H P’s Z640 is the second most expensive workstation on test this month, and in many areas the most highly specified. Sporting a pair of Intel Xeon E5-2667 v3 processors, it offers 32 virtual cores with Hyper-Threading enabled, second only to the Dell Precision T7810 and the Workstation Specialists RS-D render node. HP’s processors are faster, though, with a nominal frequency of 3.2GHz, boosting to 3.6GHz in Turbo Boost. 

Since the Xeon is from the latest Haswell generation, it supports DDR4 memory, and HP has installed 64GB of 2,133MHz DIMMs. Surprisingly, the manufacturer hasn’t opted for a top-of-the-range graphics card: the PNY Quadro K4200 is no slouch, but a K5200 would have been a better match for the rest of the specification.

Although PCI Express solid-state storage is an option for the Z640 (HP’s “Z Turbo Drive”), this model uses a conventional SATA SSD as primary storage. The 512GB capacity is generous, but performance is way behind the M.2 drive in the Apple entry.

Strangely, rather than installing a large 7,200rpm conventional hard disk for data storage, HP has opted for a 15,000rpm SATA disk with only 300GB of capacity. This is the quickest non-SSD on test, but it won’t be enough space if you’re planning to work with large amounts of video, particularly 4K. However, like other blue-chip vendors here, HP has created a tool-free chassis design that will make it easy to add storage further down the line.

The HP’s dual eight-core CPU configuration gave it an excellent rendering score in Maxon Cinebench R15. It achieved the quickest result of 31 seconds in DxO OpticsPro, and the overall Bunkspeed Shot result of 14 seconds was top of the pack, too. The 4K video export in Sony Vegas took 1min 15secs.

The HP’s Cinebench R15 modelling ability was good, too, with a result of 159fps. Its SPECviewperf 12 results were more varied: the Maya result of 55fps is in the same ballpark as other Quadro K4200-equipped systems, but behind  Dell’s K5200. The SolidWorks result of 87fps is similarly in the middle of the pack.

The HP Z640 is a super-powerful workstation, but it’s on the pricey side. It’s great for tasks such as rendering that can take full advantage of the many cores available, and it would also be great for photo and video editing. However, 3D-modelling abilities with some applications are below what we’d expect of a machine at this price, and so it misses out on a Best Value award.

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