When you use the word workstation, you think quickly on large, heavy machines. HP breaks with this “law” with its new HP Z2 Mini workstation. A mini PC with Xeon, focusing on workstation applications, which we discuss in detail in this article.
Workstations are the creme-de-la-crème of the corporate computing world. At first glance, there is clearly related to gaming systems and graphics cards powerful processors, lots of memory and storage. Where the latter, however, are optimized for games, are workstations designed for graphics professionals or people who perform heavy scientific financial calculations. The leader in this market, and HP offers a plethora of systems in its Z-series provided for this market. Relatively compact cars to heavy towers with multiple processors, disks, heavy graphics cards. There is also a whole range of mobile models. The latest offshoot is HP Z2 Mini.
HP Z2 Mini is obviously not such a powerhouse as the larger machines and is therefore primarily targeted at users looking for a versatile CAD workstation or just looking for a reliable computer, but work simultaneously with multiple monitors. Workstations are primarily built on reliability and security that they function properly with the applications for which they are intended. The big difference with ordinary PCs that typically workstations based on Intel Xeon processors and using Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro graphics cards.
If you put it in the back looking at you immediately see a big difference with mini computers for the consumer market as we so often encounter in Hardware.Info. Behind you because find no less than four DisplayPort connectors. So you can easily connect a whole range of screens on HP Z2 Mini. This especially comes in handy when you need many digital workspace, for example, when performing the calculations that we talked about earlier, or if you want to keep track of the drawings which you are doing. HP included AutoCAD, SolidWorks and other activity programs officially certified for HP Z2 Mini, so a smooth operation guaranteed.
Looking further to the rear of HP Z2 Mini, we see that all the terminals are mounted side by side. Besides the four DisplayPort connectors HP also has six times USB 3.0 installed, which are implemented as two Type-C. Two standard sockets look back and two are located on the side. On the back you will find a gigabit connection, mini’m also still board with a network cable. Choose HP Z2 Mini without Quadro, you get three times DisplayPort instead of four of these terminals. The front is kept completely tight and contains only the on / off switch.
Workstations are designed for professionals who need to work through without a fuss. If there is a problem, to be solved as soon as possible. The service capabilities of a workstation are also important. The interior is quite clear. The cap can be easily removed using a button on the back. The 2.5 inch SSD is located in a tray which is locked by a single screw and removing with a screwdriver with a flat head. Remarkably, because computers are usually fitted with Phillips screws. Among the SSD you will find the video card, which is soldered to the motherboard.
The processor is located under a considerable cooling element which is provided with a fan at the front. Which can be folded up, then you have access to two DIMM slots. There can be used ordinary DDR4 SO-DIMMs, but if you apply an Intel Xeon processor also possible to mount DDR4-2400 ECC memory. This is especially important if error correction of the memory is important. This is especially useful for tasks that can go wrong under any circumstances. With two memory slots can grow to up to 16 GB of memory.
The diet of HP Z2 Mini is not built. In our model, a big heavy external power supply shipped with a maximum wattage of 240 watts.
HP had chosen a relatively luxurious configuration for our test. The base is formed by an Intel Xeon processor, a E3-1225 v5. Which is a derivative of the Skylake generation, which we also know as the sixth generation Core. Despite its compact body, this chip has a TDP of up to 80W. That is quite a lot. He has four cores and operates at 3.3 GHz and offers a turbo up to 3.7 GHz. Because Hyper Threading can lacking in only four threads are working simultaneously. If you need it, you can also choose a E3-1245 v5, who offers this possibility and something has better performance by the clock of 3.5 / 3.9 GHz. Both models offer as said support ECC. Are you less demanding, then HP Z2 Mini also configure different Kaby Lake Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 models. The motherboard is based on Intel C236 chipset.
In the interior space for a single 2.5 inch disk drive. This choice is in our opinion a bit strange in the year 2017. There may also be used drakes of M.2 NVMe PCI Express drives. In our case, it was chosen for a large 246 GB SATA drive from the stable of Micron. As you will see later offered this in our test reasonable performance.
The networking capabilities of our test model were in the hands of Intel gigabit chip. WiFi was not built into our test sample. It is possible to opt for an Intel 8265 802.11ac adapter. That is want really fast (867 Mbit / s) and especially interesting if you have little wires around your desk. The audio capabilities of the Mini Z2 are at a basic level. He only has a headset jack driven by a simple Realtek ALC221 HDA codec.
On the motherboard of our HP Z2 Mini was mounted an Nvidia Quadro M620, equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. It is a processor that is based on the Maxwell GM107 GPU from Nvidia. He has hired 512 stream processors and a TDP of just 30 watts. He also looks a bit like the Nvidia GeForce GTX950M. If you need more graphics power than you use HP Remote Graphics (RGS), which you can harness the graphics power of a heavier workstation remotely.
HP Z2 Mini is a very interesting workstation if you are looking for a compact, reliable PC. The performance level is not so very high as the high-end models. It is a device that is designed for not too heavy tasks. Think of creating CAD drawings. You usually do not need a dual processor, memory slots and storage. Then you off with a modest configuration. The advantage is that the HP Mini Z2 offers certification for many popular CAD packages so you are assured of a smooth operation.
HP Z2 Mini a bit different from a normal Mini PC. You can see include the four DisplayPort connectors so that you can easily attach a sea of screen space. Ideal for – indeed – the CAD market. Additionally, the whisper-quiet operation for a peaceful environment and that is quite a benefit.
The configuration that we had available, we are not very impressed. It’s nice that the Xeon E3-1225 v5 provides support for ECC memory, but the lack of HyperThreading makes you long for the more expensive and faster E3-1245 v5. The Quadro M620 is the fastest graphics processor which model series, but is fast enough for this type of application.
Our model differs slightly from the versions that are available in the Dutch market. The cheapest version has a core i7 6700, 16 GB of memory and a 256 GB, but should lack a Quadro. That version is over the counter for about 1250 euros. For 1750 euros you get a variant similar to our test model, but with 16 instead of 8 GB of memory onboard.
Altogether the Z2 Mini is a very special device, and in our opinion a good start of a new class of mini workstations. The compact size and quiet operation moreish.