Price: $2749 to start; $4,559 as reviewed
CPU: Intel Core i9-10885H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Max-Q GPU
Storage: 2TB PCIe SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 4K touchscreen
Size: 13.9 x 9.25 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.3 pounds
To create great work, you need powerful tools. For many years, the most popular multimedia creation tool has been Apple’s MacBook Pro. But there’s a new sheriff in town and its name is the HP ZBook Create G7. Armed with an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, this workstation is ready to take on all challengers. Wrapped in a sleek, svelte chassis, the laptop is easy on the eyes, but thanks to MIL-SPEC certification, it can take a bump or two. Plus, you’ve got a captivating 4K OLED touch panel that serves up breathtaking picture quality.
But at $4,459, it’s a pricey investment, one that can get a bit warm at times. However, if you’re looking to extricate yourself from Apple, the HP ZBook Create G7 is hands down your best option.
HP ZBook Create G7 pricing and configurations
The ZBook Create G7 I reviewed costs $4,459 and has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10885H processor, 32GB RAM, a 2TB PCIe SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, and a 3849 x 2160-pixel, 4K display.
The base model costs $2,749 and drops you down to an Intel Core i7 1057H 2.6GHz processor, a 512GB PCIe SSD; you get the same Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Maz-Q GPU with 8GB of video memory but a 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS FHD display.
HP ZBook Create G7 design
It’s like DARPA and Ferrari got together to design a sexy aerodynamic tank powered by a high-tech engine. From the moment I retrieved the sleek, silver aluminum beauty from its box, the HP ZBook Create G7 felt different from any other laptop I’ve reviewed to date. Calling it thin is an understatement, it feels like a svelte slate but without the weight.
Open the ZBook Create G7 and you’re greeted by a backlit Chiclet-style keyboard centered above the touchpad. The wrist deck is large and comfortable, and there’s a fingerprint scanner just under the keyboard on the right. Above the keyboard sits the speaker vents which hide the Bang & Olufsen-tuned drivers beneath. It’s a beautiful system that invites you to create, game or veg out for as long as you wish.
As an added bonus, the laptop has been tested for sanitization with common household disinfecting wipes. The system is currently rated for up to 1,000 disinfectant wipe cycles, which is a relief in today’s climate.
At 4.3 pounds and 13.9 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches, the ZBook Create G7 is one of the lightest and smallest laptops in the category. The Dell Precision 7550 is a whopping 6.2 pounds and measures 14.2 x 9.5 x 1.1 inches. The Razer Blade Studio Edition (4.8 pounds, 14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches) and the Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro W700G3T (5.4 pounds, 15 x 11.3 x 0.7 inches) are lighter but nowhere near the ZBook Create G7’s barely-there form.
HP ZBook Create G7 durability and security
I refer to the ZBook Create as a sexy tank because of how solid it feels in your hands and its MIL-STD-810H certification. That means this svelte temptress passed the 29 tests put forth by the U.S. Department of Defense and can withstand drops, vibration, shock, extreme temperatures and altitudes, to name a few. Also helping keep things rugged is the Corning Gorilla Glass 6 used to ensure the Zbook Create's display lasts.
You can’t be militarily tough and skimp on security. With that in mind, the ZBook create keeps things secure with several optional features. There is a fingerprint scanner on the right side of the deck, just below the keyboard. You can also take advantage of the IR cameras to use facial recognition via Windows Hello.
HP ZBook Create G7 ports
The Zbook Create G7 comes with a nice amount of ports to act as a passable workstation and content-creation laptop. On the right side, there's an SD card slot, Mini DisplayPort, two USB Type-C ports, and a power jack.
HP ZBook Create G7 display
Bezels? What bezels? HP significantly shrank the bezels (73% at the top, 52% at the sides, and 13% at the bottom) without sacrificing the webcam. The reduced bezels allow a 15.6-inch panel to reside in what’s essentially a 13-inch chassis for an 87% screen-to-body ratio. But enough about bezels, let’s talk about the display. HP outfitted the ZBook Create G7 with a 15.6-inch, 4K OLED VESA DisplayHDR 500 TrueBlack touch panel.
That all means you get a bright, crystal-clear display with lusciously saturated colors. I took the ZBook Create G7 into my backyard to shoot photos while tethered to it using Capture One photo-editing software, and not only did images appear super fast, but they were also stunning. The greens, reds, and different hues of fall were lushly reproduced, with perfect contrast, and nice tones.
When I edited the video using DaVinci Resolve, the panel’s color accuracy was a huge help while color grading my footage. The ability to color grade on the go, while outdoors, really sped up my workflow. Also, using the very responsive touch capabilities of the display came in handy.
After about one hundred photos, I sat down to watch some 4K trailers. Every explosion during the Black Widow trailer was stunningly saturated and the red piping in Taskmaster’s hood immediately drew the eye in. Details were so sharp that I saw Black Widow’s red hair whipping wildly in the reflection of the villain's goggles.
I wanted to see how a game would look on the unit and chose Batman: Arkham Knight. The opening cinematic where the Joker is incinerated was a symphony of colors, with excellent contrast, shadowing and motion.
When we measured the screen's color-reproduction capabilities, the ZBook Create G7 scored 148.2% on our DCI-P3 color gamut test, surpassing the workstation laptop average of 141.3%. However, the Blade Studio bettered that score at 153%, followed by the Precision 7550, which scored a sad 116% with the StudioBook bringing up the rear with a paltry 115%.
I was stunned to learn that the ZBook Create G7 scored only 357 nits of brightness, missing the 409-nit average. The Precision 7550 led the group, scoring an outlandish 464 nits followed by the Blade Studio at 336 nits. The StudioBook was the dimmest with a sub-standard low of 292 nits.
HP ZBook Create G7 audio
The Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers are some of the best I’ve experienced to date. Capable of 150Hz of bass, these are no ordinary laptop speakers.
While listening to Lizzo’s “Good As Hell,”I was happily surprised when the bass line kicked in and those 150Hz showed up loudly, filling my tiny studio apartment with clear, thumping bass. It allowed me to really jam out when I listened to The Bass Police’s “Shake That”. My favorite audio experience was Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” where I heard stirring string sections and subtle tonal changes.
HP ZBook Create G7 keyboard and touchpad
This ZBook Create G7’s backlit spill-resistant keyboard is one of my favorites to date. The full Chiclet-style keyboard offers generous spacing with deep travel and clicky feedback. It’s so comfortable that even my beastly fingers scored 93 words per minute with 96% accuracy the 10fastfingers test. My normal average is 65 wpm with accuracy between 70% and 85%.
The 4.5 x 2.9-inch touchpad is just as pretty and functional as the rest of the system. My colossal meat knubs slid smoothly around the touchpad. Performing Windows 10 gestures was extremely precise, even during three or four-fingered gestures and simple finger taps. The bottom corners of the touchpad are responsive and have a solid click when pressed.
HP ZBook Create G7 graphics, gaming and VR
The Zbook Create G7 has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM as well as an integrated Intel UHD GPU. That means it’s ready to game when you’re not too busy working or creating your own games.
When I played Batman: Arkham Knight, everything was beautifully saturated and ran smoothly. Even the tiny bits and pieces of cars that flew off as I smashed into them with the Batmobile were sharp and crisp.
During the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Gathering Storm benchmark, the ZBook Create G7 scored 54 frames per second, just under the 58-fps workstation average.
HP ZBook Create G7 performance
With a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i9-10885H processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD, the ZBook Create G7 handled everything I threw at it with aplomb, and I swear it giggled at me once. At one point, I had 40 Google Chrome tabs open, including one streaming Iron Man 2 on Disney+, some running camera reviews on YouTube, and another playing New York One News, and the laptop powered them all without breaking a sweat.
I create a lot of video content, so I downloaded DaVinci Resolve 16 to test how the ZBook Create G7 edits and renders. I shot about 5 minutes of 4K video then edited it down to a 30-second trailer, color graded it, and rendered it in under two minutes in 4K. It was such a seamless, effortless and stress-free experience that I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I played more Batman: Arkham Knight with all those tabs still open on my browser. Next, I used Adobe Premiere Pro and edited the same 4K footage which ran even smoother than DaVinci. It’s the best rendering experience I have had yet.
The ZBook G7 scored 8,003 in our Geekbench 5.0 overall performance test. That’s way above the 6,575 workstation average as well as the Blade Studio (5,104, Core i7- 9750H CPU) and the ProArt StudioBook (5,396, Intel Xeon E 2276M 4900HS CPU). The HP was only outperformed by the Dell Precision 7550 (Intel Xeon W-10885M) which scored 8,418.
It took the ZBook Create G7 7 minutes and 21 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p using the Handbrake app. It was much faster than the 9:00 workstation average. The Precision 7550 was a few ticks quicker with a time of 7:13. The Blade Studio came in at 10 minutes and 12 seconds, followed by the Asus ProArt at 10 minutes and 30 seconds.
During our Photoshop test, the ZBook Create G7 scored 874, easily beating the 768 workstation category average. During the File Transfer test, the ZBook Create G7 averaged 639.9 megabytes per second while transferring 5GB of mixed media, which is below the 998.73 MBps average. The Asus ProArt StudioBook averaged 1,272 megabytes per second, followed by the Precision, which averaged 1,092 megabytes per second with the Blade Studio rounding out the group with 922 megabytes per second.
HP ZBook Create G7 battery life
When you’re dealing with a high-powered, multimedia creation laptop, battery life can take a hit. However, tThe ZBook Create G7 fared well on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, lasting 5 hours and 57 minutes, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That time was shorter than the workstation average and the ProArt StudioBook (6:23). The Blade Studio achieved a runtime of 6:02 while the Precision 7750 was the last laptop standing at 8:45.
HP ZBook Create G7 heat
HP uses a new cooling technology called Z Vapor Force, and it works. When you’re squeezing high-powered CPUs and GPUs into such a tight form factor, they’re going to get hot, especially when you’re editing photos, videos, 3D animations or playing games.
Most traditional systems route a heat pipe to a heat sink to aid in cooling a system, which is a one dimensional solution. However, HP’s new Vapor Chamber Heatsink system provides two-dimensional cooling, adding to its two-fan, three-sided vent system, the technology keeps the system cool while actually improving CPU and GPU performance. In order to eliminate fan noise, the company rolled out its new Z Predictive Fan Algorithm, which changes fan speeds only when various sensors detect the need to maintain system performance.
During the video heat test (15 minutes of playing a fullscreen HD video), the touchpad measured a cool 79 degrees Fahrenheit while the middle of the keyboard registered 92.1 degrees. The undercarriage breached our 95-degree comfort threshold at 106 degrees. But during actual use, the notebooks warmed up sometimes, but not so much as to make it uncomfortable.
HP ZBook Create G7 webcam
The 720p camera does a very nice job for an integrated shooter. But like most webcams, you should make sure the lighting is optimal to get the best results. The colors were saturated nicely and looked best when properly lit. Thanks to the infrared functionality, the camera performs a little better in darkened environments than standard laptop webcams. However, the colors are still a little muted with some pixelation. Overall, the webcam is solid for day-to-day use such as in Zoom meetings.
HP ZBook Create G7 software and warranty
The HP ZBook Create G7 thankfully doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware. There is some HP proprietary software like HP Jumpstart, HP Power Manager and my favorite new software HP Quickdrop, which allows you to quickly transfer and share files between your cell phone and the ZBook Create G7.
The ZBook Create G7 is geared towards content creation professionals who want to create any and everything. From video, photo, CAD, animation, graphic design, and music production, if you can think of it, the ZBook Create G7 can probably do it. It’s absolutely gorgeous, sturdy and great for gaming on the go. It also provides a wonderful multimedia viewing experience thanks to that beautiful 4K display.
At $4,559, HP ZBook Create G7 is pricey, but you’re getting premium performance by way of its Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU, so it’s money well spent production pros. Still, for all the money you’re forking out, I would prefer a brighter display and the battery life could definitely be longer.
If that’s your priority, you’ll want to check out the Dell Precision 7750, but at $6,209, you’re spending an awful lot of money. If you’re someone who is looking to move on from Apple and the whole MacBook universe, the ZBook Create G7 should definitely be on your radar. It’s a one-stop shop for heavy-duty creative professionals capable of handling just about anything.