HP Z8 Fury G5 Workstation Review

February 17, 2024 0 By Lorena Mejia

Now we have the HP Z8 Fury G5 Workstation for you (SHOP HERE)! This one includes a single Intel Xeon W-3400 CPU, part of the Sapphire Rapids family, up to 2TB DDR5 memory, and up to 136TB of storage, plus support for up to 4x high-end GPUs. 

There has been no case redesign with the next gen HP Z8 Fury G5 Workstation. But to be honest, HP did a redesign with the G4 series workstations—and they still look pretty good with a very nice industrial matt black finish. Perhaps a little color might be an improvement but for extreme power with a low-profile exterior, you can’t go wrong with the Z8 Fury G5. By the way, with the G4 versions there was no FURY, only the Z8 G4, Z8 Z6, and Z4 G4 systems.

The Fury is a new addition to the lineup. Where do you suppose they came up with that name? Mad Max: Fury Road, Balls of Fury, maybe Paws of Fury, the Legend of Hank? Nick Fury! Whatever. Looking at the thesaurus a few synonyms for FURY that are listed include ferocity, fierceness, violence, and tempestuous. All seem an apt description, as this platform is elemental power contained in a box. It has very similar stats to the Lenovo ThinkStation P7 workstation, which you can see here (pointing). Although, there are a few differences in memory and storage but similar support for the CPUs and GPUs. This system is optimized for BIM and 3D CAD design. And you can easily manipulate 3D shapes, render with real-time ray tracing, and run advanced simulations and visualizations — even in VR. 

HPs other G5 workstations include the Z8 G5, Z6 G5 and Z4 G5. A quick recap before we get started. All of these workstations support the 4th generation Sapphire Rapids CPUs, whether the Intel Xeon W-series or Intel Xeon Scalable series of CPUs. The Z8 G5 is a dual-socket platform supporting Intel Xeon Scalable Gold or Silver CPUs for up to 64 cores total, up to 1TB memory, up to 136TB of storage, and support for up to 2x high-end GPUs. The Z6 G5 is also a single -socket platform that supports the Intel Xeon W-3400 series CPUs with up to 36 cores, up to 1TB of memory, up to 109TB of storage, and up to 3x high-performance GPUs. 

That single socket on the Z6 is a departure from the dual Intel Xeon Scalable processors supported on the Z6 G4 version. With the Z6 G5, you might have noticed it also supports 1 more GPU than the Z8 G5 and only a little less storage and a few less cores. However, we will remind you that cores are not everything as some applications run better on fewer cores. Lastly the Z4 G5. That one supports a single Intel Xeon W-2400 series CPU with up to 24 cores, up to 512GB of DDR5 memory, up to 92TB of storage, and up to 2x high-performance GPUs. GPUs from NVIDIA or AMD are supported on all of these workstations. There are clear parallels to Lenovo’s ThinkStation P-series platforms and Dell Precision Workstations.

On the front of the Z8 Fury chassis there are two basic options for ports, a premium version and an entry version. With a premium version you get 2x SuperSpeed USB Type-C offering 20Gbps data transfers, plus 2x SuperSpeed USB Type-A ports offering 5Gbps data transfer rates, and 1x headset/microphone combo jack. With the entry version you simply get 4x USB Type-A ports offering 5Gbps data transfer rates plus that combo headset/microphone jack. Both can also be outfitted with 2x optional Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports offering data transfer rates of up to 40Gb/s. Those can also be used for USB power delivery or DisplayPort 1.4. Also optional is a media card reader and thin line optical device just below the media bays. The 2x 5.25-inch media bays can be outfitted with 2x 3.5-inch HDDs or you can install up to 4x M.2 NVMe drives but only using one bay. 

You will have a choice of power supplies on the HP Z8 Fury G5 depending on how you configure the system. Either dual redundant 1125W @110V or 1450W at @200V or a single PSU with the same connection wattages and voltages like on this system. The dual redundant option is a great choice for a server room application as this system can be rack mounted to share the power. With Dual PSUs, it can also be configured for aggregate mode at up to 2250W. With that option, there is no redundancy but you do get to utilize the full power capabilities of this system. 

Starting at the top, a handle to lug this thing around, as it can weigh up to 80LBS when fully configured. There’s one on the front too. A few PCIe slots then the power on button, and yes, still one in front. Then 6x USB Type-A ports offering 5Gb/s, and 2x RJ45 LAN ports offering 1GbE. Beside those a small knock out panel that will accept an optional 10G Base-T NIC module with dual RJ45 ports.

Below those, a few more PCIe slots. Keep in mind that there is no integrated monitor support on this system and you will need a discrete GPU if you plan on connecting monitors. Monitor support will also be determined by how many ports the GPU has. A Wi-Fi 6E non-vPro + Bluetooth 5.2 wireless card with external antenna WLAN unit is optional, and will allow connecting to devices wirelessly without an attached network cable. 

HP’s Anywhere Remote System Controller allows for remote access to the HP Z8 Fury G5, like it says from anywhere, without having to install a specific PCIe card. It’s integrated. It allows for an easy transition to the data center for network administrators. This takes the pace of the Teradici card on the previous generation for remote access and removes another small additional cost. 

General management of the system is through HP System Software Manager, and the HP BIOS Configuration Utility both of which you can download. Also included is the HP Performance Advisor to get the most out of all of those ISV, or independent Software Vendor certified applications. It will analyze the unique configuration of your platform to optimize settings for hardware, applications, the OS, and BIOS.  The FANS software for the front NVME drives also features a separate user interface that allows for drive ejection, RAID monitoring for any drives included in the RAID array, SMART monitoring to anticipate drive failure, plus taskbar notifications and then there’s also the tell-tale LEDs on the drive bays. Additional tools are found in the Windows 11 or Windows 11 professional operating systems.

Once the cover is removed, it has an ultra-clean look inside with brushed stainless-steel panels covering all components. Most likely this creates a second layer of sound insulation. Everything with a blue strip is easily removable without tools. The blue stripes can also indicate some form of latching mechanism to hold things in place like the GPUs, optical drive, and the optional media bay storage cages. Underneath the panels there is a plastic cowl for the CPU, and memory modules with integrated fans to keep them cool. The gigantic passive heat sink towers over the board like a high-rise residential building right through the middle of the CPU/memory fan shroud.

There are definitely thermal zones for the PCIe slots top and bottom, and the CPU and memory modules in the middle. Fans front and back, pulling in air through the perforated front panel and side vents, then more fans at the back to push that GPU-scented air out the back of the chassis. 

The board features a single socket for the Intel Xeon W-3400 CPU with 8x memory channel architecture and 16x DDR5 RDIMM memory module slots. RDIMM DDR5 memory modules will run at up to 4800MT/s with one module per channel or a reduced speed of 4400MT/s with 2x DIMMs per channel. Using 128GB 3DS RDIMM modules in all slots will provide up to 2TB of memory supported on this platform.

RAID is available through the integrated controller with RAID options of 0, 1, and 10. You can also install virtual RAID on CPU or VROC, to support NVME storage devices. The slot for the VROC key is right below that last PCIe slot at the bottom of the chassis. Also, 6x SATA ports for drive connects.

This HP Z8 Fury G5 has two slots for 2x personality cards at the very top of the chassis right above the 2x internal NVMe connectors for the front removable M.2 carrier. Listed support for each of the two x8 Personality slots is for a dual Z Turbo card with 2x M.2 drives per slot for up to 4x more M.2 drives. These were not very well described in the previous generation Z8 G4 and the tradition continues with the G5 version.

Regardless of the lack of information on those “personality cards”, this system can hold a ton of storage. You can install up to 10x M.2 drives and up to 8x 3.5-inch drives or a combination of the two for the best of both worlds, superfast M.2 storage plus high-capacity 3.5-inch drives or 2.5-inch drives.

10x M.2 drives are achieved using 4x M.2 drives with the removeable M.2 carrier up front which fits in only one of the 5.25-inch media bays. Then the personality cards with each supporting 2x M.2 drives with 2x PCIe x8 Gen 4 slots. The front M.2 carrier has a SlimSAS connector just below the personality card slots so you get full connectivity to the PCIe bus. 

A front M.2 Carrier for the 5.25-inch media bay is designed in partnership with CRU, and there are two versions of the CRU SHIPs modules. The CRU QX448 comes with 4x M.2 or the CRU QX428 with 2x M.2 storage devices. Both feature a security lock to protect those drives from being removed.

However, for whatever reason only the 4x-bay carrier is listed for the Fury and the Z6 G5. The other two Z4 and Z8 G5 get the dual M.2 carrier. These drive bays also have their own FANS software, which is a separate software utility, to facilitate rapid ejection and general monitoring of the drives. FANS would be an acronym for Front-Accessible NVMe Storage and comes pre-installed on the system. Where you get the full story, at least on M.2 storage, is found in the HP Front Accessible NVMe Storage Technical Guide.  Given these drives are removable, it is not recommended to load the OS on these. 

There does not seem to be any M.2 slots on the system board to get to 10x M.2 drives. We’re only counting 8x. A few times. Let’s just assume another dual Z-Turbo card in one of the PCIe slots and call it a day. There’s 10. If one of you breaks the code and figures out where those other two M.2 drives are installed without using one of the main PCIe slots, then post in the comments down below. For 3.5-inch drives, two can go in the Media bays up front and connect via SlimSAS to the connectors on the motherboard. 4x more internal 3.5-inch bays are in the lower right portion of the chassis with direct connect slots once you mount the drives.  

The HP Z8 Fury G5 has a combination of PCIe 5.0, 4.0 and 3.0 slots. On the previous generation only PCIe 3.0 was a definite upgrade. Another nice feature is the additional space between the x16 PCIe slots to ensure the GPUs receive adequate cooling.

Some of the supported GPUs will require additional power cables. You will need the dual redundant power supply units running in Aggregate Power mode if you plan on loading up with 4x 300W double-wide GPUS plus the wattage required by the CPU, which can be up to 350W. The more powerful GPUs also require 12-pin power connectors, which are not a problem on this next gen system. Only the two x16 slots above the CPU and the one directly below are PCIe Gen5. The other x16 slot is PCIe Gen4 but also not really a problem as the RTX A6000 has a PCIe 4.0 bus interface. With 4x double-wide GPUs mounted, the short length PCie slots in between are completely covered. If you need a Thunderbolt card there is a low-profile card listed in the QuickSpecs with a PCIe x4 interface. Also a few network cards you can add if you plan to rack-mount this system. 

For our system we added a few of the NVIDIA RTX A6000 GPUs, mostly because we didn’t have any of the RTX 6000 Ada Generation in stock. That said, the A6000 has Ampere architecture and features 10752 shading units, 336 texture mapping units and 112 ROPs along with 336 tensor cores. It has a maximum power draw of 300W and includes 4x DisplayPort 1.4a ports, and uses a PCIe 4.0 interface. Performance-wise, it sits somewhere between the RTX 4070Ti and the Radeon RX 7900 XT.

At launch October 5th of 2020 this was a $5K card if you factor in tax and stuff. We think it’s quite appropriate for the Z8 Fury G5 given you will probably break 6 figures fully outfitting this system. Two and a half years later and a lot of R & D we get the NVIDIA RTX 6000 Ada generation, which blows the proverbial doors off the A6000 with a performance increase of about 10% better than the GeForce RTX 4090. The A6000 on the other hand only ranked about halfway up the chart for performance with that RTX 4090 card at the top. Ada is all next-generation architecture. No surprises. Both are still considered an enthusiast-class Professional graphics card. Whatever that means. Ada also took advantage of inflation at about $7K a card. 

So, there you have it! Unbridled power, plus crazy expansion. Who is that person that needs 2TB of memory and 136TB of storage, not to mention 4x high-end double-wide 300W GPUs?! A little jealous? We are. This is a very well-designed system. Oh, and lastly is it quiet, whisper quiet, even with all of those fans.

If you are looking for the HP Z8 Fury G5, or any other HP G5 workstation, check out IT Creations.