It's not your average tablet. It's not your typical workstation. This ZBook is a certified workstation that transforms into a creative professional's artistic tablet.

A Certified Workstation

The ZBook X2 squeezes professional workstation power into a windows tablet format. What gives the X2 workstation bonafides?

For starters, the X2 drives a 4K HP DreamColor display using an NVIDIA Quadro GPU. The CPU options include Core i5 & i7 processors, and it supports up to 32 GB DDR4 RAM as well as a 2 TB SSD for storage. 

In addition to the enterprise-grade technology inside, the ZBook X2 is ISV-certified with applications that are important to creative professionals. The software-certifications, the professional graphics, and the 4K DreamColor display are three characteristics that set apart the ZBook X2.   

Our workstation-tablet tests were complimented by an HP DreamColor Z27 Studio display. It's a good partner for the X2 in many ways.

One is the continuity of DreamColor technology for a large-format display. Another interesting feature of the Z27 Studio display is that the monitor doubles as a Thunderbolt docking station for the ZBook X2.   

The ZBook X2 test unit comes equipped with an NVIDIA Quadro M620 GPU, a four-core Intel Core i7 8850U processor with hyper-threading, 32 GB DDR4 RAM, running at 2400 MHz and a 1 TB SSD drive.

Dell Precision 5540 with OLED display

The detachable keyboard & touchpad transforms this mobile workstation into a tablet-workstation.

The ZBook X2 connectivity ports include two Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI, 1.4 port, and a fast, charging USB port. On the same side, there is also an SD card reader, a fingerprint reader, and power. On the opposite side you'll find volume, an on/off switch, a headphone jack, and a security lock port.   

The front of the workstation-tablet has an integrated microphone, camera, and multiple "quick-keys" that function is different modes. The layout is designed to facilitate both workstation and tablet modes of operation. 

The keyboard is very flat. This can take getting used to if you use a typical mobile workstation that has a slightly elevated keyboard. But the keyboard is responsive. The touchpad is reasonably large and also quite responsive. 

The ZBook X2 has a kick-stand. built into the display that holds the display upright whether the keyboard is attached or detached. This is functional, however, it lacks the flexibility of display positioning which is possible on a hinged, mobile workstation. 

The front face of the X2 has HP Quick Keys that may be customized for professional applications and Windows 10.  Applications that are supported include many of the popular Adobe applications: Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom.

Ports, power, and volume controls are located on the sides of the ZBook X2. Locating the on/off switch and volume controls on the side of the display make the X2 usable as both a standard mobile workstation and as a workstation-tablet.

And that is just the beginning of the tech specs. The ZBook X2 has so many more features that you won't even notice until you dig into the details.

The pen has 4096 levels of sensitivity and does not require charging.  It is a robust system designed to pass MIL-Spec testing. It supports up to three external displays without a docking station. The front panel has an IR camera for secure face-recognition. 

HP prides itself on its security features. for Z workstations. Not only do you have the fingerprint reader and the IR face detection, you also get HP's boot-up and BIOS security features. The ZBook X2 uses HP's self-healing. BIOS technology and their "HP Sure Start" technology to avoid and repair BIOS attacks. 

Targeting Creative Professionals

HP clearly targets creative users with the ZBook X2. Adobe Creative Cloud is pre-installed. That is a small bonus if you use Creative Cloud. You just need to log-in. If you don't use it already, then you'll need to buy a subscription. The convertible format with a detachable, bluetooth keyboard means that the X2 is easier to handle as a tablet than it's big brother, the ZBook Studio x360.  

 And then there is HP's DreamColor technology. This allows you to use custom, calibrated LUTs across your entire workflow. You can use the same LUTs for your creative work on the ZBook X2. as well as. when. you print with an HP DreamColor printer. This means that you can be assured of accurate color from the start to the finish of you projects.

And The Performance?

The performance of this 14-inch convertible workstation-tablet will be fine for you if you are working with graphics in applications like Photoshop and Illustrator. As it turns out, you will probably be OK for an occasional session of Premiere Pro or even, from time to time, After Effects. 

But if your creative needs run more towards the high-end of the animation and visual effects spectrum, and you still need a good touch-screen and pen capability, then HP has another mobile workstation that might fit your needs, namely the ZBook Studio x360. I tested the X2 performance against that of the X360. 

The The four-core ZBook X2 with its Quadro M620 is not as powerful as the ZBook Studio x360 and its six-core processor and Quadro P1000 that I tested. That is clear. Yet the X2 shows that it is up to the task for graphics work and, occasionally, more demanding video and special effects work. 

In Viewperf and Cinebench, the ZBook X2 performance is sufficient for on-the-go 3D work. The application tests show that the real-world performance falls well short of the ZBook Studio x360.

On the other hand, interactive performance for Premiere Pro and, to a lesser extent, After Effects, remains fluid. Of course these applications allow users to adapt interactive performance and quality which is where users spend most of their time.

The performance difference for rendering translates into a few minutes longer wait for shorter renderings. That can be an acceptable trade-off for creative professionals needing a creative workstation-tablet.

HP DreamColor Technology

The ZBook X2 test unit and the DreamColor Z27 Studio both supportHP's DreamColor technology. For the displays, this means support for 1 billion colors and custom LUTs.

With calibrated, 10 bit color displays, colors are displayed correctly. HP also provides DreamColor technology in its printer products. This combination permits consistent color workflows throughout the project.

When your creative work is color-critical: graphics arts, print, video, or film, then HP's DreamColor technology will help. you finish projects with the results that you want the first time. 

 The costs for the ZBook X2 vary depending on the configuration that you require. The test unit with its Core i7, Quadro M620, DreamColor display, 1 TB SSD, and 32 GB of RAM costs approximately $3500. 

Viewperf 13

Viewperf isolates GPU performance in a workstation well. The results are a weighted FPS value. The Quadro M620 performance is often half that of the Quadro P1000.

Cinebench 15 GPU

In Cinebench 15, the Zbook X2's GPU performance lags by only 26%. Performance on the CPU tests is almost 50% faster on the ZBook Studio x360. 

Premiere Pro

In Premiere Pro, the differences range from 50% to several hundred percent in rendering performance. For occasional video work, the X2 will get the job done, but it doesn't pretend to be a mobile workstation for video.

After Effects

After Effects rendering is demanding. The ZBook X2 can handle interactive work in AE - especially by adapting the performance/quality settings. The X2 can handle final renderings, but you will need some patience.

A Final Perspective

This is not a typical convertible workstation. HP has a very specific user in mind with the ZBook X2. It shows in the design choices: the detachable keyboard, the DreamColor display, and the workstation application certifications.

These features target a mobile, creative professional who is looking for a practical workstation-tablet solution. The ZBook X2 gives these creative users a drawing pad when they need it and a certified, mobile workstation if they want it. 

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