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 thoughts on “CPL”

  1. Julian Blake Kongslie says:

    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.

  2. tim says:

    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 http://www.choice.com.au/
    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)

  3. nine says:

    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.

  4. etbe says:

    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.

  5. Jo Shields says:

    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 http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=179&l3=815&l4=0&model=2697&modelmenu=1 – 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.

  6. FooBar says:

    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

  7. craig says:

    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.

  8. jonh says:

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

  9. James says:

    http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/?tag=Australian_PC_Shops 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).

  10. Chris Smart says:

    I second Tim’s comment.


Comments are closed.