Monday, March 10, 2014

zBook Performance Considerations - Oh.. Those Memories

I've had a few questions from folks regarding this blog about the performance of the zBook and several Mac folks were also asking what my opinion was of the DreamColor compared to a Mac.

It is easy for me to avoid the Mac Vs PC question/wars. I just don't have enough Mac experience. One advantage of the Mac was Thunderbolt Technology which the zBook now optionally has. I haven't used it myself yet. As time marches on and my Photoshop files get bigger I'll have the option of adding SSD (solid state device) via Thunderbolt. I wouldn't buy a zBook without that option.

This post is mostly about the optional SSD you can have installed by HP in you zBook. I'm old enough to still have memories of buying a 2Meg memory card for the IBM AT. That was a really big deal back then. I mean really Big deal. It was a foot long and 3-4 inches wide and just chalk full of soldered in place memory chips which must have been about 64K each.

The zBook boots in about 10 seconds which I've read is partly because of the 32G of flash technology SSD. Boot time has never really been a large concern of mine. Coming from an old XP system anything would be better.  I'm new to SSD, and found SSD Tweaker by Elpamsoft interesting, but question whether it is necessary, and if it would actually work, given there are a different types of SSD. Here is a review of the product. My understanding at this point is that the flash type SSD will maintain itself fairly well.  HP Support sent me this link to do a little reading on the MSATA, L6M type installed  in my zBook. For an overview of SSD technology in general check out this page.

Here are a couple other reference sent to me by HP Support.

HP Rapid Start Technology
Drivers, Software & Firmware for zBook 17

My question to HP was why can't I see the SSD on the Windows level. I just wanted to see what the capacity utilization is. Maybe I could benefit from a larger capacity unit. Their response was that you don't see this type of SSD, except in the Windows Disk Management utility where you might see how it is partitioned... but I didn't see it there either. So... for now I just have to believe that it is working. I have no reason to suspect otherwise.

It does show up in the boot process if you hit F2 during the boot. You will be taken to the BIOS management set of utilities which include memory and hard disk test applications. The SSD did show up as HDD #2 and was 32G, and it tested out as being OK. So... it's there and the BIOS can see it. I can only assume it is working.

Yes, there are endless ways to spend your money.

If you want the type of SSD that you can load up like the old RAM disk, there are other products like Fusion-io which advertise advanced IO features in conjunction with Thunderbolt.

Fusion-io announced that the Fusion ioFX workstation flash memory platform is available in the new HP ZBook Mobile Workstation portfolio, which includes the world’s first workstation Ultrabook™. The Fusion ioFX can now also be integrated into HP’s award-winning line of Z Desktop Workstations through external Thunderbolt expansion chassis, in addition to internal integration with HP Z Workstations featuring PCI Express connectors.

And there are many others types of SSD technology products and companies for those that really need that type of performance level. For me, I might get there some day when my Photoshop files get to be several Gig in size. I'll wait and see.

If you have general questions on the performance of your HP system then the Performance Advisor is one place to check up on your system. It is really cool to see your system diagramed out, and then just point and click to the device you want to interrogate.


The system report that you can optionally create is extremely detailed. It includes the Microsoft Experience Index which has sub scores for each computer component. So, if you think you could benefit by upgrading something like memory just look at the memory sub score to get a general indication. For instance my processor score is 7.6. The scale is from 1 to 7.9, so a 7.6 is just about perfect. The overall score was 5.6 and that was because of the graphic adapter scored low. My memory score was 7.7. These numbers are just indicators. Other metrics can be gathered from the Windows Performance Monitor which is worth looking at before making system upgrade decisions.

Interestingly when I looked at the diagram I didn't see my SSD listed. You would think this app which is so thorough would have at least noted its existence.

If you are having performance issues with Photoshop there are more painless and cheaper ways to insure that Photoshop is performing to full capacity. Photoshop users can use the guide by Adobe on the Optimize Performance page. If you are considering a new PC or tuning and old one reading through these tuning options should help you configure a new unit or tune and old one.

Anyway.... that's my trip down memory lane.


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