HP's Z1 is an innovative system design that crams a workstation specification into an all-in-one chassis without making too many compromises on performance and flexibility. Buyers needing top notch performance may prefer a more conventional system, but the Z1 will suit the needs of many users.
Space-saving all-in-one design, tool-free easy access to internals, full Nvidia Quadro graphics
Limited to 2 Sata hard drives, single CPU socket, some I/O ports difficult to access
TBA (entry level model £1,349)
Model: HP Z1 Workstation
Operating System: Windows 7 Processional 64-bit
Processor: Intel 3.50GHz Xeon E3-1280
RAM: 16GB DDR3 memory (max 32GB)
Storage: 2 x 300GB SSD, slot-loading recordable Blu-ray drive
Display: 27in LED Backlit widescreen (2560 x 1440)
Graphics: Nvidia Quadro 4000M adapter with 2GB GDDR5 memory
Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, S/PDIF, DisplayPort, IEEE 1394, Card reader, audio jacks
Webcam: 1080p 2 megapixel
HP's Z1 is claimed to be the first workstation configured as an all-in-one system integrated with a 27in display. The design is intended to offer the space-saving advantages of the all-in-one format without compromising too much on the performance and expandability that workstation users typically require.
Set to ship in April, the Z1 is aimed at users running applications such as CAD, engineering simulations or multimedia creation, but in a system form factor that is designed to save on desk space when compared with a conventional tower-format workstation chassis.
However, some compromises inevitably have to be made for a design like this, with the Z1 only supporting a single processor socket and room for no more than a couple of 2.5in hard drives, which is likely to have implications for some applications that potential users may want to run.
To set against that, HP has produced a unique all-in-one chassis that opens up to provide easy tool-free access to all components in the system, enabling everything from the memory to the hard drives to the graphics adapter to be swapped out or upgraded, if required.
Another key feature is that Intel's Xeon processors now support the firm's Active Management Technology (AMT), enabling workstations equipped with these chips to be managed in the same way as standard desktop PC systems.
Exact pricing for the Z1 line has yet to be set by HP, with only the start price of £1,349 for the entry model disclosed so far.
The Z1 is available with processor options ranging from a 3.33GHz Core i3-2120 with twin CPU cores, up to the Xeon E3-1280, a 3.5GHz chip with four cores and Intel's HT technology, allowing for up to eight simultaneous threads.
A maximum of 32GB memory can be fitted internally, along with one or two 2.5in Sata drives. HP offers 7.2k and 10k hard disk options, with Intel 160GB or 300GB solid state drives (SSDs) an option.
Unusually for an all-in-one, the Z1 can be also be configured with different graphics to suit the buyers' needs, using the built-in Intel graphics functions or a choice of Nvidia Quadro adapters, from the entry Quadro 500M up to the high-end Quadro 4000M.
Our review system came configured with the Xeon E3-1280 processor, 16GB memory and twin 300GB SSD drives (Intel SSD 320 Series), plus Nvidia Quadro 4000M graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. There is also space for an internal optical drive, in this case a Blu-ray recorder drive.
This configuration should provide ample performance for many workstation applications, with the exception of the most demanding workloads that call for huge amounts of memory or very high disk performance, such as a Raid subsystem.
The motherboard chipset does support Intel's Rapid Storage Technology, which enables the internal Sata drives to be configured as a Raid array, but only Raid modes 0 or 1 are available with just two drives.