Force-fitting a PCI-E Video Card in an Optiplex 780 SFF

I bought an off-lease Optiplex 780 in the Small Form Factor (SFF) version to replace my ancient Pentium D; it’s also available in Small Desktop Tower (SDT) and Ultra-SFF variations. The SFF box has two PCI slots and one PCI-E slot, which let me install a half-height dual-output video card, with results described yesterday. I innocently believed the PCI-E slot would have enough clearance for the video card, what with these things being standardized and all.

Turns out that the heatsink collided with a flange on the hard drive carrier, with about 5 mm of overlap. Fortunately, the bracket is plastic and I have no qualms about chopping up the hardware. A few minutes of Quality Shop Time removed a section of the offending flange and gave the video card just enough clearance:

Optiplex 780 SFF drive bracket

Optiplex 780 SFF drive bracket

The heatsink reflects in the shiny surface of the carrier, with the scar from the missing flange just above that. The small dark-gray disk on the far left is a grommet holding a pin that supports the drive; it installs through the larger circular opening and snaps leftward.

You must install the video card and then snap the drive carrier into place. The heatsink protrudes above the flange, with the left side just barely clearing that grommet.

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