Cracking Open the HP Z820 WorkstationBill Detwiler cracks open the HP Z820 Workstation, which packs two Xeon CPUs and up to 512GB of RAM in a near tool-less, super-quiet case.
-The HP Z820 Workstation isn't your average desktop. This machine has 2 Xeon processors, 2 Quadro video cards and can handle up to 14 terabytes of storage and 512 gigs of RAM. How does HP pack all that tech into a nearly tool-less case that's super quiet? Well, let's find out. I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open. Designed for mission critical high-end computing tasks, the Z820 Workstation is one of the most powerful computers you can fit under your desk. And it's remarkably quiet and a singe to work on, but even before I crack this beast open, let's look at the outside of the case, which has several really nice features. First are the handles along the top. A fully loaded Z820 can top 50 pounds. So, these are very helpful when moving the machine. Another movement-related feature are the skids along the bottom. Now, these help you slide the machine out from under your desk when you need to access the ports in the back. And when it comes the time to open the case, the side panel's large handle makes removing the panel a snap. Inside the machine, it's equally clear this isn't your average PC. Like the Z1 Workstation, which I cracked earlier this year, the 820 has distinct cooling zones; one for the power supply, up second one for the motherboard and memory, and a third one for the IO area where the graphics cards and other expansion slots are. Along with these distinct zones, HP also routed the internal cables along the side and bottom of the case to improve air flow. Most of the machine's components can be removed without tools and HP shows you where to grab each part with these handy green indicators. I'll start by removing the power supply, which is a massive 1,150 watt unit, which has 2 internal fans. The IO shroud comes off next, revealing our machine's 2 NVIDIA Quadro 4,000 video cards and a ton of expansion slots. The motherboard and memory cooling assembly is next. This large plastic unit has 6 separate fans; one for each processor and one for each of the machine's 4 memory banks. The hard drive racks are next. Our machine has a single hard drive, but the machine can support up to 14 terabytes of storage. The optical drive and upper drive racks glide out after disconnecting the drive cables and releasing this catch. The video cards can also be removed after detaching their cables and pressing a small ledge above each one. And lastly, you can pop out the 2 IO zone cooling fans once they've been disconnected from the motherboard. At this point, the motherboard processors, RAM cables, and a few other components are still inside the case. Although the memory chips come out like regular [unk], you'll need a screwdriver to remove any of the other components, but as these machine come with a 3-year parts and onsite labor warranty, if the processor fails, HP will send a technician out to replace it. Now, the most interesting feature on the motherboard are the processor heatsinks, which look like miniature car radiators on our model, which is liquid cool. Also, HP staggered the position of the processors. This is done to prevent heat from the front CPU from bringing blown across the rear one. My complaint about Z820 are minor and few. First, the hard drive rails are plastic. They're sturdy when attached to the drive, but you wouldn't want to be too rough with them by themselves. Second, I wish the grid handle markings inside the case were marked with numbers. It took me a few minutes to figure out that I had to remove the IO shroud before removing the motherboard cooling assembly. Overall, the Z820 is a well-built machine that's a pleasure to work on and it reminds me what I hate about so many other PCs especially all-in-ones that are nearly impossible for owners and even in-house IT staff to work on. Pricing for the Z820 starts at $2299 U.S. and goes up from there. To see more teared-down photos and read my full hardware analysis, go to techrepublic.comcracking open. I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for watching.