HP z440

After years of self-built computers, I decided to get a workstation at home. I got a HP z440 - the 2015 single socket HP workstation. From their workstation line, it's the entry-level; the z640 and z840 are dual socket and allow for more expansion and PCIe cards.

It's plenty fast; the E5 1680v3 CPU has 8 cores at 3.2GHz, up to 3.8GHz with turbo. You can get faster per-core performance with a high-clocked i7, but 8 cores are great when encoding video or compiling code.

I think ECC memory makes sense. Memory errors are not very frequent, but given the small premium paid, it's well worth it. Even Google, who started with as-cheap-as-possible servers in their datacenters now uses ECC memory in their servers:
The conclusion we draw is that error correcting codes are crucial for reducing the large number of memory errors to a manageable number of uncorrectable errors.
Only 2 out of 8 slots are filled, which looks weird - after all it comes with 32GB. I don't think I'll fill the slots any time soon, but it's fun to know it's possible to upgrade to 128GB.

It came with a NVIDIA Quadro K5200 (pdf). I would never buy the GPU separately as I don't use any of the professional software they are optimized for and it's overpriced as a generic GPU. Currently trying to get rid of it on ebay and hopefully upgrade to a GTX 1080 or 1070. In the few weeks I have it, I found it surprisingly fast - I didn't run very demanding games, but everything works fine in 4k.

The SSD is one of the highlights - it is a 512GB HP Z Turbo Drive, which is just a different name for a Samsung 941. Compared to a Samsung 850 EVO, the new SSD is much faster.

So why get a workstation instead of a normal cheap PC? The main reason is ebay - there is a good selection of last generation workstations for good prices. For about $2000 (EUR, AUD, GBP are similar), which seems to be reasonable for a great PC, you can now get a great last-generation workstation. Compared to the PC, it is reliable, well built, quiet and comes with great support, as for some reason manufacturers give better support to workstations than consumer PCs.
This machine was about $3k. If Intel continues to launch CPUs like in the last 5 years, it will be great for at least 5 years.

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