While the world may be abuzz with news of a new high resolution money sink, those more technically refined members of the PC & Tech Authority staff just had their minds blown by good old PC hardware. HP swung by to show us its new Z1 All-In-One workstation, which is not only a gorgeous looking piece of hardware, but hides all sorts of modular wonders within.
From the outside the Z1 is a brutally industrial looking machine. It has a heavy duty stand designed to allow for a high degree of screen pivot and height adjustment, while the unit itself is dominated by a glossy glass covered 17in IPS panel. Sporting a resolution of 2560 x 1440, this screen is everything we love about IPS, from the extreme viewing angles through to the eye popping colour. If only consumers could get these kinds of panels on everyday all-in-ones.
Around the edges of the screen sit all sorts of ports and the like, with everything from USB 3 and card readers on one side to Displayport in and out ports on the base. The machine ships with either a DVD-Writer or a Blu-Ray drive, which uses a slot-loading design, but the rest of the expansion slots are relatively standard
These are all solid features, but the thing that makes the Z1 our favourite piece of hardware of the day is its modular nature. Sit the Z1’s stand flat and locks into place, at which point you can unclip the screen and lift it up (the screen is even supported by a gas piston designed to allow for smooth opening and closing). Underneath lies the guts of a fully fledged workstation, segmented into various airflow regions and incredibly upgradeable.
The processor area (the Z1 supports either Core i3 or Xeons) was under a bolted down shroud, however everything else was removable. The 3.5in hard drive slides out with the push of a lever (the chassis can fit a single 3.25in drive or dual 2.5in ones)., as does the 400Watt power supply. RAM is easily accessible and upgradeable – the Z1 uses standard (ECC or non-ECC) DDR3 DIMMs rather than SODIMMs. But most impressively, the Z1 comes with a modular graphic card based upon the mobile MXM standard. This card is a fully fledged desktop model and has been specially designed to use the mobile form factor while also having the heat dissipation needed for desktop performance.
NVIDIA's specially designed Quadro 4000M card uses the MXM connection standard.
What results is an eminently upgradeable work of art. Intel has shown us concept images before of its work towards All-In-One standards, but none of those shots came close to the tight integration and elegant accessibility of HP’s Z1. Don’t expect to see this sort of tinker friendly design in the consumer space just yet though, for now the Z1 and its associated features are purely targeted at the workspace (although we’ve heard that the Quadro 4000M plays a mean game of Battlefield 3). But it’s a glimpse into a shift that we expect to see becoming more common, as the traditionally space hungry desktop needs to adapt to the modern world.
Check out our gallery for more detail of this piece of PC engineering wonderment.