Ever since we started Project TinyMiniMicro we have been getting requests to look at the HP Z2 Mini line. Specifically, these are HP’s compact workstations. If one thinks of a workstation as a large bulky machine, these are clearly on the other end of the spectrum. While they are larger than the typical TMM node, we have gotten so many requests we finally purchased a HP Z2 Mini G4 and will put it through a Project TinyMiniMicro-style article.
Project TinyMiniMicro Background
In Project TinyMiniMicro we are purchasing a large number of these devices from different sources. While a standard STH review is of a new product, these TMM nodes occasionally have specs that differ from what one would expect. In all of these pieces, we are going to talk about what makes the nodes unique. We are now well over 35 different nodes to increase diversity we have also branched out to the 0.35L market and a few NUCs as well. We are testing these on a more circular economy/ extended lifecycle basis to see how they can be deployed after their initial use as corporate desktops. As always, we have a video version of this article.
We recommend opening this video in a YouTube tab/ app for a better viewing experience.
For our $606 (before tax), we received a node with an Intel Core i5-8500, 16GB of memory, WiFi, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. We even got an embedded Windows 10 Pro license which would have cost us around $140 alone.
This is part of our new series where we are branching out to some slightly larger and smaller options in the market. With our series, we understand that there is always going to be tension. TinyMiniMicro is the 1L category and this is certainly bigger. Still, we wanted to take a look just due to requests.
In terms of pricing, this was about 2/3 the cost of the HP EliteDesk 800 G6 Mini 65W TMM node, and we lost two CPU generations along with the newer WiFi 6. What we gained however is a GPU, specifically a NVIDIA Quadro P1000 GPU.
As a quick note here, this unit actually looked fairly good on the inside, but it certainly saw a lot of wear on the exterior. Part of the project is that we are showing what we got, so this is something we felt compelled to show.
We are going to go into a quick hardware overview, then into the key specs. We are then going to talk a bit about performance and power consumption before getting to our lessons learned from these units and our final words.
HP Z2 Mini G4 Hardware Overview
We have looked at a number of 1L PCs with GPUs, but this is a bit larger. It is 21.6 x 21.6 x 5.8 cm. Here is a quick look next to the 65W HP EliteDesk 800 G6 Mini:
Since we have tested so many 1L corporate desktops from HP, Lenovo, and Dell, (hence getting requests for this) we wanted to just show that this is clearly bigger.
The front of the Unit has the HP logo and a power button, but the big features start at this side. Here we have two USB 3 Type-A ports, a 10Gbps Gen 2 Type-C port, and a headset jack.
One will note, this system saw a lot of wear on its exterior prior to making it to the lab.
On the other side, we can see a lot of functionality. Ther is the power input, two display ports, a USB 3 Type-C Gen 2 10Gbps port. We then get two optional slot blanks, one has a Thunderbolt port. This is a commonly requested feature on the TinyMiniMicro series, so it is fun that this has a Thunderbolt port here. On the right-hand side, we get two USB 3 Type-A ports and a 1GbE NIC (Intel i219-LM.)
Just as a point of clarification here, since this unit has a GPU, it is a “Performance” unit, not an entry unit. That is something to be aware of when purchasing these systems that there is a difference.
Inside the system, we have a layout that looks like a larger version of what we see in Project TinyMiniMicro HP units. The CPU and memory are on top while the GPU, NVMe SSD, and WiFi card are on the bottom here.
One feature that was not populated in ours, but we wanted to call out is that there is a 2.5″ drive tray along with the power and data connector. Our unit did not have a 2.5″ drive populated, but it does add an option for a second drive if one wants.
Under the fan cooling the NIVIDA Quadro P1000 4GB MXM GPU, one can see we get a 256GB M.2 2280 (80mm) SSD along with an Intel 9560 (2×2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 Combo card. This generation was still on 802.11ac so it is not a WiFi 6/ 6E device like a modern system.
As with its smaller units, HP has another swivel-up fan here that goes over the memory and cools the CPU.
Our unit had 16GB of memory installed in two 8GB SODIMMs. Given that we have the Intel Core i5-8500, 16GB is a solid figure, but one can use up to 2x 32GB SODIMMs for 64GB of memory in this system.
The big takeaway, and something we wanted to test, is that the cooling for the CPU involves a much larger fan and heatsink than in the 1L EliteDesk Minis. Also, the NVIDIA Quadro P1000 is a 47W TDP GPU, so it is designed for low-power as well. There are other dGPU options including the NVIDIA Quadro P600 and AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150. Although NVIDIA Quadro branding is phased out for new products these are Pascal generation GPUs so they are still called Quadros. We will quickly note that these are MXM GPUs, not standard PCIe slot GPUs making them more akin to notebook GPUs. Some of the 1L PCs use risers with PCIe slots to accept GPUs.
A few other options are worth mentioning here. First, the system can take many other CPUs. For example, one can have 9th Gen Intel Core CPUs in this system. One can also have Xeons. Specifically, one can use the Intel Xeon E-2100/ E-2200 Series CPus in these systems as well. If you want to learn more about those series, we have our Intel Xeon E-2100 and Xeon E-2200 Coverage Guide. We just started testing the E-2300 series with our Supermicro SYS-510T-MR review 1U Intel Xeon E-2300 server and also the new Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake details are out as we are writing this so the new generations are here. This was the last PCIe Gen3 generation and we rapidly went through PCIe Gen4 to now PCIe Gen5.
Next, let us get to the performance, power consumption, and our final thoughts.