Packing impressive performance in its modest dimensions, the HP Z200 Workstation SFF costs from around £840, although the model we tested will set you back around £1050. That price puts the Z200 on a par with other business-class machines we've reviewed, but comparably priced consumer desktops generally offer quite a bit more.
Inside the HP Z200 Workstation SFF's chassis rests a 3.33GHz Core i5-660 processor, plus 8GB of DDR3 Error Correcting (ECC) memory. Manufacturers commonly use ECC memory in servers, because it's designed to protect against critical errors that might otherwise result from component failures; ECC memory is also very expensive, which explains much of the Z200's cost.
The HP Z200 Workstation SFF is also outfitted with a 500GB hard drive, which houses Windows 7 Professional Edition. Though that storage space may seem small, some competing business machines are configured with even less: the HP Compaq 6005 Pro, for instance, provides 400GB, and the Compaq 8000f Elite has only 160GB.
Gaming benchmarks aren't much of a concern on business-centric machines; still, the system's included nVidia Quadro FX 380 graphics card failed to deliver playable frame rates during our tests. The HP Z200 Workstation SFF did much better on our WorldBench 6 test suite, with a score of 139 - it's a really rapic PC. Some performance desktop PCs, including the HP Pavilion HPE-170t, posted better performance at a significantly lower price, however.
The HP Z200 Workstation SFF makes up for its undistinguished physical appearance with a user-friendly design. On the system's face you'll find five USB connectors and a multiformat card reader. On the rear are six more USB ports, one VGA connector, one DVI connector, a serial port, a gigabit ethernet port, and two FireWire 400 ports. Next-generation connectivity offerings include a DisplayPort connector on the motherboard, and a second DisplayPort connector on the Quadro FX 380 graphics board. All of these ports are readily accessible.
An access handle on the machine's side permits tool-free entry into the case interior, but there isn't too much to do once you're inside. The two free slots consist of one PCI-E x4 slot and one PCI-E x1 slot; the Quadro graphics board occupies the remaining PCI-E x16 slot. Though the internal components aren't screwless, drive bays are housed on locking hinges. These can tilt out of the way, making it easy to reach in and swap out components. In the absence of free drive bays, the only way you can upgrade the DVD burner or the hard drive is by swapping out the existing component. The HP Z200 Workstation SFF is powered by an 89 percent efficient 240-watt power supply. Its relatively low wattage further limits your upgrade options, but it will help keep your utility bills low.
Bundled with the HP Z200 Workstation SFF is HP's Performance Advisor software, which simplifies system performance tuning, driver tweaking, and system resource monitoring to keep the machine in prime operating condition.
Like the chassis, the included keyboard and mouse are strictly utilitarian. Though they're comfortable enough to use, they offer no additional buttons or functionality.
The HP Z200 Workstation SFF has a lot to offer, but its price pushes it to the cusp of the performance desktop category. For buyers interested in using as little space as possible, the mainstream HP Pavilion Slimline s5370t has a similar profile and costs even less, without sacrificing too much performance.
See also: Group test: what's the best desktop PC?
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