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Z420 Bios upgrade wows

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HP Z420 workstation
Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)

Hello

 

I have a back-up workstation for my CAD business, a Z420 which was replaced by Z4 G4 as the main daily used workstation. The Z420 for the last two+ years has not been used and I really should have updated it to Windows 10 on it sooner.

 

Crunch time, my daughter needs it for home teaching with the coronavirus shutting all schools and also I really need it ready for Solidworks which is going all Windows 10.

 

So the problem the BIOS is really old! -

BIOS Version/Date = Hewlett-Packard J61 V01.02     09/03/2012

 

OK fine upgrade it - run the downloads from HP which can be done in windows. Seems to go fine until the very end.

 

Now looking at previous posts there is some kind of step method you need to do. Trouble is I'm still not 100% clear on the exact stepped upgrade path (which versions) and getting the files seems impossible. Links/downloads have died due to the passing of time.

 

The workstation would seemed to be worth saving

E5-1620 processor (not terrible for single core processing by today's standard)

24gb of Ram

Samsung 500GB 850 pro storage

FirePro v5900 (this is actually probably the weakest part now days)

 

Thanks for any help people can give to get the BIOS firmware upgraded and I can get this thing on Windows 10.

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Richard_MG,

 

The BIOS isd best done by creating a USB drive with a sub 1GB partition formatted in FAT32 and loading the HP BIOS .bin file on it.  The details are explained by a very good post by SDH.

 

The current configuration with E5-1620 ?24GB/ V5900 should be completely useful for schoolwork,  but for professional level performance in Solidworks and to be useful over a longer period fd time, quite a lot of upgrading is advisable:

 

1. Consider an E5-1650 6-core @ 3.5/3.9GHz

 

2. The 24GB of RAM to 32GB with 8X 4GB RAM modules is preferable to the 24GB. Having 24GB- 4X4GB + 4X2GB provides worse performance than 4X4GB alone. It has to do with the way the ranks are addressed when they're not equal.  Use all identical RAM modules- the same make and model and having the HP part number on it.  I had a z420 very similar to yours: z420_1 was: E5-1620 + 16GB  and later 24GB + Firepro V5900 and all the memory benchmarks were worse at 24GB than at 16GB.

 

HP z420_1 (2013) (Rev 4) > Xeon E5-1620 four core @ 3.6 /3.8GHz > 16GB DDR3 ECC 1600 RAM > Firepro V5900 (2GB) / Seagate ST500DM002-1BD142 > Creative Audigy2 soundcard
[Passmark system rating = 2152 / CPU = 9631 / 2D= 722 / 3D= 2057/ Mem= 2513 / Disk= 497

 

3. For Solidworks, a Quadro is a must and the minimum I'd suggest is the Quadro K4200 while a P2000 or better the recent P2200 could be useful in the successor system. 

 

4. Notice the very poor performance of the Seagate HD in the original z420_1.  Consider a good mid-range SSD, for example a Samsung 869 EVO 500GB for the OS and programs plus a fast HD of 2TB minimum for the files. My current main system z602_2 is near to acquiring a 6TB

 

Here's z420_1 with a Quadro P2000 and Intel 730 480GB SSD::

 

HP z420_1 (2013) (Rev 5) > Xeon E5-1620 four core @ 3.6 /3.8GHz > 16GB DDR3 ECC 1600 RAM > Quadro P2000 (5GB) / HP Z Turbo Drive 256GB AHCI + Intel 730 480GB > ASUS Essence STX sound card/ 600W PSU > Windows 7 Pro’l 64-bit
[Passmark system rating = 4955 / CPU = 9522 / 2D= 748 / 3D= 8133/ Mem= 2453 / Disk= 13903 [Single Thread =2035]

 

If this system is to used over the long term, it may be as well to sell it and buy a second version using the Xeon E5- v2 series and DDR3-1866 instead of 1600.   Here is z420_3 when purchased ($136) :

 

HP z420_3: (Original) Xeon E5-1607 v2 (4-core / 4 Thread @ 2.8GHz) / 4GB (1X 4GB DDR3-1866 ECC unbuffered / NVIDIA GeForce 7100 GS / WD Blue 500GB / 400W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM ) > HP 2711x 27" 1980 X 1080
[Passmark System Rating: = 569 / CPU = 5492 / 2D = 538 / 3D = 60 / Mem = 1117 . Disk = 864 ] [Single Thread Mark = 1509] 9.27.17

 

And after about +$500:

 

HP z420_3: (2015) (R12) Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6C@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid cooling / 32GB (4X 8GB DDR3-1866 ECC registered / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB/ Samsung 860 EVO 500GB + HGST 4TB / ASUS Essence STX / Logitech z2300 2.1 / 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]

 

The E5-1650 v2 may be overclocked (and 1660 v2 and 1680 v2) if the cooling is sufficient. The single thread benchmark is emphasized as with 3D CAD, everything depends on the highest clock speed core.  As a result, z420_3 is fast enough to immediately substitute for the main system, zz630_2, listed below as the single thread of the 1650 v2 6-core is higher than the 1680 v2 at the same 4.3GHz clock speed.

 

BambiBoomZ

 

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 / Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 sound interface + 2X Mackie MR824 / 825W PSU /> HP OEM Windows 7 Prof.’l 64-bit > 2X Dell Ultrasharp U2715H (2560 X 1440)

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

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Bambi is a master of upgrading these workstations.... his advice is excellent.

 

If you have been reading through this forum then you'll recognize the importance of knowing whether you have a version 1 or a version 2 of that workstation.  That is most easily found if you get the boot block date from BIOS and then look that up here.  The advice will be different for a v1 versus a v2.

 

I've done a lot of work lately on memory for the Z420.  If you have a v2 PM me through the forum for some insights.  There are retired HP server sticks to learn about.

 

Regarding BIOS... here's what you need to know:

 

1.  You need to do the "step-up" approach if your BIOS version is older than 1.07.

2.  The process is to install the Z420/Z620 BIOS version 1.23 first, and then the latest verson as a second step.  For the Z820 you'd need to step up first to 1.20, and then to the latest.  

3a.  Where to find the 1.23 installer for the Z420/Z620?  Get it from this ftp address:

ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp64501-65000/sp64701.exe

A HP ReadMe for that is at:  ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp64501-65000/sp64701.html

3b.  For the Z820:

ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp61001-61500/sp61312.exe

ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp61001-61500/sp61312.html

 

4.  How to update BIOS from within BIOS:

Take the .exe you downloaded above and run it... you can run it on another HP workstation or any PC and it will unpack itself and create a new folder on the root level of C titled SWSetup.  In that will be a folder with the same name.  For the Z420/Z620 it will be named SP64701.  Inside that will be a "DOS Flash" folder, and in that will be a file J61_0123.BIN.  Your system may or may not be configured to show extensions of known file type.... I set mine that way but there is nothing else in the DOS Flash folder like that.  Copy that file out onto the top level of a fat32 formatted small USB drive.

 

5.  Turn off your Z420, plug the USB drive into a USB2 port (not one of the blue USB3 ports).  Boot the Z420, go into BIOS, go to the first tab of BIOS, and down the list there will be an entry to update BIOS from within BIOS.  I forget the exact terminology, but there is only one item there that fits.  You choose the USB, and run it.  Then full shut down.  Then cold boot.  Now you can go on to doing the same process with the latest BIOS available.

 

Note that this process keeps the operating system out of the loop during BIOS updating.  There have been bricking of systems by updating the BIOS from within W10 especially, but also in W7 (rare),   It is such a huge avoidable issue to brick a motherboard by updating BIOS from within the operating system that I will never do that again.  I saved my Z620 workstation when that happened, and learned my lesson!

 

Best to you and your daughter..... we'll help you get this done.

 

 

 

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That Boot block date... please post that.  And, do you wish to keep the cost down to an absolute minimum?  I'd like to know the memory sticks you're using..... sized and speed for each.  With that BIOS being so old I'm a bit worried that you have a v1 workstation, but even those can be quite nicely tuned up.

 

My bias is towards the Intel 545s 500GB, but the Samsung SSD Bambi recommends is excellent too.  I like the Intel Toolbox software over the Samsung Magician.

 

There are some cooling tips too......

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BambiBoomZ I don't understand how anything you have listed is helping.

 

My issue -

1) You can't load on the latest BIOS on a Z420 if it has a really old BIOS version on it. No matter what method you use. That is the fact

HP used to have a version you load on first then after that you could load on the latest version. This is not available any more or any instructions how to get round it.

 

Until this is fixed I can't load Windows 10 on it.

 

2) Other than my daughter needing to use the computer for streamed lessons it will be an emergency back up computer in case my Z4 G4 breaks down and it is a few days before the parts are here to fix it.

 

3) The ram config in the computer is classed as a preferred layout by HP, you would gain very little from changing it in any way.

Regardless of this - it's an emergency workstation why spend money + it's not the problem I am asking about.

 

4) Won't gain much by changing the processor to any other E5 xeon, Solidworks only uses single threads unless you are doing simulation or rendering.

Regardless of this - it's an emergency workstation why spend money + it's not the problem I am asking about.

 

5) The Samsung SSD 850 pro is perfectly adequate for what it will be used for.

Regardless of this - it's an emergency workstation why spend money + it's not the problem I am asking about.

 

6) The only thing that will probably need changing is the graphics card. Solidworks is dropping all old drivers very fast now. BTW the K series is on the way out.

It's an emergency workstation so it will get no better than a P1000.

 

 

Anyway if there is someone who can actually help getting the files and the steps versions to upgrade the BIOS from V1.02 on a Z420 your help would be appreciated.

 

 

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Richard_MG,

 

 As mentioned, the z420 BIOS does have a clear procedure  which SDH has more fully explained (apparently without your noticing), including the required stepping from early versions. 

 

The point of the reply was that an "emergency" backup system for a HP Z4 G4 running Solidworks  based on a z420  / E5-1620 system will  require quite extensive improvements. My example was making a z420 backup system that could take over for a quite highly upgraded z620 and also sit in the corner and run renderings leaving the main system usuable.  Although the z420 is still in the same series as the z620, the z420 required becoming one of the highest rated z420's if it were to substitute at anywhere near the z620 level. If the Z4 G4 substitute in a Solidworks professional environment may be accomplished by a first series 4-core z420 having  with only a BIOS upgrade and possible, reluctant, and low budget GPU change, the conclusion has to be that the Z4 G4 is far in excess of the capability required.

 

Citing the important single thread performance, compare the   Xeon E5-1620 and Xeon W-2133- a typical medium CPU in a Z4 G4, in terms of single thread performance.  In Passmark baselines, the E5-1620 has an average  Single Thread Mark of 1718 and the W-2133 has an STM of 2355.  The average CPU Marks (=more or less total clock cycles per unit time for the 1620 and 2133 are respectively,  5988 and 12866.  These two processors are in my view in two separate worlds and from experience, the z420 with an E5-1620 is insufficiently quick; unusable for anything other than quite simple 3D CAD models with a low amount textures plus, rendering is very tedious on 4-cores at 3.7GHz.  For comparison, z620_2 has a STM of 2368 and it's substitute system, z420_3 makes 2384- actually better- thanks 4-cores!.  The z620_2 and z420_3 CPU Marks are 17178 and 15293, and 3D = 12629 and 10953 so even hybrid CPU/GPU rendering is not too far off between the two. The office laptop: zBook 17 G2 has an i7-4940MX Extreme (4C@3.1/ 4.0GHz) to achieve an STM of  2387, 32GB of RAM and a 480GB SSD so that it too may run at a reasonable level. The idea is that  all the office systems can function in the same general category of performance. This is in view of terms of cost, z620_2 was 3X the zBook 17 and z420_3.

 

I should mention that none of these system is fast enough in my uses . The primary 3D CAD is Sketchup and in running projects over 150MB often several layers have to be turned off and run in monochrome. I consider a Passmark STM of 2500 to be the starting point for high-capability 3D CAD.  I still have a problem with z420_3 as z620_2 substitute as it is running a 40" 4K monitor at 60FPS and the GTX 1060 barely does it without a lot of screen tearing. For a "substitute" system, in professional use, it needs to be within a reasonable range of similarity. Have a look at this chart:

 

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/CPU_mega_page.html

 

>and place it descending order of STM. Note the i9-9900K, a common high performance CPU in combination with a Quadro for SW use (see the Puget Systems site for their SW systems) - the 9900K STM = 3024.

 

To summarize, in my view, unless the Solidworks projects are extremely small files and simple assemblies- buttons, mouse pads, and drinks coasters?, the highest performing possible z420 / E5-1620 will be at or below the lower limit of usable professionally SW . I would defer to our Forum friend Brian1965 who runs a z620 / E5-1680 v2 system with Solidworks as it's primary application similar to z620_2 except that system has a Quadro P2000 + GTX 1080Ti whereas I use a GTX 1070Ti. Brian1965 designed and built a bespoke external liquid cooler to allow running the E5-1680 v2 at 4.7GHz on all cores. From comments, I sense that he may still like the 2500+ STM to be further improved.

 

Hope this may, after all, be  "helping".

 

BambiBoomZ

 

 

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Thanks SDH I will give that all a go.

 

BambiBoomZ sorry for being a bit edgy previously.

On Solidworks things aren't quite like you are describing, It's rebuild times/loading large assemblies/editing features higher up in the history tree/using the history tree that are the biggest hang ups . It is not heavy on graphics cards unless you are using a 1000's of parts in the assembly/rendering - drivers is all important.

You get away with 16GB of RAM on some pretty big assemblies.

 

Anyway like I said it doesn't really matter much for this Z420. It would get me through a week if I needed it (Z4 G4 broke down), I could always swap out the graphics cards from the Z4 G4 for temporary measures to quicken it a bit.

 

As far as 2 year old G4 Z4 goes it was custom spec direct from HP runs on W2125 processor and twin M2 HP turbo drive storage. It's fine for Solidworks.

 

Fingers crossed I get this Z420 working for my daughter this week. Though the imaged SSD drive may cause a problem yet.

 

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Richard_MG,

 

I do have some SW experience learning it (SW 2010). And I continually use SW as the reference for desirable performance attributes; if a CPU GPU, amount of RAM, or drive is good for SW, it's good  for my uses.  In consideration changing from Sketchup to Rhino- which is a viewport application, that necessitates moving back to a Quadro, possibly an RTX 4000.

 

It's important to clarify that the emphasis in this discussion is first and foremost he single thread performance, which in the subject z420 makes the E5-1620 the weak link in the chain.  The problem with backup systems is not learning the limitations until it's under load and under deadline. Yes, the GPU is not the primary bottleneck in performance in 3D CAD as compared to the CPU, but it does shift the attributes, and run the viewports so it's choice and emphasis- OpenGL in the example of SW is important.  I would say that with larger files and particularly rendering, the memory quantity and banwidth is also important. but single-thread is king of the system.

 

That said, consider a serious test of the current system using the largest, most complex SW file available.  Also, Passmark Performance- there is a 30-day free trial0 is highly recommended as a method determining relative performance in important parameter and also being able to see which components are responsible for those results. For example, in Passmark baselines, the highest rated z420 (mine) has a Rating of 6227 / CPU= 17007 (E5-1680 v2 8C@4.3GHz) / 2D = 826 (Quadro P2000 / 3D=8877 / Mem = 3025 (64GB) / Disk= 14577. That system would be quite good for SW, our friend Brian1965's SW z620 is rated at as The highest rated E5-1620  (also mine) is: Rating of 4955 / CPU= 9522 / 2D = 748 (Quadro P2000 / 3D=8133 / Mem = 2454 (16GB) / Disk= 13904.  However, that system, upgraded from a K2200 / Intel 730 480GB rated at 4402, as good as it was, was still inadequate for a 150MB Sketchup model, which lead to z420_2 (E5-1660 v2 overclocked to 4.2GHz / 32GB Rating = 5920. That was still inadequate for a 150MB Sketchup model, plus it would not run 5K renderings in VRay as it required 38+GB of RAM in setup and therefore is z620_2. 

 

In retrospect, I regret the time the, effort and expense on z420_1  as only temporarily solving performance issues. It's far more time-consuming and expensive pursuing a continuous upgrade path and I found, highly detrimental to professional work as the discovery of issues always occurs under the greatest work load.  I had a problem with a corrupted BIOS in z620_2 while upgrading, a problem persisting for more than a month.  I quickly transferred the z620_2 internals to z420_3,  which was running at that time an E5-1620 v2. The process resembled a disaster area:

 

z620_2 + z420_3_ components transfer_P1050680.JPG

 Notice the HP z420 liquid cooler in the center, which is recommended to all z420 v2 and single CPU z620 CAD systems. the E5-1680 v2 @4.3GHz idles at 30-33C.

 

That process is stressful and not a productive use of time, but at least I had a system that as it shared the same BIOS could receive every part and run off the same drive. That is to reiterate the need for fast and easy transitions system to system in a professional enviroment.

 

Consider working on a copy of the largest, most complex SW project, testing the subject z420 in it's current state on Passmark, compare the test results to other z420's in the baselines and that will offer some performance perspective. Also, consider scenarios of transferring to the backup system. It's also interesting to use Passmark to track improvements.

 

Let us know how you progress.

 

BambiBoomZ 

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Attached is a PDF copy of the HP customer communication regarding this issue, for others.  It sometimes helps to be a hoarder...

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OK thanks all for the help, it worked beautifully with no hiccups. 😁

 

I also took the time to update the BIOS on the Z4 G4 just in case a similar situation happened with that workstation.

 

So lets see if I can get windows 10 on the Z420 now.

 

And yes SDH this it is a V1 version of the Z420, I ordered it before it was even on the HP website to order (just HP news that it was coming out). I was desperate to replace the HP wx workstation.

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