HP ZBook Studio G8 Evaluate: Highly effective, Moveable, and Expensive

HP ZBook Studio G8

RRP $ 6,863.00

"The HP ZBook Studio G8 is fast and well built, but the price is far too high."

benefits

  • Stable built

  • Spectacular display

  • Thin and light for a workplace

  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad

  • Good productivity and creative performance

disadvantage

  • Too expensive

  • Performance does not correspond to the price

  • Terrible battery life

HP offers a full line of portable workstations for developers and technical users, from the ultra-portable ZBook Firefly G8 to the ultra-powerful ZBook Fury G8. In the middle of the product range is the ZBook Studio G8, a workstation that is aimed at both gamers and creative professionals. Simply put, it's not your typical portable workstation that is large, heavy, and highly upgradeable. It is aimed at the same people who might buy a Dell XPS 15, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, or MacBook Pro.

It's not a cheap laptop either. I tested a configuration with the Intel Core i9-11950H vPro CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU that says the retail price is a whopping 6,863 US dollars. As of this writing, the price is still $ 4,392, although prices will fluctuate.

Either way, you are spending a huge surcharge to get a laptop with high-end components and a handful of professional features. For most people, this won't be a winning combination compared to today's extremely powerful thin and light consumer laptops.

draft

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The ZBook Studio G8 is more like traditional thin and light laptops than a workstation. This is intentional, because the laptop should appeal to both consumer-oriented power users and professionals who are looking for a highly mobile solution. Take a look at the ZBook Studio G8 and you'll see a striking resemblance to an HP Specter from a few years ago. There's an aggressive angle along each side, sharp chamfers on different edges, and the back edge is a sharp wedge that adds some flair to the design.

The color is called "Turbo Silver" and the overall aesthetic is sophisticated but eye-catching. It's a lot more attractive than the Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2, which shares similar components but is a lot more boxy and old-fashioned. The ZBook Studio G8 challenges the Dell XPS 15 more directly in its look and feel, but the Dell is slimmer and just as attractive.

Thanks to the very thin display bezels on the sides and relatively narrow bezels at the top and bottom, the ZBook Studio G8 with its 15.6-inch display in 16: 9 format is quite a large notebook. It's only slightly larger in width and depth than the XPS 15, with its 15.6-inch 16:10 display that has tiny bezels all around, and it's considerably smaller than the ThinkPad P15. It's also thin at 0.69 inches compared to the 0.71 inch on the XPS 15 and 1.24 inches on the ThinkPad P15 at its thickest point, and at 3.96 pounds lighter compared to 4.42 pounds, respectively. 6.32 pounds for the XPS or P15. The ZBook Studio G8 manages to fall into the thin and light category while housing some serious components.

The ZBook Studio G8 is as good as the best in terms of build quality. There's no bending, bending, or twisting in the lid, keyboard deck, or bottom case, and HP puts the laptop through a brutal series of 21 military certification tests. The ZBook Studio G8 is easily on par with the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4, which makes it a fairly robust device.

The ZBook Studio G8 does not offer the same expandability as many workstations. It has 32GB of RAM, much less than others that can be upgraded to 128GB, and the maximum storage is 2TB. There's only one slot for a solid-state drive (SSD), while many workstations have two – the ThinkPad P15, for example, has two slots and can be upgraded to a whopping 16 TB of storage. That's the price you pay for being so thin and light.

Connectivity is good for a thin and light laptop, although thicker workstations tend to have more ports. On the left you will find a single USB-A port and a 3.5mm audio jack and on the right you will find two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports, a mini DisplayPort connector and an SD card reader in full size hand side. Power is supplied via a proprietary connection that is fed by a sizable 200 watt power supply. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 provide wireless tasks.

There are a few "professional" features that you won't find on a typical consumer laptop. For example, there is built-in tile support that will help you track down your laptop if it has been stolen. HP's Wolf Security Suite provides hardware-based protection against BIOS corruption and attacks, and there are several other security features only available on HP's business-class laptops. The chassis can also be disinfected and has been tested for 1,000 cleaning cycles with selected household towels. Whether these features offer enough added value to justify the price of the ZBook Studio G8 is an open question.

power

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

My test device was equipped with the 8-core / 16-thread Core i9-11950H vPro CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 32 GB RAM and a 2 TB PCIe SSD. You can also choose up to an Nvidia Quadro A5000 GPU if you want really professional graphics, but otherwise my review unit was maxed out. I ran it through our suite of benchmarks and found that while it's a fast laptop, it doesn't outperform some consumer-grade laptops that cost less than half the price.

The ZBook Studio G8 performed well in Geekbench 5 and took third place in our comparison group behind the Apple MacBook Pro 16 and the Lenovo ThinkPad P15. In our Handbrake test, which encodes a 420 MB video as H.265, the Lenovo took first place and in the Cinebench R23 came third, again behind the MacBook Pro 16 and the ThinkPad P15. In the PCMark 10 Complete Benchmark, which is a great test of productivity performance, the ZBook Studio G8 finally took third place behind the ThinkPad P15 and the Asus Vivobook Pro 16X with a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU.

The extremely high price of the ZBook Studio G8 can hardly be justified due to the performance alone.

Most tellingly, however, was the workstation's performance in the real-world Pugetbench benchmark running in Adobe Premiere – a demanding application for which the machine was specifically designed. The ZBook Studio G8 scored 612 points in the benchmark, a solid score that fell short of the ThinkPad P15, Dell XPS 17, and the insanely fast MacBook Pro 16, which beat the rest of the field. The ZBook Studio G8 wasn't even much faster than the Dell XPS 15 with a slower CPU and GPU. In short, HP's workstation was disappointing in what is perhaps the most important benchmark.

The only way to characterize its performance is that it is certainly a fast laptop that will serve its professional market well while satisfying productive users at the same time. At the same time, however, it's not necessarily faster than the thin and light mass of high-end consumers. The extremely high price of the ZBook Studio G8 can hardly be justified due to the performance alone.

Underdog bench 5
(Single / multiple)
Cinebench R23 (single / multiple) Handbrake (seconds) PCMark 10 Pugetbench Premiere Pro
HP ZBook Studio G8 (Core i9-11950H) 1637/9139 1594/11788 84 6432 612
Lenovo ThinkPad P15 (Core i9-11950H) 1691/9250 1596/12207 84 6866 724
Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro) 1773/12605 1531/12343 95 N / A 956
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (Core i7-11800H) 1520/7353 1519/10497 106 6251 432
Dell XPS 15 (Core i7-11800H) 1556/7692 1513/9979 103 6024 509
Dell XPS 17 (Core i7-11800H) 1568/8801 1525/10145 109 6209 692
Asus Vivobook Pro 16X (Ryzen 9 5900HX) 1544/8299 1486/11478 90 6486 571

Gaming performance

Given that HP specifically mentions Gaming as one of the ZBook Studio G8's strengths, and it features an RGB backlit keyboard per key and the OMEN Gaming Hub utility, it's fair to rate its gaming performance. The RTX 3070 was supposed to make it a competitive gaming device, but it turned out that its performance was downright mixed.

The ZBook Studio G8's 3DMark Time Spy Score was low compared to the peer group, especially the Razer Blade 14 and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, which both came with RTX-3070 GPUs. The HP caught up with Assassin's Creed Valhalla, where they tied for first place, and it ended up between the Razer Blade 14 and Legion 5 Pro in Battlefield V. However, his Fortnite score was the second lowest and he wasn't especially fast on Civilization VI, where its CPU should have paid some dividends. Overall, the ZBook Studio G8 is undoubtedly capable of playing competently at 1080p and even 1440p, but it won't beat many dedicated gaming laptops.

Laptop 3DMark time spy Assassin & # 39; s Creed Valhalla
(1080p ultra high)
Battlefield V
(1080p Ultra)
Fourteen days
(1080p epic)
Civilization VI (1080p Ultra)
HP ZBook Studio G8 (RTX 3070) 7391 77 fps 83 fps 89 fps 112 fps
HP Victus 16 (RTX 3060) 7341 59 fps 72 fps 99 fps 118 fps
Razer blade 14 (RTX 3070) 8605 60 fps 96 fps 96 fps 111 fps
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (RTX 3070) 9175 61 fps 73 fps 101 fps 114 fps
Asus ROG Strix G15 (RX6800M) 10504 77 fps 109 fps 108 fps 150 fps
MSI GS66 Stealth (RTX 3080) 9097 70 fps 117 fps 140 fps 149 fps
Razer blade 15 (RTX 2080 Super) 7637 58 fps 98 fps 110 fps 134 fps
MSI Creator Z16 (RTX 3060) 6322 50 fps 57 fps 56 fps (1600p) 92 fps

At this point it should be noted that the ZBook Studio G8 gets very loud under full load and produces so much noise in our gaming benchmarks that I wanted to put on headphones. The case also got quite warm, with parts of the palm rest exceeding 126 degrees Fahrenheit and the bottom of the case reaching over 140 degrees F. The CPU temperatures stayed below 90 degrees F during the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, so HP did an excellent job of keeping the component temperatures within a reasonable range.

display

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

My test device came with the 4K OLED display (3840 x 2160), one of four options, along with two Full HD options (1920 x 1080) and HP's DreamColor 4K display running at 120 Hz. With OLED displays you can't usually go wrong, and mine definitely looked great. The colors were dynamic without being oversaturated, the display was bright enough in all my work environments (including outside in southern California sunlight), and I enjoyed deep black colors.

My colorimeter was mostly happy with the display, but it wasn't quite as spectacular as some of the OLED panels I tested. It was bright at 413 nits, well above our 300 nit threshold, and the contrast was excellent at 28,880: 1 (note this is a lower score than some of my previous OLED tests, but I switched colorimeters and it apparently tests OLED displays differently). The colors were wide at 94% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB. The color accuracy was just OK with a DeltaE of 2.16 (1.0 or less is considered excellent). Compared to the Dell XPS 15 OLED display with 397 nits, 27,770: 1 contrast, 97% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB and a color accuracy of 0.41. The ThinkPad 15 had a more average IPS display that was very bright at 542 cd / m² and had a contrast ratio of 1,040: 1, 76% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB and a color accuracy of 1.49.

Creative types will love this display, although they would like the colors to be a little more accurate. Everyone else will enjoy the colors, brightness and contrasts that make the ZBook Studio G8 an excellent laptop for creative and productive work.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Four speakers, two tweeters and two woofers provide the sound, and when they are all the way up, they emit ample volume. There was no distortion either, with clear mids and highs and a hint of bass. These are some of the best speakers you'll find on a Windows laptop that rival the Dell XPS 15, which is the Windows benchmark but doesn't quite get on par with the excellent MacBook Pro audio.

You can use these speakers for all of your listening needs from gaming to Netflix bingeing to music. No headphones or external speakers are required.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The ZBook Studio G8's keyboard is very similar to that of HP's Specter range, with plenty of key spacing, large keycaps, and a row of cursor movement keys along the right side. However, its switching mechanism is completely different, it is the same depth, but with more click than push button. It's a comfortable and quiet keyboard on par with the excellent version of the Specter, even if it feels different. My test unit came with the optional per-key RGB lighting that can cycle 16.8 million colors, and it's as good as a gaming laptop like the Razer Blade 14. It's strange to have such lighting on a portable workstation but that too shows how HP sees its customers using the laptop.

The touchpad was large and comfortable, with a glass surface that made swiping precise. As a Microsoft Precision touchpad, it supported the multi-touch gestures of Windows 10 and was pleasant to use. The display was also touch-enabled and precise as usual.

Windows 10 Hello support is provided by both an infrared camera for facial recognition and a fingerprint reader in the upper right corner of the palm rest. Both worked quickly and reliably.

There's no privacy switch or slider for the webcam, which was disappointing. And the webcam itself gets stuck at 720p.

Battery life

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Inside the ZBook Studio G8 there is an 83 watt hour battery installed, which is not exactly huge for this device class. The Lenovo ThinkPad P15, for example, has a capacity of 94 watt hours and the Dell XPS 15 is almost on par with HP with 86 watt hours. Throw in some high-end components and a power hungry 4K OLED display and my predictions for battery life have been bleak.

Things were just as bad as I expected. Starting with our web browsing test, which ran through a number of popular and complex websites, the ZBook Studio G8 only lasted five hours, about half of what we'd like to see in this test. The XPS 15 OLED lasted nine hours and the ThinkPad P15 reached 9.5 hours. In our video test, which repeats a local 1080p movie trailer, the ZBook Studio G8 only lasted 6.25 hours, compared to the XPS 15 OLED for 11 hours and the ThinkPad P15 for 11.15 hours.

I also ran the PCMark Applications battery test, the best indicator of productivity performance, and the ZBook Studio G8 got 5.5 hours, while the XPS 15 got eight hours and the ThinkPad P15 6.35 hours. Finally, in the PCMark Gaming Battery Test, which shows how hard a laptop works on battery power, the ZBook Studio G8 lasted 91 minutes, roughly the same as the XPS 15 OLED and about 40 minutes longer than the ThinkPad P15.

Overall, the battery life of the ZBook Studio G8 was poor. You have to lug around and plug in the large power pack before a work day is over. If your workload is demanding at all, you'll pocket it even before noon.

Our opinion

The ZBook Studio G8 manages to pack components at the workstation level into a thin and light housing. However, this happens at the expense of pure performance and expandability. Aside from some professional features that may or may not be useful to the typical developer or even engineer, the ZBook Studio G8 outperforms some 15-inch laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen. not 4 (which is actually more expandable than the HP).

That makes the ZBook Studio G8 an odd laptop. It's a great machine, no doubt about it. But it's also horribly expensive without much to add to justify the investment.

Are there alternatives?

The ThinkPad P15 offers similar performance to the ZBook Studio G8, but is much more expandable at the expense of the added thickness and weight. It's just as expensive, but you'll be happy to find that you can upgrade the memory and storage if needed.

You can also consider MSI's WS65 Mobile Workstation. It supports the same basic components and can be configured with up to 64GB of RAM, but it is also thinner and lighter and does not offer the same expandability as some workstations.

Finally, the Dell XPS 15 is an excellent choice when you don't need these professional features. It's just as well built and handsome, and it's almost as fast in our test configuration that it wasn't maxed out. Buy an XPS 15 with its highest quality components and you'll likely get similar performance for thousands less.

How long it will take?

The ZBook Studio G8 is solidly built and will withstand many years of productive service. However, it is not as expandable as many workstations. So you buy what you get. However, the three-year guarantee is welcome.

Should you buy it?

No. The ZBook Studio G8 is also a great device. It's just too expensive compared to the competition.

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