HP Z1 crams a Xeon CPU, pro graphics, and a 27-inch display into an all-in-one

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hp z1

Over the years Geek.com has covered HP’s Z series of workstations a number of times. The Z marked a big step forward for HP on the design front, and a step away from one of the companies biggest fears: commoditization. It combined high-end design with HP’s established workstation formula and resulted in both an immediate hit and a much needed differentiation point from the likes of Lenovo and Dell (who were essentially sell the same computers with a lesser set of features). The Z series models, like the Z600, have been quietly doing their job for some time but now HP is back with more big news: the Z1 all-in-one workstation.

You know the deal with workstations: lots of power crammed into a loud, big, dark grey tower. While that’s the essence of what they are, IT buyers are looking for much more, including ISV certification, expandability, reliability, serviceability, and portability (at times). You’d thing a lot of this runs counter to a workstation ever landing in the all-in-one form-factor, but HP seems to have worked out a way to make it possible. Just look at the image above — the Z1 folds down, flattening the 27-inch IPS display, and opens right up. This exposes the innards for maintenance and upgrades.

And what goes inside the Z1? This can scale from a Core i3 system with integrated graphics (basically a consumer system) to a quad-core Xeon-powered workhorse with up to 32GB RAM (or 8GB ECC) and Nvidia Q4000M graphics. Other perks include a 1080p HD webcam, SRS sound, USB 3.0, Blu-ray, tool-less internal parts, and a 90% efficient PSU.

On the expandability front you’d think the Z1 would be at its weakest, but it’s not terrible. There is no dual-CPU option but it does have four memory slots and four internal expansion slots (PCIe x16 full and three miniPCIe). The bigger hurdle will be storage — it can handle either two 2.5-inch drives or a single 3.5-inch one — and displays, where users have just a single Display Port to add on one more monitor.

The Z1 will never be the beast that you can build a Z800 into but buyers will get workstation features in a handsome, quiet system that doesn’t require any more floor or desk space than a 27-inch monitor. For the majority of buyers — especially those handling workstation-lite duties, like photo editing and less intensive 3D work — the Z1 will be a great fit. If you’re doing serious geo-spatial work and crunching terabytes of data, you’ll still need a more conventional solution.

The computer starts at $1899 and will be available in April.

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