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HP xw4600, xw6600, xw8600 etc.

Originated in this thread:




It may be useful to seperate this little tutorial from the original thread in order to make it easier to tag for those interested.


If your HP xw Workstation sounds like a turbine propelled jet during take-off,  most likely your thermal sensor is broken.


From several other topics in this forum I learned that the temperature sensor is 'hidden' inside the power on/off led cable assembly, which also contains wiring for the internal speaker. These are sold on ebay for 10-15 USD, but stripping the heat shrink that covers the thermistor and replace it with a new one might be a simple and much cheaper solution.To replace an otherwise functional cable just because of a broken 50 cent part seems a bit overdone.


As a replacement for the original 2n3904 transistor several similar NPN transistors could be used like: 2N4401, BC547, 2N2222.

This is what it looks like:




I wish to express my gratitude to SDH and Dan_WGBUfor their useful remarks

In order to get this job done, you will need:

- A putty knife and small (nail) scissors
- A soldering iron, preferably < 25 Watts with a small tip
- Heatshrinks
- A couple of 2n3904 transistors (or equivalent transistors). These things cost next to nothing , so it is recommended to buy some spares
- Hair dryer or heat gun.


The 2n3904 transistor is 'hidden' in the Power/Loudspeaker/etc. cable assembly, as shown here:




With a putty knife and nail scissors I carefully removed the heat shrink to 'uncover' the transistor:



Further stripping:




And finally:




On the image above the emitter (soldered to the brown wire) and the base + collector (both soldered to the grey wire) are clearly visible.


The old transistor has been cut off:




The wires are easily damaged or cut during stripping the mantle, so be gentle.


New heatshriks have been placed:




Now it is time to actually solder a replacement 2n3904 transistor to the wires.

As mentioned in the introduction, a low power soldering iron with a small tip should be used. My 16 Watt Ersa is perfect for this task. Unfortunately the tip is worn out and I did not want to wait for a new set of tips to arrive, so I used my 25 Watt white label iron with a Weller tip.





Apparently, I forgot to take pictures immediately after soldering, therefore the 'weird' image below is the only option to show the result:



Due to the heat of the soldering iron, the fresh heatshrinks have become useless. In order to check proper operation of the soldered transistor, I decided to 'stick' another transistor in parallel. Transparent tape was used to prevent the second transistor from moving.


When I booted the xw6600, the fans seemed to be spinning at the same speed(s) as before the transistor swap. At least, I could not notice a significant difference.


At this stage, two possibilities remain:
1. The PWM-controller on the systemboard has gone bad.
2. There is no faulty component; the fans are spinning at 'default' velocity, which is obviously loud.


In order to verify no. 1 (PWM) I decided to cut off mymeticulously soldered transistor and boot the xw6600 without it.
Usually, post bios, one or two fans start spinning at a slighty higher velocity. I guess these are either the chipset fan or the memory fan, or both.

Without the 2n3904 transistor, post bios, initially (for some seconds) the same behaviour could be observed.
But then.... after 2-4 seconds it seemed 'someone had dropped a turbo-prop inside my xw6600and launched it'.
Though my xw6600 was obviously louder than before, I actually liked the sound.


I was glad to conclude the PWM controller was still fully functional and subsequently I soldered another fresh 2n3904 to the wires.


As shown previously, the first pair of heatshrinks already shrank during soldering. I took another heatshrink which I first cut in half and then cut each of the two smaller shrinks over their length. This way, the heatshrinks could be wrapped around the emitter (brown wire) and the base + collector (grey wire). As a precaution, I would advise to have both cutted ends 'faced outwards', as shown in the image below.


Actually, only from the left heatshrink the 'two ends' are visible:





Finally, a larger heatshrink is used to cover and protect the transistor.
I used a hair dryer for the 'shrinking'.






The original 2n3904 in my xw6600 appeared not be defective. Still, this small tutorial may be helpful to other owners/users of HP workstations.


In order to slow down the speed of some of my fans, I will install fan speed reducers.
These will probably beNoctua NA-SRC7, as advised by Scott (SDH).

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Impressive work!  Thanks much for taking the time to figure this out and also to share the breakthrough.


Here is the latest on the xw6600, abbreviated form:


1.   I have not yet found a xw6600 that will not accept the very fastest quad core that HP ever certified for that workstation, and always buy the latest sSpec code for it (SLBBM).  Put in two... that will take W7Pro64 or higher to run two processors.  About $55.00 USD for matched pair, used, on eBay these days.  Recycling is good, cheap, and I have yet to buy a bad used SLBBM off eBay.  Use the Noctua thermal compound, apply a bit thicker than you could see through and gently hand tighten to the bottom-out torque.


2.  I have posted here in the past on using SSDs only now... such a huge leap in speed.  I'm liking the Intel SSDs, either the X25-M (silver case, not black case..... black plastic rim is OK), or the 320 series so I can get the Intel Toolbox utility.  Update the firmware with that, but very early firmware for these may require using a boot CD to pull it off.  Never have not been able to firmware update one of these.


3.  The HP TI based PCIe USB3 card in the second (lower) PCIe x 16 slot gets you the PCIe Generation II speed on the PCI bus to match the USB3 bandwidth, and the use of two front and two rear USB3 ports.  I've posted on my favorite front floppy bay adapter for the two front USB3 ports, from Akasa (AK-HDA-06BK).  It works great, and looks excellent in the floppy bay spot.


4.  I always now put in an eSATA backplane adapter from the second of the 2 red SATA ports on the motherboard meant for that.  I toggle that one to its eSATA mode in BIOS, as HP recommends.  It is very nice to have the eSATA speeds for doing backups and image captures for cloning builds.  I like the red BizLink adapter with the latching SATA plug off eBay.  Include D88522-001 in your eBay search to find that one.  Akasa makes a nice black latching one too, but its significantly longer than you really need (eSATA-45-EX).


5.  There are latest-version HP universal driver installers for the Audio On Motherboard (AOM) and LAN On Motherboard (LOM) chipsets built in to the xw6600 motherboard, and you can harvest these from HP from the drivers for the Z640 and the Z620, respectively.   Just remember to delete anything listed under Programs and Features control panel with Realtek or Broadcom in its name, and be patient during the install to let the process proceed, including a possible automatic restart for Realtek.


6.  Always use latest BIOS.  Best to update BIOS from within BIOS, using the .bin file on a thumb drive.


7.  Use my Replicated BIOS clone settings I have posted here for fastest boot/speed.  The CPQSETUP.txt file also goes on the thumb drive for the BIOS settings clone process.


8.  Here are my fan speeds, and they are from stock HP fans unless indicated otherwise, from the listing of temps/speeds in BIOS:


CPU0 1223, CPU1 1203, Memory 1147 (using a 4-wire Noctua LNA RC-7 adapter), Chassis 1337, Chassis 1348, PCI 995 (using a non-PMW Noctua fan with a 3-wire Noctua ULNA adapter), Chipset 2776 (using a Noctua 4-wire ULNA RC6 adapter).


9.  The chipset fan runs at about 7700 rpm at 12v with no voltage reducing adapter, and with no PWM modulation.  That is not the way HP runs it, however.  They add in PWM modulation from the motherboard, and that then runs about 3450 rpm stock.  If you add in a 4-wire Noctua NA-RC7 (50 ohm, easy to fine via internet) then the average rpm is about 2850.  If, instead, you add in a 4-wire Noctua NA-RC6 (82 ohm, hard to find, and I got a stash directly from Noctua a few years ago) you average about 2620 from the 3 I averaged.  If you use the 100 ohm NA-RC9 you get that down to about 2475, but I had some flaky results when I used the 150 ohm NA-RC8.  Overall, I'd at least put in a NA-RC7 for both the memory and chipset fans.  If you can get a NA-RC6 I'd put that in the chipset fan and leave the memory fan with a NA-RC7.  I have been running all my xw6600s this way for several years now.


The end result challenges the midrange Z620s in performance and quietness, but the Z620 has more headroom for higher speeds (at much more cost, of course).






The two pics above show how I fold the wires at the top of the Noctua adaper, and zip tie the adapter to the fan wires so all fit in very nicely.  The exact direction of the folding in relationship to the motherboard plug direction here was carefully chosen for best wire routing

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By coincidence I discovered my efforts have not been in vain!


Today, I checked some settings in the bios of my xw6600 and I stumbled upon the Fan Idle mode setting and I remembered that, before the Transistor Swap, changing the setting did not have any impact on the speed of the fans.

Step by step I increased the fan idle setting and voilà! Gradually, the (ill) famous 'jet engine sound' came alive.



These are my  'System Temperatures'  :


System Temperatures.jpg


The Fan Tachs seem to be normal, with the exception of the chipset fan, and average temperatures are quite low, given the fact I made this picture shortly after a reboot and not after a 'cold' system power on.


In order to mute the fan noise, which is still 'substantial', I ordered some Low Noise Fan Speed Adapters. Despite my preference for the Noctua's as recommended by Scott, I have decided to try these 'white label ' adapters. The price difference here in Europe is quite big (almost 300%) and besides, these white label adapters are available in 5-pack, whereas the Noctua equivalent (NA-RC7) are sold in 3-packs.


5 Stücke PC PWM Ventilator Lärm Reduktion 4 Pins 4 Draht Widerstand Kabel.jpg


I will post again when I have these adapters installed.



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Scott, thank you very much for the compliments!


Your tips and recommendations are invaluable.

I have successfully updated the Broadcom and Realtek drivers.



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Thanks..... I can see from your image of the BIOS access to temps and rpms that you've got one processor rather than two, and the front PCI cards cooling fan is not installed.  I have posted in here on the "ghetto mod" method to add in a front cooling 92x92x25mm fan running at about 1000 rpm.  That is virtually silent.


I'll post a driver update shortly.


On those non-Noctua fan speed reducers..... the same company makes a 4-wire black wrapped version, and I tested those and found them to be reliable and very similar to the NA-RC7 (faster ones) from Noctua.  These unwrapped ones were supposed to have higher resistance, but did not give fan speed reductions that were reliable, in the set I got.


Noctua does have the 3-pack of NA-RC7 as the NA-SRC7, and those work reliably as does the NA-RC6 (slower ones I favor for the chipset fan).  You may end up wanting to use a 3-pack of the NA-RC7 for your chipset, memory and front fans if the ones shown that are non-noctua have not come up in reliability.  Also, the plug ends on those might be substandard.... a bit technical, but they were missing an important orientation groove inside each of the holes on my black versions.

HP Recommended

I've posted on the use of more recent HP-sourced universal installers that work fine for older HP workstations.  The following is what I use for the xw6400, xw8400, xw6600, xw8600, and xw4600.  When HP stops "supporting" a workstation then usually the HP drivers site freezes at that point.  There are a few exceptions, but I have learned that searching on the HP site for workstations that use a later version of a vendors chipsets will often yield a universal installer that gets you more recent drivers, and installs just fine on the older workstations.


One thing I always do is install the latest BIOS for these older workstations first.  Then, assuming I'm always using W7Pro64-bit, I'll go into the Programs and Features control panel and uninstall anything with the name of the device I'll be updating.  For example, the Realtek and the Broadcom control panels if present.  Then restart.


For Realtek:  Go to the Z640 HP drivers site for W7Pro64 and get the Audio SP71121, which will get you driver version dated 1/13/15 in Device Manager.  That will install both the driver and a control panel.


For Broadcom:  Go to the Z620 HP drivers site for W7Pro64 and get the Network SP70407.  That says it will get you driver version but that is a mistake.  It actually installs dated 7/22/14 in Device Manager.  Plus, it puts on the BACS4 control panel  Do that install first, and then go to https://www.broadcom.com/support/?gid=9 to download the 64-bit driver from there, and use Device Manager to navigate to the unzipped win_b57_x64- folder on your desktop containing the updater and target that for the driver update.  This is a limited installer, and have the box checked to include subfolders.  You'll end up with the driver dated 12/17/14 when you check with Device Manager..... it becomes effective on a restart.  This universal updater works for all the xw6400, 8400, 6600, 8600, and xw4600 workstations, plus more.


For the TI based 2x2 USB3 HP PCIe cards (place one in your spare PCIe x14 Generation II video slot on the xw6600 for access to the fastest bandwidth on the PCIe bus, which can match that of USB 3.0):  Go to the Z620 W7Pro64 HP drivers site and get SP65043.  Never install drivers on these cards until you have fed them proper power via the supplemental power adapter on the card.  What comes up via the PCIe x16 slot is not enough or the right type, and if you try to install before feeding it the correct power then you'll mess up your driver install.  Some of the card components will be powered properly and some not, so you end up with a mess if you don't do it correctly.


For what I consider the best ESB2 storage controller you want  This is for all the above xw workstations but the xw4600.


For what I consider the best ICH10R storage controller you want  This is for the xw4600.


Hope this helps.



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Quite a coincidence! I have just installed the ESB2 driver you mention in this older thread:


This driver dates 2010 and the version number ends with ....1008.
I presume Intel has released another ESB2 driver for these (older) Sata-Raid chipsets?
After installation of the.1008 driver my xw6600 seems to respond much faster. The .1046 driver may push performance even further. If you recommend this driver, to me there is no reason to doubt about it.

By the way, you are correct about my configuration. It's a single e5420, which I may upgrade to (dual) e5450. However, I guess this will not make a big difference in my everyday use, because my tasks are 90% memory related. That is why I have 32gb installed, which seems no luxury for some applications (i.e. Adobe Lightroom with some additional web modules).
SSd's are another option, but quite expensive if you need at least 500gb. Eventually I may switch to an z620 or 640.

I obtained this xw6600 for free (out of a deal) and I like it very much. With some tweaks and aspecially due to your recommendations it's becoming better and faster. The point is that a lot of hardware (parts) are quite expensive here compared to the US, or difficult to get hold of. The HP usb 3.0 PCI-card, I think I have seen it listed once for over €50, the equivalent of 60-65 USD. At the same time a hardly used z620 8-core can be had for less than €400. Roughly the same price some shops charge for the 32gb Kingston modules in my xw6600.
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That particular .1046 ESB2 driver is what I used to be able to mount a Hitachi Ultrastar 3TB SATA II drive on the SATA bus of a xw6400, supposedly something that cannot be done.  I've posted on how I did not think it was worth the trouble, and that sticking with 2TB drives max on these ESB2 workstations was just fine.  With that 3TB in a nice external USB3 case attached to the HP 2x2 USB3 TI chip-based PCIe card I get access to that storage with excellent speeds, without the hassle.


USB3 cards..... there's the option number, and then the SP part number, and then the AS part number.  When you search on eBay using those you'll find some from China, where they were made for HP, at excellent prices (about $10.00 USD).  That does not include the power cable, but I can get you info on what I use if you wish for that.  The price for shipping world wide from China for those is about $2.00.  So, don't count them out.  If I remember correctly those showed up only under one of the 3 searches on eBay.  Plus, you could contact a US seller with an OBO listing and try to get a cheap shipping price.  Shipping from China can be amazingly inexpensive, I think because these little packages go in the cargo 747s in spare spaces.


Upgrade...... below are my W7Pro64 WEI scores for this new build.  The 2xSLBBM upgrade off eBay is well worth it, as you'll see.  That level of performance will serve you well regardless of the programs you use.


Current xw6600.jpg

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