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HP ZBook Studio G8 hands-on

The HP ZBook Studio G8 is better than a MacBook Pro

HP ZBook Studio G8
(Image: © Future)

HP just announced the 15.6-inch, ultra-slim HP ZBook Studio G8, and it’s ready to take on everything you can throw at it as well as the competition. The ZBook line has been an enormous success for HP garnering Red Dot awards and even an Oscar. HP looks to further the growing legacy of its ZBook line by improving performance with the latest 11th Gen Intel iCore 9 processor and Nvidia GPUs. 

You get four display options ranging from FHD anti-glare to a 4K DreamColor with 100% DCI-P3 color gamut with a 120Hz refresh rate. HP also included some serious security improvements as well. The laptop also has Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, military-grade durability, and they even threw in a keyboard with RGB lighting effects for when you want to switch from work mode to gaming mode.

HP ZBook Studio G8 pricing and configurations

The ZBook Studio G8 I have been playing with has a 15.6-inch, 4K IPS OLED touch display made of Corning Gorilla Glass 6, with a 60Hz refresh rate, and an Intel 11th Gen Core i9 CPU, 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 16GB of VRAM. The panel seems larger than the listed size, but maybe I need new glasses; it just feels a bit more immersive. 

There is also an Intel 11th Gen Core i7 version of the ZBook G8 that will also be available. HP has yet to release pricing details.

HP ZBook Studio G8 design

HP ZBook G8

(Image credit: Future)

The award-winning design of last year’s ZBooks remains intact; it truly is a beautiful, ultra-thin work-and-play station made of aluminum and magnesium. It has the appeal of Captain America’s vibranium shield if left unpainted, and it feels so solid in hand, yet retains its lightweight charm.  

The estimated weight is just under four pounds 4.3 pounds and measures in at 13.9 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches; the ZBook Studio G8 is one of the lightest and smallest workstations in the category.

HP ZBook Studio G8 durability and security

The ZBook Studio G8 passed 21 military standard tests to earn its MIL-SPEC grading. This year, HP has added an extra layer of security to the system with a Windows Hello-compatible IR webcam and fingerprint scanner. 

This iteration of the ZBook comes with a tamper lock intrusion detection system. If someone takes off the bottom of your laptop, you would be alerted and you can select the system to shut down. It can also lock the BIOS down. This makes stealing your data much harder and with the new Tile feature, you can locate your laptop using your cell phone even if the computer is turned off.

HP ZBook Studio G8 ports

The Zbook Studio G8 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 (Thunderbolt 4), and a power jack. 

HP ZBook Studio G8

(Image credit: Future)

On the left, you will find a 3.5mm combo audio jack, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a Nano security lock slot.

HP ZBook Studio G8

(Image credit: Future)

HP ZBook Studio G8 display

HP loves to say, “we don’t need no stinking bezels.” OK, it didn’t say that but, the ZBook Studio is a nearly bezel-less design that we all love and appreciate.  Again, as with last year’s model, the reduced bezels allow a 15.6-inch panel to reside in what’s essentially a 13-inch chassis. HP outfitted my first impression unit with a 15.6-inch, 4K multitouch OLED UWVA Display HDR 500 panel. HP states it covers 100% DCI P3 and rates 400 nits of brightness

I watched an episode of Amazon’s Invincible on it, and it looked fantastic. The colors of the animated series were beautifully saturated, and it was crisp and crystal clear from all angles. When Invincible is fighting his father Omni Man, all the blood warm red blood splatter is gory goodness. When two jet fighters hit Omni Man with a barrage of missiles, the explosions were gorgeous red, yellow, and black.  

I also watched the latest Fast and Furious trailer in 4K, and the video was clear, warm, and beautifully saturated. 

HP ZBook Studio G8

(Image credit: Future)

I edited a few photos in Capture One, and the colors were accurate and an excellent representation of the photos I shot earlier that day and while editing a short video in DaVinci Resolve, color grading was a breeze and accurate.

HP ZBook Studio G8 audio

Once again, HP chose Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers, and they’re some of the best I’ve experienced to date. Capable solid bass performance, they perform above average in every way. I listened to a mix of 90’s hip-hop that started with Busta Rhymes' “Put Your Hands, Where My Eyes Can See,” and the popping bassline played warmly.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the post-production model to test it out thoroughly.

HP ZBook Studio G8 keyboard and touchpad

HP ZBook Studio G8

(Image credit: Future)

This ZBook Studio’s G8 comes with an RGB 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 very comfortable and, like the previous model, was a pleasure to type on. 

The 4.5 x 2.9-inch touchpad is just as pretty and functional as the rest of the system.

HP ZBook Studio G8 graphics, gaming and VR

The ZBook Studio G8 comes with either an Nvidia RTX 5000 or Nvidia RTX GeForce 3080 GPU. When you add the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 or i9 CPUs and the RGB keyboard, you have to take the ZBook Studio seriously when it comes to gaming ability. 

I did not get the opportunity to game on it but it has gaming specs and also comes loaded with Omen Gaming Hub which allows you to control the RGB lighting for the keyboard and fine-tune your gaming experience.

HP ZBook Studio G8 performance

With a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i9-11950H processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD, the ZBook Studio G8 handled what I threw at it easily. It may have snickered at me once. I opened up 40 Google Chrome tabs open, including one streaming Iron Man 3 on Disney+, some running camera reviews on YouTube, and it handled them all without breaking a sweat. 

I edited a short 4K video in Adobe Premiere and it ran smoothly without any hiccups and rendered the video under a minute. I am looking forward to reviewing the fully ready Studio G8 because as I have said previously, the ZBook Studio is a better content creator laptop than any MacBook Pro I have used. 

The laptop also features HP’s proprietary Z Central Remote boost software. It allows you to easily, quickly and safely, connect remotely to an even more powerful system to boost your laptop's performance, you can power through every and any kind of power swallowing work you may face.

HP ZBook Studio G8 battery life

HP states that the ZBook Studio G8 will last 9 hours and 30 minutes on a full charge. We have not tested this claim as of yet, but we hope to have a review unit soon. When I received the unit, I will state that it was not charged but, once plugged in, I noticed it charged to 100% in about 45 minutes.

HP ZBook Studio G8 heat

The ZBook Studio G8 utilizes an advanced vapor cooling system that debuted last year. I did mention that last year’s unit tended to get a tiny bit warm at times. HP obviously made some improvements to the technology because it has yet to warm up on me no matter which task I put it through.

HP ZBook Studio G8 webcam

The 720p camera does a very nice job for an integrated shooter. Thanks to the infrared functionality, the camera performs a little better in darkened environments than standard laptop webcams.

Outlook

The ZBook Studio G8 is a workhorse content creator’s dream mobile workstation that now also has the gaming chops to possibly be a replacement for HP’s Omen gaming series of laptops. HP’s One Life, One Device motto seemed like a bold statement but, with just a couple of days of access to this first impression test unit, I can say definitively, it’s a statement HP is backing up with the ZBook Studio G8. MacBook? I don’t need a stinkin' MacBook.