A Mighty Computer in a Small Package

Review by Bruce Bicknell

How does the saying go? Mini is mighty? Well, if that’s not a saying now, it should be with the new HP Z2 Mini G3 Performance Workstation. I’ve reviewed computers of all sizes and forms from both sides of the fence (Mac and Windows), but I have to say this one has totally blown me away. Not only does it have the cool factor, as it looks like it should be on the desk of a superhero, but it also has the horsepower and flexibility to rival just about any desktop (and not just mini form factors)! The ability to hook up six monitors out of the box is quite a feat for any size box, but it’s even more impressive considering the small size of the Z2 Mini.

Let’s start with the horsepower and functionality. My test model is maxed out with an Intel i7-6700, 32 GB (2×16 GB) of RAM, and a discrete NVIDIA Quadro M620 GPU with 2 GB of dedicated video RAM. Storage is provided by a 256-GB HP Z Turbo PCIe SSD and a 1-TB SATA drive that gives more than enough space for files, and the SSD launches all of the systems quickly and efficiently. The configuration really allows this machine to perform, and it’s amazing that they got all of this into a small package (8.5″ on a side, and less than 2.5″ high).

This is where it gets even cooler: the number of features HP packed into such a small box. If you’re like me, I’m always looking for more ports to connect my devices, as well as the ability to hook up multiple monitors without jumping through tons of hoops. Well, this one may surprise you, as you’ll find four DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, two USB Type-C 3.1 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. (Note: There’s also an Entry-level version of the Z2 Mini that has fewer ports.) I was excited about the capability of hooking up to six monitors out of the box. I “only” have four external monitors, but I had them all up and running in no time, and the video card handled them with ease and no lag between them.

The designers and engineers at HP have created an aesthetically pleasing case that oozes coolness, as well as being functionally sound with its performance and cooling capabilities. This machine stays cool and is ultra-quiet sitting on the desktop. It’s VESA-mountable (for Z Displays and third-party stands, arms, and wall mounts) so it can be mounted out of the way if desired; but personally, I love the look of it on my desk, as its design is inspirational (and did I mention that it just looks cool).

This machine performed well above my expectations in both Lightroom and Photoshop. I think HP has a serious contender in this market and a much-welcomed alternative to anyone who needs a smaller, more powerful computer. I’d recommend the HP Z2 Mini G3 Workstation to any creative pro who’s looking for a great computer at a reasonable price. (Note: Pricing can vary based on component costs and promotional discounts.) ■