HP Z1 Workstation G3 review: Smaller, thinner, lighter and faster

aio-hp-z1-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent
  • $1,048.32

Pros

  • Excellent CPU, GPU and disk performance
  • Thoughtful placement of ports and interfaces
  • Good accessibility for servicing and upgrading

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No-frills industrial design

HP is currently the only major PC vendor to offer a workstation-class AIO desktop -- something it has been doing since 2012 with the first-generation Z1 Workstation. Now in its third generation, the Z1 Workstation's screen has shrunk from 27 inches in the G1 and G2 models to 23.6 inches, while boosting the resolution from 2,560 by 1,440 pixels to 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. This results in a significant pixel density increase, from 109ppi to 187ppi.

The screen is a key element of a workstation aimed at power users such as scientists, engineers, financial analysts, architects, designers and developers. These machines need horsepower too, which the Z1 Workstation G3 has aplenty -- including Intel (Skylake) Xeon E3 processors, up to 64GB of RAM, discrete Nvidia graphics, PCIe SSD storage and Thunderbolt 3 external connectivity.

Naturally, a machine with this sort of spec doesn't come cheap. Although the Z1 Workstation G3 range starts at $1,349, this only buys you a Core i3 CPU, integrated Intel HD Graphics 350, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB (7,200rpm) hard drive. Our high-end Xeon-powered review unit, by contrast, will set you back $3,486 (around £2,740 inc. VAT), and should give an idea of the performance ceiling for an AIO desktop system.

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HP's 23.6-inch Z1 Workstation G3 is more compact than previous 27-inch models in the range. Our review sample ran on a powerful Xeon E3 processor with the full complement of 64GB of RAM.

Images: HP Inc.

Design

For a premium-priced system, the Z1 Workstation G3 has a distinctly utilitarian look and feel to it. That's not to say it's ugly, just that its plastic-clad chassis doesn't have the 'wow' factor of a milled-aluminium Apple iMac or Microsoft's new Surface Studio.

With its stand, the third-generation Z1 measures 59.69cm wide by 21.08cm deep by 54.61cm high and weighs 10.51kg -- 47 percent more compact and 51 percent lighter than the previous (27-inch) G2 model. The stand provides for screen height and vertical viewing angle adjustment, and can also pivot from landscape to portrait mode if required. There's no touchscreen capability on this model, so screen-hinge gymnastics of the Surface Studio variety are not supported. The screen is a 23.6-inch LED-backlit IPS unit with a matte anti-glare finish, maximum brightness of 300 nits and, as noted above, a resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels (187ppi).

Many all-in-one desktops site most of their ports at the back, where they're hard to reach. HP has made life easier on the Z1 Workstation G3 by placing a good selection on the left side. Here you'll find two USB 3.0 ports (one charging) and two Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 ports (with USB-C connectors), along with an SD card reader and a 3.5mm combo audio jack.

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At the back there are four USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 connector, an RJ-45 Ethernet port and a configurable 3.5mm audio jack.

HP makes much of the Z1 Workstation G3's serviceability, which is enabled via a removeable rear panel. Once inside, you'll be able to upgrade key components like RAM, storage and graphics.

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The Z1 Workstation G3's back panel removes easily, giving access to internal components for servicing and upgrades.

Images: HP Inc.

Features

Although, as noted earlier, the Z1 Workstation G3 starts with a relatively modest specification, our review sample was a high-end unit based around a quad-core Xeon E3-1270 v5 processor running at 3.6GHz (and up to 4GHz with TurboBoost). This was supported by the maximum complement of 64GB of 2133MHz DDR4 RAM, in four 16GB SODIMM modules.

A workstation-class AIO clearly needs a decent discrete GPU, and our review unit obliges with an Nvidia Quadro M2000M, supported by 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 RAM. With 640 CUDA parallel processing cores and 80GB/sec of memory bandwidth, this is a mid-range GPU designed primarily for mobile systems; by contrast a top-end unit like the Quadro M5500 offers 2,048 CUDA cores and 211GB/sec bandwidth.

For storage, our review unit had two 512GB HP Z Turbo Drive G2 NVMe PCIe cards, one for the Windows 10 Professional OS (Windows 7 and Red Hat Linux are also available) and installed applications, and the other for data. There's also space for two 2.5-inch SATA drives (SSD or hard drive) if required, with RAID 0 (striped) and RAID 1 (mirrored) support on the integrated SATA controller.

An extra feature that you don't find on your average all-in-one desktop is HP's Remote Graphics Software (RGS), which the company describes as "a remote desktop tool on steroids". RGS comprises a sender that transmits encrypted screen content over the network and a receiver on a remote Windows PC or Mac.

Performance

Given its Xeon CPU, 64GB of RAM, discrete Nvidia Quadro GPU and fast PCIe SSD storage, it's no surprise to find that the HP Z1 Workstation G3 delivers impressive benchmarks. Specifically, it registered Geekbench 4 scores of 4,715 (single core) and 15,126 (multi core), a Cinebench R15 OpenGL score of 106.4 frames per second (fps) and ATTO disk benchmark scores of 2,226MB/s (read) and 1,541MB/s (write).

This level of performance makes the Z1 Workstation G3 well suited to its target market -- designers and content creators in fields like engineering, architecture, science, education and entertainment who require a relatively space-efficient system to work on.

Conclusions

HP's Z1 Workstation G3 won't win any accolades for its looks, but it's a very capable workstation-class all-in-one desktop with a good level of access to the internals for servicing and upgrades. Our high-end Xeon-based review unit certainly isn't cheap, but it still delivers good value for money.

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Specifications

General
Type Workstation
Product Form Factor All-in-one
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i3 (6th Gen) 6100 / 3.7 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Chipset Type Intel C236
Processor Main Features Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel Smart Cache
Processor Socket LGA1151 Socket
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
Cache Per Processor 3 MB
Per Processor Size 3 MB
Installed Size 3 MB
Storage
RAID Level RAID 0, RAID 1
Interface Type Serial ATA-600
Type none
RAM
Technology DDR4 SDRAM - non-ECC
Memory Speed 2133 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC4-17000
Features dual channel memory architecture, unbuffered
Configuration Features 1 x 4 GB
RAM Supported 64 GB unbuffered - non-ECC
64 GB unbuffered - ECC
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Data Integrity Check non-ECC
Rated Memory Speed 2133 MHz
Memory
Max Supported Size 64 GB
Form Factor SO-DIMM 260-pin
Slots Qty 4
Empty Slots 3
Display
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
Monitor Features 100% sRGB (CIE 1931) color gamut, anti-glare
Type LED
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 59.9 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Ultra HD 4K
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 8 - 85% (non-condensing)
Hard Drive
Interface Type SATA 6Gb/s
Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
Type HDD
Interface Class Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Capacity 1 TB
Input
Type no keyboard, no mouse
Hard Drive (2nd)
Type none
Storage Controller
Interface Type Serial ATA-600
Type Serial ATA
Hard Drive (3rd)
Type none
Processor
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Upgradability upgradable
Type Core i3
Processor Number i3-6100
Generation 6
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 3.7 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Optical Storage (2nd)
Drive Type no optical drive
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory Cards SD Memory Card
Storage Removable
Type none
Header
Brand HP
Product Line HP Workstation
Model Z1 G3
Localization English
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
Ethernet Controller(s) Intel I219LM
Features Wake on LAN (WoL), PXE support
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards ACPI 4.0, RoHS, WEEE
Manufacturer Selling Program HP Smart Buy
Flat Panel Mount Interface 100 x 100 mm
Monitor
Monitor Type LED - IPS
Native Resolution 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD 4K)
Horizontal Viewing Angle 178
Diagonal Size 23.6 in
Vertical Viewing Angle 178
Response Time 14 ms
Pixel Pitch 0.13575 mm
Image Brightness 300
Image Contrast Ratio 1000:1
System
Type workstation
Hard Drive Capacity 1 TB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Graphics Controller
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 530
Video Interfaces DisplayPort
Dimensions & Weight
Width 23.5 in
Depth 8.3 in
Height 21.5 in
Chassis
Form Factor all-in-one
Manufacturer Form Factor all-in-one
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Mainboard
Processor Socket LGA1151 Socket
Chipset Type Intel C236
Audio Output
Sound Output Mode stereo
Compliant Standards DTS Studio Sound, High Definition Audio
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Dimensions & Weight Details - 6.9 lbs - stand
Printer
Type none
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Audio Input
Type Microphones
Expansion / Connectivity
Bays 2 (total) / 1 (free) x internal 2.5" x 1/8H
RAM Supported
Registered or Buffered unbuffered
Data Integrity Check ECC, non-ECC
Max Size 64 GB
Physical Characteristics
Form Factor all-in-one
Weight 23.17 lbs
Power
Type power supply
Min Operating Temperature 41 °F
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
80 PLUS Certification 80 PLUS
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition
OS Provided Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition English
Type Foxit PhantomPDF, HP Performance Advisor, HP Remote Graphics Software
Hard Drive (4th)
Type none
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 530
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Video Interfaces DisplayPort

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HP Z1 Workstation G3

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