At first I was thinking to do this with some specialized motherboard form factor that uses a riser board so the video cards are parallel to the motherboard. However, it seems that no one really does that, so it might be unmaintainable or very limiting.

Another possibility is to use low-profile graphics cards, but I'm not a hardware person so I don't know what's available out there on the market (can you get a good GPU in a low-profile form factor?).

How do people usually handle this? I guess something around 3 inches would be ideal. Is that possible?


I've fully specified my problem. There is nothing "I'm trying to do" that I haven't covered above. If you want more explicit directions, then tell me an example of the best performing graphics card available in a low-profile form factor. I don't know how to shop for graphics cards very well.

It needs to be a GPU. Many algorithms these days are optimized for GPU programming. Having more CPUs isn't as helpful.

It needs to be done with commodity hardware that will be easily replaceable/upgradable. I'm obviously not a hardware person so I won't be adding any "dedicated chips". Think of it like a gaming PC that has to be slim to fit into a tight space.

  • P.S. The application is a robot that will do some heavy computation, thus the desire for GPU. There are some gaming laptops that could fit the bill (e.g. MSI), but we're hoping for something more upgradable (and cheaper). We don't need a screen. – Neil Traft Sep 21 '14 at 2:05
  • why not just use dedicated parallel processing chips. – sww1235 Sep 21 '14 at 2:41
  • Often, a question will be asked partway through a thought process on what you're trying to accomplish. You will generate this question because you've come to a dead end in your thinking, and need to solve the problem that you have painted yourself into. The problem is we do not have the context of what you actually need, so we are left in a position of giving possibly incomplete answers for questions that are not the correct questions to ask. The result is multiple people left confused and somewhat dissatisfied with the result of the exchange. So! What are you trying to do? – MrDoom Sep 21 '14 at 4:18
  • do you know of a high end graphics card that is less then 3 inches high? no? then clearly it can't be done. – Sickest Sep 21 '14 at 10:14
  • Well, I don't know of any graphics cards. That's my problem. Please see my edits above. – Neil Traft Sep 21 '14 at 17:51

Finally! I found my answer!

Apparently, there is such a thing as PCI cables that will let you mount the graphics card wherever you want. It doesn't affect performance as far as I can tell. This is definitely the best way to fit high-end desktop hardware into a slim package.

Do leave a comment if you think this might not be compatible with the most high-end NVidia GPUs, or if there are any other caveats I should know about.

  • I can think of several dozen reasons, putting a card which requires 500+ watts, out in the open is a horrible day. These cables are design for special cases, but you should still, mount the card to something. – Ramhound Sep 26 '14 at 23:38
  • It would be mounted somewhere else inside the case (with the fan pointed away from the motherboard). Still a bad idea? – Neil Traft Sep 27 '14 at 1:04

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