Power and Noise
I mentioned earlier that workstations are typically known for being big and loud. They’re also known for being power-eating monsters. Fortunately, the HP Z200, at least in its small form factor implementation, turns all of that on its side. When set to a balanced mode in the power options dialog of Windows 7, the Z200 drew 42 watts sitting idle at the desktop. Setting it to high performance mode rose the idle power draw rose to 50 watts at idle. Maxing out both the CPU and GPU (we simultaneously run wPrime to saturate the CPU and Furmark for the GPU) only pushed the power draw up to 160 watts. That’s a lot, but not for a workstation. Its average power use is roughly half of the prior generation’s xw4600 that we reviewed. To help make the workstation more efficient, HP uses 89%+ power supplies.
Additionally, the computer is relatively quiet. It does have fan noise, especially at boot, but it’s quiet. Even under load, the fans don’t get loud, and we put heavy processing loads on both CPU and GPU for extended periods of time just to check. HP mentioned that they took special care to minimize noise in their new generation of workstation computers, and it shows. Even in the Z200 SFF, there are rubber gromets which sit in between the hard drive and the metal case. The rubber helps to absorb some of the noise of the drive before the vibrations become amplified by the case. Compared to the old workstation, which used an older drive and sounded like a percolating coffee machine when accessing the disk, this is whisper quiet.
HP set out to blaze a new standard in workstation computing with the Z200 Small Form Factor Workstation, and all I can say is that they succeeded. At a recent event, they introduced the new Z200 SFF by showing off their new high-end workstations, then opening the case and pulling the Z200 out of it. It might be a bit dramatic, but it shows just how much smaller this form factor of workstation can be over alternative models. HP was pretty much the first one out of the gate, but they’re already facing competition from big companies like Lenovo, which introduced its own smaller ThinkStation E20 (come back later in the week for our review!) and smaller companies like Shuttle, which decided to start a workstation line with its own well-known tiny cases.
The Z200 is capable, small and quiet, but it’s also unfortunately pricey. There’s no doubt that HP spent a pretty penny in researching and designing how to build the Z200, but companies have a bottom line. When you can get equivalent hardware in a slightly bigger form factor for a thousand dollars less, you have to wonder if the size is really worth the extra cost. That’s the only real downside to the Z200 (while its expansion options are limited, there are still several). With its build quality, size and powerful CPU, HP’s Z200 SFF has the potential to be a great workstation computer – if you can afford it.
- Great build quality
- Numerous inputs
- Limited to LP graphics cards