Complex design programs like AutoCAD, ReVit, ZWCAD, Microstation PowerDraft, and others, need powerful hardware to run on, which limits the mobility of design professionals who are sometimes stuck at a desk, where their powerful – and bulky – computer hardware lives.
HP’s line of ZBooks are mobile workstations – powerfully-configured Windows notebooks – that have been designed with exactly this consideration in mind. They offer a range of hardware options that cater for designers of every kind, and which delivers incredible performance in a form factor that can be packed up and moved at a moment’s notice. This frees designers from being chained to their desks and offices, and lets them work wherever, and whenever, they need to.
Walking the line
The ZBook 15 G4 is HP’s latest line of mobile workstations that walk the line between performance, price, and aesthetics. The flagship model represents what HP is doing with the range the best – it’s a gorgeous 15-incher that’s packed with the kind of hardware to make any engineer drool, but which isn’t so stacked that it requires the sale of a kidney to afford.
The cornerstone of any CAD machine is its graphics solution, and HP has gone with NVIDIA’s Quadro M1200 graphics card here. It’s a production-quality graphics chip with 4GB of VRAM which, when paired with the 1RR11ES’s Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a blazing-fast 256GB NVMe TLC SSD, absolutely flies.
The Quadro M1200 is NVIDIA’s workstation-class graphics card that’s designed to work with all major CAD software solutions; it accelerates the complex workloads their users require. It also offers architectural advantages over NVIDIA’s consumer-grade GeForce graphics processors that accelerate CAD software’s performance far beyond what those GeForce cards could achieve, making the M1200 well worth the asking price.
But beyond mere horsepower, this ZBook 15 G4 is packed into a very attractive, very lightweight chassis, so you won’t look like you’re hauling a brick out of your bag when you arrive at a client’s offices, ready to do some work.
In fact, this machine’s aesthetic appeal has more in common with Ultrabook looks, than it does to anything with “Workstation” in the name, as it’s just 19.9mm thick and doesn’t even weigh 2kg. This is an incredibly thin and light machine, for what it offers, and is a testament to the power of Intel’s 7th-generation processors, the speed of DDR4 RAM, and the effectiveness of the cooling technology packed into the narrow chassis.
As this is a machine intended for use in creative pursuits, there are two display outputs – one VGA and one DisplayPort – to connect the unit up to two additional monitors without a dock. While there’s no HDMI port on the machine itself, one becomes available when you plug the unit into an HP dock, which provides access to a plethora of additional ports.
Other ports on the machine include a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.0 port with fast-charging capabilities, a USB 3.1 type C connector, a headphone/microphone jack, an SD card reader, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a side-dock connector that’s only compatible with HP’s dock solutions.
The flagship G4, model number 1RR11ES, also comes with a SIM card slot for network access via an LTE connection – handy for mobile workers who aren’t always close to WiFi.
When it comes to battery power, the 1RR11ES is kitted out with a 3-cell, 51WHr “Long Life” battery that’s good for a full day’s operation (with moderate use, that is), and which recharges back up to 50% of its capacity in just 30 minutes, thanks to HP’s proprietary “Fast Charge” technology.
Getting the display “just right” for the majority of users means the 1RR11ES ships with a 1080p non-touch panel as standard, but it’s possible to request a UHD screen or a 1080p panel with touch if that’s what you need.
This wouldn’t be a workstation notebook without a full keyboard, and that’s exactly the case here. It’s also backlit for easy key recognition in darkened rooms, and there’s a TrackPoint mouse in the middle of the keys that’s extremely handy once you get used to it. Keys press beautifully, too, with just the right amount of travel, and the chemically-strengthened glass trackpad is big enough for easy use, with nicely clickable buttons to boot.
The machine is clad in a casted magnesium-reinforced chassis, so it’s incredibly sturdy, and won’t bend or buckle easily. This is exactly the kind of design anyone who moves around with their workstation will appreciate – it’s sturdy, hardy, it looks great and it travels well.
Configured to Order
And, should the specifications of the default 1RR11ES not suit a customer’s requirements, it’s possible to order one of these ZBooks exactly as the customer would like it, limited only by the maximum spec the chassis is capable of supporting. That means one can be had with 32GB of RAM, a quad-core Xeon CPU or better, a high-capacity SSD, a high-capacity mechanical hard drive, and a UHD screen.
And for people who want an even bigger screen and performance, the ZBook 17 is available with a 17-inch display, and a Quadro P3000 6GB graphics card. For those interested in ultimate power, the P3000 can be replaced with the Quadro P5000, a card that ships with an incredible 16GB of VRAM – perfect for architects and engineers who are pushing their craft and skills to the limit.
This is all within reach for the super, ultra, power users out there with an affinity for HP’s ZBook design aesthetic, thanks to the ability to source one on a “Configured-to-Order” basis.
The ZBook 15 G4 is thus a potent, portable, powerhouse of a machine that can satisfy just about any design professional’s performance requirements, in a beautiful, sturdy, slim chassis that’s easy on the eye.
- Exceptional workstation performance
- Completely mobile
- Looks incredible
- Casted magnesium-reinforced chassis
- Beastly performance doesn't come cheap