The primary driving force behind the growth of PC hardware as a consumer market has undeniably been gaming. Likewise, when you hear "virtual reality," your mind surely floats to VR games. VR has tremendous potential outside gaming, though. Job training, collaborative 3D design, and medical applications are just a few of the places where VR is finding a foothold. It seems like HP is looking to speed that process along with its new Z VR Backpack G1 Workstation.
You may recall that a couple of months ago HP launched the Omen X by HP Compact Desktop, known beforehand as the HP Omen VR Backpack concept. Upon its final launch, HP downplayed the VR aspect of the machine, demoting the backpack-and-batteries rig to an optional accessory and instead including a dock that turned the mobile machine into a mini-monster desktop. However, Omen is HP's gaming brand, and the VoodooPC-derived branding wouldn't look right in an office or military installation.
Likely for that reason, HP took the idea and gave it a sleek-looking grey-and-black makeover, replaced the GeForce card with a Quadro, and called the result the Z VR Backpack G1 Workstation. The innards contain a Core i7-7820HQ CPU, 32GB of DDR4 memory moving data at 2400 MT/s, and a 16GB Nvidia Quadro P5200 graphics card. That's the first we've heard of the P5200, but we would hazard a guess that it's the Quadro version of the 11-Gbps GeForce GTX 1080.
Users can hook peripherals up to the Z G1 using one of four USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 connection, an HDMI 2.0 connection, a mini-Displayport jack, or regular old 3.5-mm headphones. The main box actually comes with an "HMD power port" on the top intended to make using a VR headset a truly wireless experience. The Intel-powered 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 adapter will help with that. HP also throws in a custom set of short cables for the HTC Vive, including an HDMI cable, a USB 3.0 cable, and a power cable for the aforementioned port.
The Z VR Backpack G1 Workstation has two SO-DIMM slots and two M.2 sockets, though they're all filled out from the factory. The whole package includes the backpack rig, a docking station (offering up six extra USB ports and two more HDMI 2.0 connections), and two batteries and their charger.
You can buy a Z VR Backpack with 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of NVMe storage. Thanks in part to the SSD-only storage, this portable machine passes MIL-STD 810G testing for shock resistance, meaning it won't get ruined if somebody trips over their own feet while using it. HP doesn't elaborate on the expected battery life, but the 74-WHr batteries are hot-swappable. Alternatively, stick the backpack in its docking station and connect the 330W power adapter to run it indefinitely.
Fancy computers like this don't come cheap, of course. HP hangs a price tag of $3,200 on the Z VR Backpack G1 Workstation, and that's for the model with just 256GB of storage. If you've got the coin to strap a workstation to your back, HP says you can pick one up next month.