HP Z800 with dual Intel Xeon 5690, 4xRaid0 SSD and NVME

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Z800 SATA ports

About ten years ago I purchased a HP Z800 Workstation, mainly for my Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom needs. Back then, it was a great deal having a dual CPU Workstation. I think I’ve used the Z800 for 3-4 years and in all that time never let me down. No HDD problems, no CPU or RAM issues. After that, I migrated to Intel 3, 5, 7, 9 series CPUs. Never been an AMD fan, mainly because of the heat and the noise, which I hate when I’m working. And, somehow, Intel based CPUs, in my opinion, are more stable (at least for my needs).

So, my old Z800 was deposited for years, however, in 2019 I transformed it into a NAS and a CentOS based WHM for some server testing purposes. My SAS hard drives were refurbished, and for some reason one of them failed and, to be completely honest, I salvaged the 48GB of DDR3 and some other components and I just threw away my old Z800. Another contributing factor was that my old Z800’s motherboard was v2 and I couldn’t use a pair of X5690. So I was hunting a version 3 motherboard, which supports the X5690s.

X6580 XEON

On eBay the prices for the 460838-003 (v3 HP Workstation Z800 Motherboard) vary between $200-$300 and I was somehow reluctant.

Anyway, two weeks ago I found a system with the 460838-003, the 1100W PSU, casis, cables. For about $120. I’ve ordered it instantly. This is it:

Frontal image of Z800 by HP (detail)
Frontal image of Z800 by HP (detail)
The HP Z800 modular interior case
The HP Z800 modular interior case
The HP Z800 exterior aluminium case
The HP Z800 exterior aluminium case
Frontal image of Z800 by HP
Frontal image of Z800 by HP
HP Z800 back side
HP Z800 back side

The first thing I’ve checked after installing the pair of X5690 (I’ll get later to that) was the BIOS version, which needs to be 03.61. The previous version of BIOS on my new Z800 Workstation was 03.54, however, I’ve updated it from the official software and drivers forHP Z800 Workstation center.

Opening the Z800 case:

Z800 modular design

After removing the PCI slots cover

After removing the CPU air control modular cover

All covers removed

HP Z800 BIOS 03.54

HP Z800 BIOS 03.61
HP Z800 BIOS 03.61

A few images with the Z800 slots:

SATA and SAS ports

SATA and SAS ports

SAS ports

Z800 PCIE Slots

Z800 SATA ports

Intel Xeon 5690 installation process:

Z800 empty CPU slots

Deep Cool thermal paste

Applying thermal on the CPU slots

Applying thermal on the CPU slots

Intel Xeon 5690

two x5690 HP Coolers

You'll need a cross shaped screwdriver.

This is how the MOBO looks after installing the CPUs.

It’s worth mentioning that Z800 DOES NOT officially support NVME SSDs. There are some workarounds, but I’m not a big fan for injecting codes into the boot menu.

USB 3.0 on HP Z800 Workstation

Since the HP Z800 has only USB 2.0 ports, I’ve added a PCIE USB3.0 adapter as well.

PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800
PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800
PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800
PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800
PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800
PCIE USB3.0 adapter Z800

Extras

Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
Optional SATA adapter for more storage slots
Optional SATA adapter for more storage slots

I had one of these Axagon PCIE adapters (which are great, in my opinion):

Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER

  • PCI-Express x.16 adapter to connect an NVMe M.2 SSD to a desktop.
  • Input PCI-Express, 4-Lane
  • Output M.2 NVMe
  • Device support M.2 2230, M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280
  • PC connection x16 slot
  • Extra passive cooler
Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER

M.2 ssd in Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
M.2 ssd in Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
M.2 ssd in Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER
M.2 ssd in Axagon PCIE NVME M.2 ADAPTER

I’ve used an Intel 660p NVME

Intel 660p series m.2

Intel 660p series m.2

Intel 660p series m.2

M.2 SSD installation on Z800

M.2 SSD installation on Z800
M.2 SSD installation on Z800
M.2 SSD installation on Z800
M.2 SSD installation on Z800
M.2 SSD installation on Z800
M.2 SSD installation on Z800

Installing Windows 10 Education on HP Z800 Workstation

I wasn’t able to install Windows on the NVME drive because the chipset of Z800 is old and back then there weren’t NVMEs. So, I created a RAID10 using 4x512GB SSDs. I used an external SSD to install Windows via USB.

An SSD connected as a Windows Boot USB device to a HP Z800 Workstation
An SSD connected as a Windows Boot USB device to a HP Z800 Workstation

During the installation process, the TP-Link Archer T4U was recognized without any issue.

TP-Link Archer T4U on an HP Z800

Windows 10 Education update
Windows 10 Education update

Cat Sleeping on a red sofa
Supervisor :)
Windows Setup Screen
Windows Setup Screen

After the installation completed, both drives (the RAID10 and the NVME) were showing up.

M.2 from Intel (Intel 660p 512GB) attached via PCI Express to a Z800 Workstation
M.2 from Intel (Intel 660p 512GB) attached via PCI Express to a Z800 Workstation

Post-installation stats

Z800 system information under Windows 10 Education
Z800 system information under Windows 10 Education

Z800 Dual Intel Xeon 5590 3.46 GHZ, 2×12 cores.

Z800 Dual Intel Xeon 5590 3.46 GHZ
Z800 Dual Intel Xeon 5590 3.46 GHZ

Performance test

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The entire process was a nice one, filled with nostalgia. Since I already have my main PC, I sold the Z800 Workstation for $950. Anyway, Z800 is an astonishing machine, the highest quality build I have ever seen, excellent air flow. It is suitable for a lot of stuff, but it’s outperformed easily by newer single CPU builds. And, since I use my PC for programming, and content creation, surely there are better alternatives.

This is how my current PC looks like (8700k, EVGA 1080 TI SCII, 5x NVME and more)
This is how my current PC looks like (8700k, EVGA 1080 TI SCII, 5x NVME and more)

I hope this post was useful. If there are any questions, I’ll gladly help!

#staysafe

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