I’m a big fan of HP’s Z series of workstations and mobile workstations. These computers have lately been the go-to devices for high-end creativity and are backed by serious professional software companies like Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, etc. Z series workstations are built for demanding industries such as media, entertainment, architecture, geospace, engineering, construction, life science, healthcare, and product development. In my work as a graphic designer and environmental designer, I’ve got an HP Z workstation tower on my desk attached to a Wacom Cintiq pen display and it’s awesome.
When it comes to the ZBooks, which are high-powered mobile workstations, I really liked the HP ZBook X2 (reviewed here). The HP ZBook 14U G6 that’s we’ve got today is designed for a slightly different target market than the Zbook X2. It’s less of a mobile workstation for people creating 3D animations, architecture designs, or other visual pen-computing professional work, and it’s more of a mobile workstation meant for creative directors that need color accurate displays and the ability to open large design files in order to approve or review work that others have done. I’d say it would work well for other creative industries that don’t require a precision pen interface as well… I used it to design and develop a website as well as edit photos from studio shoots and do some video editing. So it’s certainly going to be useful for more than just creative directors.
Of course the HP Zbook 14U comes with Windows 10 pre-installed. It updated to version 1903 without any problems. It annoyingly still includes all of these Candy Crush crapware games even though this is supposed to be a serious mobile workstation. Still, those are easy to uninstall.
You can choose to get it pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro 64, Windows 10 Home 64, or even FreeDOS 2.0 if you want to save $230 and run some legacy DOS business software.
On Windows 10, HP does include some other useful utilities though, most of which deal with increasing security.
HP Sure Click is an anti-malware utility that isolates certain programs and browsers within their own virtual environment so that they can’t have any affect on other parts of the system.
The HP PC Diagnostics utility let’s you see all of your system hardware information and also run some diagnostics tests to make sure everything is working properly.
The trackpad and trackpoint “touch styk” include some customization software from Synaptics. Some of these options are pretty nice. For example, you can make tapping the trackpoint joystick act as a left-click instead of having to use the buttons below the spacebar.
There’s also some HP Power management options, but apparently we need to enable this in the BIOS. I’m not sure why it would ship without these controls being enabled already.
HP Sure Sense is an anti-virus program that’s included. This has some special “intelligent” features that are meant to detect malware and viruses based on the behavior of the system. For example, if large numbers of files suddenly start getting encrypted, that could be a ransomware attack, so HP Sure Sense is able to detect things like that and help prevent them.
There’s also an HP Client Security setup that enables a number of other security features. HP also includes some “Sure Boot” software within the BIOS that can detect if the BIOS has been tampered with and let you restore a last known good “official” BIOS from HP.
Now, since this is a very powerful mobile workstation as opposed to some of HP’s other laptops… the Zbook 14U sacrifices a bit on battery life. You’re not going to get all day usage on this. It should be fine for about 4 hours though. Plus, the power brick is pretty small and portable… and it can recharge the Zbook 14U back to about 50% in only 30 minutes. That means dropping it back into a docking station at your desk during lunch should get you through the rest of the day.
I really wish this could have had a user-removable battery though. I’ve tested many types of tablets, laptops, and phones and the battery is almost always the first thing to wear out. It’s certainly always the first thing that needs to be recharged.
The HP Zbook 14u is available in a fairly large number of different configurations. Prices range from $1300 for a low-end model and go up into the $3000 range. You can customize the HP Zbook 14u on the HP store website in order to see the pricing for whichever configuration you’re interested in.
As mentioned in the beginning, I’m a big fan of the HP Z series of high-end workstations and the HP Zbook 14U is no exception. This laptop has a great balance of high-end processing power, lots of RAM, a great GPU, gorgeous screen, but all in a chassis that isn’t too thick and heavy. Yes, you can get more powerful mobile workstations, but they’re thicker and heavier. Yes, you can get thinner and lighter laptops, but they’re less powerful and capable. The ZBook 14U gives you some excellent high-end capabilities without breaking your back.
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