Question Need help to upgrade an HP Z620 WorkStation please

chas435

Honorable
Feb 4, 2015
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10,510
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I recently changed from using my trusted work horse HP HW4600 to an HP Z620 Dual E5-2620, 16 GB RAM.

The primary reason for changing was that I usually have numerous (as much as 25 to 30) chrome windows open simultaneously (Web based research). In addition I'll watch product reviews on YouTube, work on an Excel sheet and MS Word document concurrently across 2 monitors. The HP HW4600 (Win 7 Pro) lags terribly and I sometimes need to close not only a lot of Chrome windows but also, shut down some background processes (in task Mgr) to free up memory and get the old bird going again.

I do NOT play games, do NOT use CAD or any scientific processor intensive programs and am NOT an expert. I am comfortable changing over HDDs/SSDs, replacing/adding GPUs, RAM, connecting up internal SATA/Power cables and can update the BIOS/drivers and troubleshoot Windows successfully. However, I am not a techie and have a finite limit to my knowledge/abilities.

So far I've run and made some changes to the newly acquired HP Z620 and am delighted to be able to work without having to cajole & bribe the system. However, it sometimes tends to lag ever so slightly in certain combinations of using a number of chrome windows, watching movies, etc. The advice I am getting from friends is to upgrade my GPU's which I'm not convinced will solve the problem.

My current HP Z620 configuration :

Dual Xeon E5-2620 2.GHz Processors (Upgradeable)

16 GB RAM DDR3 1333MHz PC3-12800R ..... (8 X 2GB). I still have 4 DIMM slots free.
2 X Nvidia NVS310 512Mb GPUs. 1 card drives a DELL P2414P (DP) and the other a DELL P2314H monitor (DP)
1 X 256GB SSD (Windows 10 Pro - boot drive)
1 X 2TB HDD
1 X 3TB HDD

800Watt PSU

I have 2 questions at this stage.

1) Do I need to upgrade (a) the processor(s) or, (b) the RAM or, (c) The GPUs or, (d) all 3 or, or something else?

2) How do I get the computer to distribute the processing equally between the 2 processors and the 2 GPUs ? How much control do I have over this ? Eg: I know I can set certain programs to display on specific monitors like playing a movie on Windows Media Player to display on Monitor 2 automatically, etc.

I realise that some of hardware is out of date when compared to what gamers use eg: the 2 NVS310 cards are 2 D cards and are on the cusp of being declared vintage. The processors though only 2.0 GHz are still very capable and there are even gamers out there using Z620s with 2 in dual sockets.

Can someone please help me (i) understand what I need to do and why, (ii) explain what my options are in SIMPLE english???

Many thanks in advance.
 
So I'll chime in with my experiences with my z420 and z600 workstations as well as servers that share a lot of the same attributes.

First, if you're doing that much visual work, upgrading your gpus to even $25 used gaming gpus will be night and day. Something even as lowly and ancient as the gtx260 blows away the nvs610 by many orders of magnitude:
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/nvs-310.c1451
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/geforce-gtx-260.c217

This will speed up anything and everything visual including yt videos as the pixel rate is much, much higher on the gtx260. And modern cards blow the gtx260 out of the water. I would invest $100 in a single gpu and enjoy the new experience. My z420 has an old Asus GTX 570 in it, and my z600 currently has a quadro fx3800 (I think):
https://www.techpowerup.com/review/asus-geforce-gtx-570-direct-cu-ii/23.html
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/quadro-fx-3800.c1321

Even though the processors on my z600 (dual x5650) are faster than my z420 (e5-2630L), the z420 is much more responsive and actually feels faster due to the much faster video card:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-X5650-vs-Intel-Xeon-E5-2630L/1304vs2222

And since you have a high wattage power supply, you don't have to worry about power consumption of your gpu--which opens up pretty much anything available in the market at any budget. You can buy a power eating beast from yesteryear like the gtx470 for dirt cheap or get even a new rtx30xx or used gtx1080ti--sky is the limit. Any almost any upgrade will have an immediate positive effect.

The next area is ram--if you're running out of ram, add some more! Because your system uses cheap and plentiful ddr3 ecc registered memory--the same stuff servers use. And because servers get upgrades, you can find this ram for under $1/gb shipped if you look in the right places. :) Larger modules cost a bit more, but in your case, getting 4x 16GB modules for 64GB ram would cost under $100 and take care of the ram issue for a long time. I have 256GB in my z420 and 96GB in my z600 (one of my servers even has 288gb).

I think if you did the two upgrades together, it would be like a whole new machine, much faster, ready for any number of things open, and everything running smooth.
 
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chas435

Honorable
Feb 4, 2015
6
0
10,510
0
So I'll chime in with my experiences with my z420 and z600 workstations as well as servers that share a lot of the same attributes.

First, if you're doing that much visual work, upgrading your gpus to even $25 used gaming gpus will be night and day. Something even as lowly and ancient as the gtx260 blows away the nvs610 by many orders of magnitude:
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/nvs-310.c1451
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/geforce-gtx-260.c217

This will speed up anything and everything visual including yt videos as the pixel rate is much, much higher on the gtx260. And modern cards blow the gtx260 out of the water. I would invest $100 in a single gpu and enjoy the new experience. My z420 has an old Asus GTX 570 in it, and my z600 currently has a quadro fx3800 (I think):
https://www.techpowerup.com/review/asus-geforce-gtx-570-direct-cu-ii/23.html
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/quadro-fx-3800.c1321

Even though the processors on my z600 (dual x5650) are faster than my z420 (e5-2630L), the z420 is much more responsive and actually feels faster due to the much faster video card:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-X5650-vs-Intel-Xeon-E5-2630L/1304vs2222

And since you have a high wattage power supply, you don't have to worry about power consumption of your gpu--which opens up pretty much anything available in the market at any budget. You can buy a power eating beast from yesteryear like the gtx470 for dirt cheap or get even a new rtx30xx or used gtx1080ti--sky is the limit. Any almost any upgrade will have an immediate positive effect.

The next area is ram--if you're running out of ram, add some more! Because your system uses cheap and plentiful ddr3 ecc registered memory--the same stuff servers use. And because servers get upgrades, you can find this ram for under $1/gb shipped if you look in the right places. :) Larger modules cost a bit more, but in your case, getting 4x 16GB modules for 64GB ram would cost under $100 and take care of the ram issue for a long time. I have 256GB in my z420 and 96GB in my z600 (one of my servers even has 288gb).

I think if you did the two upgrades together, it would be like a whole new machine, much faster, ready for any number of things open, and everything running smooth.
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&****&&&&&&&&&&****

Many Many thanks Samir for the quick response, especially for keeping it simple!!!

I'm did some research and am thinking of getting one of these 2 GPUs
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/quadro-k4000.c1841 or the next one down
https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/quadro-k2000.c1838

These 2 GPUs are offered by HP as options on the Z620 and are freely available used, on ebay.

I did have a look at range of the GTX cards that you mention but had to give them a miss, despite them being priced lower than the K4000/K2000. I need a GPU that offers atleast 2 Data Port outputs each, as I do use a 3rd monitor on occassion attched to the 2nd GPU and don't want the complication of having to figure how to connect up a combination of HDMI, VGA, etc.

I understand the need to do the upgrade as a combi of both the GPU as well as RAM.

Thanks again. I've now got specific targets to work towards.

You're a STAR! Cheers!!
 
You're welcome! If you need 2x DP outputs, just look at a newer card as most have 3x DP and one HDMI--this seems to have become a standard (if that's the issue). You can find a card that will match your monitors if you need to, and you can even just leave one of your nvs cards in there for the 3rd monitor if you wish.

The quadro cards present a much lower value proposition in terms of price/performance versus the normal graphics cards. I would seriously consider NOT getting a quadro card unless there is a specific application you need one for or if it is a bargain price.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
I don't think the video cards will help here much if at all, that is the last thing I would look at changing.

Open Task Manager, go to Performance and monitor the system there, see what gets near the max. You can turn on monitoring if you want and check logs.

If your RAM usage is high, add more RAM. If your CPU is near maxed out, that is tougher, probably need a full system swap for that, but if you can find a pair of E5-4640 or 4650 that may work. Would need to check your system compatibility with them.

You have a lot of storage there, if you have programs you run installed on the standard drives, get a larger SSD for Windows and all your programs to run from.

Your CPUs while good for the time are also 9 years old, with the corresponding slower RAM and chipset compared to modern system.
 
I don't think the video cards will help here much if at all, that is the last thing I would look at changing.

Open Task Manager, go to Performance and monitor the system there, see what gets near the max. You can turn on monitoring if you want and check logs.

If your RAM usage is high, add more RAM. If your CPU is near maxed out, that is tougher, probably need a full system swap for that, but if you can find a pair of E5-4640 or 4650 that may work. Would need to check your system compatibility with them.

You have a lot of storage there, if you have programs you run installed on the standard drives, get a larger SSD for Windows and all your programs to run from.

Your CPUs while good for the time are also 9 years old, with the corresponding slower RAM and chipset compared to modern system.
Video cards will make a HUGE difference since those NVS models are very, very slow by comparison. Case in point was my Dell Precision 670 that had an NVS card in it and had trouble with a 480p youtube video at 1280x1024. I put in a GTX260 and it could easily play a 720p youtube video at 1600x1200.

I don't get how you are thinking the cpu is maxed out. The single thread performance isn't great but there's plenty of cores and threads for a usual workload.

I wouldn't invest in a larger ssd just to move programs--throw enough ram in the system and the system will cache the drives to the point they're as fast as ssds--I've seen this on one of my Dells that's loaded up with only 16GB, but doesn't run anything but light browsing. A file copy spikes up to ssd speeds until it has to start accessing the drive directly. Never underestimate the power of a lot of ram--the lack of ram is why drives exist in the first place. If there was enough ram, everything would run from it.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Video cards will make a HUGE difference since those NVS models are very, very slow by comparison. Case in point was my Dell Precision 670 that had an NVS card in it and had trouble with a 480p youtube video at 1280x1024. I put in a GTX260 and it could easily play a 720p youtube video at 1600x1200.

I don't get how you are thinking the cpu is maxed out. The single thread performance isn't great but there's plenty of cores and threads for a usual workload.

I wouldn't invest in a larger ssd just to move programs--throw enough ram in the system and the system will cache the drives to the point they're as fast as ssds--I've seen this on one of my Dells that's loaded up with only 16GB, but doesn't run anything but light browsing. A file copy spikes up to ssd speeds until it has to start accessing the drive directly. Never underestimate the power of a lot of ram--the lack of ram is why drives exist in the first place. If there was enough ram, everything would run from it.
There is no way to know without actually testing the system as to what needs to be upgraded. For working with many tabs and programs the video card is the least thing in importance.

Once the OP checks the system during use then they would know where the issue is.

I've worked with a lot of systems over 25 years in IT, including workstation systems in critical areas like in hospitals and biotech setups where money was no object. I have a pretty good feel for what components to check on first and what to check for to get some information to go on. Replacing the video cards just because they are slower is not the way to go here, first step is checking the system during use to see what is being maxed out, if anything.
 
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There is no way to know without actually testing the system as to what needs to be upgraded. For working with many tabs and programs the video card is the least thing in importance.

Once the OP checks the system during use then they would know where the issue is.

I've worked with a lot of systems over 25 years in IT, including workstation systems in critical areas like in hospitals and biotech setups where money was no object. I have a pretty good feel for what components to check on first and what to check for to get some information to go on. Replacing the video cards just because they are slower is not the way to go here, first step is checking the system during use to see what is being maxed out, if anything.
I have the baby brother in the lineup of the OP's system, so I pretty much have the same system. And I know what has made differences. You can say whatever you want, but it doesn't reflect my actual experience. My z420 originally had a weak quadro in it, and moving to a gaming level much strong gpu definitely improved browsing and video--no question about it.

I've done the same--over 30 years in IT--covering critical as well as non-critical with shoestring budget and unlimited budgets. I have a compete understanding of the core fundaments of the components and what they do. This changes with the generations of equipment as buses, etc change, but the fundamentals are the fundamentals and that hasn't changed so far in terms of video cards.

At 16GB of memory, there could be some swapping and interruption of the cpu for disk io, but with the number of cores available and an ssd, I don't necessarily see that being the root issue. Nevertheless with ecc reg ddr3 memory being cheap, I could see an upgrade in this area also helping overall and hence mentioned it as well.

In the OPs case, I know from personal experience that a gpu upgrade will make a tremendous difference on a similar system and workflow. I don't know how you can expect a better evaluation than that over the Internet.
 

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