In terms of specs the HP Z1 is, as mentioned, more flexible than most. The base configuration (around £1,700 including VAT) gives you a dual-core Intel Core i3-2120 like you might find on a budget desktop machine, with the next step up immediately being a workstation-level quad-core Xeon processor – which also hikes the price to £2,000.
Of course, this machine being fully upgradeable, you can swap in a Core i5 or Core i7 yourself, but it’s a shame HP’s site doesn’t offer these options to begin with. Likewise, it’s even easier to upgrade the 2GB of RAM that comes as standard, since the Z1’s motherboard offers four DIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR3.
Again, the base model offers a piddling 500GB hard drive, but the Z1 is available in configurations with up to 2TB from various third-party retailers, and you can swap in a 4TB model yourself. Unfortunately, while HP’s workstation has room and connectors for a single 3.5in hard drive or twin 2.5in models, it doesn’t let you combine a 3.5in hard drive with a boot SSD.
This is pretty much the only design flaw inside the chassis, as there’s enough room for a laptop-sized drive in addition to a ‘desktop’ one, but there’s simply no provision. Still, not only can you remedy this with a little tinkering (we would imagine this might void the generous three-year warranty though), but you can always go for a 1.5TB 2.5in for storage along with a boot SSD in whatever capacity you can afford.
As to graphics, on the Core i3 version you get Intel’s integrated HD 2000, which is a big no-no for intense 3D processing or of course gaming. If you go for dedicated, HP offers modules for anything from the Nvidia Quadro Q500M to the Q4000M. These are mobile graphics chips, but that aside this is the most graphics grunt you’ll get in any all-in-one, and the only one that offers professional graphics cards.
And because – like everything else – the graphics card is easily upgradeable, you won’t be stuck with older tech. So whether you’re a professional content creator or gamer with money to burn, the Z1 will have plenty of power. You’re only limited by the 400W, 90 percent efficient power supply, which again can be upgraded.
Everyone who has seen how the HP Z1 opens up has exclaimed in awe. We’ve had people bringing their friends and colleagues to see it, it’s that impressive. Once the AIO PC is in its flat/horizontal position, merely depress two sliders at the base, and the lid/screen lifts up smoothly, supported by a hydraulic mechanism.
Inside, every single component is held in a modular bay, and nothing blocks anything else. It’s actually easier to upgrade the Z1 than any other PC we’ve ever reviewed – quite the feat for an AIO. Even the power supply can simply be slipped out by removing the cable clip and the holding clip, making it a two-minute job to install a new PSU!
Only the LGA 1155 processor will require a torq screw driver to undo the mounting system if you want to upgrade. The PSU and MXM mobile graphics module system will also require custom parts from HP, unless you’re a particularly confident and skilful tinkerer.
Closing the Z1 is even more fun than opening it, as a gentle push sends the lid smoothly down with a controlled hydraulic sound.
Value is difficult to measure. As a pure all-in-one PC, the HP Z1 is more expensive than anything else, but justifies its price with its great connectivity, unmatched adjustability, superb upgradeability, and a class-leading semi-pro-grade screen. Still, the average consumer may be better off considering Apple’s or Dell’s alternatives.
As a workstation, it simply has no rivals, as it’s the world’s first and only all-in-one to offer these kinds of components. As such, we reckon its £1700 starting price is actually decent value, though regarding more expensive configurations – well, that just depends on how confident you are upgrading bits yourself.
The HP Z1 is a beauty of a 27in all-in-one PC. Not only is it meticulously built and the only one of its size and class to offer height adjustment, but it’s packed with connectivity and features like an adjustable 1080p webcam. It’s also the only AIO that’s fully upgradeable – in fact it’s easier to upgrade the Z1 than any other PC we’ve ever reviewed. All this is complemented by a gorgeous 27in, 10-bit, 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display and stunningly good speakers. Throw in its workstation certification, and it justifies its premium pricing.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9