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HP Z2 Mini G3 Workstation review: Power in a pint-sized package

For many people, a tenure ‘workstation’ substantially still brings to mind a compulsory desktop or deskside system. However, new years have seen a high-end components compulsory to run CAD and other compute-intensive applications squeezed into small form-factor desktops and clamshell-format mobile workstations. Now HP Inc. has delivered a Z2 Mini G3 Workstation, a Mac Mini-sized workstation that can fit into a accumulation of small spaces on or around a desk. And given that we can run adult to 6 displays from this small system, you’re going to need all a table space we can get.

hp-z2-mini-family.jpg

HP’s workstation family now includes a mini-PC-format Z2 Mini G3 (bottom right).


Image: HP Inc.

So, how does HP’s petite workstation work out in use — can such a small package unequivocally broach a goods?

Design

hp-z2-mini-main.jpg

The Z2 Mini G3, that is approved for over 20 workstation-class applications, can fit on or underneath desks, behind monitors or on a guard arrangement arm.


Images: HP Inc.

According to HP, a Z2 Mini G3 is “90% smaller than a normal business-class tower”. With a 216mm-square footprint (give or take chopped-off corners that give it an octagonal look), 58mm tallness and weight starting during 2.04kg, there’s positively no mistaking it for a normal desktop PC.

If your operative sourroundings is space-limited, we have copiousness of chain options: prosaic or honest on a desk; underneath a desk; and VESA-mounted on a behind of a guard or as partial of a arrangement arm setup. HP has suspicion about a nuisance of locating a energy switch in some of these configurations, and allows a element to be powered adult remotely around a keyboard or mouse. There’s a close container during a back, permitting this uncommonly unstable section to be physically secured.

hp-z2-mini-open.jpg

Inside a Z2 Mini G3, display a CPU (right) and GPU (left) fans. The CPU fan rises adult to give entrance to a dual SODIMM RAM slots.


Image: HP Inc.

You get tool-free entrance to a innards around a fasten during a back, divulgence a firmly packaged set of components, including a span of fans — one any for a CPU and GPU. Given a volume of computing horsepower on offer (see below), we competence be forgiven for fearing that a Z2 Mini G3 puts out a lot of fan sound when using perfectionist workloads. However, we didn’t find this to be a box when contrast a Xeon/Nvidia-powered examination unit.

Features

There are no fewer than 26 variants of a Z2 Mini G3 Workstation on HP’s UK website, starting during £740 (ex. VAT, or £888 inc. VAT) for a element formed on an Intel Core i7-6700 processor with integrated HD Graphics 530, using during 3.4GHz (up to 4GHz with Turbo Boost). This has 8GB of DDR4-2400 RAM and a 1TB SATA tough expostulate spinning during 7,200rpm.

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At a tip finish of a Z2 Mini G3 operation is a £1,325 (ex. VAT, or £1,590 inc. VAT) indication using on an Intel Xeon E3-1245 v5 with integrated HD Graphics P530 using during 3.5GHz (up to 3.9 GHz with Turbo Boost). RAM is maxed out during 32GB (2x16GB), and as good as a integrated graphics this indication has a dissimilar Nvidia Quadro M620 GPU with 2GB of dedicated video RAM. Storage is supposing by a 512GB HP Z Turbo PCIe SSD, and there’s a container to supplement a SATA expostulate if serve ability is required.

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Ports on a ‘Performance’ SKU, as reviewed here. ‘Entry’ SKUs have 3 DisplayPort connectors rather than four, and miss a span of USB-C ports. The blanking image covers a space for an discretionary bequest sequence port.


Image: HP Inc.

For a small device, there are a lot of connectors on a Z2 Mini G3. Most are during a back, where — on a ‘Performance’ SKU we had for examination — you’ll find 4 DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, dual USB-C, dual USB 3.0 ports and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. There’s also a connector for a outmost energy section (135W or 200W, depending on a model) and a hoop activity LED. A bequest 9-pin sequence pier is accessible as an option. On a left-hand side there’s a span of USB 3.0 ports (one charging) and a 3.5mm audio jack. An appendage sleeve is accessible to physically retard entrance to a USB ports if a IT dialect deems this necessary.

To expostulate a limit element of 6 monitors, you’ll not usually need a ‘Performance’ indication with both CPU-integrated and dissimilar (Nvidia) graphics, and 4 DisplayPort connectors, though you’ll also need to daisy-chain dual of them.

Performance

Our examination section was formed on Intel’s Xeon E3-1245 v5 with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD. In terms of CPU performance, it clear itself good compared to a AIO-format HP Z1 Workstation G3, that we reviewed in Dec final year. The petite Z2 Mini delivered a Geekbench 4 Multi Core measure of 14525, contra a Z1’s measure of 15126 — considerable deliberation a AIO element we tested was formed on a Xeon E3-1270 v5 processor with 64GB of RAM. Under a Cinebench R15 CPU test, a Z2 Mini even outscored a Z1, with 805.6 compared to 801.4.

On graphics performance, a Z2 Mini with a 2GB Nvidia Quadro M620 GPU couldn’t utterly compare a Z1, that sported a 4GB Quadro M2000M: in a Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, a Z2 Mini managed a really important 92 frames per second (fps), though a Z1 incited in 106.4fps.

Both workstations were versed with 512GB PCIe SSDs, and both delivered likewise considerable hoop opening underneath a ATTO Disk Benchmark: write speeds of 1,482MB/s and 1,581MB/s for a Z2 Mini and Z1 respectively, and review speeds of 2,228MB/s and 2226MB/s respectively.

Conclusions

HP has pulled off a attainment of engineering with a Z2 Mini G3 Workstation. Packing a Xeon CPU and dissimilar Nvidia Quadro GPU into a mini-PC-format enclosing competence be approaching to move all sorts of cooling issues, though we found that it delivered identical opening levels to a AIO-format Z1 stablemate though extreme fan noise. Of march there are tradeoffs: nonetheless a Z2 Mini G3 takes adult small space and can be positioned in mixed ways, there’s changed small on offer in a approach of upgradability.

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