The 3D design industry is booming. These digital renderings are used for everything from creating the perfect apartment design to making your favorite video game seem more realistic. The TV shows we watch just wouldn’t be the same without 3D effects. Game of Thrones, for example, incorporated 3D objects into its virtual effects for everything from dragons to battle scenes.
Here are the best HP workstations for 3D modeling professionals, along with advice on how to pick the right one for you. But first, a little about what to know before you shop.
Basics requirements for a 3D workstation PC
With so much depending on the 3D industry, it makes sense that the technology would need to be intuitive and adaptable. That’s why many of the most popular workstations used by 3D professionals are built so they can be frequently expanded and upgraded.
The ideal machine typically includes:
Multiple cores, more than 16 threads
Incredible amounts of storage
Motherboards with extra slots for easy expansion
Collaborative tools for sharing projects with others both in-person and virtually
Whether the 3D designer is using Nuke 3D, AutoDesk 3D, or any of the SolidWorks 3D offerings, the requirements are pretty standard across the board. A reliable 3D computer should be fast, powerful, quiet, and expandable.
As an artist, it’s also worth considering if you will stay in one place or travel to a film location or studio. While desktops offer more speed and power for the price, there’s no need to stay stationary these days. Portable workstations have been around for some time and level the playing field for pros who take their work on the road.
Best computers for 3D modeling and rendering
3D rendering uses an incredible amount of computing resources, which is why it traditionally required a commercial-grade machine to perform the more demanding tasks. Even as we move into 4D and virtual reality possibilities, HP® has kept up with industry requirements through our HP Z series of products.
Each of these computers is designed in collaboration with 3D software experts. Plus, they’re built to seamlessly combine working from the studio and working at home into one cohesive journey.
With the inclusion of ZCentral Remote Boost software on all of the options in this article, 3D designers can work remotely on a wide variety of projects and collaborate with virtual teams. Dynamic resizing lets you work on a different device at home, then match and sync to the centralized hardware that the rest of the team uses somewhere else.
Even over poor connections, the HP Velocity capabilities can improve latency, overcome network traffic, and allow most devices to connect and share. Advanced Video Compression (AVC) sends pixels in the right size to keep frame rates at their best. With no additional infrastructure to buy or create, the included ZCentral Remote Boost may be one of the best parts of owning an HP Z computer.
Even with a limited budget, you can enjoy an HP workstation that never fails to impress. The HP EliteDesk 705 microtower PC is a smaller-sized desktop PC with many customizable options for a variety of artistic needs and offers lag-free performance when configured with the more robust specs.
To work with 3D programs easily, make sure your workstation is configured for the full 8 cores and 16 threads available with the 3.2 GHz AMD Ryzen Pro 2700 processor and AMD Radeon RX 580 Graphics card.
The computer also has the capability of up to 64GB memory, a must-have for working with offline rendering and modeling tasks. Boost capacity to 512GB SSD and ensure you have your projects backed up to local storage whenever you need them.
When the scope of your work grows, so can the desktop. It has the expansion capacity for 4 bays, 4 slots, and 2 M.2 slots, plus configurable ports for all your accessories, monitors, VR gear, and more. Like the other machines in the HP Z line, it’s poised to keep your work safe from threats, thanks to the HP security self-healing features.
For those just getting into the industry or who need a more cost-effective desktop computer for 3D modeling, the HP Z2 workstation is a great pick. It’s considered the world’s most powerful entry-level workstation and can handle programs from software giants Autodesk and SolidWorks.
For the best performance, we recommend choosing from the best graphics cards offered, such as the NVIDIA® Quadro® P5000 with 16GB of dedicated memory. You’ll also benefit from an amped-up, multi-thread processing boost, like the Intel® Xeon® E-2144G or 9th Generation Intel Core™ i7/i8 processors.
With the right partnership between graphics and processors, you can better utilize the revamped motherboard in this desktop and maximize rendering speed. The 64GB dual-channel memory is also ideal for cutting down lag and getting complex projects finished quickly. Plus, with an impressive 16TB of storage, you can save your best work locally and skip uploading large data files to the cloud.
HP Z workstation towers are incredibly versatile, with dozens of customization options. If you can’t afford the maxed-out configuration of your dreams right now, there are plenty of expansion opportunities for when your budget grows.
You can always swap graphic cards, boost memory, or increase CPU power down the road. Thanks to flexible I/O modules and easy access to the motherboard, your investment can grow with you and last for years.
Customization is the key to making any of these HP Z desktops work for you, but it’s also easy to upgrade through the numbered system for this series. For those wanting more power right out of the box, the HP Z4 workstation is a strong choice. This workstation has all the stuff you love about the HP Z2, but with more capabilities for intensive 3D modeling. It’s also the most popular entry in the line.
Like the other HP Z workstations, it’s a pure workhorse. It includes Windows 10 Pro and a choice of powerful processors, including the 18-core, Intel Xeon W Processor. Combined with the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000, you can move quickly from single-threaded 3D CAD tasks to those requiring multi-threads, such as rendering and simulation. And because it’s made to handle intensive processes, such as machine learning, you’ll have no problem tackling whatever 3D project you have in mind.
If you thought a desktop was the only way to master the art of 3D design, think again. Many of the HP ZBook workstations are more than up to the challenge, including the HP ZBook 17. This flagship HP ZBook offers on-the-go creating, editing, rendering, and sharing. And with its bold 17-inch diagonal screen, you’ll see every pixel the way it was meant to be seen.
A sturdy body surrounds some of the best performance specs available, including a 9th Generation Intel Core i9 processor (Intel Xeon is also available). The perfectly-paired NVIDIA Quadro RTX graphics card helps you get through your WIP with ease, while the advanced airflow design staves off overheating and noise as you move through every iteration.
While the HP ZBook 17 is available with over 50 million custom configurations, you don’t have to know the future to get it right. It’s easily expandable, even without tools, making it a laptop that acts more like a desktop workstation.
Moving on to more speed and performance in the HP Z line, the HP Z6 workstation brings even better specs. While all of the HP Z models are expandable, the HP Z6 was created with an eye for the future of design, animation, and engineering.
If you choose this PC, you’ll have the capabilities to handle today’s design needs as well as the assurance that you can scale its performance to meet tomorrow’s software demands. Choose from single or dual processors, add additional graphic cards, ramp up storage, and pile on all the memory you need for the smoothest experience.
The HP Z6 boasts an amazing 48 processing cores with the graphics and memory to support them, plus a 1,000-watt power supply to keep it all running. Just imagine what you could do with 384GB of RAM. And the 36TB of storage makes sure you can hold on to every iteration for as long as you need them.
And then there’s one HP Z workstation to rule them all: the HP Z8. For those who want to move straight to the head of the class with maxed-out speed and performance, this is an easy pick.
This computer takes all the solid features of the other models and boosts them to the highest level. Whatever your preferred software, application, or industry, the HP Z8 is there to meet your daily challenges.
What can you expect from the "world's most powerful workstation?" It’s optimized for simulation, complex machine learning, and up to 8K video editing, making any 3D task a breeze. It boasts up to 56 cores of processing power, 3TB of high-speed RAM, 48TB of local storage, and an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 graphics card.
Because this machine is certified for leading software offerings in machine learning, video editing, and CAE engineering, it’s equipped to tackle your toughest 3D simulation and rendering tasks. The design was built with special care as well. The ducts and vents allow for maximum airflow and minimal noise, even when running multiple, high-intensity applications at once.
Accessories designed for 3D pros
While picking the right machine is the most important buying choice you’ll make for your 3D goals, don’t forget about what accessories can provide. A reliable mouse is crucial for click-to-click zooming and hitting every perfect detail.
Displays are also essential for seeing your creations exactly as you make them. An HP Z display like the HP Z24nf has an impressive vertical screen size of 23.8-inches and offers brilliant color right out of the box. The full high definition (FHD) capabilities will make your projects pop and give you more workspace thanks to the 1920 x 1080 resolution and bezel micro-edge.
Summing it up
Before you start shopping for the best PC for 3D modeling, consider that there are differences between a mobile workstation and a laptop that may help guide your choice. Examine all the ways you’ll use your new machine, and don’t dismiss the facts about how tech will change over time. It’s better to buy a little more processing power now to avoid regretting it later. Whether you opt for a desktop workstation or one that’ll go anywhere with you, HP® has your 3D modeling needs covered.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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