Tag Archives: HP

HP’s HOT New DreamColor Displays: The Z31x Studio and the Z24x G2

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

I recently caught up with HP in New York to look at some hot new product announcements for creative artists and animators users as well as upgrades and enhancements to existing mobile workstation products.

One of the most impressive new products was the HP 4K Dreamcolor Z31x Studio display. At the meeting, I was fortunate enough to interview HP’s chief DreamColor architect Greg Staten. Below is a video interview where Staten goes into an exceptionally detailed description of the Z31x Studio display and what makes it so remarkable. He begins, however, by talking about another new HP DreamColor display, the Z24x, also a compelling new product you’ll want to hear about.

A Disruptive Display

HP’s DreamColor line of displays were designed specifically for those who require the highest quality of fidelity and color accuracy, such as those who work in post production, visual effects, animation, matte painters, photo-retouchers, high-end colorists, illustrators and video editors.

In fact, according to HP, since 2011, 80 percent of Academy Award Nominees for Visual Effects have used HP DreamColor displays. In addition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave the HP DreamColor Display and its developers a Scientific and Engineering Award in 2015. That should give you an indication as to the key role that DreamColor displays play in our industry.

The HP Z31x Studio display paired with HP's top-of-the-line workstation tower, the Z840.
The HP Z31x Studio display paired with HP’s top-of-the-line workstation tower, the Z840.

In the Z31x Studio, HP has taken an a big leap ahead by designing a DreamColor display with innovative new features which compete with professional monitors costing much more. (Expect the Z31x to sell for under $4,000 available this fall). Now Let’s take a look at what makes the HP DreamColor Z31x Studio a gamechanger for studios and digital artists.

Each new feature of the Z31x is a result of direct feedback from professional customers. For one, its images are delivered on a true 10-bit Real IPS panel with more than 1 billion colors. In fact, HP improved on this IPS technology, inventing new processes that result in deep, rich and consistent black levels no matter what angle of view. Also, the screen resolution on the Z31x is true Cinema 4k at 4096 X 2160 resolution (17:9 theatrical) not UHD 4K of 3840 pixels × 2160 (16:9).

One of the coolest new features of the Z31x Studio is a built-in pop-up colorimeter which swings down from the top of the display and can automatically calibrate the display on demand or on a regular calibration schedule (it can even be scheduled to run off hours so your workflow isn’t interrupted). It’s a great idea to include a built-in colorimeter on a DreamColor display since colorimeters cost a pretty penny to buy separately — prices range from about $225 for the X-Rite i1 Display Pro to almost $7,000 for the Klein K10-A (which costs more than the Z31x).

The HP Z31x includes a built in Color Calibrator at the top of the display which you can activate through the menu system or schedule to automatically keep the display calibrated.
The HP Z31x includes a built in Color Calibrator at the top of the display which you can activate through the menu system or schedule to automatically keep the display calibrated.

It gets even better when you hear that, according to HP’s Greg Staten, the results from the built-in calibrator on the Z31x are on par with the Klein K10-A, helping to maintains perfect color accuracy. The display itself delivers true 10-bit color at HP’s widest color gamut ever, 99% of DCI-P3, 100% of Adobe RGB and 100% of sRGB and has native support for 60 Hz, 50 Hz and 48 HZ.

Another great feature of the HP Z31x Studio is that it has a built in KVM switch, which allows you to easily switch the input from two different computers with a quick keyboard shortcut allowing the user to share the display (as well as the mouse and keyboard) between two computers. This is important because many artists often rely on two computers to do their work. For example, they may have a Linux machine running their favorite compositing app as well as a Windows box for the Adobe Creative Suite or 3D program. The KVM switch eliminates clutter on their desk and allows you to switch between the different sources.

There’s a lot more to like about the HP Z31x DreamColor Display such as true 2K viewing, markers, masks and more. Again, in the video above, HP’s Greg Staten gets deeper into the display, so be sure to watch it.

The Most Affordable DreamColor

Along with the Z31x, HP has just announced the HP Z24x G2 DreamColor Display (also featured in the above video) which delivers the professional color accuracy and consistency that you would expect from DreamColor but at a budget-conscious price almost every artist can afford whether you work for a large studio or you are an independent.

The HP Z24x DreamColor display, a high end color display any artist can afford.
The HP Z24x DreamColor display, a high end color display any artist can afford.

The Z24x has a 24-inch diagonal DreamCOlor panel with a resolution of 1920 X 1200 producing up to a billion colors from a huge color gamut that covers 99 percent of Adobe RGB.

It’s capable of user calibration with push-button color space selection and has calibration software for both WIndows and macOS that supports both the X-Rite i1 Display Pro and the Klein Instruments K10-A colorimeters.

If you do color critical work, HP’s new DreamColor Displays, the remarkable Z31x and Z24x, offer compelling choices, no matter what your budget is.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

Review of the HP ZBook 15u G4 Mobile Workstation

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

When we think about workstations for serious production and post work, HP’s line of Z Workstations immediately come to mind. And we’re not talking the huge desktop workhorses such as the towering Z840 (which I have reviewed here), but also HP’s highly esteemed line of ZBook Mobile Workstations which offer intense power in a mobile footprint and are great when you want workstation performance on the go.

The biggest machines in the ZBook line are the ZBook 17 and 15. They’re the ones you want to get if you’re looking for a muscular mobile workstation and don’t mind carrying around some extra weight.

However, for those who don’t want to lug around the extra pounds, HP makes two slimmer mobile workstations which they call their “Workstation Ultrabooks”. The premium of the two is the ZBook Studio which offers remarkable power for its size.

The other ultra light mobile workstation in HP’s ZBook line is the HP ZBook 15u G4 Mobile Workstation which has just been released and updated from it’s predecessor, the G3.

I’ve created a video review of the machine which includes an unboxing and thorough examination of the machine. So check out the video and read on when you’re done:

The ZBook 15u G4 is HP’s super slim entry level Workstation Ultrabook. That means not only does it deliver high performance in a very small footprint, but it does so at an extremely attractive price tag.

As soon as I pulled the 15u G4 out of the box, I was immediately impressed by how truly slim and light it was for a workstation class machine. It weighs just 4.18 lbs and 19.9mm wide.

The ZBook 15u G4 is HP's Workstation Ultrabook
The ZBook 15u G4 is HP’s Workstation Ultrabook

Next, I installed a variety of software such as Adobe Creative Cloud, MAXON’s CINEMA 4D and others and set about doing a bunch of tasks such as 3D modeling, rendering, painting and video editing, all of which the 15u handled very well thanks to the new 7th generation (KabyLake) dual core i7-7600U CPU in the heart of the machine. Running Cinebench gave me a result of 371 for the chip. That’s an impressive score for a dual core CPU and an improvement over the previous generation Skylake processors.

Ports of Call

The HP ZBook 15u G4’s I/O ports include a newer USB 3.1 port as well as the more standard USB 3.0 ports (one of which is a charging port). In addition, there is a DisplayPort 1.2 to connect a high resolution external display. Also included is an SD card reader, VGA port, RJ45 Ethernet, media card reader and a headphone/microphone combo jack. Don’t forget to watch the video for a complete examination of the ports.

The 15u G4’s backlit keyboard features a full numeric keypad, something that I prefer to have on a keyboard. It’s got a spill resistant design as well as pointing device built into it. There’s also a 720p webcam and microphone over the display.

The backlit keyboard includes a numeric keypad and a pointer
The backlit keyboard includes a numeric keypad and a pointer

Speaking of the display, the machine I reviewed had a full HD (1920 X 1080) Touchscreen display. You also have the option of getting a UHD display (3,840 X 2,160). If you plan on showing your screen to large groups of people, I suggest that you buy the ultra wide viewing angle option when you purchase the machine, otherwise image quality will not be optimal when looking at the screen from extreme viewing angles.

I usually cover high end machines for production and post. As a result, I’ve never reviewed a machine with a touchscreen. While I don’t consider it a must-have on a mobile workstation, the touchscreen is a nice addition. Besides allowing for tablet-like functionality, it can also be helpful for production work. In Photoshop you can use it to pinch, move or rotate your image and it’s also comes in handy when doing 3D or video editing. Of course it’s a great to have when browsing through web pages or skimming through YouTube videos.

Looking inside

While the 15u G4 is not meant to be the most expandable machine in the ZBook line, it’s capable of a total of 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2133 memory in the form of two 16 GB SODIMM slots (by the way that’s double the amount that a top of the line MacBook Pro is capable of supporting). That’s a lot of memory for a machine that bills itself as an ultrabook. The machine I reviewed came with 16 GB of RAM, it had two 8 GB DIMMs installed.

The HP ZBook 15u G4 is capable of supporting 32 GB of memory.
The HP ZBook 15u G4 is capable of supporting 32 GB of memory.

For discrete graphics, the 15u has an AMD FirePro W4190M which features 2GB of memory. The W4190M is an ISV-certified professional graphics card with support for OpenGL. It also supports multi-monitors. CINEMA 4D users will appreciate the use of AMD FirePro graphics now that MAXON is incorporating AMD’s Radeon ProRender realistic rendering engine natively into CINEMA 4D R19. For those who prefer NVIDIA graphics, check out the premium ZBook Studio.

For primary storage, the ZBook 15u G4 contains HP Z Turbo Drive G2 (M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD). These super fast SSDs connect directly to the PCIe bus through an M.2 connection and are capable of speeds more than four times faster than a SATA SSD drive. CrystalDiskMark gave me a result of 2,590 MB/s for the Read and 1,410 MB/s for the Write. If you haven’t used HP’s Z Turbo PCIe based storage yet, do yourself a favor and try it out. The PCIe Z Turbo Drives come in 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB configurations.

The HP 15u G4 contains a screaming fast Z Turbo Drive for primary storage
The HP 15u G4 contains a screaming fast Z Turbo Drive for primary storage

For additional storage, the HP ZBook 15u G4 also includes an internal 2.5 inch bay for an additional SATA HDD. That’s handy for storing large files such as video clips, texture maps, 3D renders and more. Between the HP Z Turbo Drive and the SATA drive, the total storage capacity of the machine is 2 TB.

Long Life and Endurance
Battery life on the HP is long thanks to the 51 Whr battery with HP Fast Charge which provides up to 50 per cent battery life after just 30 minutes of charging time. Audio quality is also noticeably good on the 15u G4 thanks to the built in Bang & Olufsen audio system and the HP Clear Sound Amp.

The 51 Whr battery provides long life and charges to 50 percent capacity in only 30 minutes.
The 51 Whr battery provides long life and charges to 50 percent capacity in only 30 minutes.

Being a professional workstation class computer, the HP ZBook 15u G4 has passed 14 Mil-STD tests, more than any workstation in its class, and has undergone 120,000 hours of testing.

The results of the CineBench CPU test
The results of the CineBench CPU test

 

The results of the CineBench GPU test
The results of the CineBench GPU test

Conclusion

The HP ZBook 15u G4 is extremely thin and light for a workstation-class machine. As such, it deserves its Workstation UltraBook moniker. Being HP’s “entry level” mobile workstation, it will appeal to entry-level animators and production artists that need the reliability and performance that a true workstation offers. However, media pros who might be looking for a light workstation to take on long trips may also find the 15u G4 attractive. For those who have more money to spend yet still want a thin and light machine (or in case you want NVIDIA graphics), be sure to check out the ZBook Studio.

However, whoever you are, the HP ZBook 15u G4 Mobile workstation is super slim, light enough to take anywhere, easy on your wallet and packs a powerful punch when it comes to performance. I would recommend this machine.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

Review of the HP Z240: Workstation Power Anyone Can Afford

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

When it comes to powerful workstations, very few make them as good as HP, and practically no one makes them better. Therefore, if you are looking for a machine that can take on serious production and post challenges, an HP workstation should be high, if not at the top of your list.

If money is no object, you can go out and purchase HP’s top of the line workstation, the Z840. With dual Xeon processors, each available with up to 22 cores, the Z840 is a monstrously powerful machine that will have you sailing through practically every post production challenge with ease. I recently reviewed the flagship Z840 (and made a video about it). You can check it out here.

For those who have slightly more modest requirements, the HP Z640 and Z440 mid-range workstation towers, are also available. These two machines sit right below the Z840 in HP’s workstation family and also pack a serious punch.

However, what if you’re just starting out or you’re on a very restricted budget? Does that mean that you’re excluded from having a powerful workstation of your very own? Are you condemned to the sidelines with no hope of owning a real workstation, at least until you can fatten up that bank account of yours.

The answer is no, you don’t have to be left out in the cold even if you are a starving artist. Now you can have a machine that can deliver the power you crave. Not too long ago, HP introduced their new entry level workstation, the HP Z240, a robust and compact machine that offers workstation performance and features at PC-like prices. Now animation students or those just starting in the post production industry can afford to purchase a true workstation-class machine without blowing their entire savings account.

The Video
Along with this written review, I created a video review for your convenience. By watching the video below, you can lean back in your chair and find out all about the HP Z240. However, if you’re sitting on a noisy train or simply prefer to read, you can read the review which continues on beneath the video. Here’s a thought, why not do both?

On the Outside
The HP Z240, in fact, available in a tower or desktop (small-form-factor) model. While the desktop model might be more space efficient (it can sit right under your display), in this review, we’ll focus on the tower design.

My first impression of the machine after removing the protective covering was that the HP Z240 is a stylishly designed black tower that’s that’s 6.7 inches wide, 14.7 inches deep and 15.7 inches high and has a starting weight of around 19 lbs. As we’ll see, it’s also very expandable, yet small and light enough for one person to easily move around their studio and fit into tight or compact areas.

On the front, you’ll find two external 5.25 inch bays. The top bay, on the machine that I reviewed, has a convenient, yet optional handle installed. Beneath the external bays, there’s an HP slim Super Multi DVD drive, power button, 2 USB 2.0 ports (the top of which is a battery charging port), 2 USB 3.0 ports and headphone and microphone jacks.

The face of the tower has a really smart innovation that I have not seen before on any workstation. There’s a removable dust filter on the front which prevents dust from entering the tower. This keeps the internal components of the machine nice and clean, and we all love a clean machine. When it gets dusty, just press on a front panel to pop it out, wipe it off and push it back to replace it.

The HP Z240 comes with an innovative dust filter on the front panel of the machine that can be easily removed and cleaned.
The HP Z240 comes with an innovative dust filter on the front panel of the machine that can be easily removed and cleaned.

The back of the machine features a power connection, legacy PS/2 ports, 2 more USB 2.0 ports, RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet, 2 DisplayPort 1.2 outputs and a DVI-I port that can be used for Intel integrated HD graphics (though you’ll probably want to install a dedicated GPU for that), 4 more USB 3.0 ports, audio in, audio out, microphone jack as well as the display port and DVI outputs from the GPU which we’ll talk about later.

The rear of the HP Z240.
The rear of the HP Z240.

On the Inside
Accessing the interior of the workstation is easily done by removing the side panel from its handle.

Now let’s focus on the CPU. The Z240 I reviewed has a single 4 core, 3.6 GHz Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 processor with an 8MB cache, a capable CPU that can handle many post production challenges. There is a fan mounted right on the processor to keep it cool. There’s also a fan on the back of the machine to keep the air flowing through the system.

The Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 processor in the Z240.
The Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 processor in the Z240.

For Video, the Z240 contained an NVIDIA Quadro K2200 GPU installed into a PCIe x 16 slot. NVIDIA makes some of the best video cards in the business and the K2200 is no exception. It’s got the ability to allow you to work with large complex models thanks to its 4 GB of GDDR5 memory and it’s 640 CUDA parallel processor cores. It can also power up to 4 4K displays at 60 Hz in 30 bit color. The Quadro K2200 has DisplayPort 1.2 as well as DVI-I dual link connections accessible on the rear of the machine.

The NVIDIA Quadro K2200 GPU.
The NVIDIA Quadro K2200 GPU.

The HP Z240 also supports HP’s Z Turbo Drive G2 PCIe based solid state storage cards which offer incredible transfer speeds of over one Gigabyte per second. Z Turbo Drives come in 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB capacities. On this Z240 there are two Z Turbo Drives installed. The first is a 256 GB Z Turbo drive in one of the workstation’s PCIe slots which happens to contain the operating system.

A great new feature of the HP Z240 is the incorporation of an M.2 slot right onto the motherboard which allows you to install expansion and storage cards into your system and, among other things, can access PCI Express lanes without taking up a PCIe slot. The Z240’s second 256 GB Z Turbo drive, is installed there. PCI-e based storage such as those found in the Z Turbo Drive will come in handy in speeding up 4k high resolution workflows or accessing complex 3D data sets. Z Turbo drives can also be put into RAID configurations for even speedier performance.

This Z240 has two ZTurbo Drive G2s. The first one is installed in a PCIe slot under the GPU. The second can be seen in the new M.2 slot on the right in the picture above.
This Z240 has two ZTurbo Drive G2s. The first one is installed in a PCIe slot under the GPU. The second can be seen in the new M.2 slot on the right in the picture above.

The HP Z840 includes one 2.5 inch and two 3.5 inch drive bays. In this bay, there’s a 1 TB SSD which can be used as working drive or for storage. Above the internal drive bays are two 5.25 inch external bays where you can install things like a media card reader. There is also an external slim optical disk drive bay where a DVD drive is installed.

For Memory, the HP Z240 supports a maximum of 64 GB of DDR4 unbuffered SDRAM with very speedy transfer rates of 2133 MT/s. The workstation has 4 memory slots on the motherboard. This machine has a 16 GB DIMM in slots 1 and 3 for a total of 32 GB of memory. You’ll also find a 400 watt, 92 per cent efficient power supply.

You’ll also find a little speaker inside the machine. While you might not want to use it when you record your next album, it’s a very handy thing to have built right into the Z240’s chassis.

For this review, the Z240 tower was paired with a Z23n HD monitor, a nice complement to the Z240. Though it’s not 4k, its 1920 X 1080 resolution is suitable for many projects.

For this review, the worksation was matched up with the HP Z23n HD display, a nice choice for the Z240.
For this review, the worksation was matched up with the HP Z23n HD display, a nice choice for the Z240.

CineBench Tests
For benchmarking, I ran CineBench R15. I started with the GPU test which measures the speed of and rendering capabilities of the NVIDIA Quadro K2200 GPU. The test uses a real time scene which features two cars racing through winding city streets.

The CineBench GPU test result was 119.59 frames per second, an excellent score compared to the other models listed (see image below).

The result of the CineBench GPU test was 119.59.
The result of the CineBench GPU test was 119.59.

Next came the Cinebench CPU test which measures the performance of the 4 core Xeon processor by 3D rendering a finished frame of a sample scene containing lights, shadows, reflections and global illumination. These days final rendering is also done on GPUs thanks to innovative software from OTOY, it is traditionally a function of the CPU and lots of popular rendering software such as Solid Angle’s Arnold are CPU based.

The result of the CineBench CPU test was 839.
The result of the CineBench CPU test was 839.

The CineBench score for the CPU test was 839. In comparison with some other CineBench CPU scores, that’s faster than the 4 core i7s but below a 6 core i7 and lower than a 12 core Xeon. For a four core processor, however, it leads the pack. To see how the Z240 compares with your current configuration, download CineBench and run it on your machine.

Conclusion
To conclude, I think HP’s entry level Z240 is a smartly designed, robust and innovative workstation that offers enough power for a wide range of creative challenges including animation, visual effects, illustrations and digital audio. It’s a great machine for people just starting out that offers true workstation performance and reliability at a price that you might expect to pay for a consumer level PC.

By the way, the Z240 is a good option for those looking to switch over from the Macintosh platform. Apple Macs haven’t kept up on the high end and many Mac Users who work in professional post production environments are looking for a Windows-based workstation for their next machine. The Z240, even though it is HP’s entry-level machine, can be configured similarly to the highest performing Mac Pro.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

Leader of the Pack: Review of the HP Z840 Workstation & Z27s Display

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

If you work in high-end post production, visual effects, animation, video editing, matte painting, audio recording or any creative field for that matter, you probably have already heard about HP’s top of the line workstation, the Z840, found throughout the industry in leading computer animation studios, color suites, editing facilities, production companies and by creative professionals.

In addition to reviewing the Z840 in this article, I will also review the HP Z27s 4k IPS display, a high resolution monitor that offers excellent color fidelity and the ability to reproduce intricate details (as well as plenty of pixels for the user interface).

I’ve created a comprehensive video review of both the HP Z840 workstation and the Z27s display which you can watch below. This article pretty much mirrors the video (with some extra things added to the mix). Depending on your preference you can either watch the video, or read the story. Or you can do both.

Here’s the video review of the Z840:

The first impression one has when removing the HP Z840 workstation from its box that it is one heck of a solid machine, designed to withstand the most demanding and punishing production environments. It’s built like a tank with thick solid metal sides that seem capable of repelling sledgehammer blows or surviving an earthquake.

The machine weighs more or less fifty pounds depending how you configure it with a height of 17.5 inches, width of 8 inches and a depth of 20 inches. It’s not that heavy, but not exactly light either, but workstations are not designed to be ultra light, there made to crunch through the most daunting computing challenges, often needing to render frames 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thankfully there are sturdy handles at the top of the machine that make it easier to move around.

A new Z840 comes with a layer of protective plastic on the side which you’ll probably want to remove. It takes a little elbow grease to peel it off, so make sure you get a good grip. Don’t forget to peel of the plastic covering on the handle while you’re at it.

One of the first things I noticed about the HP Z840 is that it’s darker than its predecessors the Z820 and the original Z800. I prefer the darker look, and think it adds to a classier look.

On the Outside
The HP Z840 Workstation has a chassis that is one of the industry’s most expandable. We’ll take a look at what’s inside of the machine in a bit, but first let’s have a look at the outside.

If you like, you can mount the workstation on a rack with a set of extendable rails which you can purchase separately from HP. This is a handy option for large facilities and machine rooms. More information about rack mounting can be found here.

On the front of the workstation, there’s a slim line optical drive bay, two external 5.25 inch Bays into which you can install things like a front loading media card reader (or more drives), power button, hard drive activity LED, 4 USB ports (the top one has charging capability), headphone jack and microphone jack.

The front of the Z840.
The front of the HP Z840 Workstation.

On the back of the machine, there’s the power connection, a serial port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, audio line in, audio line out, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 RJ-45 Gigabit LAN ports, four displayPort 1.2 connections, One DVI connector, Thunderbolt 2, and a pair of keys which are used lock up the system and keep it safe when you’re not around.

The back of the HP Z840 Workstation.
The back of the HP Z840 Workstation.

On the Inside
Opening the chassis is easily done by pulling the side off from the handle. There’s a handy overview and diagram of the system board laser-etched on the back of the side panel for convenient reference.

Once the side is off, you’re greeted by green touchpoints which help indicate what to remove to access the internal components of the machine. There’s a door at the bottom to access the PCI slots, SATA and SAS ports. Above that is a structure which houses fans designed to cool the CPUs, memory and other components on the system board and is designed to guide the airflow effeciently through the interior.

To  access the interior of the workstation, pull on the handle on the side panel.
To access the interior, pull on the handle on the side panel.
Green touchpoints help guide access to the interior of the workstation.
Green touchpoints help guide access to the interior of the workstation.
The HP Z840 with the panels and fan  structures removed.
The HP Z840 with the panels and fan structures removed.

The Z840’s power supply is removable and is available in 850 or 1125 watt options. Being able to remove it makes it convenient to replace should something ever go wrong with it.

At the heart of the Z840 are two Intel Xeon E5-2600 Haswell processors which are available with up to eighteen processing cores each. These two have fourteen cores each for a total of twenty eight physical cores and 56 threads. The Haswell processor architecture delivers faster compute performance and feature Intel Advanced 256 bit Vector Extensions,floating point instructions and gather operations which improve codecs, image and digital signal processing and mathematical operations.

The two Xeon processors, which are located behind two large black ventilation housings, also support ECC memory logic and 40 lanes of PCIe Gen 3 i/o for each processor.

The HP Z840's two Haswell Xeon processors.
The HP Z840’s two Haswell Xeon processors.

The HP Z840 has a total of 16 DIMM slots which use new fast DDR4 2133 MHz ECC Memory (a 14% increase in performance speed over DDR3). The Workstation is able to support a maximum of two terabytes of memory if you add sixteen 128 MB DIMMS. That’s quite a lot of memory, if you don’t mind me saying. This system had a total of 64 Megabytes which results from eight megabyte DIMMs installed into eight of its slots.

The Z840 utilitizes PCIe Gen 3 technology which delivers a peak bandwidth of 16 GB/s, twice as fast as PCI Gen/2. There’s a total of up to seven high performance graphics and I/O slots including support for up to three PCIe 3.0 graphics cards in PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. That will be welcome news for 3D artists using GPU rendering software like Octane since the more GPUs you have, the faster the rendering.

The workstation in this review has a Quadro M6000 GPU, NVIDIA’s most powerful pro graphics card. The M6000 features NVIDIA’s powerful Maxwell GPU architecture, 3072 CUDA parallel processing cores and 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM with an ultra fast memory bandwidth of 317 GB/s. In addition the Quadro M6000 has a new display engine that drives up to four 4k displays natively with DisplayPort 1.2 support for high resolutions like 4096 X 2160. Four 4K displays, can you imagine how cool that would be?

The NVIDIA Quadro M6000 GPU.
The NVIDIA Quadro M6000 GPU.

Underneath the Quadro GPU, there was an HP Thunderbolt 2 PCIe I/O card in one of the PCI slots which provides 20 Gb/s of data in each direction, four times the speed of a USB 3.0 connection. The card also provides DisplayPort 1.2 capability with multi-stream transport support. Thunderbolt is a great connection for simultaneous 4k video capture and display as well as allows you to connect external GPUs and RAIDs to your system.

Beneath the Thunderbolt card in the Z840 is a 512 Gigabyte HP Z Turbo Drive G2. If you haven’t heard about HP’s Z Turbo Drive, it’s an innovative and revolutionary PCIe based SSD storage solution which uses Samsung’s NVMe technology. It allows for ultra-fast storage speeds and is great for things like 4k video editing among other things. Just how fast is it? We’ll talk about that in a minute.

The Z Turbo Drive G2 is a very fast PCIe based SSD storage solution.
The Z Turbo Drive G2 is a very fast PCIe based SSD storage solution.

Near the front of Z840 are four internal drive bays which are easily removed by a handle. The first two bays each contain 512 gigabyte SSDs which have been configured into a 1TB RAID. Under those was another SSD which was not part of the RAID. At the bottom of the stack was a 2TB spinning hard disk drive which can be used for storage and backup, or as a working drive if you like. Above the stack of hard drives are two more 5.25 inch external hard drive bays.

Speed Tests and Benchmarks
I used CrystalDiskMark to check the speed of the drives. I had heard that the Turbo Drive G2 was fast, and it certainly was. In the chart below, I’ve included results for the sequential reads and writes. As you can see, with a speed of 2,235 MB/s, the Z Turbo Drive G2 is more than four times faster than the SSDs.

A comparison of the drive speeds in the Z840.
A comparison of the drive speeds in the Z840.

However, if you think that’s fast, and it is, you’ve got another thing coming. The new Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro from HP is a new storage solution which effectively puts four M.2 Turbo Drive G2s in a RAID configuration onto a PCIe Express 3.0 x 16 card. Not only does that give you more storage space than a single Z Turbo Drive (up to two terabytes), but thanks to the RAID configuration, the Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro delivers speeds up to 9 GB/s. That’s more than sixteen times faster than an SSD and four times faster than a single Z Turbo Drive. Those are incredible, jaw dropping speeds and very useful for high resolution workflows. The nice thing is that it comes at a modest price too. Definitely worth looking into, in my opinion.

The new Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro combines 4 Z Turbo Drives onto one PCIe x16 card.
The new Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro combines 4 Z Turbo Drives onto one PCIe x16 card.

Cinebench is comprehensive benchmarking software that measures the performance of the CPU and GPU. I started with the GPU test which, in this case was the Quadro M600M. During the test, it runs a real time 3D animation of a car race that includes lighting, reflections, shadows and texture maps to see haw quickly the graphics card is able to render it.

The result of the GPU test was 145.61 frames per second. As you can see in the ranking, that blows the other graphics cards listed beneath it out of the water. To see how the Quadro M6000 compares to your graphics card, download Cinebench and run it on your own computer.

Results of the Cinebench GPU test.
Results of the Cinebench GPU test.

Next, I ran the CPU test which is comprised of a 3D render that includes reflections, global illumination, transparency and other advanced rendering challenges. The results of the CPU test was 3285. an extremely fast and impressive result and substantially faster than I have ever seen.

Results of the Cinebench CPU Test.
Results of the Cinebench CPU Test.

After I examined the internals and externals of the HP Z840, What else can you say but Wow. Between the powerful 14 core dual Xeons, fast DDR 4 2133 MHz memory, top shelf NVIDIA Quadro M6000 GPU, Z Turbo Drive G2 and Thunderbolt 2 ports this is certainly one of the most advanced and capable workstations on the planet that will help you realize your visions whether you are a filmmaker, animator, visual effects artist, digital painter or music producer.

HP has a great legacy in engineering and systems design which goes all the way back to the beginning of Silicon Valley. In the Z840, they have created a machine that represents the latest and greatest in workstation design.

The HP Z27s

If you work in 4K or just want more pixels to work with, you’ll definitely want to check out the HP Z27s IPS UHD 27 inch Display. It’s an Ultra High Definition (UHD) monitor with a resolution of 3820 x 2160 pixels. The Z27s has an sRGB color gamut with 1.07 billion colors for vivid and detailed color reproduction. Being an IPS display, it also has wide viewing angles of 178 degrees which makes it useful for presentations or work reviews with your team. You can even mirror your smart phone or tablet to the large screen through an MHL connection that also charges them up at the same time.

The HP Z27s IPS UHD 27 Inch Display
The HP Z27s IPS UHD 27 Inch Display

The Z27s comes with a collection of cables such as DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort, as well as a CD which contains drivers for the display.

The monitor swivels from side to side and can be lifted higher and lower as you like. You can also rotate the display 90 degrees and use it vertically. This can be useful if you are working on a tall matte painting, for example.

There are two Super Speed USB 3.0 ports conveniently located on the side of the Z27s in addition to the main connections which are under the display panel which include Display Port 1.2, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4, MHL 2.0, USB 3.0, and audio connections.

I displayed several 4k images on the monitor and they were stunning to look at. I recommend you have a look with your own eyes. It is almost impossible to distinguish the individual pixels unless you look through a magnifier. The images appeared to be continuous tone with tiny miniscule details all rendered perfectly. The only thing better than this monitor is having two of them connected to your system, or why not three or four since the NVIDIA M6000 supports up to four 4k displays.

Images have stunning detail in 4k.
Images have stunning detail in 4k.

I used the HP Z840 and the Z27s disply to edit the video above in Premiere Pro. The HP Z80 was very snappy and responsive, just as you would expect with smooth scrubbing and playback, and the UHD display provided plenty of pixels to work with. In this case I worked at 1080p HD and was able to view the full image at 100% with plenty of room left over for the timeline and control panels. Next I opened a large Pro Tools project. Again, the 4k display provided ample room for the project window, mixer, midi editor and plug in controls, while the dual Xeons in the Z840 provided more than enough power to drive Pro Tools’ audio engine.

Editing a video in 1080p with Premiere Pro at 100% on the HP Z840 and the Z27s.
Editing a video in 1080p with Premiere Pro at 100% on the HP Z840 and the Z27s.
Using the Z27s with ProTools leaves plenty of pixels to work with.
Using the Z27s with ProTools leaves plenty of pixels to work with.

When using a 4K monitor, you might find that the menus and icons may seem a little small. I don’t mind small menus, keep in mind that Windows 10 has new scaling options for 4K displays. The machine I reviewed shipped with Windows 7, the operating system many still prefer since they can depend on its proven reliability. Personally I like Windows 10, but can understand if some are nervous about driver incompatibility.

The HP Performance Advisor
There’s a nice piece of software that comes with every HP workstation called the HP Performance Advisor that I demonstrated in the video and which I think is worth mentioning. You can use it to get all kinds of useful information about your system such as memory, drives, PCIe cards, processors and much more. Rather than describing it here, you can see it in action in the video (Maybe there is a reason to both watch the video and read the story as well after all).

Conclusion
What is a workstation? A very powerful computer? A movie making machine? A recording studio in a box? An artist’s creative playground? An enabler of dreams? A partner that helps you realize your wildest creative visions? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Its all of those things and more and the HP Z840 is the latest incarnation of the world’s leading workstation. Paired together with the Z27s 4K IPS display and you’ve got an unbeatable powerhouse of a system that can take you to new heights of creativity limited only by your imagination. More information about, as well as pricing details about the Z840 can be found here. To find out more about the HP Z27s UHD display, click here.

Note: If interested, you can see my review of the HP Z840’s predecessor, the Z820, by clicking here.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

HP Reveals Exciting New ZBooks at Their Global Workstations Event in New York

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

Last week, after much anticipation, HP rolled out their fleet of new ZBook mobile workstations to an assembled audience of journalists and industry analysts at their Global Workstations Event on the West Side of Manhattan. Aside from this article all about the new machines (and the event), there is a link to a video I made about it at the end of the article.

Professionals know that HP is the world’s leading manufacturer of workstations, consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with both tower and mobile units. HP workstations offer among the highest levels of performance in the industry often with surprisingly attractive price tags — performance that often leaves competitors like Apple and Dell far behind.

The New ZBook Studio

As executives from HP’s workstation division including Jeff Wood, Jim Zafarana, and Josh Peterson began to describe the new machines to us at the announcement, it was clear that they were about to introduce something special. Though they gave mention of the recently introduced Z240 workstation, which I wrote about here, this time, however, the rollout was not about big-iron workstation towers and desktops, but new mobile workstations (though several products related to desktop workstations were also introduced which we’ll discuss below).

Jeff Wood kicks off HP's Workstation event in New York City as assembled journalists and industry analysts watch and listen.
Jeff Wood kicks off HP’s Workstation event in New York City as assembled journalists and industry analysts watch and listen.

The new mobile workstations are not just refreshed models of previous models. They’ve been completely redesigned and not only offer unparalleled power in a mobile unit, but the latest technological innovations as well.

In the case of the HP ZBook Studio, a brand new mobile workstation which HP is calling the world’s first quad core Ultrabook (which means ultra slim design, ultra portability and ultra high battery life), HP has introduced a machine that could very well revolutionize the market and is their thinnest and lightest full performance portable machine to date.

The new HP ZBook Studio. Sleek, light and very powerful.
The new HP ZBook Studio. Sleek, light and very powerful.

The ZBook Studio starts at just 4.4 lbs with a thickness of only 18mm. My last portable machine was around 8 lbs, much less powerful and was a real drag to lug around. Suddenly airline flights will become a lot easier for those who want to do serious work on the road.

In addition to being extremely thin and light, the ZBook Studio features not only Intel Core processors, but Intel’s industrial strength Xeon processors, which is the first time I have heard of them being put in a laptop. Another thing I really like is the fact that you can put dual 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s for a total of 2 TB of storage. For those of you aren’t familiar with HP’s turbo drive technology, it is basically solid state storage that goes right into the PCIe bus delivering performance levels much faster than SSDs.

The ZBook Studio closed. Ultrabook design, workstation power.
The ZBook Studio closed. Ultrabook design, workstation power.

If you need more disk space to work with, you can connect external storage to the two built-in Thunderbolt 3 ports. Thunderbolt 3 was introduced in June and offers incredibly fast transfer speeds of 40 Gbps. It wasn’t all that long ago that I gushed about Thunderbolt 2’s speed of 20 Gbps, double the speed of the original Thunderbolt’s 10 Gbps. Naturally, with a speed of 40 Gbps, Thunderbolt 3 is great for external storage, as well connecting external video cards for GPU 3D rendering, a technique that has, in the past year or so, become a popular alternative to brute force CPU rendering. One Thunderbolt port can also support two 4K displays and according to Intel’s website can transfer a 4K movie in 30 seconds (even with compression that is very fast).

The ZBook Studio also allows for up to a hefty 32 GB of ECC memory as well as powerful new NVIDIA GPU options such as the NVIDIA Quadro M1000M 2 GB GDDR5. Of course you can opt for integrated Intel HD graphics 530, though it’s not such an attractive option for graphics pros.

HP's Josh Peterson gave an in-depth description of the technology that went into the new ZBook Studio.
HP’s Josh Peterson gave an in-depth description of the technology that went into the new ZBook Studio.

In addition to these features, the ZBook Studio also offers an optional HP award-winning DreamColor UHD or FHD display (available as a touch display). The ZBook Studio also includes dual cooling fans.

The ZBook Studio will be available in December starting at $1,699.

More ZBooks

Besides the ZBook Studio, HP also introduced three more ZBook Mobile Workstation models, which contain the latest innovations in GPUs, CPUs and displays, but also are dramatically thinner and lighter than their predecessors.

The HP ZBook 15u is a workstation Ultrabook and is a nice combination of mobility and affordability. This low-cost compact machine can be configured with up to 32 GB of RAM, AMD FirePro professional graphics with a 2GB frame buffer, HP Z Turbo Drive G2, 1.5 TB of total storage, and an FHD touch display (1920 X 1080 pixels). The ZBook 15u is planned for availability in January starting at $1099.

The HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation: Affordable performance.
The HP ZBook 15u G3 Mobile Workstation: Affordable performance.

The HP ZBook 15 is the next generation of the world’s top selling mobile workstation, according to IDC Worldwide workstation tracker for Q2 2015. HP has redesigned the ZBook 15 inside and out and the result is that it is 27 percent thinner and 7 percent lighter than the previous generation. In addition the ZBook 15 boasts an impressive 27 percent increase in battery life over the previous generation. It’s got a 15.6 inch diagonal display and can be configured with Intel Core or Xeon processors, an impressive 64 GB ECC memory, two 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s with (a total of 3 TB of storage), two Thunderbolt 3 ports and optional HP DreamColor UHD or FHD touch displays. Pricing is not yet available.

The HP ZBook 15: The world's best selling mobile workstation.
The HP ZBook 15: The world’s best selling mobile workstation.

The HP ZBook 17 represents the utmost in power and performance in HP’s mobile workstation line. The latest incarnation of this 17.3 inch powerhouse features a whopping 67 percent increase in battery life. It is also 11 percent lighter than its predecessor. You can configure this machine with Intel core or Xeon processors, up to 64 GB ECC memory, two 1 TB HP Z Turbo Drive G2s (for a total of 4 TB of storage), two Thunderbolt 3 ports and optional DreamColor UHD or FHD touch displays. Something that really sets the HP ZBook 17 apart from its siblings is its ability to support an NVIDIA M5000M Quadro graphics with an 8 GB frame buffer. That is serious graphics performance for a mobile workstation. Pricing is not yet available.

The HP ZBook 17: HP's largest and most powerful mobile workstation.
The HP ZBook 17: HP’s largest and most powerful mobile workstation.

Actually, the ZBook Studio, ZBook 15 and 17 all feature new NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics which provide nearly two times the performance of previous generation graphics. These systems also offer a choice of Intel Iris Pro Graphics P580, Intel HD graphics P530 or Intel HD graphics 530 for those with less serious graphics demands.

Other ZBook Considerations

HP makes sure their new workstation designs undergo strict tests by independent third parties such as MIL-STD 810G, a rugged United States military standard that tests environmental conditions such as pressure, temperature, shock, moisture, dust, atmosphere, humidity, vibration and others including a 30 inch drop test performed 36 times. All in all there are over 15 grueling tests.

The entire HP ZBook mobile workstation family.
The entire HP ZBook mobile workstation family.

All HP ZBooks also come preloaded with HP Remote Graphics Software, a useful application that allows for effective remote collaboration, especially handy for graphics applications. With it, you can harness the raw power of advanced graphics workstations over a network. ZBooks also come with HP Performance Advisor, software that gives you all sorts of insight into the internal components and performance of your machine, as well as HP Velocity for more reliable and fast network performance.

Also introduced at the Global Workstation Launch Event was the new ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3. This new mobile workstation dock allows users to link up to 10 devices at once through ports that include Thunderbolt 3 (with support of DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2, and PCIe), four USB 3.0, RJ-45, VGA, combo audio, and two additional DisplayPorts. A useful thing to have around.

An aerial view of the new HP ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3
An aerial view of the new HP ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3

Other Announcements

While the big news at HP’s event was mainly about the new ZBooks, there were some other interesting product announcements for desktop workstations. The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro combines up to four super-fast HP Z Turbo Drive G2 modules into one PCIe x16 card, can support up to 2TB, and delivers sequential performance up to, wait, you might want to sit down for this one, 9.0GB/s. That is basically 16 times faster than a standard SSD drive, an unprecedented level of performance that is perfect for today’s high resolution workflows of 4K and beyond. The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro can be used with HP Z440, Z640 and Z840 Workstations. A card with four 256GB modules will cost $1,376.

The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro allows you to combine an array of four Z Turbo drives in one PCI x16 card.
The HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro allows you to combine an array of four Z Turbo drives in one PCI x16 card.

HP also introduced the new HP Z Cooler, an ultra quiet cooling solution designed to reduce system noise in HP Z Workstation environments which is perceived as being 40 percent quieter to the human ear compared to previous generations. This is an important development, not only to cut down on distracting noise, but is an absolute necessity for sound studios and music producers who need absolute silence during recording. The HP Z Cooler works with the HP Z440 and Z840 Workstations. It’s available now for a price of $120.

The HP Z Cooler: An innovative new workstation CPU cooler.
The HP Z Cooler: An innovative new workstation CPU cooler.

On the display side, HP also introduced the HP Z22n and HP Z23n Narrow Bezel IPS Displays. These are the narrowest three-sided displays from HP, and are nearly borderless on three sides. They’ve got a 178-degree viewing angle IPS technology and the color gamut is calibrated to 95 and 96 percent sRGB for optimal color quality. The HP Z22n and Z23n are available now and priced at $209 and $229 respectively.

The HP Z23n narrow bezel IPS display
The HP Z23n narrow bezel IPS display

Concluding Thoughts

HP’s new ZBooks are perfect for filmmakers, post-production professionals, video editors, music producers and creative artists of all kinds who need serious mobile power. 3D animators, visual effects artists and colorists have longed recognized the power of HP workstations. They’re being used in top studios like DreamWorks Animation and many others on countless blockbuster movies. Video editors and music producers who may have traditionally used Apple MacBooks have also recently come on board, recognizing the superior performance HP offers both in their tower and mobile workstation designs.

This may have something to do with the perception that Apple has lost interest in the pro market. It is a reasonable assumption. With droves of kids (and adults) streaming into their stores for the latest phones and gadgets to play their favorite pop songs or for Netflix binge watching, it looks like the Cupertino company has enough work on their hands without worrying about the needs of the professional market.

If you think about it, the consumer, rather than the professional, has always been important to Apple. Even going back to the original Macintosh 128K, if you look at its original marketing materials, was aimed at common people, housewives, and students and was originally designed to be an appliance computer. When it was adopted by the desktop publishing industry and then the video industry, it wasn’t really due to Apple that people started thinking of it as a “graphics” machine. It was due to the efforts of companies such as Adobe and Avid who developed applications for it like Photoshop, After Effects, Pro Tools and Media Composer. These applications are all easily available on both platforms today.

HP’s products, on the other hand, have long enjoyed a solid technological reputation as being designed by and for engineers. So it’s no surprise that their machines excel at high-end, industrial strength environments. That’s why serious 3D computer graphics and animation pros (as well as scientific applications) have always been, for the most part, the province of Windows (and Unix) machines and why artists today are also choosing them to run Adobe’s Creative Suite, Pro Tools and other critical creative applications.

Stephen Hunter from NASA explained why he relies on HP workstations.
Stephen Hunter from NASA explained why he relies on HP workstations.

On that note, at HP’s event last week, an interesting presentation was given by Stephen Hunter who works at NASA. He discussed how HP’s mobile workstation are relied upon by the International Space Station. Hunter stressed that any piece of equipment that goes into space must not only be technologically advanced, but must be extremely rugged and reliable. The lives of the astronauts depend on it.

By the way, I also made a video version of this article on YouTube that has more images of the machine, as well as a few other things. Click here to watch the video.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

The New HP Z240 Workstation: Power at a Price Everyone Can Afford

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

HP is the market leader in workstations, the real workhorses of our industry. Workstations are a class of computer that not only provide higher levels of performance and expandability, but the durability that is necessary with demanding workloads. At the top of HP’s workstation line is the HP Z840, a machine that oozes power and performance. Next in line are the Z640 and Z440, both powerful machines in their own right. Rounding out the workstation line is the new and improved Z240, HP’s update to the popular Z230 entry-level workstation which comes in both tower and small form factor (SFF) models.

Last week I met with HP at their new product event in New York to learn about the HP Z240 from Andrew Willard, global product manager for entry workstation platforms at HP. Andrew gave me a rundown of all the features found in this compact, yet robust, machine that will no doubt attract users who may not require the top of the line, but still want to get serious bang for their buck. I was impressed by the Z240’s features which I will speak more about below.

First, here’s the video I made at the event:

With a price point that is similar to a desktop PC (around $879), the HP Z240 will appeal to a broad range of users including those starting out in the industry looking for their first workstation and have a limited budget to spend. Facilities or large studios needing a fleet of workstations for their artists to use will also find an attractive solution in the Z240. Of course the Z240 is a natural choice for film or art school. Finally, prosumers looking to step into the world of workstations will find in the Z240 an affordable machine that will put more emphasis in “pro” than in “sumer”.

Whether you are doing 3D, video editing or designing media, the Z840 boasts a long list of innovative enhancements and features that is remarkable for an entry level machine.

The new HP Z240 comes in tower and small form factor models
The new HP Z240 comes in tower and small form factor models

One of the most exciting features is a new M.2 slot which is integrated directly on the motherboard that provides the same bandwidth of PCIe. With the M.2 slot, you can install expansion cards and connectors as well as a Z Turbo drive into your system without tying up a PCIe slot. So if you want a second graphics card or a Thunderbolt card into a PCIe slot, let’s say, you don’t have to abandon them to install a Z Turbo Drive. If you don’t, you can add a second Z Turbo Drive to your system for a total of two. That’s nice too.

For those of you unfamiliar, HP’s Z Turbo Drives are a high performance storage solution that plugs into a PCIe or M.2 slot. Z Turbo Drives provide amazing speeds up to four times that of SSD making them ideal for things like editing 4K video.

The Z240 sees the implementation of removable dust filters which help reduce dust up to 47 percent in the system. This seems like such an obvious thing to have in a workstation, but for some reason I don’t recall having seen them before. I am sure that many of us have opened our machines before, for whatever reason, and have been dismayed by the amount of dust that collects on the inside. Hopefully with dust filters, that will no longer be such an issue. Good idea HP.

The Z240 features removable dust filters. Now, that's a good idea.
The Z240 features removable dust filters. Now, that’s a good idea.

HP has removed the old legacy PCI slot in the Z240 which they claim is used by less than 2 percent of their customers. If you’re one of those 2 percent, don’t worry. They’ve also designed a plug-in card that you can use for legacy cards. Removing the slot from the motherboard allows for innovations such as the M.2 slot.

One of the nice things about the Z240 is its compact size which is important for tight spaces like cubicles or dormitory rooms. HP was able to reduce the motherboard on the tower by 10 percent as well as simplifying cable layouts.

The interior of the Z240 tower. Featuring a redesigned motherboard,  simplified cable layout, an M.2 slot and 64 GB of DDR4 ECC memory.
The interior of the Z240 tower. Featuring a redesigned motherboard, simplified cable layout, an M.2 slot, 64 GB of DDR4 ECC memory and ambient thermal sensors for better management of acoustics and thermals.

To make it easier to move it around, the Z240 tower now features integrated front and rear handle ledges. This is usually seen on the high end workstation models, and its nice to see it on the Z240. In addition, their have been improvements to the design of the internals of the machine for more efficient air flow and enhanced acoustic performance.

Speaking of air flow and acoustics, HP has integrated ambient temperature sensors on the motherboard of both the tower and SFF systems, including for the power supply. This results in better cooling and quieter operation. You can also control the sensors through the BIOS for better management of system thermals and acoustics (see the video for more information).

The Z240 Workstation Tower has ledges on the front and back for easy maneuvering.
The Z240 Workstation Tower has ledges on the front and back for easy maneuvering.

The HP Z240 now features up to 64 GB of DDR4 ECC memory, that’s a 100 percent increase in memory capacity from the previous Z 230 and provides most users enough RAM for ambitious 3D models and simulations. While I prefer a tower myself, those who want the smallest footprint possible can opt for the small form factor Z240 which is 57 percent smaller than the tower.

The Small Form Factor version of the HP Z240 is made for tight spaces.
The Small Form Factor version of the HP Z240 is made for tight spaces.

The HP Z240 Tower and Z240 SFF offer a choice of future Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5 product families, as well as Intel Core processors. In addition, both models will support two ultrafast HP Z Turbo Drive G2s and are available with Windows 7, Windows 10 or Linux operating systems. Availability is expected in November.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

HP’s Hot New ZBooks, Virtual Workstation and Displays

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
 

Along with the new year comes news of exciting products from HP which they will be unveiling at CES 2015. On the list are powerful new workstation products as well as innovative displays.

In workstations, nobody quite does it like HP and that’s why they’re number one in industrial strength machines with their Z Series line. You’ll find their workstation towers (such as their mega-powerful Z820) commonplace in animation studios, editorial houses, and color suites all over the place.

The HP Z family of workstations, both towers and mobile, lead the workstation market today.
The HP Z family of workstations, both towers and mobile, are market leaders.

Along with the Z workstation towers are their highly rated and esteemed series of mobile workstations. The HP ZBooks, which combine extreme performance with stylish and sexy looks in a compact machine, offering workstation power on the go.

New ZBooks

First up are the HP ZBook 14 and 15u G2 Mobile Workstations. These ZBooks focus on leading in price and performance and both look to be a great choice for entry level users or those seeking a powerful mobile workstation at an affordable price.

The ZBook 15u, for example, features a 15.6 inch diagonal high performance screen while the ZBook features a 14 inch display. They come with 5th generation Intel Core processors and now include professional AMD FirePro 3D graphics (NVIDIA graphics are available on other ZBooks such as the top of the line ZBook 17 G2 mobile workstation). The ZBook 14 also features an optional touch display.

The new ZBook 14 and 15u offers great performance at a cost that everyone can afford whether you work at a large studio or are an independent creator.
The new ZBook 14 and 15u offers great performance at a cost that everyone can afford whether you work at a large studio or are an independent creator.

Both of the new ZBooks allow memory capacity up to 16 GB (an ample amount for a mobile machine) as well as 1.25 TB of storage. The ZBooks also include connections for the HP Z Turbo Drive, an innovative new type of storage. Not quite an SSD drive, the Z Turbo drive is essentially PCIe connected solid state storage. By connecting directly to the bus, the Z Turbo Drive offers twice the performance of SATA SSD. Note that this extremely fast storage solution is also available on Z Series towers and offer read performance speeds of an unprecedented 1 GB/s. Wow. To read more about HP Z Turbo drives, click here.

The new ZBook mobile workstations are rugged and reliable, having undergone 115,000 hours of testing by HP and will be available this month. Pricing starts at $1,249 and $1,199 respectively.

The DL380z Virtual Workstation

Rather than buying a new workstation for everyone in your studio, including freelancers, how about giving them a virtual workstation? You can with the HP DL380z Virtual Workstation Gen 9 which offers Z Workstation power with data security and is able to be accessed from virtually anywhere with PCs, thin clients, notebooks, and even tablet devices. The new DL380z is more powerful, has more integrated I/O and more expandability than the previous generation and pro 3D animators will certainly dig the latest crop of professional graphics cards in the DL380z, such as NVIDIA GRID.

The HP DL380z virtual workstation allows you to connect any device, such as the thin clients pictured here. Now, everyone in your organization can get access to workstation power.
The HP DL380z virtual workstation allows you to connect any device, such as the thin clients pictured here. Now, everyone in your organization can get access to workstation power.

The new DL380z s powered by the latest E5 v3 processors with up to 36 cores, 3.5 GHz and an incredible 1.5 TB DDR4 2133 MHz of memory. It also has a 2U rack mount and can run on either Windows or Linux with central management that helps keep sensitive data secure by only transmitting encrypted pixel data over a LAN or WAN.

Together with HP RGS (Remote Graphics Software) the DL380z works even over long distances and shoddy network connections. Note that HP RGS 7.1 is expected to ship in April 2015 and boasts a 60 percent performance boost. To those who work in motion media, HP RGS 7.1 (which HP calls “the best-in-class remote graphics software”) now supports higher resolution displays and perfect image playback allowing users to edit remotely without limitations. In addition, RGS 7.1 allows allows increased collaboration abilities for Wacom tablet users.

A shared, virtual workstation solution sounds like a great idea to me, especially if I wanted to provide a team of artists and animators with great performance without giving each of them a big tower. They’d also be able to connect at home using an ultra thin client. Is this the future of workstations? I’m not sure, but the concept of shared resources like this seems to make a lot of sense to me.

The HP DL380z Virtual Workstation is available for purchase now.

Virtual Reality Returns

Next on the list are some exciting new displays including the debut of nothing less than an interactive virtual reality display as well as 4K and 5K ultra high-definition displays. There are also new curved displays. At a sneak peek of HP’s new products in New York, I was able to preview the new displays (as well as the ZBooks).

At the top of the “Ooh-la-la” list is the HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display. When I sat down for a look at it I was unsure what to expect. After putting on a set of active glasses, I sat down to a demo that consisted of a 3D scene that included a set of objects that I could manipulate with a stylus reminiscent of the kind you would see on a Wacom tablet.

The innovative HP-Zvr allows for the manipulation of 3D objects in a truly immersive three dimensional environment.
The innovative HP-Zvr allows for the manipulation of 3D objects in a truly immersive three dimensional environment.

The results were, frankly, astonishing. Working with the HP Zvr I was able to interactively move and manipulate models in total 3D space in front of my very eyes with remarkable clarity and precision. The experience felt organic and immersive and beyond compare with a 2D display.

I can remember back in the 1990s when virtual reality was a shining new frontier in computer graphics. Somehow it faded away and “virtual reality” slipped into oblivion for reasons I never really understood why. The good news is that it seems to be coming back with technology like the Oculus Rift.

Will the HP Zvr change the way 3D animators and artists work? Well, It will probably take some time before software developers adapt their software to truly take advantage of the HP Zvr virtual reality display and the possibilities it offers, but I hope so. I am very excited by the implications and potential applications this product brings to the scene. We’ll just have to keep an eye out and see where it goes.

The HP Zvr is expected to be available by Spring 2015.

Ultra High Resolution Displays

As 4K video production continues its adoption in the industry, there has become a need for monitors with increasingly higher resolutions.

HP is releasing two 4K monitors as well as a 5K display for the ultimate resolution. With a 5K monitor, you can not only see every pixel in a frame of 4K video, but have additional space for editing timelines, or other control palettes common in visual effects work.

The two 4K 16:9 UHD displays feature 3840 x 2160 pixels of resolution. The HP Z27s has a 27 inch diagonal screen and the HP Z24 is 23.8 inch diagonal. Both support sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts and 1.07 billion colors. Ports include DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, Mini-DP, MHL and USB 3.0. An ergonomically designed stand includes the ability to switch between landscape and portrait modes.

The HP Z27s features 4K Ultra HD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels.
The HP Z27s features 4K Ultra HD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The HP Z27q display has a 5120×2880, 5K wide-color gamut that delivers seven times more pixels than a classic full HD display. This 14.7 million pixel IPS monitor is factory calibrated, has a 16:9 aspect ration, 300 nits luminance and 1.07 billion colors. It also offers picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture, allowing users to display mobile device and PC feeds.

The HP Z27q offers unprecedented 5K resolution, making it very attractive to those working on high resolution film or visual effects projects. Here it is pictured with a mobile device attached to its MHL port.
The HP Z27q offers unprecedented 5K resolution, making it very attractive to those working on high resolution film or visual effects projects. Here it is pictured with a mobile device attached to its MHL port.

The HP Z27s, and HP Z24s displays are expected to be available in January and April respectively. Pricing starts at $749 and $549. The HP Z27q Display is expected to be available beginning in March for $1299.

Other displays

Also on the line up are new curved displays. While I have never worked with one for an extended period of time, I imagine it would provide a more immersive experience, better peripheral vision and more consistent color at the edges.

First up are the HP Z34c, HP ENVY 34c, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c which deliver an elegant curved visual and audio experience with enhanced peripheral readability.

HP-Z34c is an elegant curved 34 inch diagonal display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440,
HP-Z34c is an elegant curved 34 inch diagonal display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440,

The HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c 3000r measure 34-inches diagonally, have a wide 21:9 aspect ratio and support 3440 x 1440 resolution with 98 percent sRGB and a premium 6 watt/channel speakers with DTS Audio.

The 27-inch diagonal, HP EliteDisplay S270c and HP Pavilion 27c 4000r Curved Displays, features a 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio and 95 percent sRGB color gamut.

While not especially high resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, the HP EliteDisplay-S270c may be of interest to those looking to grace their desk with a curved HD monitor.
While not especially high resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, the HP EliteDisplay-S270c may be of interest to those looking to grace their desk with a curved HD monitor.

The HP Z34c and HP ENVY 34c are expected to be available in April at an estimated price of $999. HP EliteDisplay S270c and Pavilion 27c Curved Displays are available now for $399.

All in all, I’d say that this new crop of useful and innovative products by HP is a great way to start out in the new year.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail