HP ZBook Studio G8 Review: Rock Solid Performance, Painful Price Tag

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HP’s ZBook lineup — which encompasses the light-weight ZBook Firefly, the inexpensive ZBook Energy, the highly effective ZBook Fury, and the best-of-all-worlds ZBook Studio manufacturers — doesn’t appeal to numerous consideration. As a cell workstation-class machine, the ZBook Studio will not be as flashy as most gaming laptops or as inexpensive as most “creator” laptops, however in some ways, it’s higher than each.

Within the parlance of the tech nerd, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is a “cell workstation.” On the {hardware} facet, that sometimes signifies that you’re getting a Xeon processor, error-correcting (ECC) RAM, and an A-series or Quadro graphics card, paired with some form of reliability testing (MIL-SPEC or MIL-STD), software program certifications from main builders like Adobe, and an prolonged guarantee. All of this normally comes connected to a value so excessive you’ll get altitude illness in case you stare at it for too lengthy.

We don’t usually assessment cell workstations on PetaPixel as a result of the worth enhance related to issues like ECC reminiscence and an enterprise GPU doesn’t translate right into a measurable efficiency achieve for photograph and video enhancing, however HP did one thing fascinating with the ZBook Studio G8: the corporate form of break up the distinction.

The Studio G8 doesn’t use ECC reminiscence or an Intel Xeon CPU, and it may be configured with a traditional GeForce RTX 30-series GPU, nevertheless it nonetheless comes with all the opposite workstation perks. In different phrases: it gives the identical efficiency as a high-end gaming laptop computer and the identical smooth, skilled design as a high-end shopper laptop computer, with higher construct high quality, assured reliability, and an extended guarantee than both of the opposite classes. In consequence, it is available in slightly cheaper than comparable choices from, say, the Dell Precision lineup.

That’s to not say it’s low-cost. The mannequin HP despatched us for assessment nonetheless prices an eye-watering $4,400:

Even in case you downgrade a number of the parts, you’re nonetheless going to spend some huge cash. We truly requested the oldsters at HP to ship us “Good, Higher, Finest” configuration choices that they’d suggest, and essentially the most inexpensive of the bunch will nonetheless run you nearly $2,800:

However that’s to not say that the worth isn’t justified, or not less than justifiable. From design to usability to uncooked efficiency, this laptop computer is incredible. It’s simply necessary to set expectations from the get-go: We’re not speaking a couple of finances laptop computer at this time. We’re not even speaking a couple of semi-affordable laptop computer. We’re speaking a couple of cell workstation that costs a considerable premium in change for professional-grade reliability and assured efficiency.

If paying a $1,000 premium for MIL-STD reliability testing, software program certifications, and an prolonged guarantee sounds loopy to you, then a cell workstation is the improper alternative and there’s no motive to learn on. Nonetheless, if that appears like an affordable funding and you want the truth that HP isn’t forcing you to throw further cash away on sure enterprise-grade specs you don’t need or want, then learn on, as a result of the HP ZBook Studio G8 seems to be a wonderful laptop computer for inventive professionals.

Design and Construct

There are only some laptops that may compete with the likes of Apple and Razer in terms of chassis design, however the HP ZBook Studio G8 is correct up there with the very best. The magnesium-and-aluminum alloy chassis is as inflexible as a tank, extraordinarily skinny, and carved into a pointy design language that I cherished from the second I set eyes on this laptop computer.

Construct high quality actually is top-notch. HP’s workstation-grade “Z” gadgets all bear MIL-STD-810 testing, guaranteeing a stage of reliability that surpasses something you possibly can anticipate from a normal shopper laptop computer. The MIL-STD-810 normal features a suite of checks that test for resistance towards vibration, mud, sand, humidity, altitude, drops, temperature shock, and even a “Freeze/Thaw” take a look at.

Including to the laptop computer’s reliability quotient is a three-year guarantee direct from the producer, a perk that normally prices additional (if it’s accessible in any respect) once you purchase a shopper laptop computer.

Crack the ZBook Studio G8 open, and also you’ll reveal a wonderful keyboard that mixes a satisfying click on with an excellent quantity of journey, zero mush, and per-key RGB lighting that provides the laptop computer just a bit little bit of gaming flare. The lighting is managed by HP’s “OMEN” dashboard, and it’s a enjoyable contact on an in any other case very professional-looking laptop computer.

That is accompanied by a slick, glass-topped trackpad that gives a exact and intensely well-optimized expertise that may compete with the best-of-the-best. As a result of the speaker grill is positioned above the keyboard, the trackpad isn’t fairly as large as those you’ll discover on the most recent Apple and Dell computer systems, nevertheless it was lots sufficiently big for me.

Port choice is stable, with solely slightly room for enchancment. On the left facet of the machine is an audio-combo jack, a USB Sort-A port, and a Kensington lock; on the appropriate facet, you’ll discover a sealable SD card slot, a Mini DisplayPort 1.Four port that’s linked on to the GPU, and two Thunderbolt Four ports that may carry 40Gbps of knowledge, energy, and a show sign.

My gripes are minimal. Primarily, I used to be aggravated that the Thunderbolt Four ports are linked on to the iGPU with no solution to re-route that sign within the BIOS (that is in response to HP). In consequence, anybody utilizing a high-end 4K exterior show will need to use the Mini DisplayPort for true 10-bit coloration or excessive refresh-rate gaming.

For that motive alone, I actually want that HP had included an HDMI 2.1 port on this configuration as an alternative of the MiniDP port. Not one of the screens I’ve ever reviewed got here with a MiniDP to DP 1.Four cable within the field, wihch forces me to purchase a brand new cable as a way to get full efficiency out of the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG I used to be utilizing after I reviewed this laptop computer and eliminates the choice of utilizing this as a “single-cable” setup with Thunderbolt offering knowledge, show, and energy.

Fortuitously, the included show is greater than adequate to do skilled inventive work. The mannequin we’re testing features a touch-enabled 4K AMOLED display that was in a position to hit nicely over 100% sRGB, 99.9% DCI-P3, and 91.6% Adobe RGB with a wonderful Delta E of lower than 2 and a most brightness of ~400 nits.

If OLED isn’t your factor, the ZBook Studio G8 can also be accessible with a 4K 120Hz “HP DreamColor” LCD show with an marketed peak brightness of 600 nits and 100% protection of DCI-P3, or an much more inexpensive Full HD mannequin that guarantees 100% protection of sRGB.

It’s good to see a producer supply each a 4K LCD and a 4K OLED choice with equivalent gamut protection, in addition to a extra inexpensive (however nonetheless acceptable) Full HD choice. In the event you’re bought on the peace of thoughts of a cell workstation however hate the worth tag it carries, the lower-end display choice opens the door to get inventive along with your configuration, particularly in case you plan to make use of an exterior show a lot of the time.

As for our 4K OLED unit, you possibly can see the outcomes from our DisplayCAL checks under:

The HP ZBook G8 covers 99.9% of DCI-P3 (left) and nicely over 100% of sRGB (proper).

If there’s an enormous draw back to the high-res display on our mannequin it’s most likely battery efficiency, which is decidedly center of the highway.

As with different high-performance notebooks, the ZBook Studio’s 83WHr battery can’t help the pc’s full 110W TDP (30W to the CPU, 80W to the GPU), and once you’re pushing the pc to its battery-powered efficiency restrict, you possibly can anticipate not more than about two hours of intense photograph enhancing. In a extra affordable, battery saver or balanced mode, I used to be in a position to get about six hours of use for writing, occasional content material consumption, and light-weight photograph enhancing, however don’t anticipate this laptop computer to compete with one thing that’s powered by AMD.

Total, I discovered loads to like and little or no to complain about in terms of the design and construct high quality of the ZBook Studio G8. It’s a wonderful laptop computer that felt like slightly piece of army gear with simply sufficient design flare. The superb keyboard and trackpad, the professional-grade show, and the twin Thunderbolt Four ports all make it a stable contender for critical inventive work.

Picture Enhancing Efficiency

Given the extraordinarily skinny design, I used to be skeptical that the HP would be capable of squeeze each ounce of efficiency out of its Core i9-11950H and NVIDIA RTX 3070. I used to be solely sort of proper. In most of our benchmarks, the ZBook couldn’t fairly out-perform the most recent Razer Blade 15 Superior, which technically makes use of an ever-so-slightly slower Core i9-11900H, however the thinner ZBook Studio was nonetheless in a position to churn out top-shelf efficiency numbers.

Whether or not you’re working Photoshop, Lightroom, or Seize One, you possibly can anticipate the Studio G8 to fly by means of most photograph and video enhancing duties with ease, all whereas staying remarkably quiet in comparison with a number of the gaming laptops I’ve examined.

For our comparisons at this time, we’re displaying the outcomes from the HP side-by-side with the identical checks run on an M1 iMac, an AMD-powered ASUS Zephyrus G14, and the aforementioned Blade 15 Superior. Full specs under:

Lightroom Traditional

In our normal import and export checks, the ZBook clocked in a tiny bit slower than the Razer Blade, however quicker than our different take a look at machines. As a reminder, these checks encompass importing 110 61-megapixel Sony a7R IV and 150 100-megapixel PhaseOne XF RAW information, producing 1:1 (Lightroom Traditional) or 2560px (Seize One Professional) previews, making use of a custom-made preset with heavy international edits, after which exporting those self same information as 100% JPEGs and 16-bit TIFFs.

You possibly can see the outcomes for Lightroom Traditional under:

Seize One Professional

The story is even higher in Seize One, the place the pc’s RTX 3070 lastly will get to flex its muscle.

As we’ve talked about in a number of of our previous critiques, Lightroom does not use any form of GPU acceleration throughout import or export, relying completely on the efficiency of your CPU and RAM to generate the numbers you see above. Nonetheless, Seize One does reap the benefits of the GPU, so when it comes time to export the heavily-edited Sony a7R IV and Part One XF variants in C1, the HP ZBook Studio G8 was in a position to shut the hole with the Blade and commerce blows on the high of the pack.

The outcomes are basically a wash between the three PCs, all of which profit from NVIDIA RTX 30 collection GPUs, with the M1 iMac falling approach behind:

Photoshop

Lastly, we ran our typical Photoshop take a look at: Puget Programs‘ industry-standard PugetBench benchmark.

PugetBench assigns an Total and 4 Class scores after timing all kinds of duties together with primary stuff like loading, saving, and resizing a big .psd, GPU-accelerated filters like Sensible Sharpen and Subject Blur, and closely RAM-dependent duties like Picture Merge. As we’ve got up to now, we ran model 0.eight of this explicit benchmark, as a result of it was the final model to incorporate a Picture Merge take a look at.

As you possibly can see, the highly effective GPU, 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, and the NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU come collectively to place up spectacular numbers in each class examined:

Efficiency Takeaways

There’s no questioning the HP ZBook Studio G8’s efficiency chops. Is it essentially the most highly effective laptop computer cash can purchase? Undoubtedly not. HP’s personal ZBook Fury lineup, the Alienware x17, and the Lenovo Legion 7i (to call a couple of) can all be configured with extra highly effective (and power-hungry) CPU/GPU mixtures that might no-doubt outperform the ZBook Studio. Nonetheless, it’s superior to see this sort of efficiency throughout the board from such a skinny machine.

That is severely spectacular photograph enhancing efficiency packed inside a chassis that’s thinner than we beforehand thought potential for an Intel-based workstation.

Glorious Design, Nice Efficiency, Painful Worth Tag

In the event you can abdomen the worth, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is an exceptional laptop computer for photograph and video editors who need nice efficiency paired with assured reliability. That latter level actually issues to working execs, who typically go for high-end gaming laptops with less-than-ideal construct high quality and lower-quality shows as a way to obtain this sort of efficiency.

Nonetheless, even once you perceive the advantages, the Studio G8’s value is admittedly onerous to swallow. The variant I examined right here prices about $1,000 greater than you’d spend on an (already costly) Razer Blade 15 Superior with mainly the identical core specs, a extra highly effective GPU, quicker PCIe Gen Four storage, and a next-gen OLED show that covers 100% of each DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB.

You actually need to worth these un-sexy cell workstation perks in case you’re going to justify that sort of value hike.

Execs

  • Glorious efficiency
  • Skinny, mild, rugged design
  • Incredible trackpad and keyboard
  • A number of color-accurate show choices
  • Strong port choice with two Thunderbolt Four ports and an SD card slot
  • MIL-STD-810 examined
  • 3-year guarantee included

Cons

  • No HDMI port
  • SSD is PCIe 3.0, not 4.0
  • RAM will not be upgradable
  • Sky excessive value

I hate to spend a lot time addressing a pc’s value since much more goes into judging the real-world worth of a pc than the price of its parts, so usually, I’ll deal with efficiency and value and go away the financial calculus to particular person readers who’ve particular person budgets and don’t give a person rattling whether or not I believe a laptop computer is “fairly priced.”

Nonetheless, “cell workstations” just like the ZBook Studio G8 exist in a distinct financial actuality, and it’s necessary to grasp the advantages and disadvantages of that actuality earlier than you both a) spend approach an excessive amount of on a laptop computer you don’t want, or b) ignore options and advantages that might make the laptop computer value each final penny.

For me, a well-built shopper laptop computer is dependable sufficient. I merely don’t use my computer systems onerous sufficient to justify the worth bounce and there are some actually incredible choices on the market. However in case you’re knowledgeable photographer or video editor who wants a well-rounded, rock-solid machine that can go together with you in every single place for the subsequent three to 5 years, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is value a really shut look. It’s cheaper than a lot of its direct opponents within the workstation-class, offers you a greater diversity of configurations to select from, and it churns out higher efficiency than we anticipated from one thing so smooth.

Are There Alternate options?

A number of main laptop computer makers have a workstation model that provides comparable advantages to the ZBook Studio. The most well-liked are most likely Lenovo’s ThinkPads and Dell’s Precision lineup. As I discussed earlier, these laptops normally swap NVIDIA’s GeForce graphics for a cell Quadro or A-series GPU, generally they use error-correcting “ECC” RAM, and infrequently they embrace longer warranties, the aforementioned military-grade certifications, and shows that put an emphasis on coloration and/or battery life over velocity and/or gaming efficiency.

For photographers, we’d suggest avoiding something with ECC reminiscence, an Intel Xeon processor, or an A-series/Quadro card, just because these upgrades have a tendency to extend the worth considerably with out including a lot to real-world photograph and even video enhancing efficiency. An 11th-gen Core i7 or Core i9 CPU, DDR4 RAM and a GeForce RTX 30 collection GPU is simply wonderful. As a substitute, in case you’re involved in a cell workstation, focus extra on options like a stable producer guarantee, standardized reliability testing, and a killer LCD or OLED show with close-to-100% protection of both AdobeRGB or DCI-P3.

A lot of HP’s ZBook-branded laptops, Dell’s Precision laptops, and a number of other of Lenovo’s ThinkPad fashions commerce blows right here in quite a lot of value brackets and configurations, relying on the sort of CPU, GPU, and show efficiency you want.

In the event you’re not involved in a cell workstation, you’ll find comparable efficiency and stable construct high quality for a lot much less cash by buying a high-quality shopper or gaming laptop computer like the Dell XPS 15/17, the Razer Blade 15 Superior and Razer Blade 17, or the ASUS Zephyrus G14/G15 (simply to call a couple of). You’ll get much more performance-bang-for-your-buck by going with a “shopper” or “creator” laptop computer vs a correct “cell workstation,” simply concentrate on what you’re giving up.

Ought to You Purchase It

Sure.

The caveats above apply, however apart from a couple of minor gripes that I point out above, I can not fault this laptop computer. For creatives, it’s a workhorse. The ZBook Studio G8 delivered much more “umph” than I anticipated from such a skinny and light-weight chassis whereas staying comparatively quiet, it appears to be like and feels nice, and it gives an excellent number of configuration choices that provide help to dial in a ratio of price-to-performance that works for you.

It’s finally as much as you to determine if the un-glamorous advantages of a cell workstation are definitely worth the inflated price ticket. But when they’re, then I’ve no qualms recommending this laptop computer.

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