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8-min read

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Review: A Pricey Indulgence That (Almost) Justifies the Price

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible is an indulgence for anyone but the niche, mass content creator with heavy workloads on the move.

Shouvik Das | News18.com@distantvicinity

Updated:October 16, 2019, 2:47 PM IST
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HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Review: A Pricey Indulgence That (Almost) Justifies the Price
The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible is an indulgence for anyone but the niche, mass content creator with heavy workloads on the move.

What do you do when you end up with a laptop workstation that doesn’t look out of place at a minimalist design conference? Presumably, there are no straightforward answers to this plight. But then again, the conundrum that the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible mobile workstation raises is no ordinary one. You see, insanely long name aside, the HP ZBook Studio (as referred to henceforth) raises a whole bunch of pertinent questions regarding its plausible usage scenarios, and the kind of value proposition it commands. The answers, as I found out over the three weeks that I’ve been using it for as my daily driver, vary wildly depending on your personality, use cases and your very own definition of ‘value’.

Who it is for

Straight off the bat, the HP ZBook Studio is every bit as premium as you would expect a laptop of this price bracket to be. With an MRP of Rs 3,33,887 and a selling price of Rs 2,35,870 on HP’s official online store in India, the ZBook Studio almost costs as much as you’d expect to pay for a reasonable, five-year-old hatchback car. However, the mobility that both offer are vividly different, and if the ZBook Studio qualifies as something that you’re looking at as a potential purchase, you’re most likely not the target customer for the second-hand hatchback.

Assuming you fall into the former category, you’re either a graphic designer, an engineer (with loads of sophisticated desk time), a film editor, a prosperous photographer, or in a very niche case, a stickler for uber premium devices with beautiful builds, without a fear of overspending. Etched on the ZBook Studio’s shiny, metal hinge plate are the words ‘Mobile Workstation’, which gives a fair idea regarding the productivity-oriented machine that this is. Hence, long story short -- the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible will only suit you if you happen to be a high graphic workload user who travels a lot, and can spare a pretty penny for enhanced portability and suave design. While it would still suit you if you just want to buy it for its near-impeccable build, we daresay that’s overkill.

Durability and design

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible’s overall build takes the ‘premium’ feel up by a notch. Every bit is solid metal, with uniformly placed ports on either sides, machine drilled grilles for the Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers and bottom/side ventilation, all with solid, reassuring touches. While the laptop does not feel bulky, the liberal use of metal does add to the overall weight, as a result of which you do feel its heft -- be it while working on the move, or simply lugging it around in your backpack.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Convertible 2

However, while it feels great in hand, the ZBook Studio still has delicate bearings and a mildly disappointing inconsistency in some aspects. Despite the solid metal build, the ZBook Studio does not feel particularly tough, and is more on the pristine side. This being a convertible, the hinges are not as rigid as I would have ideally liked them to be. This leads to an annoying bit of screen wobble, if you are typing fast on any platform. It feels a tad too flexible, with even a slight movement displacing it off its mean position. There is also a rather surprising amount of flex on the lid, which comes as a real surprise once you see how solidly built the rest of the device is.

Apart from this, there isn’t much to complain here. The edges of the base are chamfered to prevent them from biting into your palms; the display ledge has a crevice that helps you easily open the laptop, and the clipped corners at the hinge end further make it a pleasant device to hold. As for its design, while the matte grey might feel a bit cold for many, still more would like its minimal design approach. The top lid doesn’t scratch easily, and a sheen finish around the keyboard feels upmarket. The ZBook Studio is admittedly not an instant head turner, but for fans of minimalist designs, that is bull’s eye.

Performance and display

This is where the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible blows things out of the water. The configuration we have features a six-core, 8th generation Intel Core i7-8850H processor, along with 16GB DDR4 memory running at 2,666MHz, the Nvidia Quadro P1000 GPU with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM (equivalent to the user-oriented Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050), and 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD. This is paired with a full HD, LED-backlit touchscreen display measuring 15.6 inches and producing 400 nits of peak brightness. The display can flip over a full 360 degrees to work as tablet only -- useful if you are previewing your work slides with colleagues, or simply using the ZBook Studio as an illustrator.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Convertible 3

In the real world, unless you regularly use CAD tools, Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Maya and the likes, you will seldom challenge the peak performance of the HP ZBook Studio. Gone are the days when any portable workstation PC worth its salt would be big, bulky and ugly, and the ZBook Studio stands testament to it. I faced no stress in loading an old, saved project to Adobe Premiere Pro, indexing and loading 38GB of video files without breaking a sweat. Loading up older, website design frameworks caused no concerns either, and while rendering of video files is a generally lengthy process, it all went as smoothly as the software permits. If at all you would wish to play the occasional video game, the ZBook Studio managed to run Destiny 2 at largely frame rates of around 42fps -- playable enough for occasional, casual gaming.

The ZBook Studio, though, will hardly ever be used to game, since its primary use case will lie in visual data processing, heavy data rendering, graphic illustrations, etc. While the display is rated to produce only 400 nits, its actual peak brightness feels significantly higher. However, the ambient sensor is inconsistent, and it is better to switch it off and take manual control of your display’s brightness settings. Touch precision should ideally have been better, but is something that you can make do with. The only other annoyance is a ridiculously reflective screen surface, which can be jarring if you are under direct lights.

Inputs and ergonomics

Once you find a suitable spot free from reflections, the viewing angles of the display cause no reason of concern. This is good, particularly for the tablet mode. However, the dimensions and heft of the convertible mean that when switched to tablet mode, it is only good enough to be used on tabletop, and not as a handheld device. That said, if at all handheld usage is imperative, the auto-enabling on-screen keyboard does come with swipe typing as a default feature, somewhat adding to ergonomics. The ZBook Studio is also compatible with an HP stylus, which we did not use in the course of this review.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 Convertible 1

In the laptop form, the well spaced out ‘Collaboration’ keyboard does the job well. While the keys are still far from being as reassuring as the Lenovo ThinkPad and Dell XPS chiclet keys, they still offer good travel and pitch, creating decent feedback while typing, and minimal fatigue even after long hours of article drafting or coding. However, despite the generally accurate multi-touch trackpad responses, it has the annoying tendency to read palm inputs even at the least possible touch. This can get particularly annoying, since you will often end up making unintentional clicks while typing.

That said, the two USB-A 3.0 ports to the left are easy to access, and even offer charging, should you need. To the right, the ZBook Studio also features two USB-C 3.1 ports with charging support, Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort 1.3, thereby increasing the number of external displays that can be connected to the laptop. The right edge also includes a 3.5mm audio port and an SD card reader, for added convenience and data transfer. There is also a SIM slot for native data connectivity, increasing the HP ZBook Studio’s overall appeal as a modern day workstation.

Verdict

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 convertible mobile workstation is a fine laptop, and even makes for a great convertible, too. Being a workstation PC, performance is top notch, and should suffice pretty much everyone but the hardcore gamer’s needs. To top that, it comes with a great, all-metal build, barring the display flex discrepancy. The Bang & Olufsen integrated speakers, while being decent for in-laptop ones, isn’t particularly remarkable to write home about. But, when it comes to streaming your dinnertime shows, it more than gets the job done. Add a nice keyboard that induces little to no fatigue in long duration usage, and you have a commendable laptop/convertible in your hands.

But, for the average user, the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is a bit of an overkill, at least in terms of its pricing. HP itself offers lesser priced convertibles that would suit most workloads, unless your everyday usage involves CAD, industrial applications, professional animations or colour grading high resolution uncompressed video files, and so on. For such users, the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 offers a great proposition of a good-looking, future-proof device that will also double up as a great entertainment product. Factors such as its heft and the overall cost might be a hindrance to an extent for many buyers, but for those who require the performance that this machine offers, the ZBook Studio is one of the best looking way of getting it.

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