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HP Z1 Workstation review: HP Z1 Workstation

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The Good User serviceable all-in-one. Good display.

The Bad No high-end graphics SKU. Stand mechanism is clunky. Ports on the rear are incredibly difficult to get access to. Better performance on consumer all-in-ones for considerably less.

The Bottom Line The Z1 workstation really brings HP's engineering skill to the fore. The large markup on workstation parts though means a significantly cheaper machine will outperform it.

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7.0 Overall

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HP's Z1 Workstation all-in-one is quite the chunky, unwieldy bit of kit. It's a whole 7kg heavier than Dell's all-in-one, and despite being designed like a monitor, it doesn't swivel. The ports at the back aren't really accessible unless you tilt the screen back 90°. It's not even clear at first that the tilting back serves a real purpose, until you notice the two tabs on the bottom.

Special mention goes to the stand; while the monitor can be locked flat into place, there's a decent range of motion incorporating height and tilt, and the chunky weight should mean smooth movement. It's clunky to use, and more than once when adjusting we ended up lifting the monitor off the desk.

Suddenly, it all became clear: the 27-inch, 2560x1440 IPS display latches off like the bonnet of a car, revealing the splendid interior of a fully serviceable all-in-one. You can even do this while the machine is running.

Mmm, goodies. Hard drive, RAM, graphics card, fan unit and power supply can be easily removed. The processor requires a bit more creativity.
(Credit: HP)

Not your standard laptop in a box, this all-in-one has a desktop Xeon processor (you can get a Core i3, if you wish to evade the Xeon tax, but interestingly no other consumer-level processor), non-ECC desktop RAM and a type B MXM graphics card inside. The latter is technically upgradeable, although you'll likely have to eBay something.

In true HP Z style, a lot of this can be removed by a simple lever, tool-lessness being the order of the day.

There's another reason, besides service and upgrading, that you'll want to access the interior: there's a USB port in here to attach the adapter that you'll need for the wireless keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse themselves are mostly inoffensive, doing the job they were designed to do. We say mostly, as HP's decision to duplicate the pipe/backslash key and put it next to a reduced-length left shift key had us swearing more than a few times.

Upgradability is excellent beyond the desktop parts; the quick-release drive caddy in our machine could take two 2.5-inch drives, while you've got two spare mini PCI-E slots up the top. Four DIMM slots in total are available to the user. The 400W power supply isn't redundant, and you'll have to go back to HP for replacements, but it is quickly removable.

To a power user, it's just a little bit sexy. We'll be curious to see how production houses react to the unit, compared to traditionally kitted-out desktops.

Flip it to the side, and you're treated to a DVD&plusm;RW, an SD card reader, a FireWire 400 port, two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone and microphone jack.

The incredibly inaccessible ports on the back include power, DisplayPort, Intel gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 sound via 3.5mm jacks or optical and four USB 2.0 ports.


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