HP's ZBook 14 is a business Ultrabook with the power to call itself a mobile workstation. With an Intel Core i7 processor, a monster 16GB of RAM, a 240GB SSD and a dedicated graphics chip, this 14-inch laptop can easily handle your most demanding tasks. But at $2,349 as configured (starting at $1,399), the Windows 7-powered ZBook 14 is almost as expensive as a similarly configured 15-inch MacBook Pro. Here's why it's worth the investment.
The HP ZBook 14 features the same design language as its larger sibling, the ZBook 15. Its lid is composed of a stylish brushed aluminum surrounded by a textured magnesium alloy. In the center is an inlaid, reflective HP logo that matches the magnesium's dark coloring. Inside, the ZBook 14 sports a sleek and sturdy aluminum keyboard deck.
Above the keyboard, and stretching from edge to edge, is the notebook's speaker grille. Just above sits the power button on the left, and Wi-Fi and mute buttons on the right. To the right of the ZBook's keyboard is a low-profile fingerprint scanner.
At 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.83 inches and 3.9 pounds, the ZBook is a hair thicker and heavier than Lenovo's T440s, which measures 13 x 8.9 0.80 inches and weighs 3.8 pounds. Acer's 14-inch TravelMate P645 also undercuts the HP, measuring 12.9 x 9.3 x 0.82 inches and weighing just 3.3 pounds.
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The underside of the ZBook 14 features an easy-access bottom panel, which allows you to quickly replace internal components such as the notebook's RAM, storage drive and battery.
The ZBook 14 is MIL-STD 810G certified, which means it can withstand drops from as high as 4 feet. HP says the ZBook can also hold its own against dust, functional shock, vibration and both high and low temperatures. The notebook's keyboard is also spill-resistant, so you won't have to worry if you tip your coffee on it.
When compared to the MacBook Pro 15's Retina Display, however, the ZBook 14's screen had a slightly tan tint. It's not something most users will likely notice, as we needed to look at both screens side-by-side, but it's certainly something to take into account.
At 255 lux, the ZBook 14's display just outshines the 251-lux thin-and-light-notebook category average. The Acer TravelMate P645's screen hit 235 lux, while the Dell Latitude E7440 registered 238. Both the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s and MacBook Pro 15-inch offered brighter displays, averaging 294 lux and 324 lux, respectively.
On the LAPTOP Audio Test, which involves measuring a notebook's decibel rating at a distance of 23 inches, the HP ZBook 14 registered an impressive 86 dB. That blows away the Acer TravelMate P645 and the thin-and-light laptop category average (both 83 dB). The Dell Latitude E7440, however, offered the loudest speakers, registering 88 dB.
Touchpad and Pointing Stick
As with many other business notebooks, the HP ZBook 14 comes with a rubber pointing stick at the center of its keyboard, as well as two mouse buttons at the top of the notebook's touchpad. The pointing stick's rubberized textured surface made it easy to locate and use without looking. Overall, the pointing stick was accurate and offered smooth movement, comparing favorably to the one found on Lenovo's ThinkPad T440s.
Fingerprint Scanner and Security
With HP Client Security, you can also manage your Windows passwords, encrypt your storage drives, wipe your hard drive and limit device access to the ZBook's ports, to prevent someone from stealing data via a USB drive. Additionally, you can sign up for Absolute Software's LoJack for Laptops, which lets you track your laptop and report it as stolen to the police. With HP Trust Circles, you can securely share selected files and folders with specific users via your email address.
After streaming a high-def video for 15 minutes, the ZBook's keyboard reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad was even cooler, at 77 degrees, while the underside topped out at 88 degrees. We consider temperatures of 95 degrees and higher to be uncomfortable.
Ports and Webcams
The ZBook 14z's 720p webcam captured noisy images that were full of artifacts. Fine details in our subject's face were nearly impossible to see, and colors were too dark, even under bright office lighting.
On the PCMark 7 benchmark, which tests a laptop's overall performance, the ZBook 14 scored an impressive 5,378. That's higher than the Dell Latitude E7440, which scored 4,544 with a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Acer's TravelMate P645 and its Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD scored 4,886.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 440s, which packs an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, scored 4,970. Each of the notebooks outscored the thin-and-light notebook category average of 3,614.
On the Geekbench 3 benchmark, the ZBook 14 notched 6,271. That's higher than the Lenovo T440s' score of 5,151 and the Dell Latitude's 5,259, both of which fell below both the category average (5,918) and the Tavelmate (5954). Apple's MacBook Pro 15-inch, which features an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of flash memory, however, outpaced the field, with a score of 13,652.
Thanks to its 240GB SSD, the HP ZBook 14 booted Windows 7 Professional in just 25 seconds. That's faster than the category average of 27 seconds, but slower than the Acer TravelMate P645's time of 23 seconds.
It took the ZBook 14 just 32 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 221 MBps, well ahead of the thin-and-light average of 44 MBps. The Dell Latitude E7440 copied the files at a rate of 130 MBps, while the Acer TravelMate P645 did so at 176 MBps. The ThinkPad T440s finished the task at a rate of 188 MBps. Apple's MacBook Pro 15, once again, kicked the competition in the pants, with a transfer rate of 309 MBps.
The ZBook 14 performed very well on our OpenOffice test, matching 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in just 4 minutes and 10 seconds. That just beats out the MacBook Pro's time of 4:15. The Acer TravelMate P645 completed the test in 4:42, while the Dell Latitude E7440 finished in 4:46. The Lenovo ThinkPad T440s took the longest, finishing in 5:14. All of those notebooks, however, were much faster than the category average of 6:13.
While playing "World of Warcraft" with the graphics set to autodetect and the display resolution at 1280 x 1024 pixels, the HP ZBook 14 averaged 73 frames per second. That's more than twice the category average of 35 fps. The Acer TravelMate P645 hit 47 fps, while the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s came in at 39 fps. The Dell Latitude E7440 reached just 23 fps. It's worth noting that only the ZBook 14 ran at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels. The rest of the notebooks ran at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Bump the graphics up to their highest, and the resolution drops down to a playable 33 fps. Move up to 1080p, and the HP's frame rate falls to 26 fps. That still beats the Acer's 24 fps and the category average of 23 fps.
The graphically intensive "Bioshock Infinite" ran at a respectable 34 fps with the graphics on low and resolution set to 1280 x 1024p. Just don't expect full-HD gameplay to be smooth; setting the graphics to max and the resolution to 1920 x 1080p dropped the frame rate to 10 fps.
With a 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-4600U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 240GB SSD and AMD FirePro M4100 graphics chip, our $2,349 HP ZBook 14 is the most powerful preconfigured version of the system available. If that's not good enough, you can customize the notebook with a 512GB SSD and all of the aforementioned components for $3,641.
If you don't want to shell out that much cash, you can opt for a base model of the ZBook 14 for $1,399. That version includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and AMD FirePro M4100 graphics chip.
HP offers ZBook 14 users a three-year limited warranty. On-site service and extended service contracts are also available beyond the standard warranty period via HP's website. See how HP fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brands Report.
If you're in the market for a low-cost business notebook, we suggest checking out the Lenovo T440s or Acer TravelMate P645. If you're interested in a workstation, you should also consider Dell's 15-inch Precision M3800. That slim speedster packs a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-4702HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and Nvidia Quadro K1100M graphics, as well as a higher resolution, touch-enabled QHD+ display, all for $100 less. (Stay tuned for review.)
Most mobile workstations don't come in 14-inch models, making the HP's portability a win for business users on the go. If you want a high-powered system and don't mind dropping a chunk of change, the ZBook 14 is an excellent choice.
|CPU||2.1-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-4600U|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||240GB SSD|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||AMD FirePro M4100|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260AN|
|Touchpad Size||3.8 x 2.2|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Docking Connector|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DisplayPort|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Combo Headphone/Mic Jack|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Lock Slot|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Card Slots||Smart Card|
|Warranty/Support||3-year standard parts and labor warranty 3/3/3. Includes HP Elite Premium Support|
|Size||13.4 x 9.3 x 0.83 inches|