You may come for the ZBook's sexy, gunmetal-gray exterior, but you'll be staying for its powerful internals. This workstation can handle the most demanding of power users. Did I mention the 4K display is almost a perfect ten, too? Plus, the FastCharge feature is pretty much a gift from the beyond. Between the design, powerful components, flawless display, and smart features, there is a ton to love here.
That doesn't mean the ZBook is without flaws, though. Battery life is disappointing, so you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for an outlet. The high price for the top-tier configuration may deter those on a tight budget as well. And, while this is a minor nitpick, the lid attracts lots of finger smudges. If you're a video editor or someone who works with 3D modeling, the HP ZBook is a great choice.
The HP ZBook has a couple of different configurations. We're working with the high-end version ($3,290.61), which features an Intel Xeon 1535M (7th Gen) processor and a 4K UHD 15.6-inch IPS (3840 x 2160) display. It's basically the most expensive thing I've ever handled. Yeah, to say it's a nerve wracking experience is an understatement. With that being said, whether you want 16GB of RAM or 1TB of SSD storage, you can really customize your workstation at checkout. Here are the specs inside our unit:
CPU: Intel Xeon 1535M (7th Gen)
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro M1200 (4GB)
Display: 4K UHD 15.6-inch IPS (3840 x 2160)
Memory: 32GB ECC (2x16GB)
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD (MLC)
Battery: 92 Whr Fast Charging
Weight: 4.9 lbs
Unless you're rolling in dough (sounds fun), the top-shelf configuration isn't feasible for most folks. If you really want to strip it down (bye-bye fingerprint reader) and get the cheapest configuration, you can get it for $1,738.80 on the HP website. This model includes 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor, and 128GB of SSD storage. Personally? I think it's overpriced. You're better off with the 15-inch Dell Precision 5520 base configuration, as it costs several hundred dollars less and you get more storage.
Thanks to top-tier internals, it's one heck of a powerhouse
Armed with an Intel Xeon 1535M processor and 32GB of ECC memory, the HP ZBook is a top performer. Even with twenty-five tabs open in Firefox and a live stream of Cuphead running in the background, I didn't notice any lag or stutter.
In Geekbench, which tests CPU speed, it earned a multi-core score of 16,248. That's one of the highest scores I've ever seen. It even beats out the comparable 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, which averages a multi-core score of about 14,000. It's great for photo editing, but for basic tasks like checking e-mail or surfing the web you'd be better off with a cheaper laptop.
The display is lovely
When I watched the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, the singer in the gold dress really caught my attention. As the camera panned closer, I could really see the details of her glittery gown and ornate mask. Not only is the screen high resolution, with satisfying colors, it's plenty bright. I measured a reference white level of a little under 350 nits. For reference, the average smartphone brightness is around 250 nits.
HP's FastCharge feature is a godsend
If you're impatient like me, there's nothing worse than waiting around for a device to charge up. Well, the ZBook gets a full charge in a little under an hour and I think that's the bees knees. So, if you're running low and need your workstation for that important meeting at 2 pm, you can just recharge it during your lunch hour.
With this much power at this cost, who is this even for?
The $3,290.61 price tag is no joke. If you've got the funds and consider yourself a power user, go for it. With that being said, it's a bit overkill for spreadsheets and word processing documents. It's too powerful for basic tasks. It's only useful for video editing, 3D modeling, CAD, or something hugely resource-intensive. Unless you're using it for those kind of programs, you'd be wasting your money.
Battery life is so-so
In our PC Mark 8 test, which cycles through a bunch of intensive tasks, the HP ZBook petered out in an hour and a half. You'll need to claim an outlet, as it's not going to last a full day. In our WiFi browsing test, which cycles through lighter tasks, it died in about two hours. Again, not fantastic. While battery life is less than stellar, at least it charges fast.
The gunmetal grey exterior is prone to finger smudges
The HP ZBook's gunmetal gray exterior is gorgeous, but it attracts fingerprints like you wouldn't believe. After carrying it around for some time, I noticed lots of smudges on the lid. At the end of the day, it's a really minor nitpick of mine, though, as dark colors tend to show fingerprints. With that being said, it isn't anything a microfiber cloth can't fix.
The keyboard is unimpressive
The ZBook's keyboard doesn't provide the best typing experience, but it's not the worst either. I like the size of the keyboard, as it doesn't feel really cramped or anything. However, I couldn't really get accustomed to it. I could only manage about 69 words-per-minute, which is far from my average of 80 WPM.
Only if you really need the power
If you're a demanding power user, the HP ZBook is where the party's at. Between the Intel Xeon 1535M (7th Gen) processor and 32GB of ECC memory, it totally dominated our CPU benchmark. In addition to the powerful internals, the display is really colorful as well. It's also bright enough to easily combat glare and ambient light. Last but not least, the FastCharge feature is a blessing, as it reaches a full charge in a little under an hour. While there's a lot we like, we had a few gripes.
The high-end model is very expensive. Unless you're working with a flexible budget, I imagine the $3,290.61 price tag is out of the question for most people. Battery life is disappointing, too. However, with great power comes poor battery life, so it's not unexpected. The exterior is also a fingerprint magnet, so you'll need to keep a microfiber cloth handy. It bothers me a lot, but I wouldn't say it's a deal-breaker.
Drawbacks aside, this is an extremely powerful machine. It's great for 3D modeling and video editing, but it's too powerful for basic use. Besides, there are cheaper options out there with this much RAM and similarly powerful discrete graphics cards. So, unless you are in dire need of a true workstation-level machine you can take anywhere, there are likely better options.
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