New Z1 – HP’s all-in-one workstation for CAD

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On the inside: unlike other all-in-ones, you can tinker with the Z1 and upgrade using HP’s tool-less system

Lacking the usual bombast of a product launch, HP has ushered in its new Z1 workstation from from behind a veil of secrecy, revealing an all-in-one solution that packs professional power.

Set for an April release, HP’s integrated answer to an overcrowded desktop, the 27” Z1 is billed as “power without the tower”.

With all involved hushed up for over two years during its development it was easy to sense the relief at the launch event in Las Vegas; with a space-saving design and an array of features HP also seemed prepared to tackle the looming elephant in the room – namely Apple’s iMac.

This is it: your desktop can really be this uncluttered (honestly!)


Primarily, this is still a HP Z-Series workstation which, unlike Apple’s iMac, is tested and certified to run many of the leading 3D CAD/CAM/CAE applications. It has the option of a workstation-class Xeon E3 processor, up to 32GB ECC memory and, most importantly for users of power hungry 3D software, a choice of professional workstation-class graphics cards. These are not standard desktop cards though – the Z1 offers a range of specially configured and housed versions of Nvidia’s mobile Quadro – the Quadro 500M, 1000M, 3000M and 4000M.

The Z1 also comes with a variety of storage options including 7.2K and 10K SATA, SSD, and optional RAID configurations. All of this is backed up with a professional 27-inch IPS screen, which features over a billion colours and a 178-degree viewing angle.

Beyond, specifications, the Z1’s party trick is its serviceability. In its flat folded stance the screen hinges open like a briefcase, allowing tool-free access to upgrade components or add more beef to its capabilities. This overcomes the underlying hatred often associated with other all-in-ones.

The future is [ahem, ‘officially unconfirmed’] touchscreen enablement, with an emphasis on stylus abilities, for which all the efforts of the design team slaving over getting the stand just right will have some notable pay-off.

There’s something about the ‘Zephyr One’ that we quite like: It looks good, although it won’t be taking any design awards away from Apple quite yet. It can be either wall or arm mounted to free up maximum desk space, and the standard stand (itself a piece of incredible engineering) gives a great range of heights and angles. On paper, it certainly looks powerful enough to handle entry-level to mid-range CAD workflows, though with only four CPU cores those heavily into rendering or simulation may find it a little lacking.

A lot of people aren’t going to see the point in having an all-in-one, but by making everything accessible and configurable it overcomes one of the major stumbling blocks of an all-in-one machine. More simply you could also wonder: ‘what if computers had always been like this?’

Having no tower suddenly seems like the logical thing, though expect to pay a premium. Prices start at $1,899.

For full specs, click here.

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