August 09, 2010
Hardware Review: HP Z200 Workstation – Affordable and Capable
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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A few years ago I thought that by this time (Summer 2010) desktop workstations would be a thing of the distant past. However, that didn't exactly happen. Yes, mobile workstations can pack a lot of punch for technical software applications, including MCAD, but they also tend to be pretty pricey when compared to their desktop workstation counterparts with similar specifications. That being the case, I was anxious to check out the new HP Z200 desktop workstation.

The Z200 I reviewed was impressive right out of the box. Measuring 7”W x 17.9”D x 17.6”H, it's relatively compact, but has a lot of expansion capabilities and possibilties if you choose to use them. The case can be opened without tools via a removable side panel. The removable panel has a diagram of the interior's expansion options and motherboard sockets, and a “crisis recovery” switch. I had no need to test the latter.

HP Z200 Workstation

The review HP Z200 workstation that I received was configured with:
  • Quad core Intel Xeon CPU X3460 running @ 2.80 GHz
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 4GB RAM (and can handle up to 16 GB)

Considered mid-range with what a Z200 can be configured with on the higher end, the machine I received from HP proved totally adequate for my purposes in an engineering software environment.

Beyond the relatively compact size and the range of configuration options available, the most noticeable aspect of the Z200 when I first powered it up was how quiet it was. In the past I've had desktop workstations that could have doubled as white noise generators, but the Z200 was extremely quiet - perfect for an office environment.

According to HP, the 320W power supply is 89% efficient. As measured by my Kill A Watt device, the Z200 had a surprisingly low power draw, consuming less than 60W when idling, and rising to less than 100W when throttled through the benchmark tests. Even at ~100W when working hard, this is less than many desktop workstations use when they are idling and waiting for something to do.

I did not perform SPEC benchmark tests on the Z200 as some of them are getting quite dated and I'd rather evaluate performance using real MCAD and graphics tools that I (and our readers) use on a regular basis. I loaded and ran Autodesk Inventor 2011, SolidWorks 2010, and Photoshop CS5 on the Z200. The Z200 really impressed me with its level of performance as I tried my best to bog it down with tasks that have brought other machines to their knees. With Inventor and SolidWorks, I modeled complex parts, assemblies in excess of 10,000 parts, ran FEA simulations, and did detailed renderings of large assemblies. Nothing I did with Photoshop really seemed to tax it much at all. Overall, the Z200 really had no difficulty for any of the tasks performed with it. All in all, not bad for a machine that was configured with mid-range components (specifically, CPU and video card).

HP Z200 Workstation with HP ZR30w 30-inch Widescreen LCD Monitor

The HP Z200 starts at a very reasonable $699.00 (excluding monitor). The HP Z200 workstation as configured for this review is priced at $2,895.

You can pay a little or a little more, depending on the CPU and NVIDIA graphics chip, but if you need real computing horsepower and you're on a relatively tight budget, the Z200 is a high performing and versatile platform option. I think affordable, but capable says it all.

For more information on the HP Z200 Multicore Workstation:
Hewlett Packard Corp.
HP Z200

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Siemens PLM Softwares' Solid Edge Insight: A CIMdata Program Review
CIMdata, Inc. released a new PLM Program Review entitled “Solid Edge Insight: A Microsoft SharePoint-Based Dedicated Design Data Management Solution for Solid Edge Communities.” This CIMdata-authored white paper reviews Siemens PLM Software's Microsoft SharePoint-based design data management solution. The paper describes Solid Edge Insight and how it is a proven design-centric PLM solution focused on supporting Solid Edge communities. The paper also describes the value of this MS SharePoint-based solution for Solid Edge customers, and how the MS SharePoint platform enables them to leverage their existing IT infrastructure, and immediately benefit from the integration of design data and processes with their other business processes. Solid Edge Insight, which was first released in 2001 with Solid Edge Version 11, has more than eight years of proven customer success and is used by more than 1,000 customers. In this paper, CIMdata provides three CIMdata-written Solid Edge Insight customer briefs.

New Release of InspectionXpert for CATIA Balloons Both 3D Models and 2D Drawings
Extensible CAD Technologies announced the release of its new version of InspectionXpert for CATIA V5 that introduces support for 3D models in addition to the 2D drawings previously supported. InspectionXpert for CATIA V5 is inspection report automation software that replaces the manual ballooning of CAD drawings and files, and the manual typing of dimensions into Excel for First Article and In Process inspection reports. InspectionXpert for CATIA V5 is a Dassault Systemes Partner Product. InspectionXpert is also available in versions that read PDF and TIFF files, as well as SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER, AutoCAD, and Solid Edge drawings. For more information:

LMS sells Noesis and the OPTIMUS platform to Japanese Cybernet
LMS International has sold its subsidiary Noesis Solutions N.V. and the OPTIMUS product line to Cybernet Systems. This move by LMS further focuses key resources on meeting customer demands for LMS' engineering solutions and its flagship platforms: LMS Test.Lab, LMS Virtual.Lab and LMS Imagine.Lab. LMS customers will continue to have access to the optimization technologies developed by Cybernet Systems and Noesis as part of the LMS Virtual.Lab and LMS Imagine.Lab platforms. LMS has formalized an R&D agreement with Cybernet/Noesis to integrate future updates of OPTIMUS technology in these two flagship LMS simulation platforms. Current users of OPTIMUS will benefit from seamless support from the global LMS sales operation. In 2011, Cybernet/Noesis will continue to expand the OPTIMUS customer base.

Alibre Bundles New Photorealistic Lighting Rendering Technology With 3D CAD Products
Alibre and Luxion announced that the Luxion KeyShot 2 photo realistic lighting rendering technology will be bundled with v. 12.1 of Alibre Design Expert and Professional 3D CAD software, priced under $600. With Alibre Design Expert and Professional, customers will get powerful 3D modeling and 2D drafting technology with realistic lighting visualization. KeyShot 2 is a new application built on Luxion's real-time interactive ray tracing lighting and global illumination technology. KeyShot 2 makes it easy to create photographic images from 3D models with realistic lighting, giving anyone with 3D data the ability to create a photographic image. Alibre Design Expert and Professional v. 12.1 also offer the new BIP export format specifically designed for KeyShot 2. In addition, Alibre Design Expert and Professional v. 12.1 also take advantage of the new capabilities in KeyShot 2 by taking 3D data and exporting it directly into Luxion's native format for cleaner and faster 3D rendered models.

Chrysler Group LLC Contracts with Siemens PLM Software for Product Design and Development Platform
Siemens PLM Software announced that Chrysler Group LLC, which produces Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Truck and Mopar vehicles and products, has selected Siemens PLM Software's technology for product design and development. Chrysler Group began using Teamcenter software as its corporate-wide PDM system in 2008. Chrysler Group has now added NX software to provide efficiency gains in engineering and design and to help create a common product development platform.

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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