HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation review: a serious Mac Studio rival

HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation

“The HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation is each amazingly small and surprisingly powerful.”


  • Powerful processor performance
  • Compact
  • User accessible internals
  • VESA-mountable
  • Solid design and construct quality


  • Odd port selection
  • Gets hot and loud

A number of years ago, it might have been hard to assume a compact workstation just like the HP Z2 Mini G9. It’s smaller than a shoebox, but has full desktop-class components inside its black box.

It may not be something that may challenge the acute efficiency of, let’s say, a Mac Mini or Mac Studio. Yet even with some odd design decisions and a hefty price tag, the HP Z2 Mini G9 stays a solid alternative for a strong yet compact PC.


The HP Z2 G9 Workstation laid down on a table.

The Z2 Mini G9 Workstation isn’t meant to be flashy, but it surely has more happening than simply a small black box. The front has a lattice-patterned grille, which hides the Z logo and the ability button. Sidenote: The Z logo may even be rotated for if you stand the Z2 Mini G9 up on its side.

The dimensions of the Z2 Mini G9 is significant. It’s near a cube at 8.3 x 8.6 inches, and it measures 2.7 inches thick. Interestingly, that’s about an inch wider and deeper than the Mac Studio. Apple’s desktop, though, is a full inch thicker.

The thought here is that the Z2 Mini will slot in many alternative scenarios – whether sitting right in your desk, attached to the back of your monitor, and even rack-mounted in a knowledge center or server. I didn’t try the latter two use cases, but having the Z2 Mini G9 Workstation on my desk for just a few weeks actually made for a clean setup.

Considered one of the compromises in making this PC so small is using an external power brick.

After all, there are smaller PCs on the market – even HP’s own Z2 Mini G5, for instance. Just like the Mac Studio, the emphasis here is on powerhouse performance balanced with a surprisingly small footprint.

Considered one of the compromises in making this PC so small is using an external power brick. It’s pretty hefty, not unlike one you may find on a high-powered laptop.

The construct quality of the Z2 Mini G9 is fairly robust. Nevertheless, since the internals are user-accessible, this is way cry from the durability of a unibody enclosure. Two of the panels on my unit weren’t perfectly aligned, allowing some give on the left side of the chassis. The rubber feet on the underside, nevertheless, are quite strong, which should help avoid any accidents.

Ports and upgradability

The ports on the back of the HP Z2 G9 Workstation.

The insides of the PC are incredibly easy to access. Just use the latch on the back, and the panel will easily pop open — no tools crucial. From there, you’ve gotten access to the internals, though you’ll must remove a few components to get to the good things. To succeed in the 2 DIMM slots for access to the memory, you’ll must remove the fan, which is easy enough. From there, you’ll have the opportunity so as to add as much as 64GB of DDR5 memory — and as much as 4800MHz. My unit already got here with that maxed out, after all.

The system also has two M.2 slots for as much as a complete of 8TB, each configured for RAID data storage. You’ll need to tug out the GPU to access the storage, though — and yes, which means you’ll be able to even swap it out, too. So, although it does require some component removal, that sort of user accessibility just isn’t possible with desktops just like the Mac Studio.

The Z2 Mini G9 also doesn’t include a full-size SD card slot, unfortunately.

The HP Z2 Mini G9 has a ton of ports available, but I actually have to say: It’s a really odd selection. Most of your ports are on the back, where you’ll find three USB-A, two DisplayPort, an Ethernet jack, an influence plug – and get this – 4 mini-DisplayPorts. Yup, you heard me right – 4 mini-DisplayPorts. In 2022. Those are the ports included on the GPU, after all, so it’s not likely HP’s fault.

They do allow for the total DisplayPort 1.4 But this port has been on its way out for years now – and it’s to the purpose where it’s almost unheard of to be included in either laptops or desktops. Yet here, HP decided to incorporate 4. The worst part? These are, seemingly, instead of including HDMI, which stays essentially the most common solution to connect with external displays.

The Z2 Mini G9 also doesn’t include a full-size SD card slot, which might have been a convenient addition for creatives.

The one upside is the “Flex IO” slot on the back, a modular port that will be HDMI, VGA, or one other specific connection you would like.

The HP Z2 G9 Workstation, opened up to reveal internals.

Fortunately, HP does include some handy ports that sit a bit closer, found on the left side. There you’ll find two USB-C ports, an extra USB-A port, and a headphone jack.

The HP Z2 Mini G9 also features Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless connectivity.


The HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation uses desktop-class components, which is de facto what makes it stand out from other compact PCs. My review unit had a Core i9-12900K for its CPU, a 14-core processor with eight Performance cores, and eight Efficiency cores. These Performance cores have a base frequency of three.20GHz and may supposedly boost as much as 5.20GHz using Turbo Boost Max. Including this 45-watt chip is impressive in its own right, even for those who don’t quite get the identical performance as you’ll in a mid-tower PC.

After all, it has all the advantages of the current-gen’s Ampere architecture but is specifically made for skilled workloads in small form aspects. In other words, it’s a match made in heaven for the HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation – as long as you retain your expectations in check. The Z2 Mini G9 isn’t meant to compete with larger PCs, which can either have additional thermal headroom or just way more powerful graphics cards. A bigger tower just like the Asus ProArt PD5 is example.

The thermal solution of the HP Z2 G9.

But we got some impressive numbers in each single-core and multi-core tests, beating all the things but essentially the most powerful gaming PCs we’ve reviewed.

Speaking of graphics, the HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation comes with a low-profile RTX A2000 graphics card from Nvidia. That is actually not your standard discrete GPU, and it’s the primary in the road I’ve tested myself. This particular model comes with 12GB of GDDR6 memory, which you’d normally should spring for an expensive RTX 3080 Ti to get. After all, the A2000’s memory bandwidth is significantly lower than the RTX 3080 Ti at just 288 GB/s. That’s even half the bandwidth of the RTX 3060 Ti and lower than what you get within the mobile version of the RTX 3060.

It’s also only a 70-watt card, which makes it closer to what you get in a laptop GPU by way of TDP. More importantly, it’s based on the identical GPU (GA106) because the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060. That ought to offer you a vague sense of what it’s able to, but the additional VRAM really makes it an interesting (and unique) mix of hardware.

And as expected, the graphics land right in between the performance of laptops with the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060. I tested the HP Z2 Mini G9 in 3DMark Time Spy, Fortnite, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. In each games, the system averaged over 60 fps (frames per second) with settings maxed out. So long as you keep on with 1080p, you’ll be able to actually do some gaming on the side. Do have in mind, though, that something like an RTX 3060 Dell XPS 17 will beat it in most 3D games.

The Nvidia GPU shown inside the HP Z2 G9.

Now, on the surface, that may not sound very impressive. This isn’t meant to be a dedicated gaming machine by any means.

But for the correct tasks, the HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation really shines. Despite the small size, the Z2 Mini G9 is a killer video editing and media machine. As tested in Pugetbench Premiere Pro and Handbrake, this little machine delivers a surprising amount of performance.

More powerful discrete GPUs will speed up exports and in applying GPU effects, however the Z2 Mini G9 was extremely smooth in video playback. Not quite as fast because the M1 Ultra within the Mac Studio, it’s on par with the performance of the M1 Max within the MacBook Pro 16-inch by way of export times and GPU effects.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) Pugetbench for Premiere Pro PCMark 10 Complete
HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation (Core i7-12700K) 2056 / 17175 55 1950 / 18233 931 7770
Asus ProArt PD5 (Core i7-11700) 1639 / 8110 111 1504 / 8866 627 6822
Falcon Northwest Tiki (Ryzen 7 5800X3D) 1599 / 10633 70 1450 / 14067 880 8215
Dell XPS Desktop 8950 (Core i5-12600K / RTX 3060 Ti) 1829 / 10819 n/a 1903 / 16798 708 7633
Apple Mac Mini (M1) 1744 / 7659 154 1519 / 7759 364 n/a

The Z2 Mini G9 can, nevertheless, get each hot and loud. All of the exhaust is out the back, so that you don’t want the vents pointing at your hands or other sensitive materials. It’s nowhere near as loud as a big gaming PC with all its fans, but it surely’s no Mac Mini (and even Mac Studio) either.

What you get in exchange is de facto impressive internal cooling. The fear with a PC like this is a few extreme throttling, but due to the Z2 Mini G9’s beefy fan and the phase change CPU cooling, the system keeps frequencies high and temperatures surprisingly low, even under heavy load.

Our take

There are lots of mini PCs that may do what the HP Z2 Mini G9 Workstation can do. The impressive performance alone, though, makes it a singular offering, even when it has some frustrating points to its design.

Are there any alternatives?

Essentially the most obvious competitor is Apple’s Mac Studio. The M1 Ultra will likely get you higher performance, although that top-of-the-line configuration will cost you significantly more.

Intel’s NUC 12 Extreme is one other rival, which permits you to pair its modular kit with any discrete GPU of your alternative for even higher performance.

How long will it last?

The user accessibility of this PC’s internals means it could possibly last loads longer than other mini computers. Not only are you able to upgrade in the longer term, it’s a far easier PC to repair. It should easily last over five years, and will even range closer to 10 depending in your needs.

Must you buy it?

Yes. As a substitute for the Mac Studio, you won’t find other options this small or this powerful.

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