Spotlight on Workstations
Jon Peddie
January 30, 2014

Spotlight on Workstations

Jon Peddie Research takes a close look at the HP TouchSmart.

As 2013 came to a close, HP gave the industry's first and only all-in-one workstation, the Z1, its first refresh. As is the norm, the general timeframe was set by Intel's release of Haswell, about one quarter earlier. But this refresh was about more than just a new CPU, and, in fact, its quarter delay from Haswell was explained - and justified - by one of its two big additions in functionality: Thunderbolt 2 I/O. 

Thunderbolt 2 support from Intel (Falcon Ridge) trailed the Haswell release, making HP's creation of a Thunderbolt 2 module for the Z1 lag. Why did HP wait on Haswell just for Thunderbolt 2? Well, while Thunderbolt 2 for other workstations might be a nicety or differentiator that could be added on post-launch, one could argue it's a hard requirement for a Z1-class machine in 2014. And while the Z1 is surprisingly serviceable, adding the module aftermarket would have been much less than ideal.

Thunderbolt 2 option module

(photo: HP)

The Thunderbolt 2 option module for HP's Z1 G2 AiO workstation

Especially given the release of Apple's new Mac Pro, any higher-price tag (though not necessarily "pricy") machine targeting Digital Media and Entertainment (DME) professionals that doesn't include high-performance support for 4K video is going to be a non-starter. While the Z1 has wider appeal than just DME, we think that's the space this product has its primary appeal ... both to existing Intel workstation users as well as potential Apple users considering emigrating off the Mac platform (a trend which is still in play, though very much dampened/slowed by Apple's better-late-than-never overhaul of its Mac Pro).

Thunderbolt 2, however, isn't the only high-profile feature added to the G2 version of the Z1. The other, one we expected might be in the offing for a machine of this type, is touch. Specifically, HP built in Windows 8-compliant, 10-finger multi-touch. Particularly with this machine's ability to "lay back" into a horizontal, tablet-oriented position, touch represents a natural product evolution.

HP Z1G2 Touch with Glass sc

(photo: HP)

10-finger multi-touch is a logical evolution for a Z1 class workstation

In addition to Thunderbolt 2 and touch support, HP made some updates more typical of a generation-to-generation refresh: updated Quadro MXM modules from Nvidia (the same that ship in mobile workstations), Gen 3 PCI Express support (to get the most from those Kepler-based modules), and mSATA support (full-length slot).


Xeon E3, Core i5 and i3 (Haswell generation)


Intel C206 (Cougar Point)


27-inch, 2560x1440 pixel, diagonal LED-backlit IPS display (support for up to 1.07 billion colors)

Brightness: 50 to 380 nits cd/m2

Contrast ratio: 1000:1

Response time: 12 ms (gray to gray)


Multi-Touch: 10 points

Technology: Projected Capacitive Touch

Input: Finger or Capacitive Stylus

Resolution: 25 pixels-per-inch minimum (Win8)

Accuracy: 1 mm to each target & 10% jitter limit on moving (Win 8)


Up to 32 GB ECC DDR3-1600 memory

(4 DIMMs)


One 3.5" drive, or two 2.5" drives, up to 2 TB 10K SATA or 300 GB SSD


Intel HD Graphics 4400 (Core i3), Intel HD Graphics 4600 (Core i5), Intel HD Graphics P4600 (Xeon E3)

Entry 3D: Nvidia K610M (1 GB)

Midrange 3D: Nvidia K2100M (2 GB)

High-end 3D: Nvidia K3100M (2 GB)

Nvidia K4100M (4 GB)


Starting at $2,499

(Source: HP)

The Z1's specifications

No doubt about it, a look at the Z1's specs confirms it's a full-featured workstation. Haswell's integrated GPU has given Intel's processors another big step up in performance, and its price is certainly compelling. That said, we'd still expect the majority of Z1s to ship with one of the four Nvidia Quadro professional-caliber discrete options.