Dell PowerEdge SC440 Server Upgrade

After giving me many years of faithful service, my Dell PowerEdge SC440 was starting to show its age when it came to virtualization and general media processing. Instead of buying a new machine, I decided to give it a new lease of life ;)

CPU – Upgraded to an Intel Quad Core2 Q6600 (2.4GHz)

This seems to be one of the few processors supported by the motherboard. The stock HSF is huge and so should be fine.

RAM – Upgraded to 6GB ECC

Although the manual states a maximum of 4GB, it has been reported that up to 8GB can be used. Please note that not all RAM works. It seems to have something to do with the number of memory chips on the stick. I ordered a 4GB kit (2x2GB) of Crucial CT2KIT25672AA667 (photo showing number of memory chips below) to use along with the 2GB which came with the server.

Graphics – Installed ATI Radeon 5450

Unfortunately there is no 16X PCIe slot on the 440, and the 1X, 4X, and 8X slots are all capped at the end. The plastic at the end of the 4X slot needs to be melted off in order to make the card fit. I used the 4X, rather than the 8X slot, because the 8X had plastic dividers and therefore required more plastic melting. I’ve also heard of some people not being able to get their cards working in the 8X slot, and those who have find that it’s limited to 1X.

To melt the end of the slot:

  1. Heat the tip of a knife on a cooker flame until it’s red hot. Don’t use a candle to heat it because you won’t get it hot enough.
  2. Cut into the plastic and slowly push the knife down. Careful not to slip and bend one of the pins, or worse still, slice the motherboard :p
  3. Repeat steps 1. and 2. until there is a sufficient gap for your graphics card.

If you’re worried about the hot plastic getting onto the pins, you can place the end of an old ram stick at the edge of the slot for protection.

     

Voila, the server is resurrected for use as an ESXi/Proxmox machine or even a HTPC (though power usage is a little high at ~80W idle and just over 100W load).

20 thoughts on “Dell PowerEdge SC440 Server Upgrade

  1. Hello,
    Can you confirm that you successfully upgraded your PowerEdge SC440 from a Xeon 30xx processor to a Q6600 quad-core processor ?
    I want to make sure there’s no hidden trap in doing such an upgrade.
    Thanks for your answer.

  2. I have a xeon 3040 cpu ,(same dell sc440) 1.86 ghz, can i upgrade to a q6600 xeon also which slot is it( where will the ati card will go) from the first pic top to botton (white slot, black slot, white slot 2 , black slot 2)? one more question what software will i have to install the cpu if there is any, i know the card just come with a cd in the package when you buy it new to install drivers. thank you and please excuse my “noob” questions.

        • I have Q6700 running on it without issue.
          Runs pretty cool too – under 49 degrees most times!

          Now question is… what OS do you guys run on it?
          Im running Xp but want to upgrade it.

    • Hi,
      Yes, you can upgrade to the Q6600.
      The slot is the second from the bottom. So if you open your server and place it how it normally stands then there will be a white slot at the bottom and the second slot will the the black one you need to modify.
      There is no software required for the cpu. It will be detected automatically.
      No problem, happy to help!

  3. You can also use a xeon 3230 quad cpu have just done it and also 8GB ram (4x2gb sticks) but it needs to be low density ram or it wont work

    • just upgraded to xeon 3230 after seeing your post here. you mentioned you had upgraded to 8gb of ram, dont suppose you have a link for where you bought it?

      • Unfortunately not. I think I got it from the crucial website but since it’s not made any more it will be silly prices. Just go for the cheapest crucial memory with similar specs.

  4. Hi, can you tell me what BIOS version you are running on your SC440?

    Mine is 1.5.0 (09/04/07) and came stock with Intel Xeon 3040 1.86GHz processor. I want to know if the 8GB RAM upgrade will work on my machine.

        • Do any of you who have tinkered around with the SC440 still got a copy of the 1.50 BIOS that you used at the time? I heard Dell went back and updated all the BIOS files to stop people from using 8 gigs of ram in their computers. In fact, I went onto Dell’s FTP and downloaded all of their BIOS files and noticed that they were updated in 2014. I just acquired one of these computers and want to upgrade the cpu and ram to it’s full potential, even in 2016 it’s still a useful computer if you can manage to upgrade them. Thanks

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  6. thinking about putting an ssd in my sc440 can anyone think of a solution to get the maximum speed from the ssd though? as far as I’m aware the sata ports on the sc440 mb are sata 1 (1.5 gbps) I have a cerc sata 6ch which is also 1.5 (using this for 3 disk raid 5) so no point putting an ssd on that and a dell sas 5ir would fit in this system but that is sata II (3gbps). Most ssd’s are sata 6gb now but i can’t think of a way to get the ssd running at full potential in this system, anyone else had the same idea and come up with a solution?

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