Workstations Become More Viable Customer OptionBy Michael Vizard | Print
HP and Dell both working to make workstations more affordable
While PC margins are razor thin these days, one of the more interesting developments in the workstation space is that the delta between the cost of a PC and a workstation has significantly narrowed. That means there’s a lot more customers who previously might have only considered a standard PC that are now probably willing to upgrade to a workstation.
For example, Hewlett-Packard this week announced the new HP Z220 Workstations along with an HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations. The Z220 features next-generation Intel Core and Intel Xeon processors, integrated and discrete professional graphics from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD and four integrated USB 3.0 ports. Intended to be an entry-level workstation, the Z220 is available in a convertible Mini-Tower (CMT) or a highly compact Small Form Factor (SFF) that is 65 percent smaller.
The HP EliteBook w-series, meanwhile, is based on Intel Core i7 quad-core or i7 or i5 dual-core processors and up to 32 GB of system memory.Expected to be available later this month, the quad-core configurations of the HP Z220 are priced starting at $699. The HP EliteBook 8770w, 8570w, 8470w Mobile Workstations start at $1,699, $1,449, and $1,329 respectively.
The launch of these systems comes on the heels of the introduction of what HP described as the world’s first all-in-one workstation. Built around a 27-in. display, Xeon processor and NVIDIA graphics, the HP Z1 Workstation is designed to snaps open so users can easily swap out parts and make upgrades without any tools required.
According to Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager for HP's commercial solutions business unit, the HP Z1 in particular is designed in particular to drive adoption of an easily upgradable all-in-one workstation in new use case scenarios, such as hotels or any other environment where an end user may need to share access to their screen.
.HP is not the only PC vendor making a more concerted workstation effort. Dell recently revamped its line of Precision tower workstations, which in addition to Next-Generation Intel Xeon Core processors feature removable power supplies and hard drives that can be easily upgrade via the front of the system.
As a category workstation sales have been comparatively strong. In addition to seeing mobile workstations that are actually lite enough to carry around, more end users are considering workstations as a hedge against Windows 8. A workstation system will more likely be able to more effectively run Windows 8 should a customer decide to upgrade from Windows 7 later on. In contrast, while most new PCs should be able to run Windows 8, confidence in the ability of those systems to effectively run Windows 8 is not especially high.
.A lot of customers simply wouldn’t consider a workstation-class machine because they perceive that those systems are generally out of their price range. In reality, workstation pricing is now down to a point that is roughly equivalent to what people are used to paying for a high-end PC. Granted high-end PC prices have fallen, but there are an increasing number of customers that would be just as happy to spend the same amount of money they used to on a PC to get a workstation, versus saving a $100 or so by opting to buy a less powerful PC.