A computer system with 16 GB of RAM, an 8 core processor and 1 TB of storage may be enough to keep today's digital media and gaming enthusiasts satisfied (for now), but professionals creating virtual reality and 360° video content might find it coughs and wheezes under the strain. Hewlett-Packard's fourth generation Z workstations are aimed squarely at design and productivity professionals, with its pack leader, the Z8, claimed to be the most powerful desktop workstation in the world.
The new Z workstations have been developed with product designers, architects, digital creators, scientists, educators, healthcare workers, and financial traders in mind, but could also be a good fit for home-based content creators who value processing power more than a healthy bank balance.
The top dog of the new Z workstation pack is the Z8, which can be had with Windows 10 Pro for Workstations or Linux installed. With 8.5 x 21.7 x 17.5 in (21.59 x 55.12 x 44.45 cm) dimensions and a starting weight of 49.4 lb (22.4 kg) this is not a workstation PC to be ignored. It's reported capable of running real-time 3D simulations or 8K video edits, rocking dual next gen Intel Xeon CPUs with as many as 56 cores taking care of the processing grunt work.
CPU options start at the 1.7 GHz Xeon Bronze 3104 with 6 cores and run all the way up to the Xeon Platinum 8180 that clocks in at 2.5 GHz – or up to 3.8 GHz with Turbo Boost – and has 28 cores. HP says that novel ducting ensures a second CPU is cooled with fresh air rather than recycled (warm) air from the first CPU's ducting.
It can also take up to 3 TB – yes, you read that right – of DDR4 system RAM spread out over 24 slots, and up to 4 TB of hard drive or SSD storage can be optioned in. Available graphics choices are split into four categories, with the Nvidia Quadro P400 kicking off the Entry 3D level and the Ultra High-end offerings including AMD's Radeon Pro WX 9100 and Nvidia's Quadro P6000 units.
There are seven full-sized PCIe expansion slots on offer, plus two internal PCIe slots. The chassis makes 10 USB 3.1 ports available to the user, and two USB C ports, but the buyer can also include Thunderbolt 3 connectivity as an option. A massive 1,700-watt power supply ensures this powerful system gets all the juice it needs to run the most demanding workloads.
Next in line is the Z6, reported to have 67 percent more memory bandwidth and 27 percent greater processor core count capacity than offered by 2015's Z640 workstation. There's a wide range of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Xeon processor options to choose from, up to 384 GB of DDR4 system memory over 12 slots, and up to 4 TB of storage. Nvidia or AMD graphics options run from the Quadro P400 and Radeon Pro WX 3100 right up to the Quadro P6000 and Radeon Pro WX 9100.
This model has four USB 3.1 and two USB C ports out front, six USB 3.1 and Gigibit Ethernet around back as standard. HP has also included serial ports for mouse and keyboard to keep precious USB ports free, and like the other two models in the G4 range, wireless connectivity comes in the shape of Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac.
Finally, the baby of the bunch – the Z4. This single processor workstation rocks a new Intel Xeon chip, with eight to choose from, up to 256 GB of SDRAM, up to 1 TB of storage and 11 graphics options, including AMD's Radeon Pro WX 7100 and Nvidia's Quadro P5000. The chassis includes front and rear handles for ease of placement, and there's a dust filter option for use in industrial applications.
The HP Z8 and Z6 desktops are due to release next month for starting prices of US$2,439 and $1,919 respectively. The Z4 will follow in November, and starts at $1,239. HP has also added seven monitors to the Z range, including a 4K-capable, 37.5-inch curved display at $1,199. The range is introduced in the video below.