ROI Reviews: HP Z800 Workstation
8-CORE POWER, REDESIGNED FROM THE INSIDE OUT
There’s a new flagship workstation from HP on the prowl, adorned with race-car good looks and specs to match. With the help of the world-class designers at BMW Group DesignworksUSA, HP put together the elegant Z800, and its beauty is much more than skin-deep. Packing a couple of the latest Intel quad-core Nehalem Xeon W5580 processors running at 3.2GHz, assisted by the new Intel Tylersburg chipset, and loaded with up to 192GB of quick 1333MHz RAM, everything about this workstation oozes speed.
Lift the Z800 out of its box by its handy recessed carrying handles and you immediately notice a significant departure for HP. This workstation has been completely redesigned from the inside out, and when you open its solid brushed aluminum door you realize its innards are even better looking than that swank exterior.
Not Just Skin Deep
The cowlings covering the processors and I/O cage look more like headers on an exotic drag racer than computer parts. But their form follows function, directing airflow with more efficiency. That means the fans don’t have to work as hard, making the workstation even more quiet than its already-hushed predecessors. HP says that by mid-summer, the workstation will be even quieter thanks to liquid cooling, a $300 option that eliminates the need for two of those already near-silent fans.
|HP Z800 workstation, Dual Quad Core 3.2GHz (“Nehalem”)||HP xw8600 workstation, Dual Quad Core 3.16GHz (“Harpertown”)||Speedup %|
|Total Benchmark||292 Seconds||361 Seconds||19.11%|
|Night Flight Vector||5:18||12:37||59.95%|
|“Source Shapes” Vector graphics||:35||:46||23.91%|
|Maxon CineBench Rendering R10||29,035, multiprocessor speedup 7.01x||18,712, multiprocessor speedup, 5.7X||35.55%|
Another welcome innovation is the semi-translucent drawers that hold the hard drives. Pop either an SAS or SATA drive into one of the four cleverly designed holders and they “blind-plug” into the backplane with a snap. The power supply slides out just as easily, letting you plug it into an AC outlet and check an LED to see if it’s working properly. The entire workstation can be disassembled without any tools at all. It’s orderly and mostly devoid of exposed wiring, except for wires connecting the optional slot-loading drive, which might not even be a factor unless you’re using that upper cage to mount two additional hard drives.
Speed that Delivers
We also tested four of the latest Intel/Western Digital solid-state drives HP is offering as an option, and their speed and efficiency were a joy to behold. Thin, light, completely silent and astonishingly fast, they’d be practical if they didn’t cost a thousand bucks apiece. We striped four together in a RAID 0 array, and immediately started thinking of what we could do with read-write speeds of 560MB/s. Want some? HP will offer the 64GB drives starting June 1, admitting that their use is mostly experimental thus far. But someday, all drives will be SSD, and a lot bigger than 64GB, as soon as economies of scale drive prices down from their current stratospheric levels.
After admiring this workstation’s pretty-boy good looks and easy servicing, we wondered if the Z800 would be able to match that beauty with muscle. As you can see by the benchmark table above, the answer is a resounding yes. In our set of Adobe After Effects and Cinebench benchmarks, the Z800 trounces its predecessor, the HP xw8600 workstation released last year. This is the kind of speed increase that can save lots of rendering time, and by extension, cold hard cash. And when you crunch the numbers, you’ll notice that these faster workstations cost the same as their predecessors when similarly equipped. Now aren’t you glad you waited?
The Whole Package
Carrying on the revolutionary theme are Intel’s 3.2GHz quad-core Xeon W5580 processors, the fastest of the bunch thus far. They feature some new trickery from the chipmaker called “Turbo Boost,” which amounts to automatic overclocking when they encounter lightly threaded operations in the other cores. Add to that Intel’s new QuickPath architecture, where there are point to point connections between processors and chipsets with no more shared busses, and you have yourself a screaming machine.