HP’s ZBook 17

Animation Magazine - - Visual Effects Tech Reviews - Web­site: hp.com Price: $1,849

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.

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