HP Inc delivers on its promise of a low-cost but well-equipped workstation. What it lacks in high-end features it makes up for with quality physical design and nimble, reliable performance in tough tasks.
Smart chassis design, strong performance, range of business-grade OS options
Not as upgradable as other workstations
Processor: Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5; Intel Pentium, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and other Xeon processors also available
RAM: Up to 32GB
Operating system: Windows 10 Pro; Windows 10 Home, Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 also available
Storage: 1TB HDD and 512GB SSD; up to 4TB HDD and up to 1TB SSD also available
Connectivity: Six USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, two HDMI, two DisplayPort 1.2, two PS/2, Ethernet, single-link DVI-D, Line In, Line Out and Mic In, optional SD card reader
Expansion slots: Four PCIe x4, one PCIe x1 and two PCIe x16 slots, one M.2 slot
Storage expansion: Two external half height 5.25in bays, one external 9.5mm slim optical drive bay, two internal 3.5in drive bays, one internal 2.5in drive bay
Weight: 8.6kg-11.9kg, depending on configuration
HP Inc recently made two more additions to its already broad Z family of workstations: the Z240 Tower, and the 57 percent smaller Z240 SFF.
Both are aimed at the lower end of the market, and are priced accordingly, but naturally they'll still need to endure compute- and graphics-intensive CAD work. Curious as to how it would fare, and lured by the greater upgrade potential of a larger form factor, we decided to take the Z240 Tower for a spin.
A minitower case houses the Z240 Tower's internals, measuring 399x442x170mm - just about small enough to sit on a desk without hogging too much space. On the front panel, we find two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports - one of the latter is high-powered for charging devices - as well as headphone and microphone ports, a DVD R/W drive and a removable dust guard which also covers a small and tinny built-in speaker.
The assortment of connectors really starts to open up around the back. As standard, there are four USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, two HDMI, two DisplayPort 1.2, two PS/2, Ethernet and single-link DVI-D ports, plus the usual Line In, Line Out and Mic In audio ports. The Nvidia Quadro K2200 graphics card in our review unit also added a dual-link DVI-D connector and two more DisplayPorts.
That's an appreciably diverse range, which should easily prove conducive to hooking up multiple monitors or stuffing with peripherals. On the subject, the Z240 Tower includes a mouse and keyboard, but they feel a bit plasticky and cheap for extended use.
The case isn't awash with premium features, either, although it does a great job of minimising the need for tools. Everything from the side panel to individual drive trays is secured and released with latches, rather than screws, so popping in a new HDD or optical drive is child's play.
HP Inc has ditched the legacy PCI slot on the motherboard - no great loss, really - and replaced it with the more modern M.2 expansion slot, more commonly seen in laptops. That's in addition to the four PCIe x4, one PCIe x1 and two PCIe x16 slots, a decent selection that can handle multiple graphics cards or extra SSDs. It would have been nice to have more than four DIMM slots which you would expect to see even on a standard desktop PC.
Indeed, as far as workstations go, this one is particularly easy to mistake for a vanilla office desktop, but that doesn't stop it being very amply equipped for the price.
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