Mobile workstations have been traditionally focused on providing the highest possible performance regardless of the impact on portability and battery life. The ZBook 14 G2 takes a different approach by including workstation-class features such as an AMD FirePro graphics card but employing a 15W CPU to fit in a smaller, more portable chassis with extended battery life. The ZBook 14 G2 as of writing is the only 14” notebook sold as a mobile workstation.
Our review unit has the fastest Intel 15W “Broadwell” processor available, the Core i7-5600U which runs at 2.6GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency up to 3.2GHz. Paired with the maximum amount of memory the ZBook 14 G2 accepts, 16GB of DDR3L-1600 (2x 8GB modules), this system can handle most demanding applications. It can’t match the outright performance delivered by a standard 47W Core i7 quad-core processor when it comes to long periods of rendering and encoding, however. You’d be better served with a mobile workstation like HP’s own ZBook 15 G2 equipped with the 47W Core i7 quad-core if your workload frequently consists of the latter.
The ZBook 14 G2 has a slightly uprated AMD FirePro M4150 dedicated graphics card with 1GB GDDR5 of its own memory relative to the original ZBook 14’s FirePro M4100. Our benchmark tests show the M4150 has limited potential but its 3D performance is still leaps and bounds ahead of integrated Intel graphics. The FirePro card is additionally capable of driving a 10-bit monitor which may be of interest to photographers and others involved in color sensitive work.
Storage-wise our review unit has HP’s new 256GB M.2 SSD Z Turbo drive which connects via a PCI-e lane on the motherboard; it delivered outstanding read and write performance in our synthetic benchmarks. This notebook also has a standard 2.5″ drive bay capable of accommodating drives up to 9.5mm in height; it was empty in our review unit but is configurable from the factory.
Another specification of note is the internal 3-cell 50WHr “Long Life” battery which carries a three-year warranty as does the rest of the notebook. The warranties on most notebooks will typically make an exception for the battery and cover it only for one year regardless whether the overall warranty on the notebook is longer.
The ZBook 14 G2 starts at just under $900 for a relatively anemic configuration including a Core i5-5200U dual-core processor, 1600×900 display, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive. Our review unit is nearly maxed out minus the optional touch display and commands $1,991 making it one of the most expensive Ultrabooks we’ve tested. The fact that the ZBook 14 G2 is the only 14″ mobile workstation on the market hardly numbs the sting.
- 14-inch FHD display (1920×1080 resolution, IPS panel, anti-glare surface)
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-5600U dual-core processor (2.6GHz, up to 3.2GHz Turbo Boost, 4MB cache, 15W TDP)
- AMD FirePro M4150 w/ 1GB GDDR5 memory
- 16GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (2x 8GB; max. supported)
- 256GB HP Z Turbo M.2 SSD (SanDisk SD6PP4M-256G-1006)
- Empty 2.5″ 9.5mm storage drive bay
- No internal optical drive
- Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 wireless network adapter
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
- Integrated fingerprint reader
- Integrated 720p webcam
- HP Long Life 3-cell polymer/prismatic battery (50WHr) w/ 3-year warranty
- 3-year limited warranty
- Dimension: 9.33″ x 0.83″ x 13.35″
- Weight: 3.51 lbs.
- Starting Price: $890.63
- Price as Configured: $1,990.30
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
The ZBook 14 G2 is cooled by a single small fan which exhausts air out the left side of the chassis. The vent opening is slightly larger than that of a typical Ultrabook because the ZBook 14 G2 also has a dedicated AMD FirePro graphics card to keep cool.
The fan is either off or on at its lowest speed while running everyday applications and makes no appreciable noise. The fan has minimal whine even at high speed and is unlikely to disturb others in the vicinity. The left side of the chassis is the only area we noticed getting lukewarm after extended usage. No parts of the chassis became more than lukewarm save for the vent area itself, and that only after running benchmarks.
We use the demanding Powermark battery life benchmark to measure battery life. This test is a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback at about 50% display brightness which is far more strenuous than a typical battery life rundown. The times recorded in this test represent a worst case scenario of what to expect in real life.
The ZBook 14 G2 managed four hours, two minutes which is a good time for a mobile workstation and average for an everyday Ultrabook. This is quite respectable given the ZBook 14 G2 packs a dedicated graphics card. This time translates to between six and seven hours of normal usage while running non-demanding applications with reduced screen brightness. In other words, close to a full days’ usage per charge. The ZBook 14 G2’s battery is easily changeable as mentioned earlier; therefore it’s practical to carry a spare battery.
The size of the power adapter is often overlooked when it comes to determining a notebook’s overall portability. The ZBook 14 G2’s diminutive 65W adapter and its cable weigh just 0.81 pounds. The cables from end to end are 11.5 feet including the 4″ length of the power brick itself. The brick became hot only under extended heavy usage or while charging the battery which is expected.