Thursday, August 6, 2009

HP Z800: The BMW M6 of Workstations

Under the hood, Z800 looks just like BMW M6 10-cyl 500hp GT cruiser: you can see the oil dipstick, everything else is shiny plastic and metal. To access slots, drives, memory and CPU, just lift off plastic panels: no tools required. The workstation can be taken apart and put back together in seconds with bare hands.

Speaking of bare hands, the workstation now features case handles. Unboxing, boxing, and simply moving the rather heavy system (45 lbs net) suddenly became so much easier. Unlike IBM designs, Z800 has two handles, and unlike Mac Pros, the handles are cylindrical and will not cut your hands.

Even the "high power" models (3.2GHz and up) are nearly silent. The fans kick up just a bit under full CPU load, yet it's quieter than xw8600 under load - and much, much faster.

Up to six SAS or SATA 3.5" drives can be fit inside, 4 in pluggable drive cages, 2 more - in optical bays, using special "optical bay mounting kits". All installed without a single screw.

My favorite configuration for a top-of-the line video editing system: 300GB 10K rpm SAS system drive, five 2TB 7200rpm SATA drives in RAID0 mode on the LSI controller, which gives a total of 10TB capacity and about 500MB/s transfer rates, enough for realtime uncompressed HD and 2K editing and previewing.

Fast, quiet, stable, well designed, easily expandable and upgradeable - what more can one ask for? It's the best workstation HP has come up with.

Eager to get one configured for video editing or visualization applications? See Z800 on DV411.

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