Howto add a DVI output to the IBM Thinkcentre 8191-74G (and other similar models with the same motherboard) via the (otherwise disabled) AGP slot.

A UK reseller - Insight - has been selling these machines very cheaply recently (<£300), so a client of mine bought about 10 of them, along with some AGP cards (which had DVI output) so that they could drive their TFT monitors with good quality output.  It seems that something strange is going on with at least some of the variations of the motherboard, which is included in these machines.

For some reason, the AGP slot is crippled (despite fleeting glances of an "AGP" option in the BIOS primary display configuration setting, when a BIOS is updated, along side "Onboard", and "PCI") - whether this has been done in hardware, or software I'm not sure, but IBM support couldn't figure it out, and knew of no way of adding a DVI output, other than using a PCI card, which had a DVI output.  Grrrr.

The only reason that I could think of for this was that they thought that modern, power-hungry top-of-the-line AGP cards would be too much for the relatively low-spec PSUs in these machines.

The crippled AGP slots pissed me off somewhat, as I didn't want to put up with analogue output, or shell out for (relatively) expensive PCI+DVI cards.  On a hunch, I got Insight to supply some DVI ADD cards, on sale or return (as Insight's description - presumably copied verbatim from IBM's incorrect marketing literature - stated that the machines included an AGP slot, at the time that I arranged for the purchase of the machines).

ADD is an Intel standard for adding a DVI output to their onboard chipsets by dual-purposing the AGP slot (my reasoning that this might work being that since a few missing components around the AGP slot made it look like the board was hardware-disabled for AGP, but since they still included the - relatively expensive - physical AGP slot, it must be there for some reason):

The Fujitsu-Siemens S26361-F2757-L1 - but if you can get hold of this, the HP DD505A, or any other ADD card *should* do..

And low, and behold, it works, a DVI output for 15 quid on these boxes.

From the look of IBM's BIOS download pages, I assume this is relevant to at least some of:

NetVista 2289, 6824, 8181, 8182, 8301, 8303, 8304, 8305, 8306, 8307, 8308, 8309, 8310, 8311, 8312, 8313, 8314, 8315 and ThinkCentre A30 (type 2296, 8191, 8198, 8199, 8316, 8434)..

.. as they share the same BIOS (and therefore at least very similar motherboards) with the 8191-74G.

If this has been of use to you - please let me know -

I've included some correspondence between myself and IBM "support" below, for your entertainment...

Update Sept 2004

I had a play with a ThinkCentre 8198, and that appeared to have an identical board, and BIOS, but the AGP slot is enabled. I have no idea why, and didn't have a chance to look further, unfortunately.. Also note that Siemens appears to have slightly changed the shape of their DVI ADD card, so that it now fits low profile AGP slots, as well as (presumably) full height slots on Fuji/Siemens machines - it still works, but now requires some hefty bending of the backplate to get it to fit into the 8191's chassis. Doable with a pair of pliers, but it looks a bit messy, so you might want to go for an alternative DVI ADD card instead...

eqasend wrote:

Dear Customer,

Although your machine physically has an AGP slot it has been disabled and cannot be used.

IBM Personal Computing Division
I would like to refer you to page 3 of this PDF document:

Where it states that the 8191 (A30) has "Intel Extreme Graphics (integrated) and 4X AGP slot".

How am I supposed to drive the DVI monitors that I have purchased, other than via the DVI port of the 6 ATI Radeon cards that I have purchased for the 6 Thinkcentre 8191 A30s?

Why was this slot included on the board when it is disabled?  Why does the user manual not state that it is not usable?  Is the problem a hardware fault, or BIOS bug on this machine?  What should I do with the 6 AGP cards that I have purchased if this problem is not fixable?




We have specifically recently purchased six 8191 machines, along with LCD monitors (DVI interface), therefore we have a requirement to use add DVI video outputs to the machines - having checked with the marketing document for the machine, I went ahead and purchased 6 Radeon 7000 AGP cards.

Can you tell me which other machines use the same motherboard as the 8191, but have the AGP slot enabled?  Also, if the AGP slot is permanently disabled on these boards, then why is the board physically fitted with slot?

Also, I would be interested to know why the AGP slot is disabled on this particular machine?  With the exception of an errata (which wouldn't seem to be the case, as you say that the same motherboard has the slot enabled on other machines), or possibly lack of PSU capacity, I can't think of any reason to disable the slot?

If the slot is not usable as a full AGP slot, do you have an ADD solution, similar to this?



eqasend wrote:

                                    Dear Customer,

                                    The marketing document is incorrect.
                                    We use the same standard board for
                                    several machine types, but for an
                                    8191 the AGP slot is disabled and
                                    cannot be used.
                                    Would you like me to log a
                                    complaint for you with our
                                    customer relations department ?
                                    If so, can you email me your name,
                                    address and telephone number.

                                    IBM Personal Computing Division
                                    *_http:_**_// _*

eqasend wrote:

                                    Dear Customer

                                    Thank you for your email.

                                    I have checked with Level 2 and
                                    the Thinkcentre models that have
                                    the same system board as the 8191
                                    all have the AGP slot disabled.
                                    You would need to check with Sales
                                    to find out what machines have an
                                    enabled AGP slot. There are so
                                    many machines on the market that
                                    you would be quicker to get them
                                    to check this for you. As we do
                                    not have access to the presales

OK - thankyou.  I was under the impresion that the 8198, and 8199 use the same board (because they use the same BIOS).  These machines have their AGP slots enabled, as far as I know.

                                    I also asked why are they are
                                    disabled and Level 2 do not have
                                    an answer to this. There is no way
                                    of them having an answer on this.

                                    If you purchased this from Insight
                                    this should have been pointed out
                                    to you before the PCs were purchased.

As IBM's litrature specified that the machine had an AGP slot - I did not enquire directly from Insight:

This needs to be fixed, if it is not possible to use the AGP slot on these machines!

                                    I also check to find out if there
                                    was anyway to get around this
                                    problem or if there was an added
                                    solution to this and unfortunately
                                    there isn't.

OK - can you tell me if an "ADD" solution will work?

This is not a "real" AGP card, but takes advantage of a feature of the Intel 865G family chipsets (as used on the 8191) to add a DVI output to the built-in graphics.  Even with the AGP slot disabled for full AGP graphics cards, I would expect this to work (maybe this is the reason that the board actually has an AGP slot physically included on the board).

In any case we are left with 6 spare AGP cards (from another supplier), which were purchased because of an error in IBM's literature (and which is still present in the IBM literature), and which the seller in question has said they will not take back.

Thankyou for your response,