HP ZBook Studio G9 review: A premium mobile workstation with multiple graphics options | ZDNET

2022-10-22 18:31:01 By : Ms. heidi wu

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HP's ZBook Studio G9 is not a laptop for the generalist user. With a US starting price of around $2,500, it includes up to a 12th generation Intel Core i9 H series processor, a 4K 16-inch screen, up to 4TB of SSD storage and high-end discrete Nvidia graphics. With all this packed into a reasonably portable form factor and good battery life, is the ZBook Studio G9 the ideal companion for creative users? 

Outwardly the HP ZBook Studio G9 looks pretty standard, although the large 'Z' branding on the lid is now somewhat unfortunate. It's a bulky and relatively weighty laptop measuring 35.6cm wide by 24.2cm deep by 1.9cm thick and weighing at least 1.73kg. Users should expect plenty of protection for the expensive innards of a laptop like this, so it's no surprise to see MIL STD 810H certification. 

The 16-inch screen sits in small bezels all round. The screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio, and our calculation puts the screen-to-body ratio at 86%. There are several choices, with my review sample having the entry-level WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) non-touch IPS option. There are two variants at this resolution, one maxing out at 400 nits, the other rising to 1000 nits and incorporating HP's Sure View Reflect privacy screen. My review unit was the former so I could not test the privacy screen. 

The 4K WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) options will suit creative users better. On offer here is a 120Hz IPS HP DreamColor screen with 500 nits brightness and 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage, or an OLED touch screen with 400 nits brightness, Gorilla Glass 5 protection and 100% DCI-P3 coverage. 

Whatever your choice of screen, the webcam is a 720p unit. That's disappointing in a high-end laptop, and although there's IR support, enabling Windows Hello face authentication, we'd prefer 1080p resolution as well. 

A good audio subsystem is an increasingly important requirement for laptops of all types, and the ZBook Studio G9 doesn't disappoint. There are wide grilles either side of the keyboard through which the Bang & Olufsen speakers – a quad array comprising two tweeters and two woofers – deliver audio output. There are further narrow grilles on the underside for the woofers. Audio quality is reasonably rich with no distortion at top volume, which is quite loud. There is enough bass for rock music to be enjoyable, and a good blend of tones for classical and chamber music. Spoken word output was sharp and clear, too. 

Our review unit had HP's Premium Quiet Keyboard, which is spill-resistant, full-size, and backlit.

The keyboard comprises large QWERTY keys and a row of sizeable function keys. The key action is light, with little resistance on the downstroke and plenty of bounce-back. Typing creates a lot of 'click-clack' sound which may be distracting to others in the vicinity. While it delivers a comfortable enough typing experience, this is not the most rewarding keyboard I have used. That said, keyboard preferences vary, so this is merely a personal opinion. 

The clickpad is vast, with a glass surface that's smooth to the touch and responsive to gestures. There is a fingerprint sensor in the wrist rest, below the keyboard on the right side. Many laptop makers integrate the fingerprint sensor into an on-keyboard power button, so it's odd to see a discrete sensor here -- particularly as the power button is part of the Fn row. That said, HP's arrangement is perfectly serviceable. 

There are plenty of configuration options available in the US. Processors include Intel Core i7-12700H, Core i7-12800H, Core i9-12900H and Core i9-12900HK. RAM is available at 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, and SSD storage at 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB. And as you'd expect with a mobile workstation, there's a (very) good choice of discrete GPUs, all from Nvidia: RTX A1000 (4GB), RTX A2000 (8GB), RTX A3000 (12GB), RTX A4500 (16GB), RTX 5500 (16GB), GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB), GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (8GB), GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (16GB). 

My review unit had a Core i7-12700H processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and an Nvidia RTX A1000 GPU with 4GB of dedicated video memory. It turned in Geekbench 5 CPU benchmarks of 1715 (single core) and 10746 (multi core), while the Geekbench 5 Compute GPU benchmark was 48784. By way of comparison, a high-end Core i9-13900K processor scores around 3000 (single core) and around 23000 (multi core), while a high-end Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti GPU tops the Geekbench 5 OpenCL benchmark chart with 229738 at the time of writing. 

Left side (top): power in, 2x Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm audio in/out. Right side (above): Micro SD card reader, USB-C, USB-A, lock slot.

There is a good array of ports and connectors, including a MicroSD card slot, USB-C port and USB-A ports, a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 3.5mm headset jack and a pound-pin power connector. The presence of the latter means that three USB-C ports are always accessible, two of these being Thunderbolt 4. If you need HDMI or wired Ethernet, you'll need an external docking station or hub. 

The HP ZBook Studio G9 has an 86Wh battery. This lost 30% from a full charge during a three-hour work session during which I wrote into web apps, browsed and streamed various media. This suggests total battery life of around 10 hours with moderate workloads for our Core i7/Nvidia RTX A1000 review unit. I let the battery drain down to 21% and then started to charge it; after a 45-minute bout of mains power the battery had risen to 74%.  

On the basis of this real-world experience, I would expect a full day's work to be possible on battery power. However, emergency charging might require some patience. 

HP's ZBook Studio G9 is a well built and configurable 16-inch mobile workstation, although venturing into the upper range of the many available options can get expensive.

The audio subsystem and range of ports impress, but the 720p webcam is disappointing. Battery life is good for a powerful laptop, although our review unit was by no means a high-end configuration.

HP ZBook Studio G9 specifications

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