For those line of business users that could really use the power and reliability of a workstation but just can’t justify the cost premium over a desktop PC, HP has launched two new entry-level workstations at a desktop price point: the HP Z240 Tower and Z240 SFF Workstations.

Both the tower and small form factor (SFF) models use next generation Intel processors and Skylight architecture and HP Z Turbo Drive options. According to Jeff Wood, vice-president of worldwide product management for HP’s workstation and thin client business, the new models are ideal for customers in the video editing, MCAD/AEC, education, public sector and image viewing industries.

“We’re striving for workstation class performance and power but competitively priced to appeal to people that may have been using a regular desktop to do AutoCAD or other work,” said Wood, in a media teleconference.”

Josh Peterson, director of worldwide product management for HP’s workstation and thin client business, added the Z240 will allow those users on the bubble between a desktop and a workstation to move up to a professional platform at a PC price. It could appeal to entry-level media and entertainment roles such as photographers, health care at the point of care, geospatial and government, and education where future engineers and artists on a tight budget want to train on the workstation technology they’ll encounter in the workplace.

“We’re excited about the customer opportunity,” said Peterson. “We’ve done a lot of homework on innovation that’s sure to excite these guys.”

HP is touting seven key innovations in the Z240, many of them developed based on user testing and customer feedback.

  • Integrated M.2 slot: Frees up a PCIe slot, giving users more flexibility when it comes to expansion options, such as not having to trade off additional graphics cards or an HP Z Turbo Drive.
  • Optional dust filters: Can be added to either model for up to a 47 per cent reduction in dust. Peterson said this was the most asked-for option from users. Even in clean offices, they had to remove the cover every year-and-a-half to blow out dust with an air compressor. “When we talk to customers it’s crazy how excited they are about this feature,” he said.
  • No more legacy PCI slot: Removing this slot, which Peterson said was use by less than two per cent of customers, allowed HP to add the dust filter and M.2 slot. A plug-in card has been designed for customers that still have the need for this functionality.
  • Greater efficiency: The size of the motherboard on the Z240 Tower was reduced by 10 per cent and the cable layout was simplified in both models, allowing for more efficient air flow and enhanced acoustics.
  • Handles: The Z240 Tower now has handles, much like HP’s higher-end z-class workstations, for easier carrying of the workstation around the office.
  • Custom air duct: The Z240SFF features a re-engineered hard drive cage and custom air duct around the processor, which allows for a more efficient air flow, improved acoustics and cleaner cable layout.
  • Taking the temperature: Integrated ambient temperature sensors on the motherboard of both models and improved control of system fans allows for greater management of thermals and acoustics.

The Z240 maxes out at 64 GB DDR4 ECC memory, double the previous generation, and users can choose the upcoming Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5 product families, Intel Core or Intel Pentium processors. Windows 7, Windows 10 or Linux operating systems are all options.

HP Z240 SFF Workstation and HP Z240 Tower Workstation

Both models will be available worldwide in November, starting at US$879.

“Our customers have an insatiable need for performance, and when we’re prioritizing innovation it’s always performance,” said Peterson. “Everyone is on deadline, everyone is busy so performance is key. Our focus is on reliability and quality. We win with quality.”

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