Can I set up the following equipment to operate as gaming system?

By dragonorb13 ·
OK, here's my basic situation: I have two machines. One has no video capability at all (technically, it's a server unit that i got dirt cheap and there are no known good PCI vid cards for it... got it from a company that was going out of business) but it's got twin dual core 3.0 ghz processors and 8 gigs of ram. I have one substantially less less powerful laptop, 1.6 ghz processor and 4gigs of ram, BUT it has the distinct advantage of having a video card in it.
What I want to do is: I want to use the server unit as a slave system, have it running programs of various intensity on it, anything from Photoshop to World of Warcraft.
What I'm willing and capable of doing: I'm a network tech by trade, so I understand the basics of networking, though I've mostly dealt with the hardware side rather than the software side. With a detailed walk through, I could readily either set up some kind of client-server system, or I could set up some kind of miniaturized cluster. Either one is with in my capabilities and resources.
Software I have access to: Windows XP Pro, Windows 7 Pro, Windows 7 Pro x64 arch; Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition x64, and Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition x64. I am also reasonably competent with home-based usage of Linux, specifically Ubuntu, so if anyone knows a way to rig the idea to work
Also, if I can make this work I'm deeply considering getting a cheap tower with a PCIe x16 slot in it to actually put a good video card into it.
Aside from the information, I have only one request: If you've tried something similar to my idea, and made it work, but it just didn't work for you, that's fine... I'd still like to know what you did in the first place, for all we know, someone else with more skill in a particular area might go "Oh, hey... you need to tweak this setting right here" and give us both a solution. Please, don't just tell me it's not possible. It is, and I know it is because I've seen guys with it set up similarly. Unfortunately, I just can't contact them.

Thanks, all!

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All Answers

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Seen guys with it set up similarly?....

by Peconet Tietokoneet In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

Now is the time to find your contacts and ask them. :)

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The video card is the most important component....

by JamesRL In reply to Can I set up the followin ... a gaming system.

Having said that there are "modern" video cards for standard PCI card slots. Not many, but they do exist.

A quick search and the fastest one I could find at TigerDirect was this one:

Its an nVidia 9400 series GPU, which is capable of running Direct X 10 (Vista) graphics. It would easily handle World of Warcraft. WoW isn't that demanding and if your laptop has an nVidia or ATI GPU you will be fine.

You have to have a capable video card on the system where the game is running. Most games do a hardware check on install, and again at startup to see if the video card is capable/supported.

Personally, I use a Dell Precision Workstation as my gaming/graphics desktop, but it has a PCI express card slot. It has 2 Xeon CPUs. I use Win 7 enterprise as my OS. I haven't tried remoting in to run a game though, that would be a big bandwidth issue I would think.

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In a theoretical world

by robo_dev In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

If your server were powerful enough, you could run VMWare Workstation or Microsoft Virtual PC. But keep in mind that gaming is the most demanding application of them all, so trying to do gaming on a virtual machine is going to take LOTS of high-end hardware to make it all work well.

While this might be a good learning opportunity, it really does not make sense to build ALL that complexity for ONE workstation. IF this were something like a gaming center or cyber-cafe, maybe,

Just buy a new desktop.

There ARE some very good ATI Radeon PCI graphics cards you can still buy. Of course you're kind of throwing good money after bad by buying a high-end PCI adapter. I've got a box of really nice AGP video cards at home for sale dirt cheap.... :)

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Ok, is this PCI, like original PCI

by Slayer_ In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

or PCI Express, because original PCI, you have not a hope in **** of playing a modern game, that won't even provide enough power for a SNES emulator. An AGP will give you a big boost, but you ideally want PCI Express 8 or 16.

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by JamesRL In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

Its the original PCI, and as I point out, there are some modernish cards that will work. The challenge of course is the bus being slower. AGP, if I recall correctly, was twice as fast a bus, and PCI Express much faster still.

Still he can run a game, just not very fast.

He would be better off buying a new desktop, but he seems determined to explore the option.

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Reponse To Answer

by Slayer_ In reply to Sinister

A modernish card or not, I have tested this in my old system, there is no framerate difference between my old 4mb ATI Rage 1 and a 128mb nVidia, even though on paper its 50 times more powerful, the bus speeds greatly holds it back. By this test, my 4mb card was held back by the bus speed.

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Can't, Can't, Can I?, Yes, and Money

by dragonorb13 In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

Ok, can't contact the guys that I've seen with similar set-ups... one's dead, one's in jail, and two of them moved. A lot.
As to the Video Card, do you know of any that are known to work in IBM brand rack servers, or rack servers in general? I wouldn't mind just sticking a vid card in it, as that would resolve the whole issue, but neither the web nor IBM seems to have a listing of video cards i could try.
VMware... I could run a virtual machine on the server just fine, it's got plenty of power. 4 CPU cores running 3.0 ghz and 8g ram... good enough for everything i've been interested in. The question is, can I run a game in a VM on a system that has no decent video capacity physically present? The way I understand them is that when you operate them, they take a share of the resources, but can only run at the maximum capacity of the machine itself. It's not a bad idea to try, I'm just wondering, can I run World of Warcraft on a virtual machine if the hardware video is only capable of 16mb of video?
Yes, original PCI... actually, PCI v2, since it's actually 2 PCI-x slots (NOT PCI-e, there is an important difference).
I'm working on a limited budget, so a new desktop is out of the question, or I'd have done that from the start. Besides, I already have THIS hardware, I'd like to put it to some kind of use, and the hard drives in it are too small to use it as a file server lol.
Oh, and the riser to put in a PCI-e 8 is 450, so that's WAY out. By the by, there are PCI v2 vid cards with upwards of a gig of on board ram and a 128 bit graphical processor.

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Reponse To Answer

by JamesRL In reply to Can't, Can't, Can I?, Yes ...

As sinister suggests you are always going to be bottlenecked by the bus speed of PCI. No matter how much RAM and CPU you dedicate to your game VM, it won't make it faster because your weakest link will be the speed of the PCI bus for you Video card.

PCI slots share one path - so if you have other cards in other slots, they contend for bandwidth on the PCI bus. An AGP slot or PCI Express slot bypasses other slots and connect directly to the CPU. The first version of AGP was twice as fast as a PCI card, the second (AGP 2.0) was about 8x faster than PCI when you measure MB/s.

And of course PCI Express is faster than than AGP.

For $200 - 300 you can get a barebones PC from newgg or tigerdirect that has a PCI express slot, and even though it has less RAM and slower CPU, put in a cheap PCI express card and you will be able to get a much higher frame rate on your games than using that old server.

When looking at gaming upgrades, the order is generally, GPU, RAM and lastly CPU.

And I caution again. Most games have a minimum video spec and will not launch unless there is a supported video card installed. When I look at the WoW page, they only support ATI and nVidia chipsets. So when the app launches, it will check to see if the supported hardware and video drivers for the OS are installed. If you are running this on a VM, the card would have to be on the machine where the VM is running.

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Reponse To Answer

by Slayer_ In reply to Can't, Can't, Can I?, Yes ...

Even worse, most VM's don't have direct access to your video card (At least not yet) and chances are, his old server won't support hardware virtualization so it will be emulating the hardware. I doubt he would get more than 10fps while sitting on the desktop, let alone a game...

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What you are trying to do......

by Peconet Tietokoneet In reply to Can I set up the followin ...

Is to make a Ferrari out of an Artic, it is not possible unless you get a special riser card that has the connection for a fast video card. As posts, mentioned above, you will be limited to the bus speed meaning the connection will slow. If possible save up for new equipment so that you can have your gaming rig.

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