HP ZBook Studio G3 review

Is it a workstation, an Ultrabook, or both?

A 4K beauty
A 4K beauty

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The ZBook Studio G3 is not only a powerful laptop but also a good-looking one. It's a product that is on par with its two big rivals, the Dell Precision 15 5510 and the Lenovo ThinkPad P50. Unsurprisingly, they have a lot of common points including a steep price tag (around £2,300 – which is about $3,310, or AU$4,580) and premium components.

We liked

This laptop is a formidable powerhouse; don't be fooled by its appearance. It delivers the sort of raw performance that would have come out of a far more expensive desktop workstation from only a few years ago. It has ISV certifications, more system memory than some laptops have storage and a powerful professional GPU, all encased in a serviceable chassis that looks great. The screen is very decent and so are the connectivity options.

We disliked

We understand that HP wanted to go for an eye-pleasing design but we feel that this is done at the expense of pragmatism. Don't get us wrong, other Ultrabook-esque workstations suffer from the same fundamental flaw. The battery can't be swapped and its 64Whr capacity – there is only one version – is less than the maximum capacity of its rivals (84Whr for Dell and 90Whr for Lenovo). The ZBook G3 had some issues with power dissipation as well, with the device heating up rapidly when under load.

Final verdict

This is a fantastic piece of engineering and one of the finest workstations on the market. Apple demonstrated that a laptop can be both powerful and elegant with its MacBook Pro, and that a notebook doesn't have to be a block of soulless anthracite plastic.

The relatively poor battery life, the non-user serviceable battery, the lack of additional storage expandability and the heat dissipation issues are what hold us back from falling head-over-heels for the ZBook Studio G3. The laws of physics mean that HP engineers can only do so much when faced with physical constraints.

Juan Martinez contributed to this review

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.