Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation

I had a chance to take a look at Hewlett Packard’s all-in-one workstation the HP Z1.  Here is what I found.

Overview

The HP Z1 was a great machine to use.  I loved that it was compact but yet big enough. It was easy to transport and it performed as well as any other workstation.  With all of its components being literally in your face I expected the noise to be a bother. I found that it wasn’t. The HP Z1 runs very quietly and noise was not an issue. It had plenty of ports and functioned just like any other workstation. Not having to bend under my desk to insert media was a nice little benefit that I wanted to make sure I mentioned. Opening the body of the machine was quite easy to do and all components are easily accessed. The lack of wires was also very nice.

Main Specs


  • 27” Monitor
  • Intel Xeon Processor
  • 16 GB DDR3-1600 ECC RAM
  • Nvidia Quadro 4000M GPU
  • 1 TB SATA Hard Drive
  • Windows 7 Pro Operating System
  • HP SATA Blu-Ray Writer Slot Load Optical Drive
  • 400W Power Supply
  • ISV Certification
  • Tool-less Design Chassis
  • Dual Display Capable



The Good

The HP Z1 has plenty of good qualities about it.  It is a large screen size but yet the entire system is compact because of its all-in-one nature.  There are no wires to manage and it has plenty of computing power for most CAD users. I had no problem running AutoCAD on the machine even when I made 3D photorealistic renders.  It performed as well as any other similarly specked workstation that I have reviewed. Even though the HP Z1 has a 27” screen it has the ability to add a second monitor to it via a display port.  This worked well for me in my testing.  I had a 30” monitor that I tried out with it and it was fantastic! Two very large screens right in front of me!  I was in heaven.

One aspect of this all-in-one design is its potential to be portable. I don’t mean mobile like a tablet or laptop but portable. I almost took the Z1 to a local Starbucks to use but my family wouldn't allow it! Think about. Everything is in one unit just bring the wireless mouse, keyboard, and the power chord. Not much different from a laptop, except for the 27” screen! This portability means the Z1 is easily outfitted in a field office, temporary construction trailer, temporary employee’s corner, or for a quick to deploy backup workstation. If space is limited and a user needs two workstations then getting two Z1s is a viable option.

Even though the Z1 is an all-in-one, the inside components are very easily accessed.  See the pictures I took below. I easily removed RAM, the hard drive, and the video card. Servicing the Z1 won’t be a problem.

The Bad

While using it for a week I had a difficult time finding many bad points. The internal components that you might want to replace/upgrade are easily accessed and removed.  I've posted some pictures of those down below. The one item that is an issue is the GPU. I spoke with HP about it and you will be limited as to which GPUs you can choose from. This review unit ran the Nvidia Quadro 4000M GPU which packed more than enough punch for my use case.  But if you need more you might have a hard time upgrading that.

I also have concerns with long term use. All-in-one workstations often have issues with heat and basic wear and tear. If the screen goes out the entire machine is out. It can be replaced but in the meantime you might be out of luck. All workstations fail eventually, or at least parts of them do, so when the HP Z1 starts to show its age will it stop all work completely? But then again, if any workstation, regardless of format, fails your work stops. With the HP Z1 it’s more of a question of how long to get the proper replacement parts?

One drawback to the HP Z1 is the price. Spec for Spec it will cost you a bit more than a traditional tower format workstation. The price increase is similar to that of a laptop. Because of the specialization of the internals it costs more to produce. If you are on a tight budget then the Z1 might not be for you.

Conclusion

I love this workstation.  On the first day of using it I fell in love with it. I think it was the simplicity of it.  I opened the box, set the Z1 on my desk, unfolded it, plugged in the power chord and turned it on. All I had to do was install AutoCAD and I got started.  I would recommend the HP Z1 to anyone that hates wires, has limited space, or needs a portable workstation solution. The Z1 can be repaired and upgraded but it does have some limits to that but really only on the extreme high end of things. If you are the type of user that buys a workstation once and doesn’t “tweak” it or upgrade it, then the Z1 will be more than fine for you.

Price

The HP Z1 starts at $2449 (U.S.D.) and goes up from there. Follow this LINK for more details on pricing.  The unit I reviewed prices out at $4411 (U.S.D.).  As You can see this is not cheap but it is a high end machine.  The standard, barebones version has an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphic 2500 on board GPU, 500 GB SATA Hard drive and a DVD RW Drive.  It’s not as much as a performance beast as the unit I reviewed but it’s still a good machine with the same all-in-one advantages.

If you are interested in the HP Z1 G2, starts at $1999. You can see more details by clicking here.

Disclosure

HP was kind enough to send me an HP Z1 review unit at no cost to me. They also paid for the return shipping. Before I started my review they also spoke with me for about 30 minutes to make sure I knew what I was looking at.  I received no payment or favors for this review.

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