HP ZBook 17 review

A powerful laptop aimed at graphics professionals

HP ZBook 17
HP ZBook 17

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We liked

The ZBook 17's high-end performance is its most obvious positive feature. This is a laptop that's faster than many desktops. The flexible storage options are also a great thing to have. You can stuff two hard disks inside this machine and still have an SSD for the operating system.

HP's DreamColor display puts just about every other laptop screen to shame. It's gorgeous. If you're going for a more high-end ZBook configuration, a screen upgrade is a good idea.

It's also nice to see such a wide range of ports and expansion options.

We disliked

While our review model's CPU performance was excellent, we'd opt for the slightly faster 2.6GHz Core i7-4900MQ.

The price is also above the level of most budgets, so the ZBook 17 is more likely to be purchased by business users, while the rest of us wish we could afford such a nice computer.

Although its performance is excellent, the monstrous size is unfortunate. The thick chassis and heavy weight will put a lot of people off.

The great performance of the ZBook 17 would make it a useful machine for high-end audio software, but the single analogue jack means you'll probably want a USB sound card.

Final verdict

The ZBook 17 is one of the most powerful mobile workstations on the planet, and it will be unfazed by any software you throw at it. Expect it to chew through video encoding jobs, render scenes as quickly as a desktop workstation, and perform any number crunching you ask of it.

It's well built, offers oodles of storage and has plenty of expansion options.

There are very few laptops on the market with colour-accurate screens, and even fewer with screens as good as HP's DreamColor display. That alone should pique the interest of any graphics professional.

However, despite all the lovely aspects of the ZBook 17, it's hard to see this category of ultra-powerful, ultra-heavy and ultra-expensive laptop ever becoming more than a niche. The sheer size of it makes this machine more of a desktop replacement than a portable computer.