High-quality. Design. Performance. The ZBook Studio G7 crams key technology for creative professionals, designers, and architects into a slim, beautiful, solid design. Here is our review of performance and usability.

Do you have demanding creative or design work? Are you working from home or travelling often? Do you need reliability? Do you appreciate style and design?

If you are a creative professional, or a product designer, or an architect, then HP wants you to look at their newest HP ZBook Studio G7. The company has reduced the size significantly (22% more compact, 14% thinner). But they packed the mobile workstation with NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 graphics and 10th generation Core i9 / Xeon processors.

That combination delivers a powerful set of technology. We look at the specifications in our Quick Look article. Here, we look at the usability and the performance benchmarks of our test unit.  

Small and beautiful mobile workstation

The design is excellent. The weight starts well under 2 kg. Ample ports are available for connectivity. The touchpad is smooth and responsive. The keyboard has a light touch and a high-quality feel. And the styling might make you want to hug your workstation when you’re alone in the office.

Packing a Quadro RTX 5000 in this small mobile workstation adds a new level of power to this class of mobility. The previous generation was larger and only offered a Quadro RTX 3000 GPU. The processor generation has also been bumped to Intel’s 10th generation CPU. 

Light, powerful, and a beautiful design - that's the HP ZBook Studio G7_

Light, powerful, and a beautiful design - that's the HP ZBook Studio G7

Power for new rendering and AI technologies.

Thanks to the GPU power increase, higher-quality, faster rendering is possible.

This unique GPU architecture with silicon dedicated to raytracing and artificial intelligence has been available to software developers for over two years. This has allowed companies to build new tools for rendering, video effects, and simulation.

This includes real-time raytracing using NVIDIA’s RTX architecture. The RTX architecture includes RT cores for raytracing and Tensor cores for AI inference performance. Both are used in real-time raytracing. RT cores generate the initial image and Tensor cores perform de-noising to generate a final image. Tensor cores are also used in several video-processing effects including features using Blackmagic Design’s Neural Engine.

It makes sense that this generation of mobile workstation is using the latest generation Intel processors. It is important because faster processors are essential for feeding the jump in GPU performance.  

Why is the ZBook Studio great for product designers, architects, and creative professionals

Product designers require 3D CAD, good to great rendering, and product simulation capabilities. If the focus is exclusively on 3D CAD, then a Quadro T2000 will do the job.

If the workload includes highend rendering or simulation, then the ability to configure this workstation with a Quadro RTX 5000 will work well for real time raytracing in applications like VRED and real time simulation in applications like Ansys Discovery Live.

Architects also need fast 3D modelling for BIM applications. Like product design, real time rendering is often used in architectural workflows. Architecture also leverages virtual reality visualization for design reviews and walk-throughs.  

The ZBook Studio G7 targets creative professionals and their toughest applications

The ZBook Studio G7 targets creative professionals and their toughest applications

Creative workflows range from the graphics arts to special effects and highend video. HP’s DreamColor display for the HP ZBook Studio makes color-accurate workflows possible from creation to delivery of content regardless of the final deliverable format: print, digital, or film. For 4K or 8K video, high performance GPU power is essential. In special effects, a powerful processor and a fast GPU are essential.

Where did HP compromise?

At this point, it might all sound too good to be true. And there is a nugget of truth to that feeling. Two compromises might be knock-outs for your workflow. The most significant limitation is the 32 GB of RAM limitation. The other is a 2 TB SSD storage limitation.

If you like this workstation for the fast GPU option and the latest CPU option, then you might not be comfortable with less than 64 GB of RAM. Personally, 32 GB in a powerful, mobile workstation is the starting point for me.

With the storage limits, it is possible to get by with 2 TB of SSD storage. For example, options exist for adding high-performance external SSD storage via the available Thunderbolt port.

If you can live with 32 GB of RAM and 2 TB of SSD storage - and for a workstation this beautiful, I probably could - then the rest of the workstation is perfect. With its fast GPU, CPU, and 4K DreamColor display, the ZBook Studio makes for a heck of a powerful mobile workstation. 

The design is not only beautiful, but this workstation has a high-quality keyboard and a responsive touchpad

The design is beautiful and this workstation has a high-quality keyboard and a responsive touchpad

How is the performance?

As you see in the Quick Look article, the test unit is not the ultimate configuration. The test unit uses an Intel Core i7, an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 SSD, and a 1920x1080, FHD display. None the less, we get a decent feeling for the potential of this platform.

The performance results are compared to a mobile workstation with a very similar Core i7 processor and a Quadro T2000 GPU that is one step down from the Quadro RTX 3000. Both use 16 GB of RAM and a fast SSD for storage.

Since the Studio G7 can also be configured with a T2000, this comparison represents a real choice that you could face. The CPU paired with the Quadro T2000 is a Core i7 which is clocked at just 100 MHz slower than our ZBook Studio. This is so close that the results can be easily compared.  

Benchmarks

Our first set of benchmarks to look at are from SPEC.org. The standard is Viewperf 13. During our tests, the organization released the update, Viewperf 2020. We provide the results for both.

CPU performance has a minor effect on Viewperf results. GPU performance determines Viewperf results.
 
Additional benchmarks include Octane Bench for CUDA / GPU computing performance, Cinebench for GPU and CPU rendering performance, and Premiere Pro for video processing performance. 

Open charts in a new tab to see full sized images.

SPEC Viewperf 13 is the previous standard for workstation graphics benchmarking. Results are measured in frames per second (FPS) through a weighted average calculated for each data set. The sweet-spot for the Quadro RTX 3000's advantage lies between 30% to 40% with a couple of exceptions. Notably, the Energy test stresses GPU performance. Although the FPS results are relatively low in that test, the performance advantage of the Quadro RTX 3000 is nearly 58%.

SPEC Viewperf 2020 was released during our testing and this is the first set of results we have published. The Showcase data set has been dropped as the product is no longer supported by Autodesk. The remaining data sets have been updated and most of them have lower the FPS results. The Energy data set remains the test with the highest performance advantage for the Quadro RTX 3000 in the HP ZBook Studio.

Octane Bench is a CUDA-based rendering benchmark. Although it is very specific, it is also very useful to demonstrate GPU computing performance differences. Even if your application is not photorealistic rendering, Octane Bench clearly shows relevant GPU computing performance differences for NVIDIA GPUs.

Cinebench 15 results for GPU performance and CPU performance give a 14% edge to the faster Quadro RTX 3000 and a 6% edge to the ZBook Studio’s slightly faster Core i7. It takes a more traditional approach to GPU graphics and CPU rendering performance. As such, it is a good tool for comparing GPUs and CPUs from different vendors.

The primary application test uses Premiere Pro CC. The small difference in CPU clock speeds has a minor effect. The majority of the performance difference can be seen in the relative difference in GPU performance. Lower scores are better in these results. These rendering test result are normalized to a percentage of real time playback. A result under 100% means that the rendering output is finished in less time than the duration of the video sequence.

A Final Perspective

The HP ZBook Studio G7 is incredibly light, mobile, and powerful. With the ability to select a 4K display, an eight-core CPU, and most notably, a very powerful Quadro RTX 5000 GPU, this workstation can handle very demanding tasks.

Two critical limitations stand out: memory and storage. The storage limitation can be overcome with a fast external SSD. The 32 GB RAM limit could be a critical knockout for some customers as 64 GB is a minimum for many power users today.

The bottom line: with a decent configuration, this is a beautifully designed, powerful, mobile workstation.   

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