Bradley Handziuk's blog

New desktop build

I recently came into possession of an older, 2008, HP Z600. I built my current desktop in 2012 so this Z600 is certainly older but it was a very good computer when it came out. My current desktop was, for whatever reasons, not running that well.so I decided to try to use this Z600 as my new computer.

My old computer specs were

  • AMD Athlon II X4 640.
  • 8 GB RAM (DDR3 1333)
  • Radeon HD 4670 graphics card. No where near top of the line but it do OK for a while ...Actually it kind of sucked but was the right price at the
  • I had various hard drives while I used this computer but the longest lasting of them was a Samsung 830 2.5". This guy was solid. I never had a hiccup and never had to think twice about my decision to go SSD in 2012.

The Z600 specs are

  • Intel Xeon Processor X5550 (There could be two of these physical CPUs on this motherboard. Maybe I'll buy a second for cheap one day)
  • 12 GB RAM (DDR3 1333). It's 4 GB x 3 channels. Same speed as my old computer but one more channel.
  • Nvidia Quadro 4000. This thing is solid.

I needed to buy a few things to get this to physically work:

  • A DisplayPort to HDMI cable. The Nvidia Quadro has 1 DVI and 2 DisplayPort outputs and my monitors only have DVI, VGA, and HDMI. So, I needed a converter. I wanted this to be one cable because I don't like the clutter of cable ends joined together. Unfortunately, the only one I could find came only in white. All my other cables are black.
  • A USB 3.0 Controller. The motherboard is pre-USB 3.0 but there are cheap PCIe controllers. NewEgg to the rescue!
  • A hard drive. This was the hardest thing to put together. and was a real learning experience. I'll expand on this...

Warning this is really long winded and mostly written for my personal posterity but rad on if you like:

The motherboard in the Z600 is not only pre-USB 3.0 but also pre SATA III. So, in my naiveté I thought I could get a PCIe SSD and skip the whole SATA thing. I also thought that an M.2 form factor = PCIe. Boy was I in for a rabbit hole.

I purchased a Samsung 850 EVO SSD in the M.2 form factor. What I did not appreciate is that M.2 is a form factor and not a transmission protocol. Also, the M.2 form factor is not the same as PCIe. Nothing about this was working. Buying a proper PCIe SSD (which are VERY fast) is also VERY expensive.

To fix my problem I had to do some asking around and concluded that I needed the Addonics AD2M2S-PX2 adapter. Normally people buy M.2 form factor SSDs for laptops but here I am with a desktop so I need somewhere to physically put this thing which this adapter does well. It powers the SSD through the PCIe bus but data transmission is still through a SATA II cable to the motherboard. So no miraculous PCIe transfer speeds for me.

There were about 4 weeks between me buying the 850 and realizing it's not going to work, then buying the Addonics adapter. During this time I set up the Z600 with an older 500 GB HDD spinner just to get moving. Moving my OS from one HD/computer to another HD/computer turned out to be much easier than expected.

I used Macrium Reflect to clone my Windows 10 drive. This put 128 GB (+/- the system reserved partition and the recovery partition) onto the 500 GB HDD so there was a big chunk of unallocated space and that's ok. The plan was to deal with that once I figured out my Samsung 850 situation.

Now with my old computer's OS cloned to a new HDD I can safely plug it into the Z600. The old computer is just as operational as ever so if something goes wrong I can just re-clone. When I booted Windows 10 on the Z600 from the cloned HDD it took a long time to boot. It had to do a lot of updated.

Windows saw that the whole computer architecture had changed out from under it so it did it's best to find all new drivers for everything. Processors, motherboard, graphics card, network card, etc. After a few reboots I was finally able to log in. The only thing I really had to do manually was tell it to go find a later version of the Nvida Quadro driver. It was all surprisingly smooth.

I then removed all the old drivers for my old motherboard and GPU. The system did not like those drivers and supporting apps which are set to run on startup to be trying to do things with stuff that doesn't exist.

With everything functioning properly, and me having figured out the whole Addonics adapter situation and having gotten it in the mail, I was then ready to enter the final form. Samsung 850 into Addonics SATA slot, SATA cable connected from adapter to motherbaord, adapter plugged into PCIe slot.

I used Macrium to clone my HDD to the new SSD just like before, except this time the Windows 10 instance is already configured for the new system. When I boot from the 850 it works like a charm! Success!

The only thing left to do is resize the data partition because my new SSD is 250 GB and the old one was 128 GB. I figured that'd be simple enough but it was some how very complicated.

Windows Disk Management (and DISKPART on the command line) does not let you move the recovery volume and the recovery volume is in the way of expanding the C: data partition. I even crated a live Linux CD with gparted on it and tried moving the recovery volume all the way to the last logical location on the drive and expanding the main partition. Bang. Windows can't boot. "bootmgr is missing" Great. I undid the partition reshuffling but Windows still couldn't boot. Ultimately I had to reclone from my backup.

Except this time I cloned only the system reserved space and the main OS volume and didn't use the recovery volume. I have other backup solutions anyway, right? I hope that doesn't come back to bite me later.

With nothing but unallocated space to the right of my OS volume I was able to extend the partition using Disk Management.

This SSD is lightning fast. a full reboot is less than 30 seconds and start up, after post, is like 5 seconds. Over all it's a huge improvement over my old computer even if this one is much older. The day to day winner so far is that ChromeCast works flawlessly now. I'm pleased with this extended Frankenstein computer build. And now I can throw the old one away (after salvaging a few parts, of course),