HP Zbook 15 Review

on Sunday, December 7, 2014
The HP ZBook 15 is a mobile workstation, and that means a powerhouse laptop that can stand in for a desktop. The 6.2 pound 15.6" ZBook we look at has a quad core Intel Core i7 CPU clocked at 2.7GHz, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M graphics, 16 gigs of RAM and a phenomenal wide gamut full HD DreamColor display. It's not cheap at $2,799 though; HP's business and professional line workstations aren't for the budget conscious.
In a world where Ultrabooks, those super thin and light laptops with few upgradable parts, are the new norm, the ZBook line is old guard. It's upgradable, rugged and significantly more powerful than Ultrabooks. It uses the full mobile CPU line from Intel rather than the ultra low power U series Ultrabook line of CPUs, and it packs workstation graphics for CAD professionals, architects and engineers. As a bonus, Quadro graphics can handle some demanding gaming too, though it's designed more for 3D design, engineering and video production. Clearly, if you just work in MS Office and edit a few photos in Photoshop this is overkill. But if you're a professional who needs serious computing and graphics power, this is your kind of machine.
The ZBook is available in three sizes: 14, 15 and 17 inch. We look at the middle child, which is the most interesting in terms of delivering the most computing power in the smallest package. The ZBook 15 and 17 use the same fourth generation Intel Haswell full mobile CPUs with 4 core CPU options, and they're both available with HP's DreamColor displays and relatively powerful NVIDIA Quadro graphics. The ZBook 17 is available with Quadro K610M or K3100M graphics, while our 15 inch model is available with Quadro K610M, K1100M or K2100M graphics, making both models powerful workstations. The 14" model uses AMD Firepro M4100 graphics with dual core Intel full mobile M series CPUs, making it portable but less powerful.
As you'd expect from a business oriented HP laptop, the ZBook meets MIL SPEC 810G standards, and it has a spill resistant keyboard, a fingerprint scanner with TPM and HP's security software. HP offers the laptop with Windows 8.1 Pro with downgrade rights to Windows 7 Pro. The 15.6" ZBook 15 feels solid with no creaking panels and the hinges are firm. Note that a touch screen isn't available. The top and bottom panels are metal and a generous rubbery area rings the edges for better grip. Slide a single latch on the bottom and you can remove the 8 cell, 83 wHr battery. Slide another latch and you have easy access to internals including a 2.5" SATA drive bay, four RAM slots and three PCI-e slots for caching drives, WiFi and WAN cards.
The ZBook 15 starts at $1,499, but that price nets you a less impressive 2.5GHz dual core i5-4200M, 8 gigs of RAM and Quadro K610M graphics with 1 gig VRAM.


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