The new HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation: Review and Unbox

HP ZBOOK 15 G3

Brandon here and I’m back with a slightly different post today. I was recently sent a mobile workstation from HP to test out/play with and this post will be my review and thoughts on it, the HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation  which is a bit of a long name to keep typing out so I’ll call it the ZBook 15 for short.

When I first learned I was getting the 15″ version of the ZBook instead of the 17″ I was excited to test it out and see how the smaller screen performed compared to my daily driver, the behemoth 17″ Dell M6700 mobile workstation that has spoiled me with screen real-estate.
I can say now after a little under a month, that I am pleasantly surprised how much I liked having the smaller footprint/screen size, it actually makes the “mobile” part of mobile workstation possible. Using the ZBook on my lap or moving it from room to room was easy and not clunky like when I take my M6700 with me on work trips. And weighing in at only 5.7lbs the Zbook 15 G3 it was much lighter when carrying it around.

The Unboxing

zbook 15 g3 unboxing
Unboxing was quick and easy for the ZBook 15

The ZBook arrived in a relatively plain box with a large HP logo on it and was very well packed. The laptop was protected by two foam pads and covered in plastic, once removed the lid opens up easily and smoothly revealing the soft fabric protector for the screen and keys.

Also included in the box was a smaller cardboard package containing the usual paperwork, CDs, manuals, the power brick (which is really compact for a mobile workstation!) and cable.

Overall, it was a simple and straight forward unboxing experience with a good amount of protection for the ZBook.

An Overview and Thoughts

I decided to make a short video to show you an overview of the ZBook 15 and how it looks/performs in the real world.
Watch it below and then keep reading for specs and my final thoughts on it:

As you can see in the video above, HPs ZBook 15 might be the most visually appealing and well designed workstation laptop available from one of the big companies right now. I have used a few of Lenovos thinkpad machines before and while they are nice and have great specs, they don’t have the same design flare that this HP has, it just looks sleek when you see it in person. And while I love my daily driver (the Dell M6700), it has great specs and is built solidly, nobody is calling it stylish or sleek.

The ZBooks rounded edges, thin and sloping design along with it’s stylish matte 2 tone finish make for a very eye catching finished product. One that at first look you would not think was a powerful mobile workstation laptop until you fired it up and started to really test it out, I was able to run Civil 3d with multiple apps (music on youtube, google earth, email, etc…) running in the background without any issues or hesitations.

The battery life for the ZBook 15 was also a nice surprise with an increase of 40% over last year, while most of us in the market for a workstation laptop don’t normally care about battery since we are usually near an outlet and have extra monitors to plug in (The Zbook 15 G3 can easily run the standard 2+ external displays out of the box with its HDMI out and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, but with the optional dock you can up that to 6! external monitors) it was really nice to be able to set up on the couch and not have to worry about my dogs tripping on a power cable and knocking things over.

My test version of the ZBook 15 came with Hps FHD Full HD 1080p screen which performed well in my use of it though it wasn’t as bright as I  would have liked and I ended up using it with the brightness level tured up most of the time. I would have liked to try out the optional 4K UHD DreamColor screen option and if I were to order one now I would definitely upgrade to it if you can.

One other feature I really enjoyed about the ZBook was the full num pad included on the keyboard, I don’t know about you but having a dedicated number pad is a must when it comes to any keyboard or laptop I will use for work or CAD. And the oversized track pad was a really nice touch, most designers will use a mouse (check out my mouse guide) but it’s nice to know you can get by with the large trackpad on the ZBook.

The rest of the specs included in my ZBook (Intel processor, 32gb Ram, 2gb Nvidia Quadro graphics, and SSD) were impressive and it performed great in real world AutoCAD and Civil 3d work. Hardly slowing down when rendering models and as shown in the video it didn’t even hiccup bringing in over 40,000 contour lines at once.

Specs

Here are some of the features and available specs from HP:

OS
Windows 7 or 10 Pro and other versions available
Processor
Intel® Core™ i7 processors
Intel® Core™ i5 processors
Intel® Xeon (skylake) E3 processors
Graphics Integrated:
Intel HD Graphics 4600
Discrete:
NVIDIA® Quadro® K610M (1 GB dedicated GDDR5)
NVIDIA® Quadro® K1100M (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)
NVIDIA® Quadro® K2100M (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)
AMD FirePro™ M5100 (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)
Displays
15.6″ diagonal LED FHD SVA eDP anti-glare (1920 x 1080)
15.6″ diagonal LED FHD UWVA IPS eDP anti-glare + PSR (1920 x 1080)
15.6″ diagonal LED QHD+ UWVA IPS eDP anti-glare (3200 x 1800)
15.6″ diagonal LED DreamColor3 UHD UWVA Anti-Glare enabled for Webcam (3840×2160)
Memory
Up to 32 GB DDR3L-1600 SDRAM
Storage and Drives3
500 GB up to 1 TB SATA (7200 rpm)
1 TB SA TA (5400 rpm)
500 GB SATA SED (7200 rpm)
500 GB SATA FIPS 140-2 SED (5400 rpm)
128 GB up to 512 GB SATA SSD
256 GB 512 GB SA TA SE SSD
128 GB up to 256 GB HP Z Turbo Drive (PCIe SSD)
Webcam
720p HD7 webcam (select models)
Dimensions
15 x 10.1 x 1.2 in
38.15 x 25.7 x 3.05 cm
Weight
Starting at 6.13 lb
Starting at 2.78 kg

Conclusion and Some Pictures

As I get closer to finishing up my time with the ZBook 15 I am already trying convince myself about when I can replace my current machine with a new ZBook because of how much I’ve enjoyed having it around. Its aesthetics, slim form factor and specs that compliment my day to day needs as a Civil designer as well as for making and recording my Autocad Tutorials far outweighed any negatives or issues I may have noticed in my time with it. Looking back, the only shortfall I came across was the slightly too dim screen, which isn’t much of an issue since most of us use external monitors most of the time and I would likely order the ZBook with the UHD screen that looks to be a brighter and clearer option anyway.

In conclusion, if you are a designer, modeller, or anyone looking for a mobile workstation with a ton of power and customization in a great looking package I honestly think you will love the HP ZBook 15 G3 . It has every option we need along with a design that finally provides us with a workstation laptop that isn’t just a black squared off rectangle.

If you have any questions about the ZBook 15 or requests for other reviews you’d like to see in the future please just leave a comment below!

Click here fore more info: HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation

To Buy: On the HP Site (Starting at $1,389) Or On Amazon (Starting at ~1,300)

Here are a few more Pictures:

hp zbook 15 g3
The Matte 2 tone finish looks great!

 

 

 

HP ZBOOK 15 G3
This shot really shows off how cool the laptop looks, and how small the power brick was (only a bit bigger than a newer smart phone).
HP ZBOOK 15 G3
Ports along the right side, left to right (Headphone jack, USB 3.0 x2, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 x 2, Power)
HP ZBOOK 15 G3
Ports along the left side, left to right (Security Cable slot, Ethernet, VGA Port, USB 3.0 (charging), SD Card Reader).
HP ZBOOK 15 G3
The included SSD drive and my new fiber optic line made for a lightning fast download and install of Civil 3D 2017.
HP ZBOOK 15 G3
Such a sleek looking laptop, kind of has a Darth Vader look to it with the two tone matte finish.
HP ZBOOK 15 G3
The keyboard had a great feel to it and I liked the fact that the track pad was really big for a laptop. Oh and it has a dedicated num pad, a must!!
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Brandon is a Civil Designer, aspiring blogger and tech aficionado from a small town in Canada. He has been obsessed with design and technology since diapers (coincidentally, his amazing wife recently gave birth to their first son, Emmett, and diapers are now a majority of their free time) and working as a Civil Designer for nearly as long. Brandon’s blog and Youtube channel, CADIntentions.com has been his outlet and loving excuse for keeping up with new tech and trends in the CAD design world for the last five years growing to over 3 million views and being the source of many great friendships and opportunities.
  • Joeito Hernandez

    Hey. I’ve been looking for a good PC laptop for Autocad use in the future. What to you think is a good system machine to buy. Would you consider a lenovo p50 over HP zbook 15? What other recommendations you have?