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Hi All,


I have a Z600 that I bought several years ago. I now want to use this as a home lab/server (planning ESXi  install with VCSA, some VMs and potentially a home file server).


I wanted to change the front 2 bays (currently DVD drive and blanking plate) so overall I can fit a 1TB drive and 3 x 3TB drives (WD RED 3 TB NAS).


From what I have read I should be able to find an internal drive caddy (?) that fits and will need to use a raid HBA card to be able to get the Storage drives connected?


Can someone please advise on if I need the RAID card and what other factors I need to take into consideration?


Advice would be much appreciated 🙂

HP Recommended

the z600 has 6 onboard sata gen 3 ports  so i would not spend money on performance top of the line ssd's any mid range ssd will be fine, avoid ssd's that lack onboard cache


if you do buy a add in card or computer for ESXi, check the compatibility database FIRST as it has specific hardware requirements


several venders make 5.25 drive bay adapters that hold 3.5 or 2.3 drives and a few make combo adapters that can hold one 3.5 and four 2.5 drives


you can also buy drive cages that take up two 5.25 bays and hold four 3.5 drives


look on ebay, amazon, newegg







HP Recommended

"The Z600 has 6 onboard sata gen 3 ports  so i would..."  DGroves here meant "sata 3.0 Gb/s ports"  (which is SATA gen 2).


The Z400/Z600 are excellent workstations still.  Yes, they are "only" SATA generation II workstations, but if you give them a high quality SATA gen II SSD with updated firmware there is much to be gained.  I recommend the matching SATA generation II Intel 320 series 600 GB size SSD from a non-HP source.  Cheap off eBay, used.   A HP source one of these will have its own HP firmware which is a hassle to upgrade, but the non-HP ones are upgraded easily to the latest Intel firmware by using the excellent Intel Toolbox software suite. 


The best processors for these have been posted about in this forum, assuming you have a version 2 Z600.  Original fastest ones were sold at over $2000.00 USD/ processor, now going for about $35.00 USD each.  We have all the vintages here up to Z6 G4, but the Z600 is still one of my favorites big bangs for the bucks.


Some memory tips to come shortly in another post, also only for a version 2 Z600/Z800.

HP Recommended

Thanks so much for all the advice. Always great to find forums with guys who are generous with their knowledge like yourselves 🙂


From what I can work out it is a version 2 -

Mother board sticker - AS#460840-003

Boot Block Date - 01/07/10


As in the below it has 48GB Ram and 2 x X5650



Is it worth going from to a X5650 to a X5675 (this seems to be the max supported)? looking at some comparisons they seem very similar (obvs one is 2.7GHz and the other 3.1GHz)

Looking at the below it points to HBA cards with 'IT' firmware (?). 



I'm in the UK so will have a look for equivalent items to those you linked to for sale.  Looking for 5.25 to 3x 3.5 Bay drives there are very few options, looking at this one https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/331537372849. 


Finally are their any limitations of Graphics cards I should know about? I'm half tempted to invest in a good one for some gaming too.


Thanks again!

HP Recommended

Assuming you don't have a SSD now the transformation if you follow my recommendation will be remarkable.  You can also buy a modern SATA Gen III drive and add in a SATA III PCIe card later.  Don't do that yet.... you need to keep it simple now.  Many cannot tell the difference between SATA II SSD and SATA III SSD in real life usage.  I personally have stuck with exactly what I advised for you with the Z600s here.  DGroves has good input on this issue, but I'm sticking with simplicity and way more than enough speed here.


Read my other post from today and load up on 48GB of that RAM.  Your processors can run only at 1333MHz max, but W10 loves memory.  You have 48.... make sure it is 1333MHz.  


I'd recommend 2 X5675 processors.  Two of your X5650 get you dual processor Passmark score of 11294 whereas 2 of the X5675 will get your 12491.  Worthwhile upgrade at the current prices these days in my mind.


Cards... I don't play games, got nothing against them but we need to run Quadro cards and for cheap excellent one I'd recommend Quadro K2000 or especially the K2200 used off eBay.  These are not what you would want for gaming.

HP Recommended

Forgot to address your original post.  You want lots of 3.5" drives in there.  Big ones.


What you have to work with are the two 3.5" form factor drawer-type drive bays, and the two 5.25" drive bays that you can convert to a single 3.5" form factor drive bay each, all 4 of which will draw a significant amount of power.  Maybe you should trade up to a Z800 or a Z820, or a NAS.


You're trying to fit two 10 pound bags of sugar into a 5 pound bag. 

HP Recommended

Thanks for the responses SDH, very much appreciated.


I will do the processor update a bit down the line after I have tested things are working and maybe I will look to see if the price drops (price for second hand pair equates to around 60$ over here in the UK).


I have checked my 48GB RAM and it is 1333MHz 🙂


For the drives I found a 2 x 5.25" bay that holds 3 x 3.5" drives and has pretty decent reviews:


I am thinking I could have 2 of the 3 drives in here and the remaining sitting beside the SSD in the other existing internal bay?


I don't mind paying for a pci-e SATA card so was thinking this one.



It seems to say I could still use on-board RAID controller with it, do you think this is correct?


HP Recommended

...now it is your turn to experiment and teach us.  Keep us posted!

HP Recommended

again,.....check the ESXi hardware compatibility list,.......... if the card or chipset used on the card is not listed then it's not going to work


next keep in mind that a PCI-e SATA 6GBps card using a PCI-2.0 x1 slot is going to be slower than the onboard sata 2.0 ports

HP Recommended

@SDH Thank you very much! I will make sure to post back on how it turns out



Thanks so much for pointing that out. I obviously didn't do a good job reading you old post I referenced earlier in this thread... I have re-read and done some research/learning!


I am now looking at an 'IBM ServeRaid M1015' which I will flash with IT firmware (to a LSI 9211) and connect to the drives with 2 x forward  SFF-8087 to sata cables. I will plug the card into the PCIe2 - x8(4) slot on the board.


I've checked and the VMware compatibility guide and the ServerRaid M1015 shows as compatible but I am not sure about the LSI 9211-8i.

LSI card.JPG

These look to be the correct card (I gather the 8i relates to supported full speed links) but I am unsure of where there is no mention of SATA?


Finally if they are easy answers for you I would really appreciate your help on the following (If not please ignore):

  1. Do I also need to be concerned with what SSD I purchase? I am thinking of a 'Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA'
  2. In your old post you refer to requiring a card that uses 4 'Data Links' -  Are data links the same as lanes or the 4x port (length of port?)?
  3. Should I be splitting the drives over the 2 SFF-8087 ports to not loose out on speed? I'm thinking not as with the supported drive numbers the bottle neck would be at the board.
  4. Flashing to IT (Initiator Target) firmware turns the card into an HBA. I used to think HBA just meant "a storage card" but it seems this has more to do with having a pass-through (SCSI Initiator/Target), reading up I can see some cards seem to still have RAID capability after flashing and even additional features like a larger queue depth. Can an HBA have inbuilt RAID configuration by definition? How does it give us more 'Data Links' in this situation (i.e is that just a function of a different chipset)?
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