Open and shut case
Following this, component replacement is a snap – literally, everything from the HDD caddy to the GPU and PSU simply pop out with the pull of a catch and are replaced just as easily. There are no screws nor fiddly harnesses here. My only gripe is that HP decided to use mobile-class GPUs that use the MXM implementation of PCI-e so you can’t swap in a standard desktop card.
Since this is an all-in-one there’s not much else in the box other than some bundled software, in this case HP gives you Corel WinDVD and Roxio Creator Business HD. Talking of software though, if you need to use a precious dongle, there's a USB port inside the unit for this purpose. It enables the dongle to be locked away from light fingers when the Z1 is closed up.
I put the Z1 through its paces with 3DMark11, PCMark7 and SolidWorks 2012 – especially since HP goes so far as to market it with SolidWorks running in the promo shots. First, however, are some layman’s benchmarks, in the configuration sent to me the Z1 scored a meagre 5.9 on the Windows Experience Index. While both the CPU and RAM received a 7.6 and the Quadro 1000M managed to pull a 6.7 the old spinning platters dragged it down to just 5.9.
When running PCMark7, the hard disk's performance shortcomings showed again with a score of just 3085 PCMarks. I knew this machine was begging for an SSD the moment I saw it, so in went a 128GB Patriot WildFire which brought the PCMark score screaming up to 4616 and the Windows Experience Index to 6.7. Yet with the SSD being awarded a 7.6 result, the low-end Quadro card was now the bottleneck.
3DMark11 scored both configurations at 1133 3DMarks on the “Performance” test, not a particularly inspiring result, but bear in mind that these benchmarks are really for gaming cards which sacrifice rendering accuracy for FPS.
The real benefit of a Quadro GPU is for CAD modelling with an application like SolidWorks where it gives precision rendering for accurate modelling as well as enabling near real-time PhotoView rendering and RealView Graphics. In short, this means that you can get a photorealistic view of your product while it is in the modelling phase. To see what this actually looks like compare these screenshots of a wireframe view, RealView and PhotoView using this friendly, Weighted Companion Cube CAD file.
Photofinish in 12secs: modelling with Wireframe, RealView and PhotoView renders
Click for larger images
For this simple model, render times were in the 12 second range which would be perfectly acceptable for the hobbyist designer, but when it comes to rendering larger more complex models for commercial purposes I think the Quadro 1000M is going to let you down and leave you waiting. If you’re serious about this kind of stuff then you’ll want to splash out on a 3000M or 4000M.
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Re: Almost there, really
and you're going to fit that lot in an AIO case with propper cooling and ventilation just how?
If you want a fully modular system with standardised components it's always going to be bigger and clunkier than will fit into what is basically a monitor case. Live with that or buy a mini tower, your choice.
I count .. 6 fans in that screenshot of the things guts (2 screws in the PSU + 4 centrifugal) . Is it noisy ?
Re: The author was just wrong
"So.. the only arguments for this machine being a "real" workstation compared ti the MAC (or any homebrew) is the certification, officiel support, NBD blabla - thievery?"
I know the concept is a bit difficult to grasp if all you've ever seen are self-build home PCs and Macs but in an industry where reliability and precision is much more important than the lowest possible price or the ability to impress drinking buddies with the symbol of a half-eaten Apple, certified hardware means that this computer is guranteed to run that very important and very expensive piece of software without any hickups, and that any issues will be dealt with swiftly which even may include the software manufacturer providing a purpose-built patch within a few hours.
"All of it just i big scam, and completely pointless if you know how to swap a stick of RAM, PSU etc...."
You really don't get it, do you? It's not about RAM or PSU (that's what the hardware support is for, which again is worlds apart from what Apple offers), it's about ISV (ISV=Independet Software Vendor, the guys that provide your f*****g expensive application) support. The thing with most ISVs for professional software is that if the software shows a problem (say your 3D model doesn't show all textures) then they will ask you if you use a certified platform (combination of certified hardware, certified OS/drivers and often enough also a certified BIOS level), and if you don't then they'll say sorry but go and f**k yourself. Which is not a problem if all you do is playing games on that computer, but which translates to an actual loss of money if you use that computer for anything important in a business.
Additionally, not every business can afford to keep dedicated IT staff. Especially small businesses can't have someone sitting around until some hardware breaks so that he can change that. Even more, having spare parts of everything to compensate for a hardware problem is a no-no in business as it means stocking dead capital. That's why workstations usually come with 3 years onsite warranty next business day as standard, which can be upgraded to 4hrs reaction time 24/7. With that you also get engineers which know your workstation inside out, and can locate and fix the problem quickly.
A workstation is not your typical home PC. It's a computer for areas where the hardware price is almost irrelevant compared to the overall costs (software, support) per seat, and people buy that not because they are idiots but simply because the return of their investment justifies that expense.
Re: The author was just wrong
>>The iMac is no workstation.
I disagree... for about £1600 (with cunning use of a friends student discount etc.) you can get a 3.4Ghz (quad) i7 with 4Gb a 2Gb 6970M, slap in another 4Gb for £20 an extra 120Gb Sata3 SSD for £70 to go with the 1Gb (which you can swap over as a data disk), bootcamp it if you want, lovely Apple screen (similar to the Z1), all in all around the same as the entry price for the Z1 - but arguably a better machine.
In other words, a high spec iMac is better spec and value than an entry level Z1, but put some serious cash into a Z1 (like 3 grand) and you have a much better spec machine than an iMac (no shock there), I think there's an overlap between the iMac and the Z1 but it's quite a narrow band.
The author was just wrong
"Then why are they insisting on EEC RAM if you want to go above 8Gb? That pushes the price up considerably."
This doesn't make any sense (I know first hand that the z1 works fine with 16GB non-ECC) and the author was just wrong.
However, according to the Quickspecs (HP's term for a specification sheet) the z1 can be configured with either a XEON CPU (which supports both ECC and non-ECC RAM) and with a Core i3 processor which does not support ECC, and therefore ECC memory is only supported in the XEON variants. Simples.
I guess the author came to that (false) conclusion because HP only offers a 8GB config (4x 2GB) as the largest non-ECC memory config. This does however not mean that the z1 can't take non-ECC memory in larger configs (i.e. 4x4GB), it just means that HP does not offer more than 8GB in non-ECC form.
"I#ll be that HP branded RAM is the only stuff that will work without BSOD's as well."
You lost. The z1 works fine with any memory that is JEDEC compliant, as does any other PC workstation made by HP during the last 10 years or more.
"Nice try but it ain't an iMac killer especially if as rumoured Apple are going to announce some juicy H/W upgrades in a few days."
This isn't supposed to be an 'iMac killer', it's a professional workstation in a compact AIO format. The iMac is no workstation.
Apple may announce some hardware upgrade in a few days but so far they were too cheap to put professional graphics in their top model (Mac Pro), so if I were you I wouldn't bet that they now start to put XEONs and Quadro graphics into the iMac as you may loose again.