Need HD video card for Server 2012R2

Carlos Elgueta
Carlos Elgueta used Ask the Experts™
Hello experts,
I just purchased a Dell Power Edge R540 and installed Windows Server 2012R2 64bit, I need to install an HD video card but I am having a hard time finding one for up to $250.
Anyone recommend a video card I can purchase?

Thank you in advance.
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This machine, being a server, ships with a few different expansion card options, and may have cards in some slots.

Any card that you can fit into an available expansion slot should work. Assuming that you just need to drive a higher resolution monitor, rather than play games, I suggest whatever is the cheapest passive cooled card at the local PC parts shop. Passive cooled cards sometimes impinge on the slot next to them, so check for space. Cheap cards with fans will probably fail within the life of a server.

Something like this will probably work:
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems Administrator

why do you need better graphics in a server?
unless you are doing graphics pass-through for vdi, typically not needed
not to mention the lack of drivers for the server OS (though desktop drivers might work but no guarantee)
Most Valuable Expert 2013

You're aware that Dell won't support adding a GPU to this PE Server?  The riser-based expansion slots are officially not meant for graphics cards.

The R740 is probably the nearest model that Dell does support with add-in graphics

This is despite there being BIOS options in the R540 for "Embedded Video Controller" and "Current State of Embedded Video Controller" and Slot 4 on the board being capable (in the absence of any other boards) to support G6 PCI-e x16, x8 and x4.

There are issues with power delivery through the board with a max 25W limit and some reports that adding a graphics board causes some iDRAC options to become unavailable.

You probably know already that the server natively supports 1280x1024 at 75Hz with 32bit color via VGA, if this isn't enough perhaps using a USB 2.0 > HDMI convertor may be a better option if you reconfigure the ports (and won't cause you grief with Dell if anything falls over with a plug in card!)
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

This question has come up a few times over the past couple of years in relation to various Dell servers.  As I recall, the answer was generally "Only an official, blessed, Dell-modified card will work and it must be installed at the factory."
IT Manager
Thanks everyone for your comments; the OS is installed directly on the server, no VMWare. The reason for using a graphics card is because an NVR software that requires an external GPU. I was able to find an AMD FirePro W2100 and downloaded the Server 2012R2 drivers for it.
MASQ & Dr. Klahn, I called Dell Support and they told me, that only applies for larger video cards, about 4GB and above - mine is only 1GB.

Thank you all for the advise.

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