When you buy a workstation PC, you’re buying more than just a desktop equipped with powerful components; you’re also getting better reliability, tested and certified compatibility with professional software, and a design that lets you fix things quickly and minimize downtime. The HP Z230 SFF Workstation does all of this, but it also packs all of this capability into a notably compact package, giving you a full-featured single-processor workstation that you can actually fit on your desk with room to spare. It’s an excellent single-processor workstation for power users that need to share apps and data with content creators and engineers. It’s also an excellent professional grade desktop PC for projects that have deliverables that hinge upon technical specs in your company’s contracts. It’s our new Editors’ Choice for single-processor workstations.
Design and Features
The Z230 is all business, with a basic black metal case. The front face of the workstation is adorned only with a plain ventilation grill, an HP logo badge, and a few ports. The desktop can be oriented horizontally or vertically (using the included vertical stand), and the small form factor—measuring just 3.95 by 13.3 by 15.1 inches (HWD)—means that you can set it up almost anywhere, whether you set your monitor on top of it, stand the desktop behind or beside the monitor, or under your desk.
On the front of the compact tower are four USB ports (two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0), along with one headset jack and a second headphone jack. On the back of the system are six more USB ports (four USB 2.0, two USB 3.0) as well as two PS/2 ports for older peripherals, three full-size DisplayPorts (output from Intel integrated graphics) and both DVI and DisplayPort outputs from the discrete Nvidia Quadro GPU, which is capable of running two displays simultaneously.
Getting into the case for maintenance and upgrades is simple, thanks to an easy open latch that gives you immediate tools-free internal access. Inside you’ll find Nvidia Quadro K600 graphics, and two 500GB Seagate Hard drives (7,200rpm) in RAID 0, with an additional 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). A fourth bay was available for another hard drive or an optical drive. Everything is powered by a 240W power supply, and there’s some room for upgrades—the system with support up to 32GB of RAM, and has several low-profile PCIe ports available.
The combination of 1TB of hard drive space and a 128GB SSD boot drive is a big plus for anyone working with large video files or giant data sets, and HP doesn’t clutter them up with extraneous stuff. Our review unit came with Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) out of the box, along with Office 365 (30-day trial), PDF Complete Corporate Edition, CyberLink Media Suite, and a few Nvidia drivers. For added business functionality, it also features Intel vPro with Intel AMT 9.0. Hewlett-Packard covers the Z230 with a limited three-year warranty, which includes next-business-day parts and labor, and 24/7 phone support.
The Z230 boasts a Xeon E3-1245 v3 processor, clocked to 3.4GHz, and paired with 16GB of RAM. While it isn’t meant to compete against workstations with multiple processors, it definitely has the horsepower you’d expect from a single-chip workstation. It finished PCMark 7 with a score of 5,282 points, outperforming the Editors’ Choice HP Z220 CMT Workstation (4,755 points) and other top performers. It was only beaten by the Velocity Micro ProMagix HD180 Max which was built to compete with multi-chip workstations.
It held its own in Cinebench R11.5, scoring 7.89 points, putting it ahead of the HP Z220 n (7.55 points), the HP Z1 Workstation (7.04 points), and the Dell Precision T1600 (6.87 points), but falling behind the Velocity Micro ProMagix HD180Max (11.05 points) and the dual-Xeon Lenovo ThinkStation C30 (13.04 points).
Multimedia performance was also pretty good, finishing Handbrake in 30 seconds, and Photoshop in 3 minutes 5 seconds. Some if that multimedia prowess can be attributed to the Nvidia Quadro K600, which takes on some of the processing burden. In pure graphics tests, like 3DMark 11, the HP Z230 SFF scored 2,246 points (Entry settings) and 402 points (Extreme settings). While it won’t be enough for step-by-step animating the next Pixar movie, it’s got the chops to handle the visual needs of even the most demanding business users. It’s certainly enough power to check the animator’s’ work, at the very least.
The HP Z230 SFF Workstation delivers everything it promises, like potent performance, reliability to keep you up and running, and a compact design that won’t dwarf you in your office. Engineers and animators might want something with better graphics, like the dual-processor Editors’ Choice Lenovo ThinkStation D30. However, for power users with more modest needs, the HP Z230 is a better buy. It’ll help your workflow, whether you’re a number cruncher or a manager that needs to see plans or blueprints in situ for the approval process. The HP Z230 SFF is our latest Editors’ Choice for single-processor workstations.
|Processor Family||Intel Xeon|
|Storage Type||HDD, SSD|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia Quadro K600|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1128 GB|
|Secondary Optical Drive||None|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc