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GT210 Nvidia card for old workhorse PC

October 08, 2021 — BarryK

I had reason to fire up my old HP workhorse PC recently. It has been gathering cobwebs under the desk since early 2020, when I bought a Lenovo PC.

When I say "HP", it is really a mixed-breed. Bought it second hand from a guy who had put it together as a gaming machine. HP motherboard with i5 CPU, 16GB RAM, UEFI-BIOS. Pre-USB3, so back then added a USB3 adapter card.

Anyway, the onboard video, Intel GPU, only has a HDMI socket. However, the only spare monitor I have to use with it only has a VGA input. As all of my computers only have Intel GPUs, I thought this is an opportunity to get a video card with Nvidia, AMD, or Radeon GPU, for testing with EasyOS. Only wanted something cheap, so bought this, AU$26.54:


It is a Nvidia GeForce 210 card, with GT218 Tesla GPU, 1GB RAM. This GPU was released by Nvidia in 2009, so it is old. The card is made in China, so don't even know if it is a genuine chip. Holding it in my hand after arrival, it has that look of quality.

Here is the old workhorse:

img2 all over the place, sounds like an aeroplane taking off! Now here's the problem: the card works, but at the point of bootup where the Linux kernel loads the 'nouveau' GPU kernel module, the screen goes blank. Well, there is a message "input signal out of range", then it goes black. The 'nouveau' module is supposed to support the GT218 GPU.

If I prevent the 'nouveau' kernel module from loading, can get to the commandline, but can't run Xorg.

Thinking how to progress from here. But there is another issue: for anyone who boots EasyOS, or one of the pups or *Dogs, and gets the black screen, they need some kind of "video safe mode" in the boot menu -- need to think about this also.

Oh, by the way, regarding those two fake "SSD" drives that I bought, both vendors gave a full refund, without me having to return the drives. I have appended to the blog post:         

Tags: tech