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I’ve just bught an NVidia video card from Computers and Parts Land (CPL) [1].

I asked for a PCIe*8 card but was assured that a PCIe*16 card would work. However when I got it home I discovered that it would not fit, the size difference was obvious enough that I didn’t even need to unwrap the new card.

According to the Wikipedia page for PCIe (PCI Express) [2] it is quite legal to have a motherboard implement a slower version of PCIe but have the full slot width, so a motherboard could have PCIe*1 implemented but have a socket that will fit a PCIe*16 card. The motherboard and the card will negotiate the capabilities that they both support. But there is no requirement to have a larger socket than required to use the capabilities of the motherboard.

The CPL salesman assured me that any PCIe*16 card will fit into any PCIe*8 socket. I presume that he is used to white-box gear manufactured by companies that can save a few cents on the sockets if they make them all the same size. The Dell PowerEdge T105 that I own has PCIe*8 sockets that do not fit PCIe*16 cards.

So now I have to return the card, and the CPL web site doesn’t even give the hours that the store is open, so I have to call them. Sigh.

Update: I returned the video card, first I had a debate with the CPL guy who had sold it to me regarding whether such PCIe sockets exist. He suggested that I had mistaken a PCI slot for a PCIe slot and was not convinced until I showed him a picture I had on my phone. He then claimed that Dell made sub-standard machines for not using a PCIe*16 socket for PCIe*8 connectors – so it was Dell’s fault not his fault for delivering me a PCIe*16 board when I asked for a PCIe*8. He told me that no-one had ever made a PCIe*8 video card. Then he told me that I was lucky to not have a re-stocking fee (they sold me a device that was not what I asked for, I returned it in perfect condition on the same day and I was lucky to not pay them for the privilege). They gave me a credit note for the value of it (not a refund).

I recommend never doing business with CPL if you can avoid it. I will make exactly one more purchase from them, that will be to use the credit note.

10 comments to CPL

  • Julian Blake Kongslie

    Are you sure it doesn’t fit? Every PCIe socket I’ve seen was notched such that a larger width card would still fit in the smaller socket; extra pins would simply hang off the side. The only time I had an issue involved trying to get a 16x card in a 1x socket that had some fairly large capacitors placed in an inconvient position behind the socket; I wound up having to reorder the cards in the case so I could place the 16x card in a different 1x socket that was unobstructed.

    If your socket really can’t support larger-width cards, that’s very interesting, and seems somewhat evil on Dell’s behalf. Filing away some plastic at the end of the socket may be the cheapest solution.

  • tim

    You don’t have to accept a credit note. Under Trade Practices law you are entitled to a refund if goods are not as described, which is the situation you face. CPL broke Australia federal law by not giving you a refund. I hope you fight them on this.

    When can I ask for a refund?
    You have a right to seek a refund if the goods you bought:
    • are faulty
    • are unfit for their purpose (they don’t do what they
    are supposed to do)
    • do not match the description or sample you
    were shown
    • have defects that were not obvious or were not
    brought to your attention when you bought them.
    You do not have a right to seek a refund if you:
    • simply change your mind
    • buy the wrong item
    • find the goods cheaper at another store
    • use the goods in a way that they were not made for

    Perhaps you should join
    By the way, many public libraries include online access to Choice articles, that is, access available anywhere. In fact, you may well have access to a huge range of journal databases (I do)

  • nine

    Yet another example of the sort of clueless morons who inhabit computer stores. I’m glad I can put all my computer purchases through work’s wholesale accounts now.

  • etbe

    Julian: The length of the major part of the socket being 38.65mm vs 71.65mm is obvious at a glance. Filing the motherboard of an expensive PowerEdge server to get a $60 graphics card to work is probably not going to be the cheapest option.

    tim: Thanks for that, I’ll keep it in mind for next time. For this $60 I’ll just buy something that they seem unlikely to be able to mess up.

    nine: Good idea. If you can say “mess with me and my company won’t buy from you” then you should get better service.

  • To be fair, this bit me too with a Dell PowerEdge. It didn’t occur to me that anyone was shipping *physical* 8x sockets, as opposed to 16x physical 8x electrical, so I ordered a (poorly described) PCIe riser from Dell, and was unable to fit an NVIDIA S870 host card.

    I suspect the confusion comes because there are really NO consumer-grade motherboards from companies like Asus or Gigabyte with physical 8x slots. Physical 16x and 1x, perhaps even 4x at a push.

    For a really mad demonstration of this, try – six 16x physical slots of which two are 16x PCIe 2.0; one 16x PCIe; one PCIe 4x, and two PCIe 8x.

    He’s right about one thing though – nobody’s making physical 8x graphics cards in volume, if at all. There are some rare 1x cards though.

  • I have that same Dell T105… and also had this problem with it having a PCIe 8 slot.
    I resolved to cutting the slot (or cutting the card, also possible).

    Most low-level video-cards don’t use more then PCIe-4 anyway

  • actually, motherboards with physical x8 slots are not all that rare. for example, most of the Gigabyte GA-EX58 variants, including Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME and Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 for Intel CPUs.

    both of these are sold by CPL – don’t they even know what they sell?

    it is becoming more common for MB manufacturers to use physical x16 slots for both x8, and x16 (and sometimes for x4 too), colour-coded for maximum link speed.

    unfortunately for you, though, x8 video cards aren’t common. I haven’t been able to find one in my searching (which doesn’t mean they don’t exist at all – i haven’t tried very hard). You might have to settle for PCI or PCIe 1x at best (if you can find one).

    personally, i only use CPL as a last resort. e.g. when i really have to get something on a Sunday when MSY is closed and i couldn’t be bothered going across town to wherever the swap meet is on that week. i find them rude and unhelpful, and their prices tend to be at least $5-$20 more per item than MSY…which can quickly add up to over $100 if you’re buying several items.

  • jonh

    i tend to avoid any store that cant design a website where they sell products better than a 3yr old ;p)

  • James has ratings of various computer retailers. I have a friend who bought one of those really cheap Dell “servers” that were just a Pentium D with a x4 PCIe slot who removed the appropriate pins from a video card (not an operation for the faint-hearted).

  • I second Tim’s comment.