3D World

Re­view: hp Z840 + amd

price £2,190 and £2,998.99 (re­spec­tively) | com­pany HP and AMD | web­site www.hp.co.uk, www.amd.co.uk

- Tech · Hewlett Packard · AMD · Microsoft Windows · Adobe Photoshop · Adobe After Effects · Nvidia

HP’S new Amd-pow­ered work­sta­tion

Hav­ing be­come a sta­ple in the high end busi­ness and graph­ics mar­ket, we took a look at HP’S Z840 Work­sta­tion and the Fire­pro W9100 it came with, and put it through a week in a free­lancer’s life. Did it pass muster?

The first thing you no­tice about the work­sta­tion is how small it is, de­spite the power it packs un­der the hood. The sec­ond is how very silently it runs, un­til the GPU spins up. The Z840 comes with a dual set of E5 2.5GHZ Xeon pro­ces­sors and 64GB DD4 RAM, and OS of choice, which in our case was Win­dows 10. De­spite its com­pact size, the chas­sis is ac­tu­ally a lot roomier than it looks, with plenty of space for ad­di­tional drives, cards, and air cir­cu­la­tion, even with a beast of a GPU like the Fire­pro inside.

Su­per speedy

Af­ter plug­ging it in and putting it on­line, I used it as my main work­sta­tion for a week, rather than putting it through yet another bench­mark test. It was put through a typ­i­cal 3D work­flow in­stead: work­ing with heavy poly 3D meshes, cre­at­ing 4K tex­ture sets and bakes in the Sub­stance suite, to UV map­ping a big mecha in Un­fold 3D, in ad­di­tion to Quix­elling in Pho­to­shop, and us­ing the Fire­pro in Max, on V-ray RT, V-ray Ad­vanced and Corona ren­ders.

Ev­ery­thing went blind­ingly fast, most no­tice­ably – and nat­u­rally – when work­ing with heavy meshes and V-ray. This isn’t re­ally a sur­prise, as the Fire­pro sports 16 GB GDDRS mem­ory with a 512 mem­ory in­ter­face and 320GB/S mem­ory band­width, but it was nice to work in V-ray at the speed of minute in­ter­vals in the tweakren­der-tweak cy­cle. That speed was also a very wel­come ex­pe­ri­ence as it tore its way through tweak­ing and auto-un­fold­ing a poly-heavy ro­bot in Un­fold 3D – a task I’d been dread­ing on my lesser per­sonal work­sta­tion. Bak­ing sets of 4K maps in Sub­stance De­signer took about five min­utes on medium poly meshes – and never longer than 1015 on the su­per heavy ones. It also goes with­out say­ing that any­thing re­quir­ing a fram­er­ate, from game en­gines like Lum­ber­yard and Un­real to Af­ter Ef­fects, ran and com­piled su­per fast.

a few draw­backs

With the cost of work­sta­tions al­ways on the de­crease, would it be worth in­vest­ing in some­thing as big in this?

It de­pends on your needs. If you’re plan­ning on a gam­ing/ ren­der­ing/mod­ding hy­brid, you might be bet­ter off build­ing or buy­ing a lesser work­sta­tion.

How­ever, if you’re work­ing on a pipe­line, or a pur­chaser for a team on a pipe­line, this combo is def­i­nitely worth look­ing into, es­pe­cially now it’s ma­tured in the mar­ket and any kinks have been ironed out.

It does, how­ever, have a few draw­backs, pro­vided you can af­ford the start­ing cost of £2,190 and £2,999 for the sta­tion and card re­spec­tively, the GPU’S fan is a bit louder than what you typ­i­cally hear on Radeon or GTX cards, but not dis­turbingly so. In ad­di­tion, de­spite fiercely com­pet­ing with Nvidia’s Quadro range, it is ironic that the Fire­pro W9100, which can per­form bet­ter than the K6000 Quadro in shader bench­marks, is not sup­ported by Al­le­gorith­mic’s Sub­stance suite yet. The suite worked well enough for me when re­view­ing Sub­stance Painter 2 (page 96), in ad­di­tion to fin­ish­ing some client work, but if it started crash­ing, which it didn’t do of­ten, only a re­boot helped. The hassle was highly mit­i­gated by the sys­tem com­ing back up al­most im­me­di­ately, but it was still hassle.

So did it pass muster? Ab­so­lutely. The few is­sues I had were out­weighed by the setup’s speed and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Add to that ease of up­grade and you’re buy­ing some­thing that’ll last you a while.

Cirstyn ad­vises this combo is def­i­nitely worth con­sid­er­ing for those artists work­ing on a pipe­line It tore its way through tweak­ing and autoun­fold­ing a poly-heavy ro­bot in Un­fold 3D

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 ??  ?? Au­thor pro­file Cirstyn Bechyagher Tired of al­ways hav­ing to wait for oth­ers to fix things that broke, Cirstyn has fixed and built her own work­sta­tions for years, AMD as well as Nvidias. www.twit­ter.com/cirstyn
Au­thor pro­file Cirstyn Bechyagher Tired of al­ways hav­ing to wait for oth­ers to fix things that broke, Cirstyn has fixed and built her own work­sta­tions for years, AMD as well as Nvidias. www.twit­ter.com/cirstyn
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