HP Z1 Workstation review

Reviews 11 Jun, 2012

This 27in All-in-One packs an Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon processor, 8GB of RAM and unprecedented access to the components. But is it worth the £2500 price?

4
Price: 
£2,595
Ex VAT
Verdict: 
HP should be commended for putting together the most impressive All-in-One we've ever seen. Those after pure power would still be better served by a traditional workstation, though, and the price means it's likely to be reserved for the wealthiest of IT departments.

All-in-One PCs are stylish but have been marred by poor access to components, reduced manageability, and a lack of versatility when compared to traditional desktops.

The HP Z1 aims to address these concerns by introducing an innovative design based around a 27in, 2,560 x 1,440 panel. The main selling point of the Z1 is the ability to lift the screen up and easily access every single component.

Unique design

We're not used to seeing this level of access to components on fully-fledged desktops, let alone All-in-Ones, and HP's design is excellent throughout. Turn the screen to its horizontal orientation and clips at the bottom of the screen can be tugged to release the panel and open the Z1. There's even a hydraulic pump to slow the screen down when it's about to close, so even if you let the lid go there's no danger.

Tilt the Z1 back and then pop the screen open like a car hood

Standing the system up is simple: press a green tab underneath the panel and it can be eased into place. The build quality is excellent, with strength throughout, even if it does mean easing the screen to and from its horizontal and standing positions requires a little elbow grease.

Those green tabs are affixed to the plastic or metal shroud on top of every component which can be removed. There are plenty of them. On the left-hand side is the narrow power supply, and beside this is the graphics card – a mobile part in theory, but here packaged inside a desktop-style plastic shroud.

You can have access to all the core of the Z1 in seconds

Next to the graphics card is the hard disk which, is isolated into a neat caddy. It lifts out on a small hinge, and there are two of HP’s bespoke SATA and power connectors – suggesting models with two SSDs or mobile hard disks will be available.

The right-hand side of the Z1 is dominated by the motherboard. The DIMM slots are easily accessible, a further heatsink can be quickly removed. The optical drive – in this model, a DVD writer – can also be yanked out with a tug of a green tab. The only component which can’t be readily accessed is the processor, as it is held in place by a heatsink and is secured by Torqx screws.

There are two free mini-PCI-E sockets next to the Wi-Fi chip, and the Windows licence plaque and other important information is hidden in a removable flap on the left-hand side of the machine. Two daughterboards service the right-hand I/O panel and the four little speakers at the front of the machine, and the lid offers a diagram of the Z1’s main internal connections.

Cables are tidied flawlessly. Most are shrouded in black material to improve tidiness and aesthetics, and many are clipped to the lid, routed beneath the motherboard or held in place elsewhere.

Specifications: 

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

PROCESSOR: 3.6GHz Intel Xeon E3-1280

RAM: 8GB DDR3

STORAGE: 1TB hard disk

SCREEN: 27in 2,560 x 1,440 IPS

CONNECTIVITY: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0

PORTS: 2 x USB 3, 4 x USB 2, DisplayPort, S/PDIF, FireWire, 4-in-1 card reader, 4 x audio

OTHER: HP wireless keyboard and mouse

DIMENSIONS: 660 x 419 x 584mm (WxDxH)

WEIGHT: 21.3kg

IDLE POWER: 133W

PEAK POWER: 271W