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Winner of Desktop Engineering’s Workstation Survey Impressed by the HP Z1

By Jamie J. Gooch

“Twenty-seven inches of beauty” is how Rick Ruport describes the HP Z1 workstation he won for participating in Desktop Engineering’s Workstation Survey.

Ruport, who is contracting as a tool designer at John Deere Davenport Works in Iowa, says he has been a long-time reader of Desktop Engineering. When he saw the chance to win HP’s new all-in-one workstation in the magazine, he thought of it as an opportunity to replace his personal 17-in. laptop.

Rick Ruport and his Z1
Rick Ruport poses with the HP Z1 all-in-one workstation he won from
Desktop Engineering and HP.

“I’m not exactly deprived at work,” he says, where he uses an HP Z800, but the huge screen of the Z1 really impressed him.

“The resolution is just pretty,” he says of the Z1’s native 2560×1440 resolution. His came with an NVIDIA Quadro 500M graphics board installed. HP also offers three other NVIDIA Quadro graphics boards for the Z1: the 1000M, 3000M and 4000M.

But lighting up those pixels wasn’t the first thing he did after unboxing the Z1.

“I opened it up before I turned it on,” Ruport recalls. The Z1 folds down and then the LCD hinges open to allow access to the computer’s components. “I’ve built quite a few workstations in my career, so I wanted to see how it was put together.”

Ruport began his career as a CAD administrator working in small shops, where he often had to be his own IT department. During the economic downturn in 2008, he decided to go back to school. The two-year mechanical engineering degree he received in 1980 wasn’t cutting it in a tough job market. In December, he graduated from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) with a degree in technology management.

During his studies, he and the UNI Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) student chapter robotics team designed a ping-pong-ball retrieving robot that won the 2011 ATMAE Student Robotics Competition. He designed it mainly in the student edition of SolidWorks on his laptop.

With the Z1’s Intel Xeon E3-1245 processor and 4GB of RAM (expandable to 32GB), Ruport may have made quicker work of the seven design iterations of the robot. He says he is sure the Z1 will handle the CAD software he’s accustomed to using, such as Pro/E, SolidWorks, Inventor and CATIA.

Although not nearly as portable as his laptop (the Z1 weighs 46 lbs.), Ruport thinks the all-in-one form factor will become popular with engineers.

“I think it’ll catch on,” he says. “I like that it’s upgradeable.”

The Z1 was designed to allow users to easily swap out hard drives, memory, graphics cards, optical drives, and/or power supplies. For a technophile like Ruport, it offers a number of future possibilities.

Though he says he hasn’t had the chance to really put the Z1 through its paces, he’s already considering adding more RAM.

About Jamie J. Gooch

Jamie Gooch is the editorial director of Digital Engineering. Contact him at de-editors@digitaleng.news.