCI-E 1.x, hence the difference in performance depending on where the card sits.
 

1Kurgan1

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#9
Thats pretty darn cool! I didn't even know that PCI-E 2.0 cards would work in a 1X slot. I assume this is only for lower end cards?
 
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#10
this would work on any pci-e card i guess but running this on any card over a 4650 might be near murder lol

still i might try this when i get a dedicated physx card for my older pc
 

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#11
Do this to my 4870x2, lol!
 
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#12
Why didnt you just buy the 9500GT x1 PCI-E that just came out lawlz
 

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#13
Nice work, I wonder if I could do this with an 8400 GS and have me a physics card!
By removing the majority of the PCI-E slot, does that reduce the electrical power available to the card, or is that supplied through the second tab of PCI-E lanes?
All the power to the card is supplied by the small seperate set of pins on the connector. Every card gets the same amount of power regardless of how many lanes they are.

Why didnt you just buy the 9500GT x1 PCI-E that just came out lawlz
It sounds like he was looking for a local solution that was as cheap as possible. The 9500GT would have cost more to buy. Plus, he is running Vista, which means ATi+nVidia wouldn't work.
 
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#14
It sounds like he was looking for a local solution that was as cheap as possible. The 9500GT would have cost more to buy. Plus, he is running Vista, which means ATi+nVidia wouldn't work.
Correct on both. PCI-E x1 cards are non-existent over here (Except for Quadros which cost more than my mobo), and the only PCI video cards here are expensive as heck, and also nVidia, so it wouldn't work for me anyway.
 

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#15
i've done this before, but what i did was cut the slot out, not the card!

As is obvious from the pics, 1x slots are only 1.0, not 2.0
 
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#16
The PCI-E x16 slots on my mobo are PCI-E 2.0, while AFAIK, the PCI-E x1 slot is PCI-E 1.x, hence the difference in performance depending on where the card sits.
So the cut down card in the x16 slot should reach ~the same benchmark scores as the tapped over card then?
 

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#17
So the cut down card in the x16 slot should reach ~the same benchmark scores as the tapped over card then?
yeah thats the point i was trying to make a few posts ago.

Rarely is anything other than the one (or two) main PCI-E slots PCI-E 2.0, they're nearly always 1.0/1.1 slots.
 
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#18
Hmm interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing. I have an old ati x300 that I wouldn't mind trying this on. It is just sitting with the rest of my PC junk. Only time I ever use it is if I have a bad bios flash on another video card. But I guess I could set it up to a 1x card just for the fun of it.
 
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#19
Nice bra, good work man, got the same card but will never do that to it, wanna overclock it to see just how far it can go. Will share the results up here.

ONE:toast:
 
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#20
didnt know this was possible
my Dell Dimension E310 that is currently an issh
only has PCI-E-X1 and PCI slots lol
 
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#21
lolwut?
Sweet job though, but I would have cut the board before I cut the card... may still be under warranty, but there is way less to go wrong.
 

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#22
And if he killed the mobo in another way? The card cost a fifth of what his mobo did he says so there's no problem.
 
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Display(s) 23" LCD TN-Film from Asus with Tilt/Pivot
Case Zaria A20 !!!THANK YOU TECHPOWERUP.COM!!!
Audio Device(s) onboard Sound
Power Supply BeQuiet 720W, cable management..
Software Windows 7 Pro x64
#24
Thanks for the try, that means you can use these cutdown technics in Xeon/server Boards? where the mayority doesn't have any x16 slot just the x1?

that would be neat gonna try that some day
 

crtecha

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System Name Coolin Runnings
Processor AMD X4 Phenom 9950 B.E. @ 3.3ghz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-MA790x-DS4 BIOS Ver. F6
Cooling CM Vortex 752
Memory apacer PC6400 800mhz x 2
Video Card(s) Two ATI Radeon 4850's in xfire
Storage Seagate 7200.9 320gig+250gigx2
Display(s) Acer P191w 19' wide
Case Antec 900
Audio Device(s) onboard
Power Supply Antec Power trio 550watts
Software Windows 7 x64 Build 7100
#25
Im soo confused.......Im glad it worked out for you though