Fake server cards

This resource was originally created by user: jgreco on the TrueNAS Community Forums Archive. Please DM this account or comment in this thread to claim it.

Some time ago, forum frequenter @artlessknave kindly sent me a pair of LSI HBA cards that had failed to work out in a FreeNAS build. Having suspected that these were fakes, I asked for them to be shipped here for comparison. However, COVID intervened and I never got around to writing a resource that covers this topic.

There is the original discussion thread at Help an Aussie pick a quad port nic | TrueNAS Community

And I am mostly just going to copy that to here for now, but I hope to find some time to roll back around to this topic with some better pictures, additional cards, and more analysis.

In the meantime, I will reference the work of “Art of Server”, an eBay vendor known for sales of preflashed LSI IT mode HBA’s. I have never heard complaints about, have briefly exchanged messages with, and desperately wish all eBay sellers were of such quality. That’s as close as I get to an endorsement. Some time ago, AoS put out a video:

I don’t have time this morning to edit the remainder of this, so it is just a shameless cut and paste from the linked thread.

So anyways I owe ya some commentary. And here it is. I also remember my problem now. I don’t have any true 9240-8i’s laying around for a direct comparison, but, looking at this more closely, I think we can make some reasonable conclusions.

The pictures are not great, but they don’t need to be, IMO. I felt it sufficient to demonstrate… your two cards (farther back) vs a gen-u-ine IBM ServeRAID M1015 / LSI 9220-8i, and a similarly genuine LSI 9211-8i.


The first issue is the PCB material. It’s lighter green and duller. The two SFF-8087 jacks, while they are labeled “Amphenol”, the printing on them seems like it’s a little different than the legit ones I looked at. But more importantly, the jacks themselves look cheap. They do not have the long exposed pins of the legit boards. Your boards are also not labeled “LSI”, which seems really strange for a retail RAID card offering. The power inductors on the board (the silver or black parts labeled 6R8) look cheap on your board. And the silk screening, it just doesn’t look … sharp. Look at the LSI cards and the precise hi-def lettering.


And the brackets. While superficially similar, including the stamped printing on the tab, several minor things. The LSI bracket is stamped “6Gbps SAS” with their little logo thingy, found all over their gear of that era. The other one, the finish isn’t as shiny. This actually stood out to me when I went into the bin of LSI brackets. The hole placement of the presumed knockoff isn’t as precise, and the holes are just a bit smaller. Airflow matters in servers. But this would not convince me all by itself, it’s just circumstantially suspicious.


Stickers feel a bit off. No KCC compliance sticker. The SN: sticker barcode is “short” (not full height). It has “MR SAS 9240-8i” when most of the products of the time were labeled “SAS9240-8i”. The SAS address on LSI cards is typically tan.

I suppose it’s possible that they’re legit cards, but in my experience, when all the little stuff doesn’t add up, something’s wrong.

I have on my Shelf of Shame a nice Intel PRO/1000 MT “DAUL” (sic) card of similar quality. You pick these things up and even if you deal with them on a semi-regular basis, there’s nothing horribly alarming about them. The Dell PERC H200 and H310 look a lot more “fake” to me than these 9240’s.

artlessknave responded:
mmm, that mostly agrees with what I saw. the reason I started looking was cuz the cards don’t friggin work anymore. I think one would register drives itself but not present them to the OS, and the other might have just been dead. I got pissed off and replaced all of them with a new 9305-24i, which was an expensive but amazing solution to the problem…
at first I had just assumed they were old cards and finally failed…but later ran across posts about fakes here and a youtube channel showing the LSI cards (theartofserver) and how to spot fakes, and looked at mine and became REALLY suspicious about their origin…
the picture do not capture how too-shiny off-green I remember them being.

I wrote back:
Well, the legit LSI cards were a slightly darker green and not exactly “shiny” but sort of like a semi-gloss-paint kind of look to them. Your cards were a bit of a duller sheen, and slightly lighter green. If you look at the top side photo and look at the PCI connector in between your cards and mine, and you kinda “jump over” the PCI connector, you can see a slight color difference. It is almost that subtle in person. The other thing I should have mentioned was the heatsink orientation. Most of the cards here are Dell so they use the crappy Dell card and heatsink. However, the several different 9211/9240-like cards from LSI/IBM all have their heatsinks on 180 degrees opposite your cards.

It’s really amazing how close these things are though.