After several years without an upgrade or major overhaul to the Mac Mini, it is now approaching relic status the PC world. Major computing manufacturers, especially those serving primarily enterprise and business environments, have to constantly evolve to keep up with consumers’ constantly evolving needs. HP understands this need to adapt and evolve, and as such is now targeting a market previously cornered by Apple’s tiny tasker. At just 2.3-inches x 8.5-inches, HP claims that the case of their new Z2 Mini is “90 percent smaller than a traditional business-class tower” while still packing enough workstation-class parts to make it twice as powerful as any mini Pc on the market (in its top configuration, at least). Even the stock configuration can run up to six displays at once, all from a box that can easily be held in one hand.
In addition to high-level computing, HP claims that “the octagon form of the Z2 Mini is the most uniquely designed workstation in HP’s 35 years of workstation history.” It certainly is convenient – the notion of mounting an entire workstation just behind your monitor is still no more than a wish list item for most. As far as specs go, HP appears to have designed the Z2 Mini to be as customizable as possible, offering a wide range of processing and price options. For the operating system, users can opt for either Windows 10 or Linux. Processing power spans an even wider range; base models can be equipped with Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPUs all the way up to Intel’s Xeon E3-1200v5 family, which is ideal for workstations and servers. Given that the Z2 Mini is geared specifically towards engineers and architects who rely on the superior processing and GPU needs of programs like Autodesk or Autocad, which dominate growing fields like CAD, 3D graphics, and design, it comes equipped with an HP Z Turbo Drive and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM and 1.5TB of storage. Graphics are easily managed by NVIDIA’s M620 Quadro with 2GB of VRAM, yet another feature geared specifically towards design professionals.
While the Z2 Mini is loaded with graphic computing power, it nonetheless does not meet NVIDIA’s “VR Ready” criteria, and HP did not design the workstation with VR in mind. The port selection further reinforces this idea. Included are three DisplayPorts, two USB 3.0 ports, and an Ethernet port, with the option to add up to two USB Type-C ports. Noticeably missing are an HDMI port and, more importantly, there is no Thunderbolt 3 slot, which limits drive options. A custom cooling system ensures that all that power tucked into such a tiny space stays running properly, and helps the Z2 Mini operate roughly 63 percent quieter than HP’s business-class mini PCs. As for price, the base model will start at $699 when it arrives to market in December. Users looking to spec-out to the top configuration can likely expect to pay about double that.
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