Finding the best workstation for architects can feel like an arduous task given the high demands of the field. Creative Pros
require a strong balance of hardware and performance just to keep up with 3D design software, one of the main tools of the trade these days.
However, we’re here to streamline your search with a list of 5 standout options with great hardware configurations and plenty of room to customize over the life of the device. To support the demanding software routine of most architects and engineers, our list focuses on the performance-centric HP Z workstation series
1. HP Z1 entry tower PC - affordable starter workstation
Starting our list on an affordable note, the HP Z1 entry tower
is a well-rounded build for students and new professionals. Whether your goal is to find the best desktop for architecture students or you’re just trying to stay on budget, this PC comes with a strong range of features to consider.
Processing power is a key feature for most people in the architecture or engineering fields, and the HP Z1 was built with that in mind. It offers more than a dozen processor configurations up to the latest Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor with turbo boost technology and integrated UHD Graphics 630.
The more affordable starting configuration boasts 4GB of memory and a 500GB HDD. However, you can load up this desktop with up to 128GB of RAM and massive storage options beyond 5TB. You can even add your choice of a dedicated graphics card, up to the powerful NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 card.
With an accessible price point and strong hardware foundation, the HP Z1 entry tower is a great way for students to enjoy a top-shelf experience. Whether you’re working with a large group of youngsters on STEM prep or about to start college courses yourself, you’ll find a lot to love about this computer now and down the line thanks to its myriad expansion options.
2. HP Z2 G4 mini workstation PC - power meets portability
If you prefer a bit of portability, the HP Z2 mini workstation
has a compact build that doesn’t sacrifice a thing in terms of performance. It’s only 8.5 x 8.5 x 2.28 inches in size, so you can easily carry it from one workspace to another. This makes it a great pick for anyone who splits time between different worksites or who wants a smaller, supplemental device for your home office.
They say good things come in small packages, and the HP Z2 proves that in spades. Customize yours with a range of Intel Xeon® processor options and integrated Intel UHD Graphics P630, or opt for a dedicated graphics card like the NVIDIA Quadro® P1000 MXM.
The starting configuration ships with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD, and you can boost those up to 64GB of RAM and up to 4TB of storage in a high-stability hybrid storage
Despite its small size, the HP Z2’s next-gen hardware can easily keep pace with drafting and rendering software. It’s also secure thanks to the included HP Client Security Suite Gen3 and HP Sure Start Gen 4 to protect itself and your information.
More concerned about price point than portability? The HP Z2 is also available in a standard tower configuration
. This more conventional build retains a lower price tag and it comes with more upgrade capacity compared to the HP Z1. Like the mini workstation variant, the HP Z2 tower boasts the latest next-gen Intel Xeon processor options and an extremely high ceiling for customization.
3. HP Z4 G4 workstation PC - powerful mid-range workstation
One of our most popular high-performance PCs, the HP Z4 workstation
is an ideal mid-range option that offers a big boost in performance without a huge leap in price. Like with the rest of the HP Z family, the jump in class means exponential gains for capacity and hardware potential.
From here on out, everything else on our list ships with Intel Xeon processors standard. With the HP Z4, our top configuration offers a powerful 18-core Intel Xeon W-2295 processor, plus turbo boost technology. It also ups the ante with room for as much as 256GB of RAM and 12TB in traditional HDD or solid-state drive
If you’re particularly concerned about graphics, you’ll be glad to know you can customize the HP Z4 with a variety of dedicated graphics card
configurations. They include more affordable options up to top-shelf cards like the AMD Radeon™ Pro WX 9100 Graphics or the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000. That opens up a world of high-quality 3D and even VR applications
The HP Z4 is a particularly strong option for those with heavier, more complex workloads, and it provides more than enough capacity to handle demanding software. Plus there’s plenty of room to scale up as your life and work evolve. Even with all that power, its physical footprint is comparable to most traditional towers and even 10% smaller than the previous generation.
4. HP Z6 G4 workstation PC - high-powered computing
With another big step up in hardware and functionality, the HP Z6 G4 workstation
delivers a major boost to processing power with dual processors, up to 48 cores total, and a long list of customization options. For the primary processor, configure up to a high-powered Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processor, then pair with an Intel Xeon Gold 6252 for top performance.
With even greater RAM and storage capacity, it also provides an ultra-responsive computing experience across your applications. For the smoothest performance, configure yours with up to 768GB of RAM and 24TB of storage. That’s enough speed and space to support your software of choice and maintain all of your files.
You can expect even deeper graphics card options as well, because this PC boasts two dedicated slots for maximum visual performance. This means you can start small and install your own additional card down the line, or you can configure yours now with your preferred combo. Choose between a variety of leading NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon cards to find your ideal visual output and run the most resource-hungry visual software.
With a huge increase in capacity and only a marginal change in price, the HP Z6 is a great way to master your projects with plenty of space left over for the future. It’s also only a little larger than its cousin, the HP Z4 workstation, so you won’t have to sacrifice on space either.
5. HP Z8 G4 workstation PC - the undisputed champ
The HP Z8 G4 workstation
is the undisputed champ for performance and computing power. It offers a massive boost across the board, from processing power and memory, to storage and graphics. Even better, starting configurations won’t set you back much more than the slightly smaller HP Z4 and HP Z6 variants.
It all starts with your processor, which can go up to a maximum of 56 cores across two Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processors. For RAM and storage, it delivers a blazing fast 1.5TB of combined RAM and 40TB of storage in HDD, SSD, or hybrid configurations.
You can also count on a strong bedrock for visual performance, which includes an optional third dedicated graphics card. You’ll choose from a diverse list of potential cards including the top-rated options from the NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon lines.
With all these stellar features, it’s easy to see why the HP Z8 tops our list. With huge hardware potential and the versatility of HP Z design, it’s easily among the most powerful workstations available from HP®. It’s perfect for any architecture or engineering pro, and it offers a serious edge on most tasks.
What features are most important?
The demands of architecture and engineering work often fall heavily on your desktop computer. Even students tend to need a lot of computing capacity for their classwork, making the right workstation an important investment. Beyond its performance, this type of PC can help you build experience more quickly and ease the transition into demanding first jobs.
Shoppers should focus on processing power, memory, and storage, as well as room to upgrade. With the right expansion slots, you can meet new demands by upgrading individual components instead of replacing your PC outright. That’s why we believe that the best computer for AutoCAD and design is the one that’s most adaptable.
Performance hardware and great customizability make the entire HP Z line a great choice for professionals like architects and engineers. But whichever HP Z computer you pick, keep in mind that your primary workstation will handle a big workload almost every day. AutoCAD and design software put a big strain on your device, and the same applies to a growing workload.
For pure performance potential, the HP Z8 G4 is hard to beat. But if you want a blend of portability and power, be sure to consider the HP Z2 mini workstation. And if your goal is to find the best desktop for architecture students, the HP Z1 is the one for you.
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