Great keyboard and trackpad
Bright, colorful display
Mediocre battery life
Too much bloatware
The ZBook Create G7's premium build quality makes it feel worth the price, with a beautifully sculpted aluminum frame that shows off just a few of the angled edges we've seen on some of HP's Spectre line. The Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers sound far better than most laptops on the market (though headphones are still a worthwhile upgrade), and even the charger feels premium, with a braided cable and strong reinforced joints so it won't break down.
Oh, and it even contains a few legacy ports so you aren't constantly carrying around dongles. It may not look flashy, but it's undeniably high-end.
About the HP ZBook Create G7
We tested HP's ZBook Create G7 with the following specs:
Processor: Intel Core i9-10885H vPro processor (2.4 GHz 8-core with up to 5.3 GHz Turbo Boost and 16 MB cache)
Memory: 32 GB DDR4-3200 RAM
Storage: 2TB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 2070 with Max-Q design
Display: 15.6-inch 4K (3840x2160) anti-glare LED IPS HDR400 Display
Battery: 83 Whr 6-cell battery with 200 Watt charger
Ports: 2x USB Type-C 10Gbps, 1x USB Type-A 5Gbps, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.3, 1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack
Connectivity: Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 Combo, vPro
Weight: 4.23 pounds
Dimensions: 13.93 x 9.24 x 0.70 inches
That's an almost-top-tier version that costs a pretty penny, but the ZBook Create is extremely configurable. You can grab a model with a Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 400-nit 1080p display for closer to $2,500, which should still do the job for plenty of folks.
Or you can improve things even further with an AMOLED touch screen and up to an RTX 2080 Super graphics card. You can even get FreeDOS or Ubuntu Linux installed and knock a few hundred bucks off the price if you aren't a fan of Windows.
What we like
Performance is off the charts
Thanks to its 10th-gen Core i9 processor, the HP ZBook Create G7 is the most powerful laptop I've tested for Reviewed, eking past the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 in both single- and multi-core GeekBench scores, and blowing past it in gaming benchmarks thanks to its RTX 2070 Super.
You can also configure it with lots of RAM and storage, but make sure you buy enough RAM for the future, since it isn't user-replaceable. That way, whatever you throw at this laptop—video editing, 3D modeling, gaming, and beyond—it'll handle the task with aplomb. Its stiffest competition probably comes from Apple's new M1 chip, which trades blows with much less heat.
Yes, sadly the ZBook Create is saddled with the same fatal flaw as many other modern laptops: this thing gets crazy hot and thermal throttles on the regular, even during basic tasks like web browsing. This is undoubtedly holding the i9 back from its full potential, and even serious creators could probably get similar bang for their buck from the i7 model—but the eight-core i9 is still at the top of its game, even if by only a few GeekBench points, compared to 10th-gen i7 laptops we've tested.
The keyboard and trackpad are comfortable and accurate
HP has had some troublesome touchpads in the past (in part thanks to their resistance to using Microsoft Precision Touchpads), but the ZBook Create pretty much nails it.
The touchpad, while not abnormally huge, should provide more than enough space for creators to manipulate images in Photoshop or scrub through a long video timeline, with a smooth surface that glides effortlessly and points accurately. The click is clear and defined without being too loud, too—while I wouldn't use it next to my sleeping spouse, I'd feel comfortable using it in a quiet library without bothering my neighbors (something I cannot say of all trackpads I've used).
The backlit keyboard is designed similarly well, with extremely springy action and a pleasantly deep travel distance, so you can type without feeling like you're pounding your fingers against aluminum all day long. It takes a bit more force to press the keys than the average laptop, but not so much as to feel overly heavy, instead lending just a bit more of that solid, well-built feeling HP's high-end laptops are known for.
With an extra column of keys on the right, you get a few extra keys than on most laptops, like Delete, Home, End, and Page Up/Down—plus a fingerprint scanner underneath for quick logins. It also has a Windows Hello-compatible webcam, if you prefer facial recognition to your fingerprint.
The bright, 4K screen is perfect for creators
While we didn't test the AMOLED touch screen available on some ZBook Create models, the 4K IPS display HP offers is fantastic for those working with photos and video. HP advertises the brightness as 600 hits, but when we measured it with our X-Rite i1Display Pro, we actually found it peaked closer to 695 nits. That’s plenty bright for working outdoors or even working with some HDR footage, especially since it also covers 95% of the DCI-P3 color space, according to our tests. Just note that, because it's an IPS display, black levels aren't stellar—we measured contrast ratio at 1755:1, which is better than most IPS displays, but nowhere as good as you'd get with the upgrade AMOLED panel.
If you're doing color-critical work, you'll still want to calibrate the display yourself, as accuracy was good-but-not-perfect—but thanks to Windows' awkward color space handling, professionals would probably want to do that anyway.
What we don’t like
Battery life is mediocre
Look, with this much hardware, even a 15-inch laptop with an 83Wh battery is going to struggle to keep pace with its lower-powered siblings. But it's still worth considering if you're going to spend a significant portion of the day away from an outlet.
In our battery test, which involves cycling through websites in Chrome at 200 nits brightness, the HP ZBook Create G7 managed five hours and 13 minutes before giving up the ghost. That's well under the eight hours of a full workday, but given the sheer power inside this laptop, it's honestly not terrible. That said, if you're using the CPU and GPU to their full potential, I wouldn't expect anywhere near that. Make sure you have an outlet nearby.
The included bloatware is a little much
Unfortunately, pretty much every laptop manufacturer includes a couple of pre-installed applications on their systems—it's just a reality of the Windows ecosystem, and thankfully it's better than it used to be. But HP is a little over-the-top with its bundled software, including Adobe Creative Cloud and a ridiculous amount of HP-branded software.
I count 13 apps in the Start menu alone, from separate power management and privacy settings to the definitely-unnecessary HP System Information app. It's possible a few of these are useful, but have fun digging through all of it to separate the gifts from the garbage.
Should you buy it?
Yes, its insane power and stellar build quality are second to none
The HP ZBook Create G7 is not for everyone—mostly because most people do not require anywhere near this much power—but if you're a professional who needs every ounce of CPU Intel has to offer, it's hard to go wrong with this notebook. Our configuration cost well over $4,000, but you can step down a few of the components to save some money if need be,like moving from an i9 to a still-great i7.
You can also get much better bang for your buck from Dell's latest XPS 15, which has similarly great CPU performance in the i7 model—but you can't step up to an i9, and it's only available with a GTX 1650 graphics card. If that's all you need, the XPS 15 will do the job for thousands less than a comparably-configured ZBook Create, and with a huge touchpad to boot—albeit with fewer ports and a less bright 500-nit display.
You could also go with the new M1 MacBook Pro, which offers similar or better CPU performance with less heat and way better battery life. You'd have to check whether all your professional apps are compatible with the new M1 chips, though, and the lack of a high-end GPU may make the ZBook Create G7 a better choice depending on your workload. Oh, and the MacBook has a smaller display, too.
But if you truly want the best of the best and are willing to pay the extra premium for it, the HP ZBook Create G7 offers more high-end configurations with pro-level build quality in every corner of the build, and for that reason, we heartily recommend it.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Whitson Gordon is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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