HP unveils new Z2 entry-level workstations

While HP is emphasizing the new Z240s’ utility as a PC replacement for workstation tasks at a PC price, they also contain several distinct HP engineering enhancements.

HP Z240 Tower Workstatio Dust Filter 300

The HP Z240 tower, with optional dust filter

Today, HP is announcing two new Z2 workstations, the HP Z240 Tower and the Z240 small form factor (SFF) models. HP, the market leader in this segment, is strongly emphasizing price, and that the new machines provide the reliability of a workstation at the price point of a desktop PC. Both list for $USD 879.

The HP Z240 tower model is the next generation update of the Z230, the top-selling entry workstation model.

“The tower workstation has the level of expandability customers demand at a very compelling price point,” said Jeff Wood, VP Worldwide Product Management, Workstation and Thin Client Business, HP. It is targeted broadly at the video editing, MCAD/AEC, education, public sector and image viewing industries – particularly the elements of those segments that have tight budgets.

The SFF version is the latest update of the smaller workstation HP first introduced in 2010, for space constrained environments.

“A key attribute of both is that they are competitively priced to fit the budgets of customers who have in the past used a PC to run AutoCAD,” Wood said. “This will get them to the level of quality which is really required by those application vendors.”

Josh Peterson, HP’s Director, Worldwide Product Management, Workstation and Thin Client Business, HP, also emphasized this theme, and indicated that this is one of the factors that make it a good channel product.

“Many entry CAD customers still use PCs,” he said. “Providing a workstation product at a PC price gives them a product for appropriate for their workflows. The price and value proposition of products like this will also make it a favorite in the channel market.”

Peterson then outlined seven new innovations the Z240s model have over their legacy antecedents.

Peterson acknowledged that the new feature he thinks is most significant sounds mundane – but is not. Optional dust filters can be added to both models to help reduce system dust accumulation by up to 47 per cent.

“I’m the most excited about this dust filter option, which I think is on the next big frontier of innovation,” he said. “Customers talked about maintenance of their systems, and even in clean environments, regularly had to take them into a back room and blow them out with an air compressor. These dust filter options let customers just replace the filter as needed instead of having to blow the workstations out. Customers are excited about this feature.”

An integrated M.2 slot for expansion cards and connectors has been added on both the tower and SFF models.

“Customers are now able to put a Turbo Drive on the motherboard without having to trade off anything else because an integrated M.2 slot frees up a PCIe slot and provides customers more expandability for Turbo Drives,” Peterson said.

The new integrated M.2 slot is possible because HP has removed the legacy PCI slot from the motherboard, replacing it with a plug-in card for easy installation for customers that still use it.

“We removed the legacy PCI slot and made it optional because it is used by less than 2 per cent of customers,” Peterson said.

Another motherboard innovation is new integrated ambient temperature sensors on of both systems. Increased control of the system fans to include the power supply also gives better management of system thermals and acoustics, including the power supply, compared to previous generations.

HP Z240 SFF Workstation 300

The Z240 SFF model

Two of the other engineering innovations are just for the tower model, and one is for the SFF. The tower changes are reducing the size of the motherboard on the Z240 Tower by 10 per cent, and adding integrated front and rear handle ledges to make it easier to move around the office. The SFF change is a re-engineering of the hard drive cage and engineering a custom air duct around the processor, allowing more efficient air flow, enhanced acoustics and a cleaner layout of internal cables.

Other improvements over the legacy models include Intel’s new Skylake architecture as well as a charging port for USBs. The Z240s also become HP’s first entry level workstations with Thunderbolt 2 interconnect technology, and the first with DDR4 DIMM memory.

“For the first time, our entry level workstations support up to 64 GB of memory, which doubles the memory capacity we previously had,” Peterson said. The architecture itself here is unchanged – a two channel architecture with four memory slots. The doubling comes through the DDR4 memory.

The Z240s are available with Windows 7, Windows 10 or Linux operating systems.

The HP Z240 SFF and HP Z240 are expected to be available in November, at that list price of $USD 879.