HP Z1 review

12 Jun 2012

Stupendous design, plenty of power crammed in and a stonking screen make the high price worth paying

Price when reviewed: 
3,048(£3,048 inc VAT)
5

The market for all-in-one PCs has been pretty static over the past year or so, with Apple’s iMac and Sony’s VAIOs at the top of the heap, a bevy of consumer machines and business desktops below, and precious little innovation. HP’s Z1 changes all that, with one of the most exciting designs we’ve ever seen.

Initially, it looks like any other all-in-one: it’s a screen on a stand with a computer clamped to the back. Press the green button on the hinge, however, and the Z1’s 27in IPS screen tilts to a horizontal position. A quick tug on two tabs at the bottom of the screen, and the display lifts up like a car bonnet, revealing the PC’s insides.

It’s the Z1’s party piece, and it’s deeply impressive. The screen lifts up smoothly on its own hydraulic cylinder - installed so it can be left to close safely - and the PC’s components are laid bare, most of them in proprietary caddies and enclosures.

On the left-hand side is the power supply, housed in a long, narrow metal shroud, and it’s connected to the PC with a standard 24-pin ATX power plug. The graphics card is a mobile part mounted on a desktop-style card and connected to the board via an MXM PCI Express x16 slot. Beside that is the hard disk, which is held in a plastic caddy that pivots in and out of the case, and next to that is the removable heatsink and optical drive.

Almost all the main components can be removed with a quick tug of a green tab, with a Torx screwdriver needed to remove the Intel Xeon processor and its heatsink. The motherboard itself is accessible, too: the DIMM slots and SATA ports are easy to get at, and the mobile Wi-Fi chip sits in a mini-PCI Express x1 slot with two more of these small ports free alongside it.

HP’s ingenious design extends further than the removable components. There’s only one 3.5in hard disk enclosure, but it’s home to two combined SATA and power connections, with support for RAID0 and 1 included, so in theory you could install a pair of 2.5in drives. Alas there are no preinstalled fittings, so this approach would require a bit of DIY bodging. Elsewhere, two daughterboards are pressed into service: one for the USB sockets, card reader and audio connections on the right-hand side, and another for the four small speakers at the front of the machine. There’s even a diagram of the Z1’s internals on the inside of the lid.

HP Z1

It’s all put together extremely well, with cables hidden and routed between components, and we can’t fault the build quality: the huge stand and sturdy enclosure make for an extremely solid-feeling machine. Its sheer bulk means the act of moving the screen up and down requires a bit of muscle, though.

Don’t for one minute think the internal design is the Z1’s only appealing feature: the IPS panel, for starters is a sterling piece of work. It measures 27in from corner to corner, sports a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and detail is pin-sharp. Theres no sign of backlight bleed at all and weve few issues when it comes to quality. The 472.8cd/m2 brightness level makes for a panel that’s bright without searing your retinas, and the contrast ratio of 637:1 is fine. Colour accuracy is excellent thanks to a Delta E of 2.1 – better than almost everything else out there, and a fine foil for the similarly excellent iMac.

Details

Price ex VAT £2,540
Price inc VAT £3,048
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Screen size 27.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 3.60GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) HP proprietary

Motherboard

Motherboard HP proprietary
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x1 slots free 2
PCI-E x1 slots total 3
Internal SATA connectors 4
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia Quadro 3000M
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Nvidia Quadro 3000M
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Hitachi DeskStar
Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 64MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

Monitor make and model HP proprietary
Resolution screen horizontal 2,650
Resolution screen vertical 1,440
Resolution 2650 x 1440
DisplayPort inputs 1

Case

Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 660 x 419 x 584mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard HP wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 133W
Peak power consumption 271W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 134fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.02
Responsiveness score 0.98
Media score 1.08
Multitasking score 0.99