So here at ICT Direct we occasionally get offered kit that bucks the usual trends that we see throughout the year. Every now and again we’ll be offered a container full of machines of a newer generation and a higher specification than anything we have had access to before. Not only that but it usually comes in at such a low price that we have to re-evaluate our overall pricing structure.
Now the container in question here is full of HP Z Series workstations, specifically the lovely Z210. This got me thinking about what role this machine could have in schools and colleges.
Marketed as an entry point into the professional design and 3D modelling world, the Z210 is considerably more powerful than its predecessor the Z200.
Whilst the Z200 shipped with a lowly Core i3 540 3.06GHz CPU, the Z210 comes with the powerful Xeon E3-1240 ‘Sandy-Bridge’ 3.3GHz CPU.
The arrival of this exceptional machine gave me the idea of putting together a bundle specifically for those departments which require a step up in performance.
Whilst modern computing can pack a lot of computing power into even the tiniest form factors these days, sometimes you just need a larger chassis. Being able to add multiple storage drives, a dedicated graphics card, a card reader and possibly some PCE-e Flash storage goes a long way towards extending the lifetime of a PC.
It goes without saying that refurbished hardware shouldn’t cost the same as new hardware. To that end we need a control unit with a price and spec to compare our Z210 against.
My choice for this is the powerful HP EliteDesk 800 G1 SFF. This is a top of the line HP desktop common throughout schools and businesses. It is available online with 3 year warranty and 20” HP display for around £750
- Intel Core i5 4590 3.3GHz CPU
- 4GB DDR3 RAM
- 500GB HDD
- Windows 7 Professional (through downgrade rights from 8.1 professional)
- 3 years warranty
Graphics Workstation Wish list
In an ideal world your setup should something like this:
- Powerful Desktop PC
- Dedicated Professional Graphics Card
- Large Monitor (22” plus)
- High Precision Mouse
- Specialist interface (3D Mouse/Tablet)
Getting the best solution whilst spending as little as possible
In my previous blog post about building a recording PC on a lower budget than a brand new iMac I began with the guts of the system, the PC itself. I’ll do the same here as it’s a logical beginning.
Refurbished HP Z10 workstation: – £286 Ex VAT
- Intel Xeon E3-1240 Quad Core 3.30GHz Processor
- 8GB DDR3 PC3-10600E ECC RAM
- 120GB Solid State Drive – for OS and programs only
- 1TB SATA HDD – for local storage of student projects
- nVidia Quadro FX580 – Pro Graphics Graphics
- DVD R/RW
- Win 7 Professional
- New Keyboard & Mouse
- 3 Years Warranty
Built by HP this entry-level workstation class desktop sports an immense quad core Intel Xeon E3 processor and a respectable 8GB of RAM. This is a class-leading system; despite being part of Intel’s Second Generation Architecture it still out performs many of the Intel 4th Generation CPUs (*). Loading the operating system and all your programs onto the Solid State Drive will give another performance boost.
This setup will give you a machine that will be more than capable of running extensive tasks in the full range of Adobe Creative Suite software. The large 8GB RAM, lightning-fast Solid State Drive, powerful Hyper-Threading Intel Xeon Processor and professional nVidia Graphics Card make for a PC ready to take on whatever you throw at it.
Next up, I looked for a screen. Looking through the items I have in stock I’ve decided on the following screen.
Lenovo Thinkvision LT2252P 22” LED Monitor – £70
Boasting a 22” widescreen panel with a 1680 x 1050 resolution you have plenty of real estate to work your artistic magic.This is a robust business-class monitor that is once again a class leader in its field.
It also offers an impressive 16.7 million colours at an excellent 1000:1 contrast ratio.
One final piece of the puzzle is a nice 3d mouse or tablet & stylus. For me, the 3DConnexion Space Pilot offers excellent value for money and superb control when being used as part of the creative process.
The 3Dconnexion SpacePilot connects you to the 3D design process like never before.
Its optical sensor technology and ergonomic design combine to deliver unprecedented control and fewer distractions.
So why buy new when you can have more for less?
3DConnexion SpacePilot USB 3D mouse – £95 Ex VAT
So what I the point of buying a brand new PC when you can get a better system, complete with monitor and special 3D mouse for far less than the cost of a single new unit?
Let’s do the Maths:
£750 - 286 - 70 – 95
Your total saving per system comes to £299! You could get your school another desktop PC or a pair of laptops with the saving or you could divert the budget to another area that desperately needs funds.
* CPU Benchmark comparison 4590 vs E3-1240