Choosing a Workstation for Editing, Encoding, or Analysis? Check out the HP Z840

Z840_art1_Figure1.pngThough cameras get most of the hype and headlines for video producers, workstations are where the rubber meets the road, helping us meet our deadlines and get our work done during normal (or mostly normal) business hours. Recently, I put the new HP Z840 through its paces, and in three separate reviews, discussed its performance for video editing, streaming encoding, and analysis.

HP shipped the computer with three types of hard disks, traditional HDDs, a SATA-based SSD, and HP's proprietary Turbo SSD G2. In all tests, I compared the performance with the source files located on all three drives, and with hyper-threading technology (HTT) enabled and disabled. Here's what I hoped to discover in each analysis.

• First, how much faster is the Z840 compared to my older Z800 workstation?

• Second, was performance faster with HTT enabled or disabled?

• Third, did the disk speed on the respective test systems significantly impact encoding performance. More specifically, does using SSD disks improve encoding performance over older HDD drives?


Here's a brief look at my findings; click over to Streaming Media Producer for the complete reviews. 

Editing Performance

Editing focused on Adobe Premiere Pro, basically asking, sure the number of cores have increased, but can Premiere Pro use them? I used a series of preview and rendering tests to find out, as presented in the table below.  


The last column on the right shows the overall decrease in rendering time, with a green background when the decrease exceeded 35%. As you can see, for some projects, including those using Red camera footage, the decrease in rendering time was profound. Click here to read the rest of the article. 

Encoding Performance

For the encoding comparisons, I tested using multiple encoders, including Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze, Telestream Vantage, and FFMPEG encoding both x265 and VP9. I present the results in the table below. Note that I had to use two computers for comparative purposes, a Z800 and a Z600, because Vantage wouldn't run on my Z800. 


Again, a very substantial decrease in encoding time, exceeding the 35% threshhold in four of five cases. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Analysis Performance 

As I share in the last review, last summer I performed a consulting project that involved computing the VQM, SSIM, and PSNR scores for 16 different test files encoded in nine configurations for three codecs. Run the math and that's close to 1300 analyses, before counting redos. With some analyses taking ten minutes or so, throughput was a critical issue. 

So I duplicated that workflow for my last series of tests, and found up to a 50% decrease in rendering time, as shown in the table below. In particular, HP's Turbo SSD G2 drives shined in this comparison. 


Since analysis time was a significant bottleneck, the Z840 could have cut days off my processing and report production time. Click here to read the rest of the article. 

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