by Lyle Smith

HP ZBook 15 G4 Review

HP is back with a series of new impressive-looking workstations. Among these releases is the ZBook 15 G4, marketed as a high-performance mobile workstation for professionals on the go. Not only can it be equipped with 7th generation Intel Core i7 CPUs, users can now leverage the massively powerful Xeon processor for the ultimate performance build. In addition, the ZBook 15 provides a new range of heavy-duty professional graphics from the new NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro graphics lines, while also offering a less expensive integrated GPU option. The HP ZBook 15 G4 can also be expanded up to 64GB of standard or ECC 2400 MHz memory and 3TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage via multiple M.2 HP Z Turbo Drives.

Another substantial upgrade to the HP ZBook is its dual Thunderbolt 3 ports via the USB-C connector, both of which support DP 1.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and PCIe technology. The display can also be upgraded to FHD Touch UWVA and UHD DreamColor options, the latter of which boasts a bright 4K resolution, making it ideal for those working in the video and photo editing industries. Moreover, with its support for HP Fast Charge, HP states the ZBook 15 G4 can go from 0 to 50% in charged capacity in just a half hour, which is rather impressive.

Our configuration includes a NVIDIA Quadro M2200, Intel Xeon CPU E3-1505M v6 @ 3.00GHz CPU, 32GB of DDR3 2133 MHz RAM, and a 512GB Toshiba SSD.

HP ZBook 15 G4 Specifications

  • Form Factor
    • Full performance design with a design utilizing Aluminum/mag panel and mag bottom case
    • 26 x 386 x 264 mm (h x w x d) / 1.0 x 15.2 x 10.4 in (h x w x d)
    • Starting at 5.7 lbs / 2.59 kg
  • Processors
    • 7th Generation Intel Core quad-core and Intel Xeon
    • Intel Turbo Boost Technology 3.0 support
    • Mobile Intel CM238 chipset
    • vPro support (optional)
  • Graphics
    • Intel HD Graphics 630, P630
    • NVIDIA Quadro M620, M1200, M2200                   
    • AMD Radeon Pro WX4150
    • UMA option                      
    • OpenGL support/ISV certifications
    • Support for NVIDIA Optimus
  • Display
    • 15.6-inch diagonal FHD SVA/AG,              
    • 15.6-inch diagonal FHD UWVA/AG,         
    • 15.6-inch diagonal FHD Touch UWVA,    
    • 15.6-inch diagonal UHD DreamColor UWVA/AG
  • Memory
    • 8-64 GB DDR4 – 2400 MHz
    • 4 dual-sided open SODIMM slots; up to 64 GB memory
    • Standard memory with Intel CoreTM processors
    • ECC memory with Intel Xeon processors
  • Storage
    • HP Z Turbo Drive G2 (M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD)
      • 256 GB PCIe (NVMe) TLC
      • 256 GB PCIe (NVMe) MLC
      • 512 GB PCIe (NVMe) TLC SED
      • 1TB PCIe (NVMe) MLC
    • M.2 SATA SSD
      • 256 GB SED
    • 2.5” SATA SSD
      • 256 GB. 1 TB
    • 2.5” SATA HDD
      • 500 GB 7200
      • 500 GB 7200 SED
      • 500 GB 7200 SED FIPS
      • 1 TB 5400
      • 500 GB Hybrid (8 GB)
    • HP 3D DriveGuard (HDD)
  • Audio
    • Bang & Olufsen Audio                   
    • Integrated dual-microphone array
    • Microsoft Lync Unified Certification (Lync + Skype)                          
    • 2 integrated stereo speakers
  • Communications
    • RJ-45 Ethernet port
    • PXE boot supported
    • Intel (I219-LM) Gigabit Network
    • Intel 8265 802.11 2x2ac + BT 4.2 combo (vProTM and non-vProTM)
    • WWAN HP lt4120 LTE HSPA+ EVDO Gobi 4G; HP hs3210 HSPA+, HP It4132 LTE/HSPA+ 4G
  • Expansions slots
    • Integrated SD flash media slot (RT5237S)-supports SD, SDHC, SDX
    • Integrated SmartCard reader

Design and Build

The HP ZBook 15 G4 looks like a standard business workstation with black/grey case design.

The screen and keyboard areas have the usual features you’ll see on most modern workstations. Just above the display are the internal microphone and webcam (as well as its LED). 

On the left side of the lap (from left to right) you'll find the security cable slot, RJ-45 Ethernet port, VGA port, USB 3.0 (charge) port, and the SD UHS-II flash media slot. The right side features the Smart Card reader, microphone in/headphone combo jack, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the power connector.

The HP ZBook 15 G4 can be equipped with a variety of GPU options, including NVIDIA Quadro M620, M1200, and M2200 and AMD Radeon Pro WX4150 professional graphics cards.

NVIDA Quadro M620 specifications:

  • CPU/Mobile Platform Generation: Kabylake
  • GPU Architecture: Pascal
  • NVIDIA CUDA Parallel Processor Cores: 512
  • Memory Size: 2GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface: 128-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 80GB/sec
  • Max Power Consumption, TGP (Graphics Sub-System): 30W
  • OpenGL: 4.5
  • Shader Model: 5.0
  • DirectX 12
  • PCI-E Generation: 3
  • Display Port: 1.2
  • Precision: FP32
  • 3D Stereo Support          
  • NVIDIA Mosaic Technology         
  • NVIDIA nView Display Management Technology
  • NVIDIA Optimus Technology      

NVIDA Quadro M1200 specifications:

  • CPU/Mobile Platform Generation: Kabylake
  • GPU Architecture: Pascal
  • NVIDIA CUDA Parallel Processor Cores: 640
  • Memory Size: 4GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface: 128-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 80GB/sec
  • Max Power Consumption, TGP (Graphics Sub-System):45W
  • OpenGL: 4.5
  • Shader Model: 5.0
  • DirectX 12
  • PCI-E Generation: 3
  • Display Port: 1.2
  • Precision: FP32
  • 3D Stereo Support          
  • NVIDIA Mosaic Technology         
  • NVIDIA nView Display Management Technology
  • NVIDIA Optimus Technology      

NVIDA Quadro M2200 specifications:

  • CPU/Mobile Platform Generation: Kabylake
  • GPU Architecture: Pascal
  • NVIDIA CUDA Parallel Processor Cores: 1024
  • Memory Size: 4GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Interface: 128-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 80GB/sec
  • Max Power Consumption, TGP (Graphics Sub-System): 55W
  • OpenGL: 4.5
  • Shader Model: 5.0
  • DirectX 12
  • PCI-E Generation: 3
  • Display Port: 1.2
  • Precision: FP32
  • 3D Stereo Support          
  • NVIDIA Mosaic Technology         
  • NVIDIA nView Display Management Technology
  • NVIDIA Optimus Technology      

AMD Radeon Pro WX4150 Specifications:

  • Architecture: Polaris
  • Pipelines: 896 - unified
  • Core Speed: 1053 (Boost) MHz
  • Memory Speed: 7000 MHz
  • Memory Bus Width: 128 Bit
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Max. Amount of Memory: 4096 MB
  • DirectX: DirectX 12
  • DisplayPort 1.3 HBR / 1.4
  • HDR Ready
  • HDMI 2.0
  • AMD FreeSync

Performance

To test its performance, we will be putting the newest HP ZBook 15 G4 through several benchmarks with resource-intensive workloads and will examine the NVIDIA Quadro M2200 performance inside HP’s newest mobile workstation. We will be comparing the new ZBook 15 G4 to the 15u G4 to show the scale of performance when comparing the latest ZBook with the similarly named Ultrabook. While both are 15" models, the ZBook 15 is clearly aimed at the power user and would be expected to perform as such.

This first benchmark we looked at is the SPECviewperf 12 benchmark, which is the worldwide standard for measuring graphics performance based on professional applications. SPECviewperf runs 9 benchmarks it calls “viewsets,” all of which represent graphics content and behavior from actual applications. These viewsets include 3D Max, CATIA, Creo, Energy, Maya, Medical, Showcase, Siemens NX, and Solidworks.

When outfitted with the Quadro M2200, the new HP ZBook’s performance showed results that were in line with a higher-end mobile graphics card: 3D Max (62.56), CATIA (62.56), Creo (68.77), Energy (5.29), Maya (49.78), Medical (25.62), Showcase (32.22), Siemens NX (58.67), and Solidworks (96.90). 

SPECviewperf 12
Viewsets HP ZBook 15 HP ZBook 15u
3dsmax-05 62.56 N/A
catia-04 71.31 17.86
creo-01 68.77 17.25
energy-01 5.29 0.39
maya-04 49.78 16.50
medical-01 25.62 5.42
showcase-01 32.22 9.76
snx-02 58.67 19.75
sw-03 96.09 31.96

Along with SPECviewperf, we also ran SPECwpc--a benchmark designed specifically for testing all key aspects of workstation performance. SPECwpc consists of over 30 workloads that it uses to test CPU, graphics, I/O, and memory bandwidth. The workloads fall under broader categories, such as media and entertainment, financial services, product development, energy, life sciences, and general operations, which are an average of all the individual workloads in each category. Here, the new ZBook 15 G4 continued to show off its new and improved hardware performance with scores of 2.28 (media and entertainment), 3.02 (financial services), 2.07 (product development), 2.06 (energy), 2.15 (life sciences) and 1.13 (general operations). Again, the new ZBook showed impressive performance.

SPECwpc v2.0
Category HP ZBook 15 HP ZBook 15u
M&E 2.28 1.2
ProdDev 2.07 1.31
LifeSci 2.15 1.14
Energy 2.06 0.96
FSI 3.02 0.58
GeneralOps 1.13 0.99

Using our ESRI benchmark, we look at several aspects of the ArcGIS program; however, we are most interested in the average of the drawtime, average frames per second (Average FPS), and minimum frames per second (Minimum FPS). Looking at drawtime, the new ZBook 15 showed an average time of just 00:06.321, while average and minimum FPS gave us a very solid 298.484 and 137.512, respectively.

ESRI Benchmark
Drawtime Average
HP ZBook 15 0:00:06.321
HP ZBook 15u 0:00:24.489
Average FPS Average
HP ZBook 15 298.48
HP ZBook 15u 55.36
Minimum FPS Average
HP ZBook 15 137.51
HP ZBook 15u 24.47

 

Conclusion

The HP ZBook 15 G4 is an impressive performance-driven mobile workstation that can be equipped with up to a Xeon E3 1505M v6 (Z1) CPU, 64GB of DDR4 2400 non-ECC memory, and 3TB of M.2 NVMe Z Turbo drive SSD storage. It also has a range of connectivity options including two new Thunderbolt 3 ports. Moreover, the new 15 G4 offers a range of GPU options including an Intel 630 integrated GPU, and NVIDIA (Quadro M620, M1200, and M2200) and AMD (Radeon Pro WX4150) professional graphics cards. All of this translates to a lot of potential power if you are willing to open up the wallet. Though our test build used higher-end components, users can certainly choose a build that best suits their needs with a variety of different price ranges.

As for the specifics of its performance, we looked at the graphics-intensive benchmarks--the SPECviewperf, SPECwpc, and ESRI tests--and compared it to the 15u business-class utrabook. During the tests, both ZBooks were equipped with some of the highest available components available for their specific model. Looking at graphics, the ZBook 15 G4 showed very impressive results with the SPECviewperf, while results from our SPECwpc (which tests CPU, graphics, I/O, and memory bandwidth) told a similar story. In addition, the ESRI draw time and minimum and Average FPS showed 00:06.321, and 137.512, and 298.484, respectively.

With its sleek and modern design, this 15-inch portable powerhouse provides professionals with very capable mobile workstation that excels in high-end graphics processing and rendering.

HP Mobile Workstations

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