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JohnShaft
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HP Z420 CPU Upgarde

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Z420
Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)

I have a HP Z420 Workstation containing a Xeon E5 1620 processor and I wanted to swap it with a newer revision of the procerssor (E5 1620v4) in the near future. Is that possible?

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SDH
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John,

 

That boot block date is for the version 1 of the Z420 motherboard.  If your boot block date was 3/6/13 you'd have the version 2.

 

Next step is to gather up some copies of the Z420 Quickspecs.  They are pretty easy to find with Bing and Google.  HP even has somewhere a repository from which you supposedly can get every version.  I have v 2, 27, 32, and 41.  As you go through the versions you can see the transition point where the Quickspecs start to focus on the new version, with that later Boot Block Date.  That transition is generally not stated but you can see from the processors listed when it happens.

 

You're pretty much stuck with the processors from those earlier Quickspecs.  HP has a segment of their BIOS that deals with what processors are allowed to boot, called the microcode.  This is to keep the processors limited to the ones that they have certified for quality assurance.  HP does not "support" processor upgrades like you are planning to do (and which many of us have done).  But, it can be done if you stick to the processors that are in the Quickspecs from the same era your workstation is from.  The microcode is generally updated with a BIOS update, and that is one reason to update BIOS to the latest.  A good rule to know is that just because it should be possible does not mean it will be.  The microcode generally only allows the very specific processors listed in the Quickspecs to run.  I have never seen a new microcode version delete a previously allowed processor.  The old processors will still work even though they may not be listed anymore in the new Quickspecs.

 

I only install used processors bought off eBay.  I research the sSpec codes of each processor and if there are more than one for a processor I always use the most recent version.  I only use Noctua thermal paste, quite thin layer, to the degree you just barely cannot see through it.  Once I know the processor I want I'll search for it both by name and sSpec code for best buy.  Very rare to get a bad one.  Never have gotten stuck with a bad one, ever, because the seller will refund or send another.

 

From all I am seeing your desire to use a v2 or above is off the table......

 

You could consider a motherboard transplant, however, to get a more recent one installed with the later boot block date.  Then you could use processors from that v41 Quickspec I mentioned above.  Google for Z420 spare parts..... you'll see a HP page with that title, and in there you'll see 2 version 2 motherboards and one version 1.  You can tell the newer from the older one ("Patsburg" is hinted at for it).  Either of those newer ones that start with 7 would be fine if you want to take on that project.  It's a pretty easy afternoon project.... search on eBay for a used one if you wish.

 

Best,  Scott

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SDH
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John,

 

Don't buy anything yet.  What you can do will be based on whether you have a version 1 or a version 2 of that workstation.  There was a significant change between the two, and what processors you can upgrade to is based on that as a first step.

 

Go into BIOS and look up the Boot Block Date, which is available under the first tab.  There are limitations on what processors you can use also based what HP certified for the version you have.  Let us know....

 

Your current processor, the E5-1620, is a quad core running at 3.6 GHz and has 10 MB cache, and is rated to run at 130W max TDP.  It has a single sSpec code of SR0LC, which can be bought used off eBay for about $40.00 USD now.  You can do better than that, but there are limits...

 

Scott

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JohnShaft
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Thanks for your reply, Scott. I've looked into the matter and the Boot Block Date is 12/28/2011

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SDH
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John,

 

That boot block date is for the version 1 of the Z420 motherboard.  If your boot block date was 3/6/13 you'd have the version 2.

 

Next step is to gather up some copies of the Z420 Quickspecs.  They are pretty easy to find with Bing and Google.  HP even has somewhere a repository from which you supposedly can get every version.  I have v 2, 27, 32, and 41.  As you go through the versions you can see the transition point where the Quickspecs start to focus on the new version, with that later Boot Block Date.  That transition is generally not stated but you can see from the processors listed when it happens.

 

You're pretty much stuck with the processors from those earlier Quickspecs.  HP has a segment of their BIOS that deals with what processors are allowed to boot, called the microcode.  This is to keep the processors limited to the ones that they have certified for quality assurance.  HP does not "support" processor upgrades like you are planning to do (and which many of us have done).  But, it can be done if you stick to the processors that are in the Quickspecs from the same era your workstation is from.  The microcode is generally updated with a BIOS update, and that is one reason to update BIOS to the latest.  A good rule to know is that just because it should be possible does not mean it will be.  The microcode generally only allows the very specific processors listed in the Quickspecs to run.  I have never seen a new microcode version delete a previously allowed processor.  The old processors will still work even though they may not be listed anymore in the new Quickspecs.

 

I only install used processors bought off eBay.  I research the sSpec codes of each processor and if there are more than one for a processor I always use the most recent version.  I only use Noctua thermal paste, quite thin layer, to the degree you just barely cannot see through it.  Once I know the processor I want I'll search for it both by name and sSpec code for best buy.  Very rare to get a bad one.  Never have gotten stuck with a bad one, ever, because the seller will refund or send another.

 

From all I am seeing your desire to use a v2 or above is off the table......

 

You could consider a motherboard transplant, however, to get a more recent one installed with the later boot block date.  Then you could use processors from that v41 Quickspec I mentioned above.  Google for Z420 spare parts..... you'll see a HP page with that title, and in there you'll see 2 version 2 motherboards and one version 1.  You can tell the newer from the older one ("Patsburg" is hinted at for it).  Either of those newer ones that start with 7 would be fine if you want to take on that project.  It's a pretty easy afternoon project.... search on eBay for a used one if you wish.

 

Best,  Scott

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JohnShaft
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Thanks for your anwser, Scott. Seeing how the 6 and 8-Core Xeon processors that are compatible still cost a fortune I may do a motherboard transplant but for now the E5-1620 is more than enough for me I guess

 

How do I update the BIOS?

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SDH
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John,

 

The prices will drop over time on eBay.  They have already for the Z600 processors.  I looked last evening and a used version 2 motherboard off eBay is about 150.00 USD.  Note that each part for HP generally has two part numbers, a Spares P/N and an Assembly P/N.  Some of the ads give both, and then you can search for both.  The part numbers in the "Z420 Spart Parts" search only gives you one of the two.

 

If you see one with a cover over the processor socket pins that is a good sign...... those pins are very delicate.  Most used motherboards will not have that because those covers generally get thrown out.  That may indicate it actually is a new unused motherboard....  Some shops break these workstations down because the value of the parts sold individually adds up to more than they could get by selling it as a functioning unit.

 

BIOS update..... google Z420 drivers, and the HP result at the top will get you to a list of OS.... it does not matter what you choose because they all use the same BIOS upgrade.  I just checked.... a new one came out 11/3/16, version 3.91, SP78208.  Download that SP, and you can upgrade BIOS using one of the below methods (safer v.s. easier):

 

1.  Safer.... Upgrade BIOS from within BIOS.  Run the SP, cancel out after it has launched, go into the root level of your C drive, find the HP folder there SWSetup, go in there and find the SP, go in that folder into the DOS folder and pull out the .bin file from there.  You may need to turn on view of known extension types in Folder Options control panel, View tab.  Then have that on an otherwise blank thumb drive plugged into you black front USB2 port, and cold boot into BIOS and under the first tab of BIOS you can see the option to update system ROM or some such statement.  Click on that and point to the USB drive.  That is how I do it, for max safety.

 

2.  Easier.... launch the SP and choose to update BIOS from within your OS.  I get the SP onto the desktop, and then do a cold boot from full shutdown and launch that SP after the boot has finished fully, with no other programs going.  It will take some time, but works.  If your BIOS is way old there is an intermediate BIOS update you need to do before the newest ones will work.  You don't need to go through this if your BIOS is new enough.  You don't need to install each individual version that has come out over the years sequentially because the newest one includes all the needed fixes that the older ones had.

 

Scott

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JohnShaft
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Ok, then. Thank you very much for your support, Scott

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MtothaJ
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@JohnShaft wrote:

I have a HP Z420 Workstation containing a Xeon E5 1620 processor and I wanted to swap it with a newer revision of the procerssor (E5 1620v4) in the near future. Is that possible?


Just to be clear that even with the newer boot block date of 2013, the most you can upgrade to is a E5 v2 processor. From v3 onwards there is a socket change from LGA 2011 to 2011-3, which makes the CPU's physically incompatible.

 

For the time being to upgrade the Z420 to the newer 2013 boot block you will have to use an external SPI programmer.

IMHO, the safest way to approach this is to i) socket the bios chip (SOK-SPI-16W socket, best to use a mobile phone / computer repair place for the desoldering / soldering) ii) buy 1 or 2 W25q128BVFG chips iii) read contents of the original bios with a cheap CH341A programmer, replace boot block contents (FF0000-FFFFFF) with that from newer bios revision and write that onto one of your new bios chips.

 

Total cost of parts = 15 - 20 USD + desoldering / soldering unless you can do this yourself. Still works out a lot cheaper than a new board and you can always put your old bios chip in if anything goes wrong while flashing one of your new chips.

 

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dreadkopp
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Hey guys.

 

Also looking into a CPU Upgrade of my z420.

 

My info so far:

 

boot block date 2011: only v1 Xeons

 

boot block date 2013: v1 and v2 Xeons.

 

But where can i find that mysterious boot block date ? 

 

Inxi output:

 

UEFI [Legacy]: Hewlett-Packard v: J61 v03.90 date: 06/01/2016

 

Besides: any restrictions or will any Xeon v1/v2 work which fit's the 2011 socket? 

 

No worries about the cooling, it's watercooled. only way to fit 2 decents GPUs in it without them overheating. max Temperature in mprime Small FFT on my 2660: 42°C

 

 

Cheers

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MtothaJ
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@dreadkopp wrote:

Hey guys.

 

Also looking into a CPU Upgrade of my z420.

 

My info so far:

 

boot block date 2011: only v1 Xeons

 

boot block date 2013: v1 and v2 Xeons.

 

But where can i find that mysterious boot block date ? 

 

 


 

To check the boot block date look in the BIOS in the System Information tab.

Alternatively, if you have HP Performance Adviser installed it is possible to view the boot block date from Windows by selecting Your Computer -> BIOS -> File -> System Information.

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