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Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »
MCADCafe eMagazine – Hardware Review: HP Z620 Desktop Workstation
July 18th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
As has been the case for several years, not all computer users need a workstation-class machine, but many do, especially with graphics-oriented and computationally intensive applications, such as MCAD, FEA, and animation. However, high-powered workstations for graphic-intensive applications can come with a price premium. So, you can really pay a relatively high price for higher levels of performance, but is often worth it. There are exceptions, however, and the HP Z620 desktop workstation offers the best of both worlds – a versatile machine with excellent performance at a reasonable price.
I’d classify the HP Z620 as a mid- to high-level machine that provides just about everything most customers would need in a desktop engineering workstation. Admittedly, it may seem a bit pricey for what you get (at least how our review machine was configured), but overall is a real performer compared with competition in this spec and price range. The HP Z620 workstation is designed to perform in a professional engineering-oriented environment. It’s got a lot of premium, server-grade components optimized for demanding workloads.
The HP Z620 Workstation with Moldflow running
The HP Z620 we received for review came configured as follows:
CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2643, 3.30 GHz
Other: Solid state drives (optional)
Storage: up to 11 TB
3 internal 3.5” HDD bays plus 2 external 5.25” bays
2 Integrated 6Gb/s SATA ports
Support for up to 300W of graphics
3 Third-generation PCI Express slots, (2×16, 1×8) 6 slots total
With Intel’s Core i7 and higher CPUs, why consider a Xeon processor? Well, first of all, Xeon processors are generally intended for use in servers that tend to run cooler and at lower voltages than the Core i7 CPUs. In other words, Xeon-based machines are designed for continuous use over long periods of time under demanding workloads. The performance hit, though, could be an issue, but was negligible in this evaluation.
The Nvidia Quadro 2000 graphics card is part of a product line that is designed specifically to work on a continuous basis. Some applications, such as SolidWorks and Inventor are also optimized to work with Nvidia’s Quadro cards.
Behind the scenes, but an integral part of the overall Z620 are the system software applications that come pre-installed on it as part of the HP Cool Tools suite – namely, the HP Performance Advisor and Power Assistant. Performance Advisor provides a lot of useful information and tools regarding the machine. It lists component changes, provides details on driver versions, as well as CPU and memory utilization – all handy information to know if and when you need it. The Power Assistant shows you much power the HP Z620 is using, along with estimates of its operating costs and carbon footprint. With this information, you can adjust how the system operates to minimize energy usage.
I’d thought I’d take a peek inside the Z620 and was impressed with the tool-less chassis design with integrated handles and complete serviceability with internal modules that slide in and out. There is also a diagram on the removable side cover that has a handy map/guide that illustrates what is located where internally. Anyway, the inside of the box was well laid out and tidy.
Objective and subjective tests were run to measure performance. Keep in mind that the tests were performed with the machine in an “out of the box” state, nothing was tweaked or optimized to skew performance. I actually get more out of the subjective testing because it’s more “real world,” but the raw numbers from the benchmarks are also useful, as well as a means of comparison. Your evaluations may differ from mine, but they do provide a point for comparison.
For objective testing, we ran two benchmarks NovaBench (geared more toward overall performance) and SPECviewperf 11 (geared more toward graphics performance).
NovaBench Benchmark Test:
32,695 MB System RAM (Score: 286)
CPU Tests (Score: 1182
Graphics Tests (Score: 244)
Hardware Tests (Score: 28)
The 1,740 composite score is fairly impressive because the average score of other workstations in this class was 1,294. So, the HP Z620 provided better performance in relative terms.
SPECviewperf 11 Benchmark Test:
The scores for the various tests (CATIA, Solidworks, Lightwave, Ensight, NX, and Pro/ENGINEER) were some the best I have seen lately and averaged approximately 22% better than other HP desktop workstations I have benchmarked and reviewed.
For subjective testing, I ran Autodesk Inventor, Simulation, and 3ds Max. I used a data set of standard models that I have created over the years for this testing, including a model with 50,000+ parts, renderings of complex surfaces, advanced FEA, and animations. The Z620’s performance was good with these tests.
Most companies have users who need a little extra computing horsepower than is available in a generic desktop computer where a standard desktop PC might be perfectly suitable. However, heavy graphics and especially 3D can tax a standard PC beyond its capabilities. For these types of applications and users, seriously consider a workstation. In 2012, workstations aren’t an absolute requirement for everyone. But, if you need a powerful PC to work with graphics and 3D application, and are willing to pay a bit extra for optimized hardware for these types of tasks, the HP Z620 CMT is worth considering.
Hewlett Packard Z620 Desktop Workstation
Pluses: Cost/performance ratio, internal accessibility; easily upgradeable; system management software.
Minuses: None significant.
Price (as supplied): $5,868. Prices start at $1,649.
Overall Grade: A-
Contact: HP Z620 Workstation
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 news items that were the most viewed during last week.
The 2013 release of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD system includes enhancements to its direct modeling and reverse engineering capabilities. In addition, the solid and surface modeling options are faster and more robust. The most important new option in PowerSHAPE’s direct modelling functionality is “Replace Face”. This allows a selected face or group of faces to be replaced with another face or group of faces, either from the same solid or from a separate solid or surface model. A second new option that will be of particular interest to tooling designers will be the “Solid Core” command. This selects automatically the smallest rectangular or cylindrical shape that will fully enclose a group of solid faces. For reverse engineering, PowerSHAPE now allows point-cloud data to be captured directly. Point data can be displayed on-screen as a laser attachment is passed over the object being scanned. This ensures that all the required information can be captured as any gaps in the data will be apparent immediately.
Luxion announced that solidThinking Evolve 9.0 launched with file export for KeyShot. This week, solidThinking released the newest version of its concept design and 3D modeling software, solidThinking Evolve 9.0 and with it, support to save KeyShot .bip files directly. Features of the solidThinking Evolve 9.0 KeyShot save option include:
IHS Inc. acquired Invention Machine for approximately $40 million. Invention Machine is a semantic search technology that uncovers relevant insights held within a wealth of internal and external knowledge sources, transforming the underlying data into actionable intelligence. Their patented semantic question-answering software engine leads engineers and knowledge workers to information quickly and enables them to rapidly digest it to make better decisions. Invention Machine’s Goldfire product is the decision engine built on top of a patented semantic search engine that connects engineers and innovation and knowledge workers, on-demand, to one another and to the internal and external knowledge and trends needed to develop, maintain and produce breakthrough products and services. Semantic search engines understand the meanings and relationships of words, and can provide more relevant results than traditional text-based search engines.
Geometric announced the launch of its automated design for manufacturability solution, DFMPro for NX software. Today, organizations are striving to create innovative products and need to get them to the market faster, within cost targets and with better quality. Issues related to product delays as well as cost and quality need to be detected early in the product development cycle as changes in later stages have an exponentially higher impact on time and cost. Geometric’s DFMPro product is a solution that identifies and fixes these issues at the design stage. DFMPro comes with global best practices in the area of manufacturability and assembly, along with a powerful framework to add an organization’s in-house best practices. This allows design engineers to save time on design reviews and rework, and utilize such time in creating innovative products. DFMPro provides numerous built-in checks for manufacturing processes like machining, sheet metal, casting, molding and assembly. The standard checks in DFMPro are derived from various handbooks, design guidelines and global best design practices.
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