I just acquired a Dell T5400 workstation for use as a virtualization platform and general purpose workstation, and I am stuck on a few things. For one, the documentation I find on it is maddeningly vague in places and sometimes contradictory, and as such I am confused as to what sort of components are compatible with it. Here is what I know:
Dell T5400 Workstation
- 2x Xeon E5440 Quad Core CPUs at 2.83 Ghz
- 20 GB DDR2 Fully Buffered RAM at 667 Mhz
- 2x 500 GB SATA HDDs in RAID (I think they are mirrored, it was default)
- OEM 875W 80+ Dell Power Supply N875E-00 (ATX)
- Motherboard: Foxconn LS-36 (only identifying marker), socket LGA 771
At this point I would like to put a newer and better graphics card (a good enough one to last a few builds) in it than it came with (an old ATI FirePro), even though its old it has more raw power than any of my other machines. I would like to make a budget gaming rig of it, and despite the slow RAM I think it would be worthwhile. I am looking at a PCI-E 3.0 card of some kind and to that end I am trying to figure out what types of graphics cards will work with this motherboard. Some sources say 1.5 GB per card tops, others seem to imply that a 4 GB card will work just fine. The mobo has 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots, and is advertised as supporting SLI.
My main questions boil down to the following:
- How is the maximum amount of GPU memory determined on a motherboard, and what is the real number for this unit?
- Would it be most advisable to go with Nvidia SLI, or is Crossfire also an option?
- I know that PCI-Express 3.0 is backwards compatible with 2.0, but how does one find the hard limit of bandwidth for a motherboard? The official user manual advertises the bus transfer rate for the PCI-Express slots as "5 GB/s/lane/direction (raw bandwidth)." What does this mean practically, and does it affect the maximum bit factor (192, 256, etc.) that a supported graphics card can use?
- How does one go about determining the max power that this board could give to two graphics cards? It has 2 six-pin connectors for such use, and "75W" is emblazoned next to the PCI-E slots.
I know that this model Xeon is totally outclassed by newer i7s, but I would like to get the most power and use out of this model that I can. I apologize if this post is misplaced or too compressed, I am still unfamiliar with this forum and its conventions.
Thank you all for your kind help, it is much appreciated!
References from which my information comes: ftp://ftp.dell.com/Manuals/all-products/esuprt_desktop/esuprt_dell_precision_workstation/precision-t5400_user%27s%20guide_en-us.pdf