HP’s ZBook 17
Hewlett-Packard has taken its EliteBook series of laptops, and reconfigured and rebranded it — the result being the ZBook mobile workstation, with the emphasis on the workstation part. It comes in three flavors: 14-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch. My review system is the 17-inch — a monster of a laptop.
The first thing to say about it is that it’s pretty: A dark gray shell with soft, curved corners makes it pleasing to look at and touch. And it’s not only the case: The ZBook sports an HD Dreamcolor display. The color and contrast makes your graphics intense – and furthermore, those graphics are driven by an NVIDIA Quadro K5100M with 8GB GDDR5 RAM.
The 17-inch ZBook is equipped with a slew of ports around the sides. Most notably, the ZBook, despite being a Windows box, has provided a Thunderbolt bolt for the newer high-speed drives that are normally connected to Apple products. Additionally, there is an SD-card reader and a bunch of USB 3.0 ports, one of which is a dedicated power source for charged devices like phones — even when the Zbook is powered down.
The combination of the Intel i7-4900MQ dual 2.80Ghz processors, the 16GB of RAM and the NVidia card handled the Adobe Creative Suite like a dream, The Foundry’s Nuke 8 floated along nicely, and both Autodesk’s Maya and Max handled medium-weight tasks without a problem. In fact, the ZBook handled all my tasks supervising a shoot over the past week, which included rendering and exporting fairly intense particular renders to provide to Christie projectors. A case study, if I’ve ever heard one.
Downsides would be that the 17-inch model is pretty hefty — definitely built for use as a workstation, and not so much writing your screenplay at Starbucks. Additionally, my review station came with a 128GB SSD drive. While it’s fast, I used up almost the entire drive for software. The good news? You can get a smaller model or you can install a larger drive.
Overall, it’s super robust and should perform well for most tasks required in mobile situations such as being on set.