HP’s iMac-rival – the HP Z1 – is now smaller, cheaper & more powerful

The HP Z1 G3 has a 24-inch 4K screen and is a fifth cheaper than the G2 model.

The HP Z1 is like an Apple iMac, but it’s a workstation. Like the iMac, it’s an all-in-one with the processor, RAM, graphics and storage all sitting behind the screen – so there’s no big desktop chassis to kick every time you sit down at your desk, and the price is lower than an equivalent desktop and monitor combo.

Unlike the iMac though, you’ve got workstation-class components including Xeon processors (though you can have Core chips if you prefer), ECC memory (or not), multiple hard drives and Nvidia Quadro graphics.

I was impressed by last year’s Z1 G2 (i.e. the second generation model) – though it’s screen was no match the 5k iMac’s. The new model is rather different though.

HP says customers wanted a smaller, cheaper model – so the new Z1 G3 has been shrunk from being based around 27-inch screen to a 23.6-inch one. HP says that this makes it 47% smaller, 51% lighter and 21% cheaper – with a price more in line with HP’s entry-level Z240 workstations.

The 23.6-inch screen has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 (aka UHD). HP lists its maximum brightness (300cm/m2) and contrast 1000:1, and says it can output 100% SRGB – but doesn’t mention how much of the Adobe RGB gamut it can output. This is the key figure for creative pros, so it’s omission makes it likely it’s not that impressive.

HP is to offer a version of the Z1 G3 you can draw on, with pen and multi-touch support – but it will appear some time after the non-touch version ships on May 9

Behind the screen is a single Intel Xeon or Core i3, i5 or i7 processor from the latest generation known as Skylake. You can fit 64GB of RAM inside the Z1 G3, up from the G2’s 32GB. For graphics, there’s a choice of either the Nvidia Quadro M1000M with 2GB of graphics RAM, or the M2000M with 4GB.

For storage, you can choose from up to two Z Turbo Drives – which are M.2 drives that connect over PCIe for four times the speed of traditional SSDs – and/or one or two standard SSDs or HDDs. So that’s four drives in total – and you can put the Z Turbo Drives in RAID 0 or 1 configurations (i.e. striped for faster performance or mirrors for a backup if one fails).

One other improvement on the Z1 G2 found on the Z1 G3 are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which offer twice the speed of the Z1 G2’s Thunderbolt 2 ports.

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The design of the Z1 has also changed between generations. Due to the smaller size, you can no longer fold the Z1 down and then pop the screen up like a car bonnet to get inside (to upgrade components, or just because it’s cool in a really nerdy way). On the Z1 G3, you can pop the back off to get access to the components – which is still better than the iMac but much less cool.

We’re expecting a review unit of the HP Z1 G3 soon, so follow us on Facebook or Twitter to read it as soon as it’s out.