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HP Z Series Wows them in Vegas

By David Cohn

HP recently unveiled the latest updates to its Z-series workstations. Desktop Engineering was on hand for the company’s launch event in Las Vegas, and was impressed by the newest members of the HP family. The new workstations feature the latest eight-core Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family, offer up to 512GB of DDR3 memory and are independent software vendor (ISV)-certified for the design, engineering and analysis applications upon which our readers depend.

HP Z series workstations unveiled.
Desktop Engineering was on hand in Las Vegas when HP unveiled the latest
additions to its Z-series workstation lineup.

The latest additions to the line of HP Z Workstation also feature third-generation PCI Express technology to provide increased performance with the newest generation of graphics cards. HP also unveiled what it calls the world’s first all-in-one workstation with a 27-in. display. These new workstations join the HP Z210 entry-level workstation we recently reviewed.

Like their predecessors, which remain available, all of the new HP Z-series workstations feature tool-less access. We got to spend some hands-on time with all four of the new workstations, and spoke at length with members of HP’s senior product management team.

HP Z420 workstationHP Z420: Performance and Value

The new HP Z420 is aimed straight at the heart of mainstream CAD users. Housed in a convertible minitower that bears a strong resemblance to the rest of the Z-series, with distinctive vertical fins concealing its front-panel air intake, the Z420 provides a single CPU socket. Built around the new Intel C602 chipset, HP offers a choice of Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 series processors with four, six or eight cores and base clock frequencies up to 3.6GHz.

The motherboard provides three PCIe Gen3 slots (two x16 and one x8), and users have a choice of 11 different graphics cards (five from AMD and six from NVIDIA), including the high-end NVIDIA Quadro 5000. There are also two additional PCIe Gen2 slots (one x4 and one x2), as well as a single PCI slot. Depending on the configuration, the system can support up to six 3D or eight 2D displays.

Eight memory sockets enable the system to support up to 64GB of four-channel, 1600MHz ECC memory. The chassis provides three external 5.25-in. drive bays and three internal 3.5-in. drive bays. There are two integrated 6Gb/s SATA ports.

HP offers a range of storage options — including SAS, SATA and solid-state drives — for up to 11TB of internal storage. There are also lots of USB ports, including two front USB 3.0 ports and two more in the rear. The HP Z420 comes with a 600 watt, 90% efficient power supply. Prices start at $1,169.

HP Z620 workstationHP Z620: Compact Power

With the new Z620, HP takes a system that had formerly been marketed primarily into the financial market and broadens its focus to also include midrange CAD. The system has been updated to support both single- and dual-socket processors. Like the Z420, HP offers the same choice of Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 series processors, but customers can configure systems with up to 16 CPU cores.

The Z620 motherboard provides 12 memory sockets, enabling the system to support up to 96GB of four-channel, 1600MHz ECC memory. It also matches the expansion port capabilities of the Z420 — and again, HP offers a choice of 11 different graphics cards. But here, the top choice is the NVIDIA Quadro 6000 with 6GB of discrete graphics memory. An optional NVIDIA Tesla C2075 is also available for high-performance computing. The HP Z620 can support up to eight 3D or 2D displays.

Designed to fit into tight spaces, the narrow minitower with integrated handles provides two external 5.25-in. drive bays, while still offering space for three, modular, direct-connect 3.5-in. internal drives. The Z620 includes two integrated 6Gb/s SATA ports, and the same broad selection of drives to accommodate up to 11TB of internal storage.

The system also provides four USB 3.0 ports (two front, two rear) and includes dual Intel LAN on motherboard (LOM) ports with Intel vPro Technology. An 800-watt, 90% efficient power supply supports all of the system’s energy needs. Prices start at $1,649.

HP Z280 workstationHP Z820: High-End Performance

HP expands upon its successful Z800 with the launch of its new Z820. Aimed at MCAD and demanding engineering applications, the system is available with one or two Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors for up to 16 CPU cores.

The Z820 comes housed in a minitower case equipped with numerous modular components, including the same cutting-edge modular power supply design first introduced in the Z800 (see DE, January 2010). To accommodate increased energy needs, the Z820 is available with a choice of 850-watt/88%- or 1125-watt/90%-efficient power supplies.

A total of 16 memory sockets enables the Z820 to be equipped with up to 512GB of RAM and it supports 1600MHz DDR3 ECC memory. Here again, HP offers a choice of 11 different graphics cards — but this time, with support for up to 300 watts of graphics, the system can accommodate dual NVIDIA Quadro 6000 cards. The Z820 also supports NVIDIA SLI. HP offers up to two optional NVIDIA Tesla C2075 HPC cards. Depending on the configuration, the HP Z820 can support up to eight 3D or 2D displays.

The motherboard includes seven expansion slots, but here they consist of three PCIe Gen3 x16 slots as well as a PCIe Gen 3 x8, PCIe Gen3 x4, PCIe Gen2 x4 and PCI. Like the Z620, the Z820 comes with dual Intel LOM ports with Intel vPro Technology.

Like its predecessor, the Z820 case includes integrated handles and lots of space for drives, including three external 5.25-in. bays and four internal 3.5-in. bays. It includes six integrated SATA ports (two at 6Gb/s and four at half that speed), as well as eight integrated 6Gb/s SAS ports. Customers have a choice of drives for up to 14TB of total internal storage, as well as up to eight external SAS drives. Prices start at $2,299.

HP Z1HP Z1: Power Without the Tower

While the flagship Z820 commanded a lot of attention at its Las Vegas premiere, the HP Z1 stole the show. The all-in-one Z1 combines a sleek industrial design with workstation performance in a package that consists of little more than a display and keyboard. But the display snaps open to let you swap out parts and make upgrades — no tools required. And packed inside the display, users have a choice of dual- or quad-core Intel Core i3 or Intel Xeon E3-1200 series processors, and either Intel HD graphics or one of four NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards, including the Quadro 4000M.

The 27-in.-diagonal 2560×1400-pixel display supports more than 1 billion colors and has a 178 ° viewing angle; the Z1 can also power a second monitor. The stand lets you adjust the display height and tilt the panel forward and back. There are also either two internal 2.5-in. drive bays or a single internal 3.5-in. bay, as well as an external 5.25-in. bay that comes with a slot-load 8X DVD+/-RW drive or an optional slot-load Blu-ray disc writer. HP offers a variety of storage types, including SATA, solid-state drive (SSD) and redundant array of independent disks (RAID) configurations. Four memory sockets support up to 32GB of extended error correction (ECC) memory.

The Z1 is also equipped with front-facing, dual-cone speakers, plus an HD webcam. Expansion slots include three mini PCIe Gen2 x1 slots, and one PCIe Gen2 x16 MXM slot. A wireless keyboard and mouse come standard.

 “With its game-changing design and an experience that optimizes visual and computing performance, the HP Z1 will help attract new customers and expand our market leadership,” says Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager of HP’s Commercial Solutions Business Unit.

We were certainly impressed. With prices starting at $1,899, the Z1 will likely find a home on many a designer’s desk.

David Cohn is the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies. He also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He’s a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering and the author of more than a dozen books. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at DSCohn.com.

 

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Download DE’s comparison chart of the HP Z-Series workstations.

About David Cohn

David Cohn has been using AutoCAD for more than 25 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the subject. He’s the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies, a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering, and also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA. Watch for his latest CADLearning eBooks on AutoCAD 2015 on the Apple iBookstore, at Amazon, and on the CADLearning website. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.
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