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Under the Hood: HP Z820 Workstation

Here we take a look under the hood of HP's new flagship workstation, the HP Z820, and examine both its design and performance advantages as a top-of-the-line system for video editing, graphics, effects, and other postproduction tasks.

The Test Machine

The HP Z820 continues the tradition of packing more power under its streamlined hood than any other workstation on the market. It can house two 12-core processors (Figure 3) each based on a Xeon server-grade processor. For the test machine we used for this article, we've chosen what we think is the sweet spot: a dual hex-core configuration which keeps costs under $5000. The machine was configured by the sponsor of this video and article,, specifically for video editing and production, and it's a good system for most editors, although it can be customized to meet an editor's specific needs.

In addition to the dual CPUs, the HP X820 we tested features a powerhouse GPU. The NVIDIA Quadro K4000 (Figure 4, below) has 768 SMX CUDA cores. That gives it the ability to drive anything from the HP DreamColor monitor to the HP z27i monitor, reviewed earlier this year, or the new z30i.

Figure 4. The NVIDIA Quadra 4000 GPU.

The combination of these two best-of-breed processors and GPUs means that HP's Z820 eats computations for breakfast, and it doesn't stop there. The Z820 has 16 DIMM slots--twice that of the closest competitor. This means the potential for hundreds of gigabytes of RAM. But again, to find the sweet spot at that sub-$5000 price point, the machine we looked at here has 32GB of RAM, which is more than adequat for many jobs.

All three of these powerful components mean that the workstations spit out real-time content creation, video editing, and highly intensive graphic renders. So whether you're using a 3D modeling engine, or editing 4K video in a Adobe Premiere Pro CC, or doing multiple layers of compositing in Adobve After Effects, you'll be sure to find something you like.

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