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HP Recommended

Hello SDH: Thanks for your response. I have a couple follow-up questions I’d appreciate your thoughts on:


1. CPU upgrade. Dgroves suggested that a second quad core CPU may not improve performance much unless I’m using software that would benefit from 8 cores (writing: “you might want to consider upgrading the cpu's  from 2 quad core to 2 dual core as the dual core's clock higher and unless you have software that uses all 8 cores, you may find the faster clocked 4 core system will perform much better”.) The only software I use which runs very slow is Virtualbox. I don’t know how many cores it uses.


I upgraded to a quad core SLAEJ two years ago (from a dual core SLABN). Dgroves suggested that two dual core CPUs might perform better than two quad core CPUs.


Do you recommend switching back to my original SLABN dual core, and adding a second dual core SLABN? Or do you think adding a second SLAEJ would be a better upgrade?


2. Heatsink. Can you suggest a model of heat sink for a second CPU (either a second quad core SLAEJ or a second dual core SLABN)? Would this heatsink work (with either of those possible CPUs):




3. RAM upgrade. Do you think adding a second CPU, or adding more RAM, would do more to improve performance? My xw8400 has 4 gb of RAM.


If you think more RAM would improve performance, would you recommend either of these parts:






4. SATA card upgrade. Dgroves suggested upgrading my SATA card. My xw8400 came with an LSI SAS card (LSI Logic / Symbios Logic SAS1064 PCI-X Fusion-MPT SAS (rev 03).)  I’m not sure what role that card plays. Do you think adding a newer SAS card would be good bang for the buck compared to the other potential upgrades (CPU and RAM)?


5.  Generally, what are your thoughts about upgrading the xw8400 versus buying a newer computer?


Thank you.

HP Recommended

First go find the latest QuickSpecs for the xw8400 you can and use that as a reference on what can be run.


Processors:  You need speed more than cores.  The SLAEJ 5345 quad core runs at 2.33 GHz... versus the dual core 5160 breaks into that magic 3.0 range.  Get two of those, sSpec SLAG9 (which is the last stepping, G0).  So, you'll be running 4 total cores each at 3.0 GHz.


Yes, that heatsink is fine.... or get one from the xw6600.  They both will be fine.  Don't get the version you show if it ends in -003.  Those heatsinks with -003 only have 2 heatpipes instead of the normal 3.


RAM.... fill all sockets with identical RAM, and I prefer HP over the others.  8 sockets of 4GB each will get you to 32GB.  I like the black Elpida ones or the silver Samsung ones.  Don't mix and match.  It is so cheap these days.  Again, fill all 8 sockets.  HP bins their memory, so it is better overall to stick with HP.  I'd only buy used personally.  Yes, more RAM is better within reason.


Card.... I respect DGroves and his experience.  I'd dump that card and not think twice about wanting a SATA III interface for that generation of workstation.  If you don't have a SSD you must have one.  Buy a used Intel 320 series SSD, which is a native SATA II SSD, and so is the workstation.  Few can tell the difference between SATA II and SATA III in the real world, and certainly not you or me on that workstation.  That card will open a can of worms for you.  You can go up to 600 GB with those SSDs.... I have bought a bunch over the years and they have performed very well for me, used, each time.  I use the Intel Toolbox utility.  Actually it is better to buy a non-HP one so the Toolbox does not have to deal with HP firmware.  I know how to get the Samsung SSDs running on these too, but that is another process, and not worth it for you. Again, you must have a SSD.


Newer computer..... I am amazed at how the xw series of HP workstations have been workhorses and just keep running and running.  Having said that my personal choice for you would be a Z420 version 2, with the 2013 boot block date, plus a E5-5160 v2 (or a E5-5120 v2 if you are on a tight budget).  Plus an Intel 545s 512GB SSD, and 8 sticks of used HP 1866MHz ECC unbuffered RAM.  8 x 2GB or 8 x 4GB would be much better and not that more expensive.  We have this whole combo with 16 or 32 GB of that RAM and I can't tell the difference with our software.  And I can't tell the difference between this and our Z620 version 2 workstations running the same gear.  Read some of Bambi's posts that show you how he uses Passmark's total score to get an accurate idea on the differenced between workstations.  That is a valid way to go without going overboard like a lot of review sites do.



HP Recommended

Very helpful, thank you SDH.  A couple to follow-up on:


1.   You suggested upgrading to two Xeon 5160 cpus, which sounds like a good plan.  Am curious why you suggested that dual core rather than, e.g., the quad core 5365, which also run at 3.0 ghz?  Because the 5160 is cheaper?


2.  You suggested getting all the same RAM, rather than mixing.  How come?  You wrote that "HP bins their memory."  What does that mean?  What would/may happen if I use my existing 4 gb (of JEDEC ram) with differently branded sticks?


3.  You wrote "That card will open a can of worms for you."  Which card?  My existing LSI card, or an ungraded card?  What the issue with ... which ever one will open a can of worms?


Again, thanks much.

HP Recommended

1.  Your heatskink/fan combo is rated to about 80W max TDP.  Each of those X5365 quad cores are rated to 150W.


2.  Have seen flaky memory performance by mixing sticks.  Do what you want.  For me memory reliability is the foundation of an excellent workstation.  I don't have time to waste with intermittent issues.


3.  Not sure why you want any LSI card when you have access to excellent SSDs these days.  Have had my share of fun with firmware upgrades, age-related system incompatibilities, outdated drivers, and troubles from all that related to running W10Pro64.  I still like and use W7Pro64 a lot, but that is not our future.  


Good luck on your project..... give us an update in a few weeks.  Thanks.....

HP Recommended

To the "OP" your current questions are very well thought out and well written!!!!


The xw8400 has a onboard LSI "ROC" chip (Raid On Chip) this chip can support SAS or SATA drives, but is a SATA II gen interface and also has a 2TB limit in drive capacity


In reguards to "SDH" on the  LSI  SAS/SATA card stance,....i would normally agree with him to skip a LSI card but your case is special due to the hardware gen of the PCI-e bus being 1.0 as such my preference/experence  favors the below setup:

upgrading to a Dell Per H310 card (same chipset used in the HP z820 workstation) will give the user a SAS/SATA III 3GBps Drive interface that will support SAS/SATA drives  in Raid or non raid mode, (which includes SSD's) and keeps the same bios interface for configuring  devices connected to the H310 card as the onboard LSI 1068 has.


we simply install the H310 to the xw8400 8x slot (which is actually a 4x), connect the drives and then boot and disable the xw8400 onboard LSI controller and bios and we now have all drives on a buss that can do PCI-E 2.0 speeds or a bit faster

we have found this is the best way of getting faster disk access since the xw8400 PCI-e bus is  rev 1.0 not 2.0/3.0


the xw8400 is not windows 10 compatable due to missing CPU instructions that were added newer CPU lines (the xs8600 is win 10 compatable)  again "SDH" is spot on that a newer system like the z420 will be a massive upgrade if you can afford it


"SDH" is correct,... mixing ram can cause issues, even if the ram is from the same vender as diffrent lots can have small diffrences and since RDimm ram is quite cheap getting all the same is not a major issue and side steps any issues


total ram, i'm not suprised that your VM is slow,.....4GB ram is causing your system to swap program code chunks from ram to disk on a non stop basis! upgrading to 16GB (or more) will  be a massive improvement in the VM and OS responce times

i personally would not do more than 24GB ram and with 8 ram slots you may find a cheaper price using 4GB sticks rather than 8GB sticks, however unless the 4GB sticks are a lot cheaper, i would stay with the 8GB modules

HP Recommended

To my knowledge the xw8400 is like the xw6400 workstations that I have more experience with.  One of the significant drawbacks of this set of siblings is that their PCIe bus speeds were PCIe Gen 1 as DGroves states..... and thus a PCIe card with the potential of giving USB3 or SATA III capability to these was actually being choked by that issue.  The xw6600/8600 workstations came along and they have two PCIe Gen 2 slots.... the two PCIe x16 slots you'd normally consider for video cards.  That was the generation that allowed the HP Texas Instruments based USB3 PCIe card to finally reach full USB3 speeds (if the card was placed in the bottom PCIe x16 slot.  That card was built originally to give USB3 capability to the ZX00 workstations, and it works just as fast in the xw6600/xw8600.


Of interest to DGroves..... I have a xw6400 that I have been pushing the boundaries with for years now, and have had W10Pro64 running on it over all generations of W10 including the latest, and also running the latest versions of our software just to show the software source it could be done.  They kept saying it could not be true...... are your sure your xw8400 can't be run under 10?  My recollection is that initially W10 hit a roadblock with the xw6400/xw8400, but then Microsoft figured out the driver issue(s) they had wrong and fixed that.  I was giving them feedback via the insiders track at that time, and there were a lot more of those workstations still being used then than now so I think MS was getting pressure to figure it out.


HP Recommended

hmmm,,,....i suspect you may be right about win 10, as the early release(s) did not work on our xw8400's and we were phasing them out of service at the time the beta's of win 10 came out so we never pursued this i also remember that the xw6200's we had at the time were also unable to run win 10


i think we do still have one xw6400 board in the obselete (stuff to dispose of) bin if you say the release versions of win 10 run 


i might mount the system board in a non HP case (we have no more running xw series workstations) and make a  small home file server out of it this weekend!! i was going to use a xw6600 board, but that has a non std backplate I/O whereas the xw6400 is using a std I/O backplate


if i get to it this weekend i'll try to benchmark the LSI/Perc H310 disk speeds vs the onboard SATA with a 64 or 128Gb SSD that i have

HP Recommended

Hi all,


being a dummy in this field and owning an XW6400, about three years ago I bought a Kingston 128 Gb SSD, and copied the free win10 upgrade to it, using clone software. It has been runnning smoothly ever since. Recently I changed my CPU's from 5120's to 5160's and increased my memory up to 16 Gig (4x4). Totally happy with it! Still being a dummy I understand only half of your discussions, but I learn and enjoy it! Just wanted to let you know how easy it can be and how lucky I apparently have been 🙂

HP Recommended

We're all happy to help.... the HP workstations have treated us well.  I've been adjusting my views a bit on the processors.  If your xw6400 workstation can run the E5345 quad core processors that might serve you well, over the E5160, because more programs are becoming multithreaded and the benefit of the extra cores can easily outweigh the extra speed you get with the dual cores when comparing these two processors.  About 10% of xw6400 workstations can not run the E5345 processors.


The big jumps in performance are really noticed with moving up the generations.  There is a lot of performance in the ZX00 and ZX20 generations to be had, and make sure if you upgrade into one of those you get the version 2 of each.  Our home library workstation is a version 2 Z400 with the X5690 processor running happily for several years now.  That is not officially approved for the Z400 in their literature, but every version 2 Z400 I have tried one in works just fine.  It is about perfect for our real life lives here.  I think that X5690 processor is an Easter Egg that HP put in the Z400 v2's microcode white list for us to find.



HP Recommended

This sounds interesting enough to have a look around..:) How do I recognize the Z400 version 2? And do I understand correctly that you prefer the 400 series over the 420?


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