First off, let’s address the confusion between the ever-reliable desktop and the confusing functions of a workstation.
A desktop, as we all know, is a computer system that most people use to do everyday things. From the mundane activities we do online to writing tasks that don’t really require an internet connection, the handy laptop can easily perform these tasks with ease. However, even the best of laptops is nothing compared to what a workstation can do.
A workstation is a computer system integrated with the latest technology, which means it is definitely faster, more powerful, and more capable to perform even the most demanding of tasks associated with video making/editing, visual effects (VFX), manipulating and designing, electronic game designing, 3D modeling, product design, digital animation – basically the whole nine yards of media and entertainment.
There was a time when only Hollywood was capable of producing mesmerizing and awe-inspiring special effects that we see on TV and in the movies. Today, however, these Herculean tasks can be done in workstations that are equipped with large data capacity and memory.
Workstations help keep costs to a much lower threshold than seen for Hollywood movies, generating just enough levels of heat, which has always been an issue for “big capacity” computers. This piece of technology has allowed professionals to control everything from a single but fully optimized and centralized source.
HP Z8 G4 Workstation
The rise of 4K, 6K and 8K video, as well as 360 and virtual reality content, means that today’s computers need a massive and serious upgrade. If you think a 1TB hard drive, a decent video card, and a 16GB RAM is enough to produce amazing content, think again. HP released its 4th generation Z Series Workstations last year and had professionals go wide-eyed upon checking out its specs.
When HP said these workstations are designed with “extreme power,” they weren’t joking. In fact, they even called the HP Z8 G4 “the most powerful desktop workstation on the planet.” Is there any truth to that? Let’s find out.
The HP Z8 is the “big iron” of HP’s workstation family powered by dual Intel Xeon Scalable Processor chips with up to 56 processing cores, running your real-time 8K video editing tasks with up to 3 terabytes of RAM. The expansion includes four PCIe x16 slots, three PCIe x8, and two PCIe x4. Two of the three PCIe x8 slots have no access to the rear of this high-powered Workstation and are designed only for solid state drives and other internal expansion cards. It can handle four single-slot or three dual-slot graphics cards.
It should be noted that the Z8’s expansion slots will be disabled if you’re using three dual-slot GPUs but an empty PCIe x8 slot is available atop the motherboard, which seems to be the preferred place for PCIe storage devices. For the internal storage expansion, this workstation has two 5.25” external bays and four 2.5”/ 3.5” bays, as well as a slimline bay used for optical drives.
In order for the Z8 to run at high speeds without the hefty price of the conventional expansion card and without utilizing one of few expansion slots, there is a dual-port 10 GbE module in addition to its built-in two-port Gigabit Ethernet. In order to handle this kind of expansion, this machine can be powered by a 1700W power supply.
Aesthetic-wise, HP launched the Z8 with a new case design and enhanced internal shrouds, which is said to improve airflow by 30% or more. According to HP, the shroud makes sure that the second processor uses a different air than the first chip, which allows for longevity and better performance of the second processor. In the deadline-driven world of media and entertainment, these specs help increase productivity.
This technology, along with the right talent and skills, can create award-winning projects designed using many different kinds of software, including:
- Blackmagic Design
- Assimilate Scratch
- Sony Vegas
- Autodesk 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk Flame
- Adobe Create Suite Production
- Newscutter, DS, Symphony, Avid Media Composer
- Grass Valley Edius
- Adobe After Effects and Photoshop
- SGO Mistika
- The Foundry Nuke
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe InDesign
- Other homegrown Linux-based applications
Dell Precision T7920 Workstation
Along with HP, Dell is one of the top suppliers of workstations to content creation studios across the globe. The Dell Precision 7920 Tower is one of its newer systems, with CPUs ranging from single 6-core to dual 28-core processors and up to 3TB of RAM.
The Dell 7920 Tower Workstation comes equipped with a new generation of dual socket performance. Compatible with the latest Intel Xeon Processor Scalable family, with up to 28 cores per processor or a total of 56 cores if equipped with dual processors. The memory has also improved since its Dell Precision T7910 Workstation predecessor. With up to 1.5 TB of new faster 2666 Mhz RDIMM / LRDIMM expandable memory, you are now able to increase your work without running to any slow speed. The Dell T7920 is an excellent machine for video editing. The workstation is ready for work intensive projects and is compatible with the next generation AMD Radeon Pro and highest performing NVIDIA Quadro Graphics card.
Aesthetic-wise, the Precision 7920 Tower has a case design similar to Dell’s Precision T7910 Workstation but with minor upgrades. To cool the system’s high-performance parts, there’s an intake grill on the front to allow plenty of air flow. A welcome addition is the carrying handles on the top of the case, which makes transport easier since the system is quite heavy and bulky.
This technology, along with the right talent and skills, can create award-winning projects designed using many different kinds of software, including but not limited to:
- Cinebench 15
- xNormal 3.19
- World Machine 3022
- Reality Capture RealFlow
- Premiere Pro CC
- Marvelous Designer
- After Effects
- OctaneRender, Redshift
- Renderman for Maya
- Blender 3ds Max
The Dell T7920 Workstation can be configured so it runs flawlessly with your application of choice.
With the availability of the AMD Radeon Pro SSG, its 10 teraflop, two terabyte SSG graphics module is able to process large datasets faster and more efficiently. In the age of virtual reality, this is potentially useful for professionals working on real-time VR rendering.
Advantages of using HP or Dell Workstations
Faster Rendering for Complex Graphics
While laptops or PCs typically support consumer-grade graphics cards, a workstation is designed to support not just one, but two or more (up to four) professional-grade cards. Anyone working with detailed graphics can expect to see astonishing improvements in system responsiveness when using a workstation.
Memory for Large Tasks
A workstation can be upgraded to have many times the memory of any desktop computer. For this reason, designers and artists alike have the power to work on larger canvases, which will improve workflow in fundamental ways.
Large Hard Drives for the Biggest of Jobs
Workstations are designed to support terabyte-sized internal storage, which means tasks of almost any size can be stored on the system. Both the HP Z8 Workstation and the Dell T7920 Workstation can hold up to 48TB of total storage allowing you to get fastest performance for storage bound applications.
Less Downtime and Optimum Reliability
The high-powered processors used in workstations adapts to the needs of various tasks with intelligent performance, cost-saving manageability, and smart security. You can monitor the system remotely, diagnose, and repair any issues even if the system is turned off or if the OS is unresponsive.
HP and Dell Workstations for Media and Entertainment
Ideally, choosing the right workstation boils down to the most affordable machine that is still capable of meeting your needs and getting the job done right. However, a common occurrence is that the best workstations often come at a high price, and if you choose a system not powerful enough, it will have a negative effect on you and your team’s efficiency, creativity, and productivity.
So are you team Dell or team HP? Are you thinking of a Dell T7920 Workstation or an HP Z8 G4 Workstation? Let us know in the comments below. But remember, before making any choices make sure that you are choosing the right specifications for your business applications, which include 2D designs, 3D designs, model generation, rapid prototyping, analysis-driven design, and others.
All in all, both the HP Z8 G4 Workstation and Dell Precision T7920 Workstation don’t just offer you the same tools only big-shot Hollywood studios have, but they also allow freelance professionals to produce games, films, videos, and other content that requires huge memory or data at a much more manageable cost. These machines allow for faster completion of tasks even without the help of a dedicated group of artists or editors.
Looking for a powerful machine at a more affordable cost? Check out the HP Z840 Workstation, the predecessor to the HP Z8 G4 Workstation. Prefer Dell? Look into the Dell Precision T7910 Workstation – the predecessor of the Dell Precision T7920 Workstation.
Not sure? Have questions? Contact us now!