HP ZBook Studio x360: A Convertible for Designers and More
Steven Schain posted on February 13, 2019 |

HP is a pioneer in the computer hardware industry. When it comes to laptops and convertibles, it continues to innovate with each product. The HP ZBook Studio x360 shows that HP is still pushing the edge of industrial design in portable workstations. With a base price of $1,999, the HP ZBook Studio x360 can be customized to suit a range of design and engineering needs. But this machine is not just engineering focused. With the option of a pressure sensitive Wacom stylus, visual artists are also in the cross hairs for this convertible workstation.

The 15-inch Studio x360, weighs in at a mere 4.9lbs. and is 0.8-in thick. It’s great looking, thin and light. When it comes to raw horsepower, the Intel Xeon E-2186M, coupled with an NVIDIA P1000, delivers for even the most compute-intensive applications, including 3D design, animation and video editing. The touch-screen and optional stylus put the Studio x360 up there with the Wacom Cintiq for visual artists.

First Impressions

Upon opening the box, the HP ZBook Studio x360 shows a contemporary aesthetic with a smooth matte silver finish, unique angled corners and solid construction that is typical of HP laptops. What makes the Studiox360 stand out is HP’s attention to detail and rugged reliability. Made from precision-crafted machined aluminum, the laptop goes through 14 MIL-STD-810G3 tests to ensure it can survive whatever demanding users can put it through.

Opening the very solid feeling lid requires a little finesse, yet it boasts just the right amount of stiffness to ensure that it will remain in the exact position you wish, whether lying flat on the table, in tent mode or in tablet mode. The 15.6-in 4K IPS UHD touch-screen display is crisp and colorful. While it could be a little brighter, it is bright enough for everyday use and works well even when in a brightly lit room but struggled in direct sunlight.

Navigation

The keyboard/trackpad layout of the HP ZBook Studio x360 is typical of many standard laptops. However, since this is both a touchscreen and a convertible, the user can change to tablet mode and work using either finger-based gesture input or with the optional Wacom stylus.

Speaking of the stylus, this laptop configuration included a Wacom AES Pen, which is an optional accessory you can get when you purchase the system. The pen has a solid feel. The 4096 levels of pressure, tilt sensing and low latency make it a must for any digital artist.

Security

The ZBook Studio x360 is loaded with features that make it a secure platform in several ways. To the lower right of the keyboard is a handy fingerprint scanner to simplify the login process. There’s also an infrared camera built into the bezel that is designed for Microsoft Windows Hello facial recognition. You can also equip this workstation with an instant-on privacy screen to keep prying eyes from seeing what you’re working on.

Besides the physical security features available, HP is helping you keep one step ahead of malware, rootkits and bios corruption. The HP Sure Start is a self-healing BIOS that ensures your workstation will start when you need it to.

Connectivity

While the HP ZBook Studio x360 is thin and light, it does not skimp on inputs and outputs. On the right edge of the system, you’ll find the power port and power LED, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, HDMI port, headset jack and an SD card slot.

On the left edge of the system, you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports (one can be used as a charging port), a Micro SIM slot, security cable slot and the power button. On both sides of the chassis are vents for cooling, helping to keep the HP ZBook Studio x360 cool under heavy workloads.

While the network connection requires an RJ–45 dongle, you may want to think about getting HP’s Thunderbolt dock to make connecting to a network connection and monitors a quick and easy task. The system comes with a 150-Watt Smart/Fast charger and plenty of cord if your wall socket is not right next to your desk. All-in-all, the ZBook Studio x360 has all the connectivity you would require while on the road.

Specifications

The ZBook Studio x360 as configured price is $4,243. This includes an Intel Xeon E – 2186M CPU with six cores and 12 threads, along with a 12 MB cache running at 2.9GHz and a boost of up to 4.8GHz. There are 32GB of DDR ECC 2666MHz RAM and a 1TB solid-state NVMe SSD. You can upgrade to 64GB of RAM and a whopping 6TB of internal storage.

The display is a 15.6-in UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS multi-touch display coupled with a NVIDIA Quadro P1000 card with 4GB of memory. The Quadro P1000 is a mid-range mobile workstation graphics card based on NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture, offering a balance between price and performance.

The Entry level ZBook Studio x360, at $1,999, is outfitted with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and Windows 10 Pro. Of course, you can customize your system to add more memory and storage. There are additional models starting at $2,699 along with the 8th Gen Intel Core i7 and Windows 10 Pro, ranging up to $5,597, with an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor and HP’s 4K Dreamcolor display running Windows 10 Pro.

Removing the back cover reveals all the user upgradable components. This provides access to two M.2 solid state drive slots. This system came configured with 32GB of memory on one module, but you can upgrade at purchase time to 64GB.

Battery Life

The ZBook Studio x360is equipped with an 11.55 Volt, 7965 mAh battery that, according to HP, can supply the laptop with up to 14 hours of battery time. In my battery test, using only the dedicated P1000 graphics option, running full brightness and playing full-screen 1080P video, I was able to get just over six hours of runtime.

Attempting to get the maximum time out of the battery, I changed to the hybrid graphics mode and reduced the screen brightness to 25 percent. While surfing the Internet and reading documents, I managed to squeeze a little more than nine hours and 57 minutes from the ZBook Studio x360.

Camera and Sound

The laptop also sports an Intel 9560 802.11AC V Pro wireless-AC adapter, HP’s lt4120 LTE HSPA + Gobi 4G, along with Bluetooth 5.0 support. The built-in camera is a 720p HD camera with a built-in microphone, along with a front-facing microphone for either conference calls or advanced noise cancelation.

Sound is emitted from four Bang & Olufson speakers, two mounted just above the keyboard, and two mounted toward the front of the base and out the sides into the desk. These are loud enough to use in a small space and sound great when watching movies or listening to your favorite music. This was a real standout for this workstation. For the best experience though, plug in a set of headphones and use the available Dolby Atmos feature.

The Display

The 15.6-in panel is a UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS touch screen with HDR capability and a specified brightness of 400 nits. Using the Datacolor Spyder 5 Elite monitor calibration system, I measured an average of 381.7 nits at 100 percent brightness, with a black level of 0.34 nits, giving a 1140:1 contrast ratio. The screen is great when working inside under controlled lighting, with a wide viewing angle and ample brightness for everyday use. When working on my deck on a sunny day, however, the reflection on the screen, coupled with the maximum brightness, made it difficult to see.

The HDR monitor really shines when it comes to color quality. After testing both the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, the ZBook Studio x360 screen was only able to display 98 percent of the sRGB and 76 percent of the AdobeRGB Color Spaces. Even so, watching one of my favorite Netflix 4K HDR movies, Planet Earth II, on this screen was truly a joy. The colors of the jungle and desert were rich and pure. Even the tiniest details, like the individual green leaves in the mangrove, stood out crisp and clear.

When it comes to brightness or luminance uniformity, displays tend to differ due to variations in manufacturing and handling. At 100 percent brightness, this laptop’s display shows a variation from a bright 381.5 nits (or cd/m2), down to a low of 359.6 nits, a 6 percent difference in luminance.

In terms of color accuracy, the display fared well straight out-of-the-box with no color correction added. With an average Delta-E of 2.22, the color representation to the naked eye looks fantastic.

Performance and Benchmarks

Boasting a 6-core/12-thread Intel Xeon E-2186M Coffee Lake processor running at 2.9GHz, the ZBook Studio x360 with 32GB of RAM showed it has what it takes to be a powerful competitor in a crowded field. After running the standard battery of benchmarks, the laptop received results I expected in a system with these specifications. Working in programs like Inventor and Fusion 360 on the ZBook Studio x360 was smooth and what I expected from a workstation-class laptop.

Scores

Starting with an average multi-core Cinebench 15 score of 1144 means the ZBook Studio x360 is no slouch when it comes to compute-heavy rendering tasks. This score is in the middle of the pack in terms of raw multi-core processing but about what is expected of an Intel Xeon E-2186M processor. The Xeon processor really excels with its single core CPU score of 198.

A run of Geekbench 4.1 showed a single CPU score of 5537 and a multi-CPU score of 22370. Again showing the ZBook Studio x360 coming in right where the Intel Xeon E-2186M processor normally sits.

With an overall Passmark rating of 5752, the ZBook Studio x360 ranks in the 96th percentile of computer systems in its class.

Beneath it all, the ZBook Studio x360 is a powerful workstation with ample memory and CPU power. Running the SPEC series of benchmarks show pretty much the same as other benchmarks. The 2.9GHz Intel Xeon processor excels at single thread processes, but the benchmark speed shows it doesn’t compete with other, faster multi-core processors. While the NVIDIA P1000 is a fantastic graphics option, I find it a bit underpowered for this level of workstation. As shown by the breakdown of the SPECworkstation 3 and SPECviewperf 13 results, this is a workstation class machine.

Conclusion

The ZBook Studio x360 is a stylish, lightweight and flexible addition to HP’s ever-growing catalog of portable workstations. It stands out from the crowded field by being something for nearly everyone in need of a professional portable system. It does this with its beautiful 4K UHD touch-screen display, which doubles as a pen tablet for artists, and powerful Xeon processor. A large number of I/O ports and easy access to additional storage expansion add to the mix.

When it comes to design, the HP ZBook Studio x360 is easily one of my favorites. Despite a few minor issues with screen reflection and brightness, its bold styling and convertible design push the HP ZBook Studio x360 near the top of my list of portable workstations.


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