Last summer I blogged about HP’s Omen Pro workstation notebook. I liked it a lot, saying it was “a very powerful, sleek, light (for a workstation) and sexy hunk of professional hardware,” but like anything it wasn’t perfect. Because is was based on a high-end consumer model, rather than being built for business from the ground up, it still had a few issues, such as battery life and a glossy touchscreen that maxed out at 1080p.
Still, the idea of a thin and light, yet still very powerful, workstation notebook is very appealing, and for 2016 HP has kept at it and created a much-improved model, the new ZBook Studio G3. I’ve been using one for a week now and have been very impressed with this new model.
Mobile Xeon has Arrived
HP’s Workstation notebooks are called ZBooks, and up until now there have only been two choices. If you wanted the full power of a quad-core processor, lots of RAM, dedicated workstation graphics and a high-resolution display you had a choice between the ZBook 15 and ZBook 17. Although both of these machines are excellent pieces of mobile hardware (in fact, many of Lanworks’ employees use ZBooks, including yours truly), they are some of the biggest and heaviest business-class notebooks HP offers.
The other option, the ZBook 15u, although much thinner and lighter, is built on HP’s EliteBook notebook chassis, so it only offers dual-core processor options, which for some workloads isn’t going to be enough. The ZBook Studio addresses this issue but using Intel’s latest 6th Generation Skylake i7 and new Mobile Xeon processors that are much more power efficient than the previous generation, allowing a machine as portable as the Studio to still come with a quad-core CPU. The latter processor option is significant because this is the first time you’ve been able to get a Xeon processor in a notebook, complete with support for more reliable ECC RAM as found in desktop workstations.
An Ultrabook with HP’s Z DNA
In addition, despite the Ultrabook tag, the ZBook Studio G3 still had all of the features that define the bigger HP Z workstations. It’s ISV certified, passes MIL-STD 810G durability testing, has a dedicated Nvidia Quadro workstation-class GPU, supports up to 32GB of ECC memory, yet it still only weighs 4.4lbs (very light for a 15-inch notebook) and is only 18mm thick. I’ve become accustomed to lugging around my 6.2lb ZBook 15 every day, so replacing it with the Studio was a huge weight off my shoulders, literally.
As an Ultrabook, you’d expect the ZBook to sport a sleeker design than its bigger brothers, and in this department, the Studio certainly delivers. As we said above, we thought the Omen Pro was a pretty sexy piece of professional hardware but the Studio turns it up a notch. It both manages to look more business-like than the Omen (and closer in style to the other ZBooks), yet still have some unique design elements that make it stand out. For example, when you flip it over, its bottom has an eye-catching textured geometric pattern, and its magnesium chassis has attractive diamond-cut edges.
HP Kills the Laptop Dock
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about some of the top business trends I saw at this year’s CES, and one of them was the death of the traditional laptop dock. The ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 both have dock connectors to mount them on big, bulky and proprietary docking stations to conveniently add more ports and connect the notebook to an external keyboard and mouse. In my post, I talked about how USB Type-C is going to change everything, by allowing for a single cable connected to an external dock to be able provide all a notebook’s power, data and video connection needs. Also, if the notebook has Thunderbolt 3 ports (that use USB Type-C cables) you can connect two 4K external displays to one machine, and what do you know, the ZBook Studio has two Thunderbolt 3 ports!
This means that you can hook it up to HP’s ZBook Dock with Thunderbolt 3, which adds ten additional ports, including DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet and USB 3.0. This dock is small and light enough that you will be easily able to throw in your bag with the Studio, so you have the extra connectivity. Don’t worry if you don’t though – even though the Studio is an Ultrabook, it still had a lot of onboard connectivity.
There are three USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports (that with adapters can also be DisplayPort-out ports), Ethernet and HDMI.
A 4K Mobile Workstation Marvel
Did I mention that you can get the ZBook Studio G3 with an optional 4K display? Well, you can, and while 4K may seem overkill for a notebook, everything just looks so much crisper and clearer on such a high-resolution display. Furthermore, when working in advanced ISV applications like AutoCAD and other engineering software, the additional screen density of 4K will allow you to display more of your work on a single screen.
From the time that I’ve spent with the ZBook Studio I can safely say it’s one of the best notebooks you can currently buy because it combines the extreme power of a workstation with the practical portability of an Ultrabook, all wrapped up in a gorgeous package. However, we understand that perhaps this isn’t going to be the ideal machine for every worker – along with its premium performance comes a premium price and it might be overkill for some.
At the end of the day, though, if your work requires the most powerful portable hardware possible, as does the work of many of Lanworks’ own engineers, then I’d suggest you take a good look at the ZBook Studio G3. For more information about it, you can contact one of our sales team members.