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Used HP Z620 Upgrade path and questions

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HP Workstation Z620

Hello everyone,

I recently purchased a HP Z620 and have it had for a week now and after some research and purchasing small items for it (Wi-Fi, HD Caddy's, 2.5 Adapters) I was thinking of upgrading parts and I have a lot of noob questions.

The system came with: 

System Bios J61 v03.96
Boot Block Date 03/06/2013
1x E5-2620 V2

32GB RAM 4x8 1333mhz

Quadro K600 -> Added M4000

1TB HDD -> Replaced w/ 2 SSD's (600gb, 1TB)  and 1TB HDD


Looking to upgrade the CPU

1x E5-2670 or 2660 V2


1x E5-2695 V2

and maybe the RAM to 64GB RAM to 14900R @ 1866MHz


Use Case:

Linux host

Looking into using dual GPU's and using one as a pass through for light gaming and to practice CAD using a Windows10 VM.

- Windows 10 VM w/ GPU Pass through for light gaming and CAD learning

- VM and host for Programming

- VM's PenTest Lab

- VM's for school and proprietary software



1. With the bios information above can I use a PCIE w/ NVME  as a boot drive without flashing the MB?

2. Can I use this:

3. If I can't boot w/ the NVME can I use it as a storage drive

4. To increase the speed of using multiple VM's should I upgrade the RAM (higher speed) , or Storage (to NVME), or allocate more CPU to the VM?


5. With newer GPU's needing more than an 8 pin, some 8 and 4, how can I use the unused 6 pin, other used by M4000, for a GPU that needs more than 8 pins. Probably can't due to watt limit I'm assuming.

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HP Recommended

Hi Micahlitt,


Welcome to the forum. My, you do sound keen.


Before you get too caught up in buying 'potentialy' incompatible hardware for your system, I would strongly recommend you get in the habit of doing a little research up front - posting for advice on this forum is a really good start. First and foremost, you need to download the available manuals, guides and support utilities HP has generously provided for its users. You will find them here. (At the bottom of the page). As an absolute minimum, download and read the Quickspecs and Maintenance and Service Guide.


You also want to download and install the HP Peformance Advisor and HP Support Assistant programs if they are not already on your system. Just search for these online.


There are numerous informative posts with regards to upgrading these workstations on this forum, e.g. adding multiple GPU's, compatible NVMe drives (OS and Storage), compatible RAM (don't mix or buy any brand!!), etc.


Use the dropdown box(es) in the forum search feature to tailor your search;




Since you have the 2013 boot block date you can now take advantage of 1866MHz memory, which would be a significant boost in performance from your current 1333Mhz modules. Of course you would need to upgrade your CPU since your current E5-2620 v2 CPU maxes out at 1600MHz bus speed. I don't run VM's myself, but I would have thought that to run multiple VM's then you would be looking for lots of CPU cores and lots of fast ram. As a general rule, (for CPU's from the same family), CPU's that have a higher number of CPU cores (e.g. E5-2695 v2), have a significantly slower clock speed and single threaded performance.  For gaming however, you want a fast clock speed and single threaded performance, and you require far fewer CPU cores. A good compromise would be the E5-2667 v2. It is one of the fastest, (and compatible), 8-core v2 CPU's for the Z620. I would then look to add the optional Z620 2nd CPU riser board, (about the same price as an M.2. drive), a 2nd E5-2667 v2, and an additional 32GB RAM at a later date. From my own experience, M.2 drives are fantastic for improving your benchmark scores, but in reality, don't make a huge difference in terms of productivity. There is a very noticeable difference in performance when you upgrade from mechanical HDD's to 2.5" SSD's, (SSD's are ~4x faster), but you definitely don't notice any major boost in performance when moving from SSD to M.2. drives, (unless copying files from one M.2. to another M.2. drive), despite my M.2. drive being 5x faster than my 2.5" SSD. Perhaps an SSD  RAID array would be better boost for VM use?


Once you've had a chance to catch up on some of the points above (quickspecs, manuals, etc.), and you have more specific questions regarding hardware or software issues then please update this post, (or start a new thread if necessary).


I have spent a few years upgrading and 'tuning' my Z620 to suit my specific uses, (e.g. custom liquid cooling, etc.) but that doesn't mean that my hardware configuration would be ideal for your use.


HP Z620 - Liquid Cooled E5-1680v2 @4.7GHz / 64GB Hynix PC3-14900R 1866MHz / GTX1080Ti FE 11GB / Quadro P2000 5GB / Samsung 256GB PCIe M.2 256GB AHCI / Passmark 9.0 Rating = 7147 / CPU 17461 / 2D 1019 / 3D 14464 / Mem 3153 / Disk 15451 / Single Threaded 2551
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Very useful and quick upgrade research is possible using the test baselines of Passmark Performance Test. There are 980 test results for the HP z620 listed by Rating , CPU, 2D, 3D, Mem, and Disk and the performance in each parameter is associated by listing the relevant component. This reveals proven compatibility and relative performance potential with placed in the context of the other components. It's clear when looking at Graphics performance that the same GPU has a very different 3D mark according to clock speed.  Advanced searches mat be done by the priority of the parameter.


For example, the highest 3D performance for the Quadro M4000 in a z620 is 6982 in a 1X E5-2650 v2 8-core @ 2.6 / 3.1Ghz system. The M4000 score is 4692 in a 2X E5-2660 v2 which is 10-core @ 2.2 / 2.9GHz. In general, the more cores, the lower the clock speed and dual processors are in general not as high performing as single processors. Importantly, for CAD use, the single threaded performance is of primary interest as the fundamental calculations of the placement of the polygons is all on one core, and the another cores work on the attributes. For example, the highest CPU performance- in general the total number of clock cycles per unit time among the 980 z620's tested is 26543, using 2X Xeon E5-2690 v2.  But, an E5-2690 v2 will not be brilliant in 3D CAD as the Passmark Single Thread Mark =  1681; good enough for small projects, but compare that with a Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6C @ 3.5 / 3.9GHz)- a  $75 processor today (5.20) and which has a STM = 1959.


This demonstrates the interrelationships of the CPU core count to clock speed to single thread performance.   For the subject system's complex use of several VMs- indicating a lot of cores ain combination with 3D CAD, the need is for a compromise processor of both cores and clock speed. Brian1965 and I both use the Xeon E5-1680 v2 in z620.  The E5-1680 v2 is among the very few Xeons that may be overclocked using the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. Brian1965 runs his at 4.7Ghz thanks to a custom designed external water cooling system and the office system here z620_2 runs at 4.3GHz using a z420 AIO liquid cooler, which plugs in with no modification as the z620 and z420 motherboards are extremely similar, using the same BIOS, and only differ in that the z620 has the second CPU riser socket. 


HP z620_2 (2017) (R7) > Xeon E5-1680 v2 (8C@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid Cooling / 64GB (HP/Samsung 8X 8GB DDR3-1866 ECC registered) / Quadro P2000 5GB _ GTX 1070 Ti 8GB / HP Z Turbo Drive M.2 256GB AHCI + Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe 500GB + HGST 7K6000 4TB + HP / HGST Enterprise 6TB  / 825W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM )

[ Passmark Rating = 6280 / CPU rating = 17178 / 2D = 819 / 3D= 12629 / Mem = 3002 / Disk = 13751 / Single Thread Mark = 2368 [10.23.18]


Note that the overclocking creates a good balance of a good CPU mark- in the previous Passmark computation the average for the E5-1680 v2 was about 15000  with about an 2100 STM.  Brian1965's system has an STM of about 2550. 


The z420 / z620 similarities makes it relevant to a z620. The office z420_3:


HP z420_3: (2015) (R11) Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6C@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid cooling / 32GB (HP/Samsung 4X 8GB DDR3-1866 ECC registered) / EVGA SSC GTX 1060 6GB/ Samsung 860 EVO 500GB + HGST 4TB / 600W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM ) > Samsung 40" 4K

[Passmark System Rating: = 5644 / CPU = 15293 / 2D = 847 / 3D = 10953 / Mem = 2997 Disk = 4858 /Single Thread Mark = 2384 [6.27.19]


It's possible to see the relationship in core count to clock speed to the single thread results :


HP ZBook 17 G2: (2015 ) i7-4940MX Extreme (4C@3.1/ 4.0GHz) / 32GB / Quadro K3100M 4GB / Kingston 480GB SATA SSD > 17.3" LCD 1920 X1080 panel > HP docking station> video externally to HP 2711x 27" LCD > Logitech 533 _2.1 speaker system

[Passmark System Rating: = 3980 / CPU = 10140 / 2D = 618 / 3D = 2779 / Mem = 2559 Disk = 4662 / Single Thread Mark = 2387 [1.3.20]


Again the E5-1650 v2 as another of the overclockable E5-v2's can have very good results (the other is the E5-1660 v2).  I don't remember the old system CPU and STM averages, but the current is CPU= 8791 and STM= 1959. The Passmark E5-1650 v2


The subject system:  


CPU: For the CPU, consider an E5-1680 v2 and adding a z420 liquid cooler, using XTU to overclock to 4.2 or 4.3GHz on all cores. With 8-cores, the host OS and each VM can be assigned a core. The prices for the E5-1680 v2 have dropped dramatically. New, they were $1,723, now under $200.


RAM: consider a minimum of 64GB DDR3-1866 ECC Registered. Buy only RAM having the HP part number sticker on it. The amount of RAM means that the host can reserve 16GB and depending on the number, each VM can have perhaps 6-8GB of RAM. Actually, 128GB would be better.


Disks: Yes, the z620 can use an NVMe as data drive without any additional steps. As to the Intel NVMe , the 750  is an older design. the Passmark Drice score for the 400GB 750 = 12300 and for thre 1.2TB = 14198. For comparison, the Samsung 970 EVO 500GB- about $160 has a score of 19870.  Z620_2 uses a Samsung 970 EVO NVme M.2 500GB for the main data drive.  Results are very good:


Samsung 970 EVO_ Crystaldiskmark_12.25.18.jpg

Those results are slightly above the product rating ("up to 3500 MB/s")


For a good size data/ archiving HD, z620_2 is recently added an HP / HGST Enterprise 6TB- much smoother running, quieter, and cooler running  than the previous HGST  Ultrastar 7K6000 4TB.


Consider the Lycom DT-120 M.2 PCIe adapter card. It's possible to use an M.2 NVMe as the boot drive on a z620 with some fuss on Windows 7, but quite a bit less fulls on Windows 10.


Let us know how your project progresses.



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