The ZBook Power G8 sits in the middle of the four “Z by HP” mobile workstation segments. The high end ZBook Fury covers the no-limits desktop-replacement category. The ZBook Firefly appropriately serves the entry-level workstation segment. The ZBook Studio delivers style with a kick.
And then there is the ZBook Power G8. It handles the boring, “powerful-enough-but-won’t-break-the-bank” workstation category.
Power at a good price
What makes this system affordable? First, it doesn’t pretend to be a 15-inch ZBook Fury with nearly unlimited expansion. Second, it allows technology choices between high-end performance and more modest performance.
Consider the maximum configurations for the Firefly, the Power, and the Fury in the table. The ZBook Power G8 can have the same Core i9 CPU as found in the Fury. It has half of the memory available on the Fury, but that is a respectable 64 GB. Storage is also half of the Fury, but again, 4 TB of fast SSD is good. The display option includes a very capable 4K option, albeit only one option compared to the Fury with a choice of three 4K displays.
The ZBook Power G8 is a straight-shooting workhorse mobile workstation
In the area of graphics, the Power G8 tops out with an RTX A2000 and 4 GB of memory. The Fury supports an RTX A5000 with 16 GB. This is the most important difference, regarding application performance, between the workstations.
Compared to the entry-level ZBook Firefly, the Power G8 offers twice the memory, twice the storage, twice the CPU cores, and much, much faster graphics.
|Maximum configurations||ZBook Firefly G8 (14”)||ZBook Power G8||ZBook Fury G8 (17”)|
|CPU||Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 (4 cores)||Core™ i9-11950H (8 cores)||Intel® Core™ i9-11950H
Intel® Xeon® W-11955M
(Both 8 cores)
|GPU||NVIDIA® T500 (4 GB)||NVIDIA RTX™ A2000 (4 GB)||NVIDIA RTX™ A5000 (16 GB)|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4-2666||64 GB DDR4-3200||128 GB DDR4-3200 non-ECC SDRAM|
|Storage||2 TB SSD||4 TB SSD||8 TB SSD|
|Display||14" diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6" diagonal, 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) (One 4K option, three FHD options)||17.3" diagonal, 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) (Three 4K options, one FHD option)|
Price/Performance: where can you compromise?
Look at your workflow. If the ZBook Power is a possible solution for you, then it is likely that you can find ways to keep your budget under control.
If your applications are limited by CPU power, but not graphics, memory and storage, then you can get the most powerful CPU available in the HP ZBook line and opt for less performance (and cost) for graphics, memory, and storage.
You might choose 32 GB of memory knowing and 1 TB of SSD knowing that you can upgrade if you need to. The NVIDIA T1200 GPU is basically a power-optimized Quadro T2000 GPU which was the top-of-the-line GPU in last year's ZBook Power G7.
ZBook Power G8 supports Davinci's neural engine
On the other hand, if your applications are heavy on modern GPU computing, shift the balance towards the RTX A2000 and save money on the CPU.
Likewise, if your system is running dual display in the office or in your home-office on a 4K monitor and only occasionally on the road without any second monitor, you might get a FHD display rather than the 4K option.
What does this mean in practice? The table offers some concrete examples. A fully loaded ZBook Power costs around $5100. Here is how you can manage your budget with configuration trade-offs.
Since both the memory and storage can be upgraded on the ZBook Power G8, you might choose to start with a modest storage and memory configuration knowing that you can increase both in the future.
Our test configuration: price and performance
The testing was done on a ZBook Power G8 with the top-of-the-line graphics and CPU: an NVIDIA A2000 GPU and an Intel Core i9 11950H CPU. It was equipped with 32 GB or memory, 1 TB of storage, and a FHD display.
This configuration costs $3200 without tax which is nearly $2000 less than a fully loaded ZBook Power G8. This configuration is easier on your budget, yet it still offers top-end performance.
|CPU||Change from Core i9-11950H CPU,
- 2.6 GHz / 5.0 GHz
- 8 cores
down to a Core i7-11800H CPU
- 2.3 GHz / 4.6 GHz
- 8 cores
|GPU||Change from NVIDIA RTX A2000
Down to Intel integrated graphics
|GPU||Change from NVIDIA RTX A2000
Down to NVIDIA RTX T1200
|Storage||Change from 4 TB SSD storage
Down to 2 TB SSD storage
|Memory||Change from 64 GB of RAM
Down to 32 GB of RAM
|Display||Change from 4K resolution
Down to FHD
The test results met expectations. Standard benchmarks included Viewperf and Octanebench. Application testing included Premiere Pro and After Effects. While I do not have benchmarks for DaVinci Resolve, I used Resolve 17 extensively with the ZBook Power G8. Both Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve 17 have features that use Artificial Intelligence which makes the NVIDIA RTX A2000, with its 80 Tensor cores, an interesting GPU selection.
Note: in the Premiere Pro and After Effects testing, lower numbers are better. Open charts in a new tab for a larger image.
Viewperf tests GPU drawing performance using data sets from design, media content creation, science, and engineering. The RTX 3000 generally has a performance advantage over the RTX A2000.
Octane 2020 tests CUDA performance for NVIDIA GPUs. It shows that the CUDA performance of the Ampere architecture’s RTX A2000 is on par with the previous generation Turing architecture in the RTX 3000.
NVIDIA claims: "Compared to the Turing GPU Architecture, the NVIDIA Ampere Architecture is up to 1.7x faster in traditional raster graphics workloads and up to 2x faster in ray tracing"
In all the Premiere Pro tests, the RTX A2000 performance is close to the RTX 3000. This result is significant. A 2021 mobile workstation with an RTX A2000 performs at a nearly identical level to a 2020 mobile workstation with an RTX 3000.
When using OpenCL in Premiere Pro with NVIDIA GPUs, the NVIDIA GPU is idle, and the hardware acceleration is provided by the Intel GPU. In most tests, the Gen 10 Intel CPU/GPU combination performed better than the Gen 11 silicon.
This test project renders three 4K video streams. Each 4K video track has color adjustments applied. One track has Gaussian blur and scaling. Two have scaling and drop-box shadows. One also has a corner-pin effect.
This is a test that might be a “typical” case for many editing users. The test renders a 4K clip with color adjustments applied.
As we see in this test and others, the software-only rendering performance of the Gen 10 Intel CPUs tends to beat the Gen 11 CPU performance.
Whether GPU accelerated or software-only, this green screen project in After Effects is not significantly faster using GPU acceleration. The slight performance edge shown by the ZBook Power could be the result of Adobe optimizations in After Effects.
The key result from the tests is that the ZBook Power G8 with the NVIDIA RTX A2000 performs on par with a mobile workstation from 2020 with an NVIDIA RTX 3000. That is a price/performance win for customers.
Personally, I am never far from an electric outlet even when travelling, so I don’t usually think of running a battery test. But I’ve been asked several times now about battery life on the mobile workstations that I have tested, so I decided to check it out.
I chose to do a practical test that would reflect my own work while travelling. I did not configure the workstation to use any special power-saving features because I like to have all the performance possible. Then I went to work on an afternoon session of DaVinci Resolve video editing.
Starting with a full charge, I worked for 2 hours and 5 minutes before the ZBook Power G8 battery hit 10%. Given the power-hungry work that I was doing and the relatively good availability of electricity while travelling, a 2+ hour battery life under these conditions seems OK.
Due to the number pad on the right, the ZBook Power touchpad is displaced to the left
A practical 2-hour limit, however, is a far cry from HP’s specification of “up to 12 hours”. To be fair, that is an "up-to" number that you probably will never need. More important is HP's claim that the ZBook Power G8's “fast charging” can charge the system 50% in 30 minutes when the workstation is off or in sleep mode. If you stop for a bite to eat and find a power plug, you you will be set for more work.
The ZBook Power G8 keyboard includes a number pad on the right side. This benefits for those users who require a number pad to enter data, for example, engineering data.
One result: the keyboard fills the entire width of the workstation. This forces the speakers into a position above the keyboard and therefore reduces the space for the touchpad in front of the keyboard. The touchpad is also displaced to the left in order to remain centered relative to the typing area.
If you appreciate a number pad, then a smaller touchpad displaced to the left probably does not bother you. If you don’t need a number pad, then a larger, centered touchpad might be your preference.
On the left side, the ZBook Power has a security lock, RJ45, USB 3.1, HDMI connectors, and an SC reader
On the right side, the ZBook Power has power, Thunderbolt, two USB 3.1, and audio connectors
Connectivity is good, albeit with one glaring omission. The ZBook Power has three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a Thunderbolt port, an HDMI port, an RJ45 port, an audio jack, and a smart card reader.
What is missing? The glaring omission already mentioned is that the ZBook Power lacks an SD card reader. If you need one, then you’ll need to buy a Thunderbolt or USB SD card reader.
This workstation doesn’t try to be a thin and light mobile workstation nor a desktop replacement. Accordingly, its measurements and weight are slightly less than the 15-inch ZBook Fury desktop replacement workstation. It is significantly larger but only a bit heavier than the thin and light ZBook Studio according to HP data.
A Final Perspective
The HP ZBook Power G8 delivers on its promise of power while paying attention to your pocketbook.
The high-end configuration is impressive for any 15-inch mobile workstation that is not a desktop replacement class workstation. It is well-equipped for connectivity and sports a full-sized keyboard and number pad. The ability to upgrade components provides extra configuration flexibility and potentially extends its life cycle.
The 2021 ZBook Power G8 increases performance levels to the next higher class of mobile workstation. The configuration options and the ability to upgrade memory and storage give customers the flexibility to simultaneously fine-tune the ZBook Power G8 to their personal workflows and manage their budgets.