HP Z210 CMT Workstation Review

The HP Z200 line of computers has recently been replaced with the Z210 line. This line comes in two flavors: minitower and small form factor. The minitower is actually the size of a standard computer case but smaller and lighter than the Z400, Z600, and Z800 lines. The Z210 CMT Workstation has a price range of $700-$2,100. There are currently 13 preconfigured models. For the avid video editor the configurable models can help one find the perfect fit for their needs.

What’s it Made of?

Unlike the Z200, Z600 and Z800 series, the Z210CMT uses a more generic style computer case. The system comes with a single case fan, and because of this, produces very little noise. The hard drives and removable cards conveniently snap into place while the DVD bays require the use of screws. The case weighs in at 23lbs. and has the physical dimensions of 17.6-in x 7-in x 17.9-in. The biggest drawback to this case design is having only two available internal HDD bays.

Unlike the other Z computer lines HP offers, the Z210 CMT is the only one that can come with the new Intel Xeon E3 CPU. The new Xeon E3 CPU offers a more affordable alternative to the often bloated prices of the Xeon lineup. Though the CPU can still be beat by some of the six-core Xeon’s it comes in a close second. Our particular model is equipped with a hyperthreaded Quad Core Xeon E3-1280 which clocks in at 3.5GHz and is capable of 3.9GHz with turbo boost.

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The NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics card is the second most expensive component in this computer. The card has two DisplayPorts and a Dual Link DVI-I for connecting your monitors. The card supports a maximum resolution of 2560×1600 and has 1GB of video memory. If you are using any 3D modeling programs, this is a great card. If you just plan on editing video, some of the cheaper ATI FireGL cards may be a better alternative.

Our review model came equipped with a Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB 10K RPM drive. The drive is actually a 2.5-in laptop hard drive with a 3.5-in heatsink adapter. Considering the speed of this drive, you can barely hear it running. To top it off, the computer comes with an IEEE 1394a FireWire 400 card and a DVD burner with LightScribe.

Performance

For video editors the hard drive can be a big bottleneck for rendering video files. The primary hard drive attained 120 Mbps read and 119 Mbps write speeds. With those speeds this is a great drive for the operating system and video editing. For increased performance HP offers several SSD drives, but they come at a heavy price that may not be worth the performance boost. If 300GB isn’t enough for your video project, you might want to pair this computer with a large capacity external RAID or add in an extra one terabyte hard drive.

In 3D modeling benchmarks this computer beat out all previously reviewed computers except the HP Elitebook 8760w Mobile Workstation. More scores can be found at www.spec.org and other scores at www.3dmark.com . The Windows Experience Index places this computer on par with the Elitebook 8760W with the only difference being the graphics card.

To test the video editing performance of this computer a video was encoded in Adobe Media Encoder CS5. The video took 160 seconds to complete on the Z210 CMT and 159 seconds to complete on the Elitebook 8760w. As shown here, a more expensive computer does not always lead to a huge performance boost when encoding video. The best way to improve encoding speed is to get an Adobe-certified graphics card so the Mercury Playback Engine can be enabled.

In short, although it’s not the fastest computer available, this computer can get the job done. The best part is, this computer is cheaper than most previously reviewed computers while performing just as well or in some cases better!

Should I Buy This?

This workstation makes for a good base model. With the addition of a Blu-ray drive, eSATA, and a 22-in-1 memory card reader this computer would have everything a video editor would need. With a base cost of $700 and many different configurations this is the most affordable workstation line reviewed by Videomaker yet. On top of great pricing, this system is also a great performer.

Tech Specs

HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300GB

HDD Avg. Read/Write Speed: 120/119 MB/s

Network: 1 Gigabit (125MB/s)

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1280 (4 X 3.5GHz)

Memory: 16GB DDR3 1333MHz

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit

Video: NVIDIA Quadro 2000 (1GB)

Audio: Onboard 3 Channel

Motherboard: Custom HP

Warranty: limited 3-years, parts/labor/online service

DVD: 16x SuperMulti DVD +/- Writer

Front I/O: USB 2.0 (3), FireWire 1394a (optional), Headphone, Microphone

Rear I/O: DVI, DisplayPort, 6 USB 2.0, 2 PS/2, 3 Audio Line In/Out/Microphone, RJ-45 (NIC)

Click here to download a PDF of the Benchmarks of the HP Z210 CMT Workstation

Strengths

  • Fast & Reliable

Weaknesses

  • Lacks USB 3.0, eSATA, memory card reader, and Blu-ray.

Summary

The HP Z210CMT is a good base model computer for the everyday video editor.

Hewlett-Packard

www.hp.com

Price: $4,030 (as configured)

Lance Olinger is an IT Professional and Web Developer.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.