HP touts its flagship workstation—the Z820—as being super upgradeable with "tool-free serviceability." We took a look inside to see just how it measures up to Apple's new tower of power, the Mac Pro. So, what did we find? In short, everything we've ever asked for from a manufacturer: Super-easy access to common repairs, upgrades, and maintenance; great modularity; and a comprehensive set of repair manuals available free of charge. 10/10 repairability score, would tear down again. It's not often that we hand out a perfect score, but it's well-deserved today.
- When Apple decided to make the new Mac Pro compact and power-dense, they gave up a lot of the options that HP felt their top-of-line machine needed—options like extensive, easily-upgraded internal storage (completely tool-free!), dual CPUs, a ridiculous maximum RAM capacity, optical drives, and user-upgradeable graphics cards.
- The downside of all that upgradeability is portability—our lightly-optioned Z820 weighed in at 55 lbs, a good 44 lbs more than the Mac Pro.
- To get to the RAM, we had to open the case and remove the fan assembly. This procedure required one more step than the Mac Pro, so we'll kick a point to Apple for being slightly easier in this regard.
- The CPU heat sinks are strapped in with combination flathead/T15 Torx screws. Pick your poison: the accessibility of flathead or the reliability of Torx. Neat!
- HP scared us for a moment when we found Security Torx screws on the motherboard. But we needn't have feared, these screws hold in pegs that let you easily slide out the whole board without touching a driver.
- And our favorite tidbit of them all: HP created and shared an entire set of repair and replacement manuals with the world, empowering anyone to fix their workstations!