Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: HP

A Workstation All-in-One

While consumers know HP for its substantial market share in the world of desktops and notebooks, perhaps more important to HP's bottom line is the company's server and workstation business.  While we all know what servers do there might be some confusion about what a workstation is and what it does.

Workstations are usually defined as computers used by content creators and despite that fact that you burned that DVD of your family vacation, that's not quite the same.  Brands like Xeon, Quadro, FirePro and Opteron are what you will find different in a workstation class computer versus a standard computer or laptop.  And while technology enthusiasts will debate the actual differences between these components, the fact is that the market demands them.

Today we are taking a quick look at the HP Z1 Workstation, a unique workstation in that it resides in the shell of an all-in-one computer.  But not just your normal AIO - this is a 27-in 2560x1400 display with a chassis that opens up for easy access to components inside. 


Once we show you how the processor, SSD, Quadro graphics and everything else works inside I think you will see the appeal of this kind of system even for professionals that require the stability and software support of a workstation class device. Check out our Video Perspective below and then continue on for some more photos and benchmark results from the HP Z1 Workstation!


The side profile shows the HP Z1 is slim enough but still holds a lot of hardware.


You'll find two USB 3.0 ports, Firewire, audio connections and a card reader near the bottom.


The power button, activity lights and eject button live up top.

Continue reading our article on the HP Z1 Workstaion All-in-One PC!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Specs



Courtesy of ECS

As part of their Black Extreme line of motherboards, the ECS Z77H2-AX pairs the promise of performance and a mile-long feature list with looks that could kill. We decided to put this board through the paces, throwing our normal suite of benchmark and functionality tests to see how well it lived up to its reputation. The ECS Z77H2-AX seems to be well priced at its $309.99 base price with all the higher-end features and bling built into the board.


Courtesy of ECS

From the initial unboxing of the board, I was dumbstruck. ECS literally gold-plated every heat-producing surface on this board, giving it a very unique look and feel. The board itself has no shortage of features with SATA 2, SATA 3, mSATA, and eSATA ports, support for 3 different networking types, and enough USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports for anyone.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z77H2-AX Golden Motherboard!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Intro and Tech Specs



Courtesy of ASUS


Today we will be evaluating the ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard on the test bench, evaluating its performance and functionality in various ways to ensure that the board works up to the standards we’ve come to expect from ASUS. At $339 a base price, this Intel Z77 chipset based board is part of the ASUS Workstation series, designed to meet the needs of the harsh corporate and server environments requiring optimal component functioning over a 24/7 timeframe.


Courtesy of ASUS


The P8Z77 WS is a feature-rich solution with dual Intel-based GigE NICs, an ASUS customized UEFI BIOS, and multi-GPU PCI 3.0 support offered innately through the Intel Z77 chipset as well as the integrated LicidLogix Virtu MVP chipset.


Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS P8Z77 WS Workstation Motherboard!!

HP dates NVIDIA on Valentine's Day. We get Z1 workstation.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 17, 2012 - 10:39 PM |
Tagged: workstation, nvidia, hp

Here is a story for the professional computer users out there.

Professionals have standards: be polite, be efficient, and have a multi-year plan to cram as much hardware into a small case as you can seat. NVIDIA and HP have obviously played too much Team Fortress -- or I did -- let us just all three of us have. The engineers have dispensed with the desktop tower and crammed everything in the monitor with their Z1 product series. While not original, it does hold a number of nice features.


… But honestly, what the user really wants is for it to dispense Bonk!

As soon as I read the announcement I immediately jumped over to HP’s product page and confirmed the existence of external display connections. Sure enough, HP did not entirely botch this product and allows the connection of one extra monitor by display port. While being limited to just two monitors is a bit disappointing -- I currently have a three monitor setup -- if they were to introduce a workstation computer with just a single monitor it would have been product suicide. Thankfully they had enough sense.

The real flaunted feature of the Z1 workstation is its ease of upgrade. The included power supply is rated at 400W which to my knowledge is decent for a single-card workstation class computer. HP claims support for up to 2 internal 2.5-inch drives or a single 3.5-inch drive; unfortunately they do not clarify whether you can install all three drives, or if you must choose between the one larger versus the two smaller drives.


HP and NVIDIA go on a date -- they dress workstation classual.

The workstation is expected to start at $1899 when it ships sometime around April. Unfortunately HP’s technical specifications list an Intel Core i3 and Integrated HD 2000 GPU -- most likely to hide the price of the products with the components that you actually want. I guess you will need to wait a couple of months to find out what you will actually be paying.

Source: NVIDIA
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Puget Systems

Configuration and Exterior

Puget Systems has slowly grown to be one of our favorite system builders for those looking to buy rather than build their own PC.  Using off-the-shelf components might seem like a negative but in our mind mixing an upgrade path with small niche features like noise dampening material and a great overall customer buying experience really hit the spot.  For the Sandy Bridge-E launch late in 2011 Puget wanted to send over something just a bit different than normal - a workstation class computer.

The result is the Genesis I based on the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition processor from Intel, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard, 32GB of memory and 250GB Intel 510 SSD.


Puget Systems Build Process

One of my favorite things about the Puget Systems system purchase process is the customer service you get.  The website isn't anything unusual but is completely functional for even novice users. Despite my knowledge of hardware I actually appreciate the fact that Puget does NOT inundate buyers with a selection of 30 motherboards and even the graphics card options are limited to a handful of selected "best choice" by the staff.  


We have previously taken a look at Serenity and Deluge systems from Puget and have been impressed with the build quality and attention to detail they apply.  Each build is continually updated throughout the process and communicated to the buyer via emails with a site portal for photos of your specific rig and even including thermal images of the PC running under load and idle.  It is nice touches like this that really show the company cares about its customers and wants to them to feel attached to the process.

Continue reading our review of the Puget Systems Genesis I Workstation!!