Review: HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation

Studio Daily by David English

A true workstation with all of its vital components built into the monitor—minus the noise

There are three constants in life—death, taxes, and oversized workstations. Why are workstations so large? They need breathing space for their powerful components, which could overheat if they aren’t cooled properly. As a result, no one had successfully designed an all-in-one workstation. Apart from squeezing everything into what is essentially the back of a monitor, there’s this vexing problem of how to disperse the heat. If the components are just inches from your face, you would have to listen to the constant whirring of fans.

Apparently HP can’t take no for an answer, because it has introduced the first (and so far, only) workstation in an all-in-one form factor—the HP Z1 Workstation. You probably have the same questions I had when I heard the announcement. Is it a true professional-quality workstation and not just another computer similar to Apple's 27-inch iMac? Was HP able to solve the technical issues regarding heat and noise? And should you consider buying one, even if you have sufficient room for a minitower workstation? The quick answers are yes, yes, and it depends. Even if you think you’re not in the market for an all-in-one, you may be surprised by the different applications that are opened up by a transportable workstation.

All in the Chips

You only have to look at the specs to see that the Z1 can be configured as a true workstation. The three processor options are the Intel Core i3-2120, Intel Xeon E3-1245, and Intel Xeon E3-1280. The high-end E3-1280 runs at 3.5GHz and includes an 8MB cache. It also has 4 cores and can support 8 threads at a time. The graphics selection is even broader. You could use the onboard graphics with either the Core i3-2120 or Xeon E3-1245, which might be fine if your needs are strictly for number crunching. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a choice of four NVIDIA Quadro graphics chipsets: the Q500M, Q1000M, Q3000M, or Q4000M. NVIDIA worked with HP to develop a new MXM module to house the graphics chipset. The module provides its own cooling system. read more...

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