Quick Look: HP Z1 Workstation

By on February 25, 2012
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Workstation performance in a package you’ll love.

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At the HP Global Partner Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, HP wowed the crowds when they revealed their latest workstation, the Z1. What sets this workstation apart from the rest of HP’s current lineup is its beautiful engineering, and how it’s able to provide workstation-class performance in an all-in-one shell. I had a chance to spend some time with the Z1, and I came away suitably impressed.

The Z1 simply oozes perfection in many ways – from the brushed steel finishing to the gorgeous 27” display, the Z1 certainly is designed to turn heads. Starting from the back, the Z1’s foldable stand can be removed and the unit can be mounted on a standard VESA monitor mount, which is ideal for those desk-saving situations. There is also the familiar Z-series handle at the top which helps you transport the system around, and just above that is a large ventilation grid to keep the system cool. Below the mounting bracket are four USB ports, line in/out jacks, optical out, gigabit Ethernet, and DisplayPort in/out. Moving to the right side of the system you have the power button and slot-loading DVD-writer drive, which you can swap out for a Blu-ray drive if you need to. Further towards the bottom is a memory card reader, Firewire port, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks.

When used with the supplied foldable stand, the Z1 can be pushed downwards into a horizontal position, which allows you to access to tabs at the bottom of the display. Pressing these tabs will pop open the display and allow you to open it 90 degrees to access the system’s components. This user-serviceability is a key element of the ‘Z-DNA’, and HP ensured that the Z1 would be just as easy to maintain as a regular workstation. Popping open the Z1 reveals the massive 400W power unit, the graphics card component (powered by nVidia M series), RAM, and either one or two hard drives depending on your configuration. The beauty is that you need absolutely zero screwdrivers or tools for anything – just either flip a lever, lift a handle, or apply a bit of pressure and a component can be snapped in and out in a matter of seconds. Optical drive busted? Just slide in a new one. Need more graphics power? Lift up the handle and slide in a new graphics card – it really is that simple. At the bottom of the assembly are the SRS speakers and single USB port in which you can permanently install something such as an authentication dongle which might be required for some software. When you’re done tinkering around with the Z1’s internals, simply close the lid and it automatically slows down to a gentle tap the last few millimeters of the lid’s descent.

In all the demos that we saw, the Z1 proved both its power and versatility. From computing complex CAD designs to rendering hair particles in Maya, the Z1 blazed through all of the demos and left us wanting for more. We were shown how the Z1 can be used for video and audio editing, and had no issues manipulating several full HD video clips simultaneously. This is in part due to the Z1 using both the CPU and GPU to gain a significant performance boost when performing complex tasks that would otherwise be too taxing for the CPU. No matter what was thrown at it, the Z1 was able to effortlessly perform each task in a fraction of the time.

Clearly HP means business when it comes to their workstations, and the Z1 is no exception. With some phenomenal engineering cramming so much power into one tight space, the Z1 is both a marvel to behold and to use. There was one thing that someone had tweeted on how the Z1 looks similar to an iMac, a design that Apple has been using for a while now. But the difference is that HP actually wants and makes it easy for users to get into their systems and tinker around.

The Z1 will ship in April 2012 and the base configuration is expected to retail in the U.S for $1,899.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

  • Khalid.H

    “massive” 400W power unit? :p

    From the looks of it, I’m guessing you can only use “HP-approved” hardware for upgrades?

  • http://twitter.com/theregos Nick R

    Massive i.e the size of the unit – it’s something you’re more used to seeing on rack servers. Regarding hardware, you can plug in whatever you want with the exception of the graphic card, as these are custom designed for the Z1 and cannot accommodate standard PCI graphics cards.

  • http://www.fanlesstech.com/ FanlessTech

    A VERY exciting product from HP.

    But they can’t be serious with the glossy screen?!

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