HP Zbook 15

19 March 2014

The ZBook 15 is an impressive machine, well built with exceptional serviceability

Product HP Zbook 15
Company name HP
Price £1,996 (Excl. VAT)

This mainstream 15.6-inch delivers far more grunt than its lightweight sibling, the ZBook 14. It can handle a high-end CPU (up to the Intel Core i7-4900MQ), a mid-range GPU (up to the Nvidia Quadro K2100M) – an ideal combination for mid-range CAD.

Internal access is a breeze thanks to the superb HP Easy Access Door. Simply flip a switch and the back panel pops off. No tools required. Everything is beautifully laid out inside.

RAM slots are marked clearly meaning upgrades can be done in seconds. The 2.5-inch hard drive, secured by a couple of screws, is eased out with a green lever. No other mobile workstation gets close to the ZBook 15 in terms of its serviceability.

It’s also a joy to use. The ‘island’ keyboard and trackpad are superb. Wireless and sound can be switched on/off instantly using two buttons located above the numeric keypad.

Our test machine’s HP DreamColor panel is also superb, by far the best HD display on test this month. Colours are vivid and don’t drop off at wider viewing angles, but you pay a premium for this high-quality IPS panel. There are some lowercost options, all of them HD.

Kitted out with an Core i7-4700MQ CPU and Nvidia Quadro K2100M GPU our test machine delivered solid if not spectacular performance. Its 8GB of RAM is a touch light for most workflows, but with capacity for 32GB this can be easily remedied.

Storage takes the middle ground between SSD and HDD, courtesy of a 2.5-inch 750GB hard drive and a 32GB mSATA SSD, which acts as a cache drive.

There are plenty of other options including a 128GB mSATA. There’s also scope for expansion by swapping out the DVD/RW for a drive upgrade bay to house a second 2.5-inch drive.

There are 4 x USB ports, three of them USB 3.0, but the machine also comes with Thunderbolt for exceptional transfer rates.

Overall, the ZBook 15 is an impressive machine, well built with exceptional serviceability. But quality like this doesn’t come cheap. Our test machine will set you back the best part of £2,000 and while this includes the superb DreamColor display some will find it hard to justify for a midrange mobile workstation for CAD.

To view comparative scores from other workstations please click here
For details of all our specific CAD/CAM/CAE benchmarks click here

This review is part of a comprehensive buyer’s guide to mobile workstations.
Below are links to the rest of the content

Ultra mobile workstations (14-inch and 15-inch)
HP ZBook 14
Dell Precision M3800

Mid-range 15-inch mobile workstations
Schencker W503
Dell Precision M4800
Lenovo ThinkPad W540

High-end 17-inch mobile workstations
Scan 3XS MGW-10
Dell Precision M6800
Workstation Specialists WS-M1760

Click here to download a PDF of the entire mobile workstation buyer’s guide which includes a comprehensive matrix of all the specifications


» Intel Core i7-4700MQ (2.40GHz up to 3.4GHz) (4 cores, 8 threads)
» 8GB (1 x 8GB) 1,600 MHz DDR3L SDRAM
» Nvidia Quadro K2100M (2GB GDDR5)
» 750GB 7,200 RPM HDD + 32 GB mSATA SSD (cache drive using Intel Smart Response Technology) + DVD+/-RW SuperMulti DL
» Graphics driver 312.65
» Screen 15.6” RGB LED-backlit HD DreamColor UWVA eDP anti-glare (1,920 x 1,080)
» Keyboard / Mouse Spill resistant keyboard. Multi gesture TouchPad with three buttons and Pointstick with three additional buttons
» Battery HP Long Life 8-cell (75 WHr) Li-Ion battery
» WirelessIntel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 Combo
» Ports 3 x USB 3.0 (1 charging) 1 x USB 2.0. Thunderbolt RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
» Expansion / security ExpressCard/54 Secure Digital Smart Card Reader
» Display outputs VGA, DisplayPort
» Docking port underneath
» Size (W x D x H) 381 x 257 x 31mm
» Weight (machine + power adapter) Starting at 2.82 kg + 0.95kg
» Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
» 3-year limited warranty for carry-in service. 1-year battery warranty

CPU benchmarks

(secs - smaller is better)
CAM (Delcam PowerMill 2010) - (i) 183 (ii) 285 (iii) 400
CAE (SolidWorks 2010 Simulation) - N/A
Rendering (3ds Max Design 2011) - 258

Graphics benchmarks

(bigger is better)
CAD (SolidWorks 2013 - SPECapc graphics composite) - 4.58
CAD (Creo 2.0 - SPECapc graphics test) - 4.92

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