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FrontRangeBK
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Recommended PCIe Slots for Sound and USB 3.1 Cards

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Z820
Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)

I just bought a z820 workstation with dual Xeon 2670 CPUs, 128 GB of DDR3 1333 RAM and a GTX-1080TI GPU, mostly to improve my knowledge of virtualization, but I hope to enjoy some gaming with it as well.  So far I'm loving it, but would like to add a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX and StarTech 2-port USB 3.1 10 Gbps PCIe cards to it.

 

Is it important to "balance" the load on the CPUs by putting each card in a slot controlled by a separate CPU, or will they work in any slot without a performance hit or strain on the CPU(s)?  I prefer to use the smaller PXIe x4 (or x8, I haven't checked which type they are) slots instead of the x16 slots, but want to go with whatever will be most effective.

 

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

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DGroves
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for a dual cpu system the used slot for a sound card is not important, some cards (like avids) are slot specific but for home users the only card to use a slot specific recommendation is the HP turbo "Z" which HP recommends be the slot just above the first x16 video card slot

 

if your doing to do virtualization (VT-D VT-X), make sure you enable it in the bios before using applications for it

look under the Bios security tab for those options

 

Intel "AMT" should be disabled, note that if you do set a password for this and forget it,.. it can not be reset!!!!! so always write it down and tape the AMT password inside the case cover 

 

to speed booting you can disable the boot from  network (one for each nic), and disable the onboard LSI "Rom"

 

note that disabling the Lsi rom is not the same as disabling the entire LSI section doing this turns of the LSI sas/sata ports!!

turning off just the rom allows windows to still see/use these ports, justt no longer boot from them

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DGroves
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HP Recommended

for a dual cpu system the used slot for a sound card is not important, some cards (like avids) are slot specific but for home users the only card to use a slot specific recommendation is the HP turbo "Z" which HP recommends be the slot just above the first x16 video card slot

 

if your doing to do virtualization (VT-D VT-X), make sure you enable it in the bios before using applications for it

look under the Bios security tab for those options

 

Intel "AMT" should be disabled, note that if you do set a password for this and forget it,.. it can not be reset!!!!! so always write it down and tape the AMT password inside the case cover 

 

to speed booting you can disable the boot from  network (one for each nic), and disable the onboard LSI "Rom"

 

note that disabling the Lsi rom is not the same as disabling the entire LSI section doing this turns of the LSI sas/sata ports!!

turning off just the rom allows windows to still see/use these ports, justt no longer boot from them

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FrontRangeBK
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Thanks for the response, it's much appreciated. I was hoping the sound card location wouldn't matter in this use case.  It's nice to see that HP maintains documentation for this model of workstation, but I couldn't quite discern from their docs if there are any specifics governing slot use.  I also love how they print a description of slots, headers, etc. on the inside of the case--very handy.

 

I appreciate the additional info on disabling the ROMs as well.  I haven't worked with this BIOS before, so I need to get better acquainted with it.  I've been looking for YouTube videos for BIOS optimization for the z820, but haven't found many that aren't geared toward high end video and graphics editing (not surprisingly).  So far what videos I've found don't do a good job explaining why a given BIOS setting should be disabled or otherwise changed.

 

The system builder set this box up with the 500 GB SSD as the boot device and the 2 TB HDD both on the LSI SAS/SATA controller (first two drive bays, counting down from the 5.25" drive bay cage), so I was reluctant to mess with any setting related to the LSI contoller.  If I understand it correctly, I need to boot from at least the first SAS/SATA 6 GB port.  Can the other unused SAS/SATA ports attached to the LSI controller be disabled individually for faster boot, or is it an all-or-nothing deal?  I've also seen recommendations to disable the unused PCIe slots, but the author of that video had no proof that would improve boot times or performance.

 

The first thing I did was enable hyper-threading, VT-D, VT-X and make sure all CPUs and cores are active, so that's all good.  I had seen a YouTube video recommending disabling the AMT feature, but the only explanation was "it's useless"... Nothing more substantive.  Will the NIC labeled with AMT function as a normal NIC with AMT disabled?

 

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DGroves
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for the z820, you want a fast SSD in either of the 2 (blue or grey) sata 6GBps these ports and the 5 white intel "SCU" sata 3gbps ports can not boot from a raid setup

 

the best solution is a HP turbo Drive (ahci model using a SM951 ssd) note the sm951 is available in AHCI and nvme so make sure you know which one your getting

 

sec best solution is to use REFIND/DUET on a USB key to load the missing nvme boot code (like i do on my z820) this allows me to use any high performance nvme ssd as a bootable drive on the z800/820

 

Last solution, use the onboard LSI ports which are SATA 3GBps, or SAS 6GBps this controller if it's Bios is enabled can boot from a raid array (raid 5 is very slow don't use!!) however note this controller has no onboard cache or battery backup so it's only useful for raid -0/1

 

intel AMT is used in a corporate "DOMAIN" setup, and allows admins remote access to your system (even if it's off) this has been found to have security risks and is not considered  a secure remote access feature in many cases

for home use it has no benefit and should be disabled

 

yes, both nic ports are useable as standard nics,  (even if AMT is disabled)

 

FrontRangeBK
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@DGroves wrote:

for the z820, you want a fast SSD in either of the 2 (blue or grey) sata 6GBps these ports and the 5 white intel "SCU" sata 3gbps ports can not boot from a raid setup

 

The reseller put the 512 GB SSD and 2 TB HDD both on the 1st and 2nd ports (from right to left) on the bottom row.  Are those all 3 Gbps for SATA drives?  My drives are not SAS drives.  They also put the CD/DVD drive on the first port nearest the 3.5" bays in the upper row.

 

Is that and the 2nd port to the left both 6 GBps SATA ports?  I'm not at home to look at the board, so I don't recall if those two ports are blue/grey or white like the others.  Now that I'm home I see that the SSD and HDD are indeed connected to the first two SAS ports on the bottom row and the DVD burner is in the first 6 Gbps port for some reason.  Can I simply move the SSD and HDD to the two grey 6 Gbps SATA ports and disable the LSI controller, or will that mess up the Windows MBR and cause a lot of boot problems? 

 

I don't need RAID right now, so I'd prefer to have those drives in the fastest ports available.  Unless there's some performance benefit to having them on the LSI controller, I don't need that right now either.

 

Can I boot from the DVD drive if it's connected to one of the white SCU ports since it's not a RAID device?  I doubt I'd need to boot from the DVD drive (I'd more likely boot from a USB recovery drive), but it's good to know which ports support a bootable device.

 

Am I correct that I'd have to change these settings in BIOS if I can move the SDD and HDD to the two grey 6 Gbps ports?:

  1. Storage -- Storage Options -- SATA Emulation = AHCI (instead of RAID+AHCI)
  2. Security -- Device Security -- Make sure SATA0 and SATA1 are set to "Device available"
  3. Security -- Device Security -- Disable SAS controller (if not using any ports on bottom row) which would also disable LSI controller?

Is there a good guide that goes over every BIOS setting for this motherboard in more detail?  I'd like to learn what "option ROM download" and other items actually mean without asking tons of questions. My Google-fu is apparently weak in finding details about the Z820 BIOS settings.

 

Thanks.

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