High-intensity processing requires a high-performance machine – some careers (or hobbies) demand as much grunt as gaming and animation.
That’s why a top-specced workstation is a top option for gamers and animators on the hunt for a powerful upgrade.
In this post, we’ll begin by defining the high-performance computer type, discussing the differences between its desktop and laptop variations, and explaining why workstations are great for graphics-intensive tasks.
We’ll then discuss the numerous HP workstation types and suggest 5 of our favourite models for animators and gamers.
What is a workstation?
You’ve probably heard the term “workstation” thrown around the tech sphere. But have you ever stopped to ponder what it means?
A workstation is a high-performance computer designed to handle processing-intensive tasks quicker than a regular personal computer.
Workstations are generally intended for professional use, from crunching vast chunks of data to analysing scientific inputs and rendering 3D animations. However, given their top-end specs and speedy GPUs, these high-powered business machines are a hit among gamers, too.
Workstations come in desktop and laptop formats. What both workstation types have in common are top-end specs. Typically, a workstation will include the following:
A late-gen Intel® Core™ i7 or i9 or equivalent AMD®
8 to 64 cores
At least 512GB of SSD storage
A dedicated NVIDIA® or AMD GPU with 4GB to 16GB of VRAM
16GB to 64GB of RAM
The downside is that all this top-end hardware comes at a higher cost. Expect to pay more for a workstation than a regular desktop or laptop computer.
Nonetheless, the workstation is still a worthwhile investment for gamers and animators who need top-end specs.
Laptop versus desktop workstations
The first key consideration is whether a desktop or laptop workstation better suits your needs. Both have distinct pros and cons – there’s no universally superior option.
The desktop workstation
The desktop workstation offers better performance at a lower price. After all, the manufacturer doesn’t need to cram a vast ensemble of state-of-the-art hardware into a tiny, magazine-sized case. Even the smallest desktop still has much more internal wriggle room than a laptop.
But technological innovations have seen microchips shrink rapidly. Powerful late-generation processors and high-capacity hard drives now occupy a modest amount of space. So why does size still matter?
The issue is the graphics card. A top-end GPU will get sizzling hot when running high-intensive tasks like animation or video game rendering. Laptops don’t have enough ventilation to cool the GPU efficiently, so manufacturers must resort to high-tech (expensive) workarounds.
Desktops also cost less because they don’t have the added expense of a lithium battery.
The laptop workstation
While the laptop workstation will cost more than a desktop model with equivalent specs, it does have one obvious advantage: portability.
Top-end workstation laptops tend to be much bulkier and heavier than other laptop types, particularly slim, feather-light models like ultrabooks. Nonetheless, a chunky laptop workstation is still relatively easy to whisk around town – pop it in your laptop bag and off you go.
Compare that to a desktop workstation, which you’ll have to unplug and carefully package every time you move it.
So, which option is better for you?
The laptop workstation is a clear winner if you expect to play games or create animations on the go. But if you plan to use your machine in one static location, the desktop offers better value.
Why workstations are good for gaming and animation
While gaming and animation are distinct activities, their computational requirements are essentially the same.
Both need a late-generation high-end processor like the Intel i7 or i9 or equivalent AMD. Moreover, the processor should have plenty of cores to execute tasks quickly – 6 or more is ideal.
Games and animation require vast amounts of RAM. Pulling data like art assets from temporary memory (RAM) is far more efficient than retrieving it from your hard drive.
Modern PC games occupy an enormous amount of hard drive space, often over 100GB. Likewise, high-definition animation files are famously storage intensive. Serious gamers and animators opt for at least 512GB of storage space. Otherwise, they’ll waste too much time deleting files to free up extra room.
Finally, the GPU is one of the most crucial – and expensive – considerations for gamers and animators. Playing modern AAA games and creating high-definition animations are resource-intensive activities. Both put considerable pressure on your graphics card, from rendering polygons to processing 3D animations and mapping textures.
That’s why a hard-core gamer or avid animator prefers a dedicated NVIDIA or AMD GPU with 4GB to 16GB of VRAM. More casual users, on the other hand, can make do with integrated Intel Iris® Xᵉ Graphics – but beware: other integrated cards just won’t cut it.
Whether in laptop or desktop format, a workstation complies with or exceeds all these requirements. Therefore, the workstation is an excellent choice for gaming and animation.
HP workstation for animation and gaming
HP® has a wide range of laptop and desktop workstations for animation and gaming.
The Z2 is the brand’s primary desktop workstation. This sleek, jet black machine comes in an array of models, from the petite Z2 Mini to the tall-standing Z2 GP 9. Customers can pick and choose the specs they need. The HP Elite series offers a more affordable desktop alternative.
For users on the go, HP® offers the high-performance Zbook range. Compact but powerful, the HP Z workstation has sufficient specs for gamers and animators on the move. The Firefly and Power, Studio are the 3 most suitable variations, each with several models and varying specs.
The top 5 HP workstations for gaming and animation
Whether you want an HP workstation laptop or desktop, you’ll find a suitable gaming or animation workstation on this list.
Setting a new benchmark for the desktop workstation, this mighty tower will breeze through the most demanding games and renders with ease. Its 12th gen Core i7 processor has 12 cores, enough to run up to 4.9 GHz on Turbo Boost.
The HP Z2 Tower G9 Workstation compliments its beefy processor with 16GB RAM, a speedy NVIDIA GPU, and a 512GB SSD. There’s plenty of room inside the box to ramp up your specs later, and toolless access simplifies customisation.
2. HP ZBook Studio 16-inch G9 Mobile Workstation PC
One of the largest HP mobile workstations, the ZBook Studio G9 Workstation is a slick 16-inch machine designed for animators on the move.
A 12th Gen i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and the sought-after NVIDIA RTX A1000 offer plenty of juice for even the most demanding renders. Meanwhile, the 16:10 aspect ratio lets you see more vertical content on the screen – a boon for creatives.
Despite its large, high-definition screen and top-end specs, its beefy battery will keep the workstation running for up to 12 hours in one session.
While the Iris Graphics card won’t outperform a dedicated unit, it’s considerably faster than other integrated GPUs. Expect to play games like Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty: Ghosts on 1080P at 60FPS. Animators could use it for 3D modelling on light workloads.
The next-gen i7 processor, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM ensure everything else runs butter smooth.
With a next-gen i9 processor, a whopping 32GB RAM, and the potent 8GB NVIDIA RTX A2000, this well-trained workhorse will blitz any AAA game or 3D modelling workload. Plus, a whole terabyte of rapid-access SSD storage gives you plenty of space for those massive files.
All this comes in a petite 15.6 package with a shiny all-aluminium chassis.
5. HP ZBook Firefly 16-inch G9 Mobile Workstation PC
The HP ZBook Firefly G9 Mobile Workstation is an excellent laptop option for users who are happy to use integrated Iris Xᵉ Graphics. Like the desktop HP Elite G9 mentioned above, it’s a more affordable alternative to a mobile workstation with a dedicated GPU.
While it won’t cope with newly released big-budget games or heavy rendering, the card blazes through other graphics-intensive tasks. A speedy i7 and 16GB RAM guarantee plenty of power for everyday processing, and there’s a generous 1TB SSD to store all your files.
The best HP workstation for gaming and animation
We’ve presented a carefully curated selection of our 5 favourite gaming and animation workstations from HP®.
With options to suit a broad range of budgets and computational requirements, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect unit for you.
About the Author: Harry Stewart is a Canberra-based freelance writer covering everything from travel to tech.
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