If you’re in the world of design, whether it be CAD, 3D modelling or architecture, your go-to PC of choice will likely feature the word “workstation” in it.
These kinds of devices are really designed to do two things: stay office bound and run design applications as efficiently as possible.
So where then does HP’s latest Z6 G4 workstation rank when looking at that use case?
Well that becomes a tough question to answer, primarily because I’m not a designer, nor do I have the desire to be one.
That does not mean though, that reviewing the Z6 G4 becomes impossible, as the pillars of any good workstation remain the same regardless of who’s behind the keyboard.
As such I recently gave the Z6 G4 a go to see if it has the processing power necessary to keep designers happy, as well as the functionality to ensure non-designers are catered for.
Before I delve into the specifications and performance of the Z6 (how it will be referred to here on out), let’s take a look at the aesthetic elements of this particular workstation.
Firstly it’s rather imposing. Especially with its stealth all-black design, which HP has made a hallmark of all its workstation offerings.
This particular tower has an almost monolithic look to it. Even when booted up, the sound it makes when turned on makes you think there’s definitely something powerful housed inside.
Luckily the hum it churns out while operating is never overwhelming or distracting, which is worth considering when picking workstations of this size.
Speaking of which, the Z6 is not on the small side at 13.1 kilograms for the basic internal configuration.
I had to lug it to and from the office during the review process, which became a mission in and of itself. Considering you probably won’t shifting the Z6 around your cubicle or office floor much, I guess its hefty weight is neither here nor there in the greater scheme of things.
What’s the Z6 running? Being a workstation, Intel’s Xeon processor is at the core of things here.
The CPU in question is the Intel Xeon Gold 6154, which clocks at a very tidy 3.0GHz and can boost things to 3.7GHz when needed. Added to this is a generous 48GB of DDR4 RAM and a healthy 460 GB of onboard storage, both of which are upgradable and expandable respectively.
Should you be in the market for more power, the Z6 can house an additional Intel Xeon processor to bump up the number of cores to 56 depending on the variant.
While I’m not able to render any original CAD designs or 3D models of my own, I can test out the Z6’s performance with some benchmarks.
For this particular review I’ve opted for UserBenchmark, with it recording a 3D score of 87.3 percent and SSD score of 76.9 percent. This makes the Z6 particularly adept at when a high level of responsiveness is required from processor-intensive tasks, as well as handling 3D-specific applications.
Along with proving to be a powerhouse performer in benchmarking, the other thing the Z6 isn’t short on is ports.
A quick inspection of the tower’s rear panel revealed as many as six USB 3.1 ports, two of which were dedicated for the corded keyboard and mouse included with the review unit. If that’s not enough, a further four more are up front.
Addressing the former for a moment, the keyboard included was a little underwhelming. Mainly as the key presses weren’t deep or particularly satisfying while typing.
Their shallowness and width also meant an above average number of typos filtered into my usual typing experience. As such, I’d rather spring the extra cash to get a different keyboard, but that said, the one offered gets the job done.
Sshifting back to the port setup, HP hasn’t been shy when it comes to Display Ports either, with them being the only real way to connect the Z6 to a monitor. As such, just ensure you have an adaptor or the right cable on hand when setting up this workstation.
Opening up the side panel of this workstation, which has a large “Z” on it to make sure you know which lineup it’s part of, will reveal all the inner components, as well as a great deal of extra space for expansion.
Depending on the type of PCIe setup you opt for, one could have three x4, one x8 or two x16 expandable slots on the inside. As such, the Z6 will definitely have you covered in the port and expansion departments.
So is the HP Z6 G4 worth it? Starting at around R30 000 depending on the retailer, it really makes sense for designers who plan to do most of their work at a single location.
If, however, one wants to be able to work at the office or at home for example, I’m far more tempted to advise one of HP’s smaller portable offerings like the Z2 Mini.
Consequently, making an investment on a device like the Z6 should only be for those that want power, and are willing to sacrifice the ability to do their design work from other locations.