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I am curious on whether I could slap a high end video card into a server and use it as a high end gaming machine.

The server is a HP DL360 G5 with x2 Intel Quad Core Xeon processors, 16 GB of RAM and 6 72 GB SAS drives.

The reason I was curious is the server has a 16x PCI slot and I am pretty sure I could drop a full size graphics card into it.

Is it even possible to use a server as a gaming machine? Would the performance be better or worse than a "gaming" machine.

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3 Answers 3

A server is much more a function of the software than the hardware. If the OS that you are using can play the game, then the "server" box that you are using can play the game.

With regard to the performance, with those specs, I would assume you have a very capable gaming machine, but that is more based on what you are comparing it to than anything else.

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I'd note that ars technica system guide's god box is built around dual xeons. I think, quite honestly it would be overkill, since very little gaming software can use all that power. –  Journeyman Geek Dec 25 '11 at 8:44
@solignis, It would be appreciated if you marked this as the answer –  soandos Jul 16 '12 at 0:55
@JourneymanGeek You've obviously never run a Minecraft server then ;) –  jamieb Jan 23 at 10:12

I never had any problems running games on server versions of Windows. One thing that could impact the performance of games on them is process priority setting. On server versions of Windows, it's by default set to background services and games like it more when it's set to programs option.

Another tricky thing is the sound service. It's disabled by default on Windows Server and some games may have problems starting if it's disabled or if the computer doesn't have sound card. Also even if there is a sound card, it may not have drivers installed, so be sure to check for that too.

Next point would be to install Direct X. Servers often don't have newest versions of Direct X installed and it's required by almost all games. Just get the newest DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer (don't pay attention to claiming 9.0c version of DX. It should be installed on all supported windows operating systems, even if they claim higher version of DX).

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A server can just as well be a gaming machine as a gaming machine can be a server.

Alltough the hardware in the server is mostly oriented at raw data processing and no graphics, adding a graphics card will solve that problem.

Windows 7 is the only thing that might have a problem with the disks or other technology.

When I bought my first i7 pc I descided to downgrade my old gaming machine to being a server. It now runs centos6 with vmware workstation on top. It's been running fine for 4 years now and has in that period only rebooted about 8 times (every half year for software updates).

I also bought a second 'real' server from hp, and out of curiosity I slapped in an nvidia 8800GTS and it would run games just fine.

TLDR: The software that runs on it defines if it's a server or not, YES it will be a kickass gaming rig.

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