Workstations

HP, Dell Seek to Lure PC Users with Budget-Conscious Workstations

8 Oct, 2015 By: Cadalyst Staff

With more and more options in the triple-digit range, customers who have found workstations too expensive in the past may take a second look.


Last week, both HP and Dell announced new additions to their workstation families. In addition to their higher-end models, both companies are continuing to court a cost-sensitive market. Prospective customers include the PC users who do workstation-worthy work, but haven’t yet adopted workstation technology.

HP’s Lowest-Priced Workstation

HP announced the Z240 tower workstation and the Z240 SFF, which is a small–form factor (SFF) version. The Z240 is the most affordable workstation in HP’s lineup, with U.S. pricing starting at $879 for either model. “The focus for this class of product is PC upsizers,” said Josh Peterson, director of worldwide product management for HP’s Workstation and Thin Client business. Peterson believes the “compelling price” will encourage PC users to transition “to a machine that’s more suitable for their workflows.”

The Z240 is intended for video editing, MCAD/AEC, education, public sector, and image viewing applications. It offers more expandability than the Z240 SFF, which is 57% smaller than the tower, and better suited to space-restricted office environments.

In updating from the Z230, HP made several changes and feature additions to the Z240, including:

  • Made dust filters an option for both versions of the Z240; HP reports that they reduce the amount of dust entering the system by as much as 47%.


A view of the removable, washable dust filter, an option on the Z240 workstation.
 

  • Removed the legacy PCI slot from the motherboard and designed a plugin card for installation for customers that still use the legacy slot. According to Peterson, the slot is currently used by less than 2% of its customers.
  • Added an integrated M.2 slot for expansion cards and connectors; this frees up a PCIe slot, enabling customers to use HP Z Turbo Drives without giving up a slot that would be used for an additional graphics card or other device.
  • Included as much as 64 GB of DDR4 ECC memory, thereby doubling the memory capacity of previous generations.
  • Ambient temperature sensors on the motherboard of both systems, which reduce noise through more precise control of the system fans.
  • Recessed front and rear “handle ledges” (grip points) on the Z240 tower for easier lifting.

The HP Z240 and Z240 SFF and are expected to be available in November.

Dell Dives Below $700 

Dell made updates to the Tower 3000 series of its Precision tower workstations; U.S. pricing for the 3420 tower starts at $679; the 3620 starts at $729. According to Dell, these compact towers are a third faster than the previous generation when it comes to CPU speed, graphics, and memory, and they incorporate solid-state drives (SSDs) that are three times faster. The company states that they are designed “to meet the needs of customers who require peak performance at an affordable price.”


Designed for customers with limited space as well as a limited budget, the 3420 (right) measures 11.42” x 3.65” x 11.5”. Dell calls it the “world’s smallest SFF workstation chassis.” The 3620 is the larger of the two at 14.17” x 6.89” x 17.12”.

The new systems are ISV-certified and come with Dell Precision Optimizer, now with SCCM integration, which is designed to maximize the performance of a range of professional applications, including applications from Adobe and Autodesk.

“Performance and accuracy are essential for Autodesk users working on complex projects in modeling, simulation and visualization. We partnered with Dell to certify and maximize the experience of our applications on the new Dell Precision workstations,” said Autodesk Strategic Alliances Director Dave Ford in a press release. “From AutoCAD to 3ds Max, the new Dell Precision workstations provide the computing power that professionals require to create with our Autodesk portfolio.”

The Dell Precision towers are expected to be available in the U.S. starting early Q4 2015. 


 


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