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HP Six-core Z400 Test Drive, Part 2

Oct 28, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jan Ozer

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HP Z400

Last time out, I looked at the HP Z400 workstation, describing fit, finish, and performance with streaming encoding programs Telstream Episode Engine, Sorenson Media Squeeze, and Microsoft's Expression Encoder 4 Pro. In this final section, I'll share some results from Adobe Creative Suite 5 and Rhozet Carbon Coder.

Adobe CS5

The big question on the table for video producers is when you need a 12-core system and when a 6-core will do, and for this, I tested the 12-core Z800 in addition to the Z400. For the record, I tested with the latest version of Premiere Pro (5.0.2) and Adobe Media Encoder (5.0.1). Both computers were equipped with the same graphics card (Nvidia Quadro FX 4800) running the same driver version (, and were running 64-bit Windows 7 with 24GB of RAM. I ran all tests with hyperthreading on and off with both computers and used the faster score.

I only tested rendering speed because it's the easiest to measure accurately. I did mess around with some preview testing, but the scores in all cases were virtually identical, so I didn't document them. I tested rendering as a sole process, with nothing else running on the computer. Obviously, if you plan on rendering and continuing to edit on the same workstation, or performing some other CPU-intensive task, you're better off getting a dual-processor system, but I didn't attempt to test that for this review. I present the results by format.

Table 1. Results with DV test projects.

Table 1. Results with DV test projects.

DV format

With the DV format, I tested all real-world projects, all short because I don't do a lot of long form work in DV any longer. Overall, the Z400 performed very well compared to the Z800 in these projects, though the results shown in Table 1 present a pattern that would weave through most other formats—particularly DVCPRO HD. Specifically, when the project involves H.264, which is very optimized in CS5, the extra CPUs in the Z800 show a clear benefit. You see this in the two projects output to H.264.

Otherwise, you can't imagine that Adobe invested a lot of development time optimizing its internal DV or MPEG-2 codecs to make them run more efficiently an a massively multithreaded computer like the Z800 and it shows. Without H.264 involved, the Z400 was actually faster. If you're still working with DV, the Z400 looks to be a great workstation choice.

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