HP is continuing its quest to bring desktop performance to portable devices with its latest launch of ZBook mobile workstations. All ZBooks are equipped with Sure Start Gen3 BIOS security software with runtime intrusion detection. This means that instead of checking for malware when the system boots up, it constantly does so while the computer is running.
HP ZBook 15 G4 Review
The cornerstone of HP’s line of portable workstations is the ZBook 15 G4, which is available now with a starting price of around $1,399 (about £1,095, AU$1,860) and is, according to HP, the preferred workstation at NASA and on the International Space Station, no less.
That’s not to say that the ZBook 15 is lacking ports. The workstation has a Gigabit Ethernet port, a legacy VGA connector, one USB 3.0 port, and two USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports. Additionally, there’s an HDMI port and an SD card reader on the sides of the machine.
As with almost all HP systems, the speaker grille that runs under the screen is backed by Bang and Olufsen audio for clear sound. However, HP did cut back a little with the 720p webcam.
One of the reasons the ZBook 15 remains one of the most popular mobile workstations HP has to offer is because of its versatility. The system can support seventh-generation Intel Core or Intel Xeon processors in addition to either an AMD Radeon Pro or Nvidia Quadro graphics card with up to 4GB of video memory. Furthermore, the system can be equipped with a maximum of 64GB of system memory and 3TB of hard drive storage, and there are two fans built-in to help keep everything suitably cool.
The ZBook 15 is designed for extensive outdoor use, and it’s capable of withstanding a drop or two, but housing all that hardware also means that the machine feels a bit thick as well as hefty. When closed, the workstation is about one inch (25mm) thick.
That’s a significant difference compared to the more portable ZBook Studio, which has also been updated. It has a 15-inch screen, but is 18mm thick and weighs 2kg, and it might even be considered by some to be an Ultrabook.
There’s no question as to whether or not the ZBook 15 falls into the Ultrabook category, but that’s the price of performance. The workstation nestles in a sweet spot between the Studio and the ZBook 17 G4, the latter of which boasts the same level of versatility with a larger screen, and can be equipped with higher-end video cards for virtual reality capabilities.
Meanwhile, the touchpad seems like too much, with three buttons both above and below it instead of having the pad push in as seen on other notebooks. Although it’s nice to have options and strong tactile feedback, we can’t help wondering if the keyboard could have been made a bit bigger if the touchpad was updated so it didn’t look like a remnant from a decade ago.