Desktop powerhouse

The HP Z2 Mini G3 Workstation is good value for limited use

In computer terms, "workstation" refers to a computer specially designed for various technical or scientific purposes. To that end, many workstations tend to be very powerful, in order to handle the numerous programs and applications necessary in the operations of many advanced technical tasks.

The HP Z2 Mini G3 Workstation fits this bill perfectly, with a 6th-gen Intel-i7 processor (available with Intel Xeon) with integrated graphics, 16GB (with support for up to 32GB) of RAM. It's definitely a powerhouse of a desktop computer, despite its small size, and it even comes at a comfortable price (for those looking for truly powerful desktop computers) of about 32,000 baht.

But as the name suggests, the Z2 Mini is primarily meant for office use or other environments dedicated to work, and is designed specifically for that purpose. While office employees, engineers or architects can make full use of the Z2 Mini's impressive specs, general consumers may find the lack of support for Wi-Fi or the proprietary HP DisplayPorts cumbersome and limiting, despite the Z2 Mini's power.

(Due to limitations of hardware and space, I was not able to test many of the Z2 Mini's advertised features, such as its ability to support up to six separate displays in 4K. This review will be based on a consumer-use perspective.)

Design

Outwardly, the Z2 Mini resembles a corner-less square brick surrounded by a metal frame, with dimensions of approximately 20cm on each side and about 6cm thick, with a weight of about 2kg. As you can guess, the Z2 Mini's size is one of its main selling points and on that front, it delivers. The device is easily placed in a small corner of the desk, in a drawer under the desk or even hung on a wall to save space.

On the sides of the device are a wealthy range of ports, including its three special DisplayPort ports, four USB-3.0 ports (one of which is Type-C), a 3.5mm headphone jack, an Ethernet port and a slot for the power supply. The lack of a thunderbolt port is peculiar, while the total disregard for any other type of display outputs besides the HP DisplayPort connections limits the device's use as a consumer product, as you would need an HP monitor with the same type of ports to work with the workstation. If the device only had an HDMI port, I would love to hang this behind my TV and make it my main entertainment centre.

Another limiting factor is the lack of support for Wi-Fi connections. The Mini Z2 can only connect to the internet with an Ethernet cable connection, a factor that further limits its utility outside of the workplace, as many general consumers may not be able to easily run an Ethernet cable to their router. Those who use Wi-Fi provided by their apartment complex or condo may have a problem with this, as well.

Performance

With the kind of specs the Z2 Mini has, and its purported purpose as a technical workstation, there was never any doubt that it would be powerful. The computer never stuttered or lagged as I used it for work and would only noticeably slow down when running highly-intensive programs like games or graphics-benchmarks at higher resolutions. Its integrated Intel Graphics GPU means it probably won't be able to contend with dedicated gaming PCs, though the option to upgrade to the newer Intel Xeon processors, an additional 16GB of RAM and a 2GB Nvida M620 GPU means the review unit we received is far from the best the Z2 Mini has to offer.

Verdict

While the Z2 Mini is an alluring product due to its form and power, the fact that it is designed primarily for work means that general consumers who wish to use it may find many aspects of the device unfriendly. At a price of 32,000 baht, it is great value, but only in the right environment and those looking for a computer to use in their businesses or a home office able to accommodate it will find it a powerful and reliable computer.

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