Notebookcheck

HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Review

Tobias Winkler, Tanja Hinum (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 12/09/2014

Performance alternative. HP reworked its workstation series and now offers some new features. We decided to equip the HP ZBook 15 G2 with the AMD FirePro M5100 and the high-resolution QHD+ display. We tested how well the two components suit the established working device.

For the original German review, see here.

This is already the third version of the HP ZBook 15 in our editorial office. There are several reasons for that. First of all, the manufacturer runs very long product cycles for its mobile workstations and the possible configurations are so diverse that even those three reviews only allow a brief glimpse into the possibilities of the series. However, the main reasons for the current review update are the new components like the high-resolution QHD+ display and AMD's FirePro M5100 GPU. Nothing really changed in terms of the chassis, the port layout and the input devices, so we won't cover these unchanged sections. The according information is available in the main review of the HP ZBook 15 and additional information about features, for example, the DreamColor display, in the first review update.

Our current review device is equipped with Intel's Core i7-4710MQ, 8 GB RAM, a 750 GB hard drive, AMD's professional FirePro M5100 GPU and a matte QHD+ display. The price of our review unit in HP's online configurator is currently around 2,600 Euros (~$3222, gross). A correspondingly pre-configured version is currently not available.

Display

HP ZBook 15 G2 with QHD+ display
HP ZBook 15 G2 with QHD+ display

We already mentioned that HP expanded the choice of displays for the HP ZBook 15 G2 with a QHD+ panel. You can still get the Full HD TN panel (standard), the Full HD IPS panel (around 100 Euros more, ~$123) and the Full HD IPS DreamColor display (around 540 Euros more, ~$669). Our review unit uses the high-resolution QHD+ IPS display (around 330 Euros more, ~$409) with a resolution of 3200x1800 pixels and wide viewing angles. However, you don't get the very large color gamut that is provided by the DreamColor panel.

100% scaling
100% scaling
150% scaling
150% scaling
Resolutions
Resolutions

The high resolution offers some advantages in return. You get a large working area and the presentation of display content is very fine. However, depending on the software, Windows can still have scaling issues at some points if you increase the size of fonts, icons and symbols. Menus can be too small, too big, not adjusted or overlapping. It also means some games can only be played in a window and not in fullscreen. Some software manufacturers still have some homework to do. Overall, the problems are smaller with every new software version, but it is still annoying if just the application that you always use is affected.

271
cd/m²
287
cd/m²
282
cd/m²
282
cd/m²
286
cd/m²
269
cd/m²
297
cd/m²
265
cd/m²
275
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Sharp SHP141C
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 297 cd/m² Average: 279.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 284 cd/m²
Contrast: 1192:1 (Black: 0.24 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.64 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 6.34 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
60% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.48
HP QHD+ vs. sRGB
HP QHD+ vs. sRGB
HP QHD+ vs. AdobeRGB
HP QHD+ vs. AdobeRGB

As usual, we measure the brightness at nine different spots across the display surface. With a maximum brightness of 269 cd/m² up to 297 cd/m², the IPS display manages an average result of 279 cd/m² and a brightness distribution of 89%. You can see some screen bleeding at the display frame with dark pictures and some weak clouding in general. Besides the aesthetic effect, this limitation should not be an issue for most users in practice. This could, however, be a problem for professional tasks, picture editing in particular.

You can adjust the brightness in 20 fine steps from a minimum of 14 cd/m² up to the maximum setting. We measured a brightness of exactly 150 cd/m² in the center of the panel with step 16. We use this setting for some battery runtime measurements, but this value is also a very ergonomic setting indoors.

Thanks to the matte surface we can hardly see any reflections. In combination with the high maximum brightness, this means it is pretty comfortable to use outdoors. You should still avoid direct sunlight, otherwise the picture will become very dark and you can hardly recognize it. We did not notice a system-specific brightness reduction on battery power.

The contrast reaches a very good value of 1,192:1, which results in a deep black and vivid colors. This is also supported by the pretty wide color gamut since the panel covers 82% of the sRGB color space. AdobeRGB, however, is only covered by 60%, which is a significant difference compared to the previously reviewed DreamColor display (95%) with RGB LEDs. Here you will have to decide whether you prefer a very fine resolution or the wider color gamut. Both things together are, unfortunately, neither available at HP nor any other manufacturer at this time.

The other measurements are already pretty good ex-works. Subjectively, the presentation is balanced and should therefore be suited for many scenarios. Users in the picture-editing business will probably calibrate the display anyway. The calibrated panel shows a very good potential with a very accurate presentation of the colors. The grayscale performance manages an excellent DeltaE 2000 deviation of 0.37, the RGB balance does not really show any problems and the gamma curve is almost perfect. Calibration clearly improves the results for the primary colors with DeltaE 2000 deviations under 3. Blue and red show the biggest DeltaE 2000 deviations with 2.04 and 1.80, respectively, but they are still below the value where the human eye can see the difference. If the primary colors are good, the result cannot be bad for the ColorChecker, where the DeltaE 2000 value is sensationally low with 0.55. For the sake of completeness we want to mention that all saturation levels stay within their according target areas and don't reveal any issues.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Colorspace
Colorspace
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps
ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Grayscale calibrated
Grayscale calibrated
Colorspace calibrated
Colorspace calibrated
Saturation Sweeps calibrated
Saturation Sweeps calibrated
ColorChecker calibrated
ColorChecker calibrated

The overall viewing-angle stability is good and corresponds with the expectations of an IPS panel. You still have to live with some smaller color and brightness deviations from very wide viewing angles, for example, from an angle from below or above. The picture gets a bit darker in these cases and there is a yellow hue. Compared to TN panels, this is obviously complaining on a very high level, but it might be an important point of criticism for meticulous professionals.

Viewing angles HP ZBook 15 G2 QHD+ display
Viewing angles HP ZBook 15 G2 QHD+ display

Performance

We already mentioned in the introduction that HP offers countless configurability options. Starting with an Intel Core i5-4340M all the way up to the Intel Core i7-4910MQ you can choose between five different CPUs. They can be combined with four different graphics cards: Besides the Nvidia Quadro K610MK1100M and K2100M that were available so far, you can now get the AMD FirePro M5100 as well. The configurations are completed with up to 32 GB memory and different storage solutions, so there should be a suitable setup for every scenario.

System information HP ZBook 15

Processor

Stress test after 1 minute
Stress test after 1 minute
Stress test after 120 minutes
Stress test after 120 minutes
Small performance decrease on battery power
Small performance decrease on battery power

Intel's quad-core processor Core i7-4710MQ is used in many notebooks, which is a result of its good combination of performance and price. HP's online configurator actually lists the quad-core CPU for 62 Euros (~$76) less than the dual-core alternative Intel Core i5-4340M, which is pretty much an entry-level solution. Four cores that can execute up to eight threads simultaneously thanks to Hyper-Threading ensure a good distribution of the processing load in multi-thread optimized scenarios. The maximum clock of 3.5 GHz also ensures a good performance when the software can only utilize one of the cores.

The benchmark results are on the expected level and confirm that this CPU is a convenient performance all-rounder. Cinebench R15 64-bit, for example, determines 651 points (multi) and 136 points (single), respectively.

Under sustained load, the CPU reduces its clock from 3 GHz at the start to 2.5 - 2.6 GHz after 20 minutes. This value can be maintained even after two hours. You have to live with a CPU performance drop of 20 up to 25% on battery power in general. Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit, multi), for example, only determined 5.43 instead of 6.87 points.

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
11704
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
19368
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4917
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
11532 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
24653 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6511 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.87 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
70 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.53 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
136 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
651 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
69.96 fps
Help

System Performance

The mediocre system performance of our review unit is caused by the inexpensive entry-level configuration. It only uses a conventional hard drive with all the advantages and drawbacks. The slow access times and low transfer rates can be prevented with another model, during the configuration in the online configurator or by yourself after you purchase the device. The solution would be a fast Solid State Drive, which can be integrated as an M.2 drive or in the 2.5-inch bay (in this case it would replace the optical drive or the hard drive). Otherwise, the review unit is pretty well equipped and should be sufficient for many tasks. Our HP ZBook 15 G2 manages 3,314 points in the system benchmark PCMark 7 and 4,684 points in the Work test of PCMark 8.

PCMark 7 Score
3314 points
Help

Storage Devices

As mentioned in the System Performance section, the conventional hard drive is the bottleneck of the review configuration. The 750 GB Hitachi hard drive works with 5,400 rpm and reaches transfer rates of up to 108 MB/s. The access times are also longer than 15 ms. Arguments for the integration of such a storage solution would be the low price and the comparatively high capacity. If you can sacrifice a bit of both, then a Solid State Drive is the much faster alternative. You can either replace the existing hard drive or add an M.2 SSD. If you can waive the DVD burner, you can replace it with a modular bay and an integrated 2.5-inch drive as well.

HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
Transfer Rate Minimum: 44.4 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 108.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 80.4 MB/s
Access Time: 15.6 ms
Burst Rate: 229.3 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

Graphics

The revisited HP ZBook G2-series now also features graphics solutions from AMD. The HP ZBook 15 G2 uses the AMD FirePro M5100, which is an upper mainstream GPU. The dedicated GPU is principally complemented by the Intel HD Graphics 4600, which is integrated into the processor. However, the latter cannot drive the high resolution of the QHD+ display, so it is deactivated in our review configuration. 

The hardware of the AMD FirePro M5100 seems to be very similar to the AMD Radeon R9 M270 when we look at the specifications. The Cape Verde chip of our review unit is displayed as R9 M270x. It has 2 GB GDDR5 video memory, a 128-bit memory interface, 640 shader units and a clock of up to 775 MHz. Thanks to a special BIOS and optimized drivers the professional sibling of the consumer chip gets additional features. OpenGL-optimized applications in particular result in a significant performance increase. The stability in certified software is also supposed to be much better with FirePros compared to Radeons, an advantage that should not be underestimated in a working environment. In theory, the AMD FirePro M5100 can drive a total of 5 displays. AMD calls this technology Eyefinity. This means the user gets a lot of work space, which also improves the productivity in many areas. However, because of the limited ports, this does not really work in the case of the HP ZBook 15 G2 (up to 3 displays), but requires a corresponding docking solution. We did not test this feature.

If you prefer to use just one display, then you can drive an external display with a maximum resolution of up to 4096x2160 pixels thanks to the integrated DisplayPort 1.2. This alternative also offers a lot of space on the desktop but reduces the number of cables and devices on the desk noticeably.

The benchmarks SPECviewperf.11 and 12 test the graphics chips in combination with several professional applications. These SPEC tests have the goal to simulate a realistic scenario and use view sets (3D construction models) that differ in complexity and already have a data volume of several hundred MB. Among others, frame models, shaded objects or very detailed objects with millions of triangulation points are being used. While SPECviewperf.11 only used OpenGL tests, SPECviewperf now also features a DirectX test (Showcase) for the first time. Professional environments require a high geometry performance, high stability, a low error rate and high reliability in particular, so professional GPUs have their own BIOS and special drivers. Those can work differently compared to their GeForce and Radeon counterparts and can, contrary to the consumer versions, execute special OpenGL commands. Typical applications that benefit from these optimizations are represented by SPECviewperf.12. It covers scenarios like CAD, 3D design, 3D visualization, oil & gas exploration and a medical MRT. As usual, this benchmark is just an indicator for the possible performance in specific scenarios. The actual software, the used application version, the installed drivers and many more influences can change the real-world performance significantly.

The comparison with other AMD chips shows that the AMD FirePro M5100 is – as expected – faster than the AMD FirePro W4170M inside the Dell Precision M2800. The only exception is ProEngineer; otherwise, the differences are usually between 10 and 20%. Compared to the rivals from Nvidia, the AMD FirePro M5100 is pretty good as well and can surpass the direct rivals Nvidia Quadro K1100M and Quadro K2100M in all tests except for ProEngineer, TCVIS and CATIA.

A surprise is the new Maxwell chips in SPECviewper.12. Contrary to previous generations, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M and GTX 980M manage a huge performance increase in the professional tests. They even beat the high-end Quadro K5100M in Maya, the medical MRT, SolidWorks and the Energy test. However, the result is not really surprising in Showcase. It is a DirectX test, so it represents the raw performance.

SPECviewperf 11
1920x1080 Siemens NX (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
27.58 fps ∼20%
Dell Precision M2800
25.04 fps ∼18% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
23.62 fps ∼17% -14%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
30.48 fps ∼22% +11%
Dell Precision M6800
38.53 fps ∼27% +40%
Eurocom Panther 5
8.5 fps ∼6% -69%
1920x1080 Tcvis (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
21.79 fps ∼36%
Dell Precision M2800
9.81 fps ∼16% -55%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
27.62 fps ∼46% +27%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
35.1 fps ∼59% +61%
Dell Precision M6800
41.83 fps ∼70% +92%
Eurocom Panther 5D
50.28 fps ∼84% +131%
Eurocom Panther 5
2.3 fps ∼4% -89%
1920x1080 SolidWorks (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
54.15 fps ∼66%
Dell Precision M2800
47.75 fps ∼58% -12%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
36.26 fps ∼44% -33%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
42.18 fps ∼51% -22%
Dell Precision M6800
48.25 fps ∼58% -11%
Eurocom Panther 5D
58.12 fps ∼70% +7%
Eurocom Panther 5
16.2 fps ∼20% -70%
1920x1080 Pro/ENGINEER (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
10.38 fps ∼43%
Dell Precision M2800
11 fps ∼46% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
12.82 fps ∼53% +24%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
15.53 fps ∼65% +50%
Dell Precision M6800
18.27 fps ∼76% +76%
Eurocom Panther 5D
11.01 fps ∼46% +6%
Eurocom Panther 5
2.1 fps ∼9% -80%
1920x1080 Maya (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
75.28 fps ∼57%
Dell Precision M2800
68.39 fps ∼52% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
46.37 fps ∼35% -38%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
51.64 fps ∼39% -31%
Dell Precision M6800
54.89 fps ∼41% -27%
Eurocom Panther 5D
83.65 fps ∼63% +11%
Eurocom Panther 5
13.6 fps ∼10% -82%
1920x1080 Lightwave (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
77.46 fps ∼83%
Dell Precision M2800
71.61 fps ∼77% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
46.51 fps ∼50% -40%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
47.96 fps ∼51% -38%
Dell Precision M6800
50.95 fps ∼55% -34%
Eurocom Panther 5D
66.72 fps ∼72% -14%
Eurocom Panther 5
19.6 fps ∼21% -75%
1920x1080 Ensight (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
24.67 fps ∼12%
Dell Precision M2800
19.94 fps ∼10% -19%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
17.49 fps ∼8% -29%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
23.89 fps ∼11% -3%
Dell Precision M6800
34.18 fps ∼16% +39%
Eurocom Panther 5D
80.47 fps ∼38% +226%
Eurocom Panther 5
100 fps ∼48% +305%
1920x1080 Catia (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
36.35 fps ∼44%
Dell Precision M2800
26.24 fps ∼32% -28%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
30.91 fps ∼38% -15%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
41.31 fps ∼50% +14%
Dell Precision M6800
50.34 fps ∼61% +38%
Eurocom Panther 5D
63.92 fps ∼78% +76%
Eurocom Panther 5
18 fps ∼22% -50%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
 
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ128G8NU
 
Dell Precision M6800 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, WDC Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT-80PK4T0
 
Eurocom Panther 5D Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, Crucial M500 120 GB CT120M500SSD3
 
Eurocom Panther 5 Intel Core i7-4960X, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI,
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
39.85 fps ∼19%
Dell Precision M2800
37.52 fps ∼18% -6%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
31.6 fps ∼15% -21%
Eurocom Panther 5D
34.81 fps ∼16% -13%
Schenker XMG P505
35.27 fps ∼17% -11%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
41.56 fps ∼20% +4%
Eurocom X8
43.34 fps ∼20% +9%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
28.9 fps ∼11%
Dell Precision M2800
23.52 fps ∼9% -19%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
21.95 fps ∼9% -24%
Eurocom Panther 5D
85.3 fps ∼33% +195%
Schenker XMG P505
4.2 fps ∼2% -85%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
4.74 fps ∼2% -84%
Eurocom X8
4.89 fps ∼2% -83%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
15.47 fps ∼8%
Dell Precision M2800
12.75 fps ∼7% -18%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
10.61 fps ∼6% -31%
Eurocom Panther 5D
27 fps ∼14% +75%
Schenker XMG P505
34.62 fps ∼18% +124%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
47.02 fps ∼25% +204%
Eurocom X8
49.04 fps ∼26% +217%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
7.81 fps ∼9%
Dell Precision M2800
5.84 fps ∼7% -25%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
5.69 fps ∼7% -27%
Eurocom Panther 5D
13.26 fps ∼15% +70%
Schenker XMG P505
21.86 fps ∼25% +180%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
23.11 fps ∼27% +196%
Eurocom X8
24.66 fps ∼28% +216%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
25.5 fps ∼13%
Dell Precision M2800
22.75 fps ∼12% -11%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
17.77 fps ∼9% -30%
Eurocom Panther 5D
40.91 fps ∼21% +60%
Schenker XMG P505
52.75 fps ∼27% +107%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
83.74 fps ∼43% +228%
Eurocom X8
83.43 fps ∼43% +227%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
0.43 fps ∼2%
Dell Precision M2800
0.35 fps ∼1% -19%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
0.32 fps ∼1% -26%
Eurocom Panther 5D
1.76 fps ∼6% +309%
Schenker XMG P505
1.04 fps ∼4% +142%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
5.11 fps ∼18% +1088%
Eurocom X8
2.12 fps ∼8% +393%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
21.76 fps ∼14%
Dell Precision M2800
18.8 fps ∼12% -14%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
19.88 fps ∼12% -9%
Eurocom Panther 5D
37.95 fps ∼24% +74%
Schenker XMG P505
22.94 fps ∼14% +5%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
27.11 fps ∼17% +25%
Eurocom X8
28.18 fps ∼18% +30%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04) (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
23.03 fps ∼12%
Dell Precision M2800
19.33 fps ∼10% -16%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
21.2 fps ∼11% -8%
Eurocom Panther 5D
55.32 fps ∼28% +140%
Schenker XMG P505
30.84 fps ∼16% +34%
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator
40.9 fps ∼21% +78%
Eurocom X8
40.52 fps ∼21% +76%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ128G8NU
 
Dell Precision M6800 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, WDC Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT-80PK4T0
 
Eurocom Panther 5D Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M, Crucial M500 120 GB CT120M500SSD3
 
Schenker XMG P505 Intel Core i7-4870HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
 
Ibuypower GT72 Dominator Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M, ADATA Premier Pro SP900NS38 256 GB
 
Eurocom X8 Intel Core i7-4940MX, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 120GB mSATA

More scenarios where graphics chips become increasingly popular are financial analysis, complex light and shadow calculations (ray tracing), cryptography, picture and video editing as well as video conversions. AMD's solution can score in many of these areas and sometimes manage a clear lead over the Quadro rivals. Only the cryptography result of our review model is surprisingly bad for an AMD GPU. Even repeated runs didn't improve the result.

AMD GPUs still cannot really compete with Intel's Quick Sync video (only usable with the activated Intel HD Graphics), which is the leading technology when you want to convert different video formats. You can still benefit from a clear CPU relief with AMD's APP technology and therefore use the workstation for other tasks during the conversion process.

Cryptography
Cryptography
Financial analysis
Financial analysis
Image manipulation
Image manipulation
Video conversion
Video conversion

 

 

LuxMark v2.0 64Bit
Room GPUs-only (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
353 Samples/s ∼7%
Dell Precision M2800
256 Samples/s ∼5% -27%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
103 Samples/s ∼2% -71%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
73 Samples/s ∼1% -79%
Dell Precision M6800
210 Samples/s ∼4% -41%
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
138 Samples/s ∼3% -61%
Sala GPUs-only (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
641 Samples/s ∼6%
Dell Precision M2800
462 Samples/s ∼4% -28%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
48 Samples/s ∼0% -93%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
154 Samples/s ∼1% -76%
Dell Precision M6800
96 Samples/s ∼1% -85%
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
305 Samples/s ∼3% -52%
Unigine Heaven 3.0
1920x1080 OpenGL, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
23.7 fps ∼14%
Dell Precision M2800
17.6 fps ∼10% -26%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
17.4 fps ∼10% -27%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
21.1 fps ∼12% -11%
Dell Precision M6800
33.3 fps ∼19% +41%
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
47.6 fps ∼28% +101%
1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
27 fps ∼10%
Dell Precision M2800
22.4 fps ∼8% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
17.5 fps ∼7% -35%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
22.8 fps ∼8% -16%
Dell Precision M6800
34.8 fps ∼13% +29%
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
48.1 fps ∼18% +78%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
 
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ128G8NU
 
Dell Precision M6800 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, WDC Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT-80PK4T0
 
MSI GT70-20Li716121B Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP

Since they usually use the more powerful hardware, AMD's professional graphics solutions traditionally perform very well with DirectX applications that are dominant when you leave the professional environment. The performance is roughly on a level with the AMD Radeon HD 8870M. The direct rivals Nvidia Quadro K1100M and Quadro K2100M can easily be surpassed in the 3DMark (2013) GPU score. This also applies for the tessellation performance in the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark, where you need at least an Nvidia Quadro K3100M to beat the AMD FirePro M5100.

Neither the operation on battery power nor under continuous maximum load resulted in a reduced clock according to the hardware tools. Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL Shading shows 68 fps on battery power instead of 70 fps, so the result is almost identical.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
2297 Points ∼6%
Dell Precision M2800
1766 Points ∼4% -23%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
1259 Points ∼3% -45%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
1709 Points ∼4% -26%
Dell Precision M6800
2381 Points ∼6% +4%
Schenker XMG P505
7268 Points ∼18% +216%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
16349 Points ∼9%
Dell Precision M2800
12506 Points ∼7% -24%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
6678 Points ∼4% -59%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
11756 Points ∼6% -28%
Dell Precision M6800
18389 Points ∼10% +12%
Schenker XMG P505
46670 Points ∼25% +185%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP ZBook 15 G2
153044 Points ∼20%
Dell Precision M2800
93515 Points ∼12% -39%
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW
28451 Points ∼4% -81%
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P
65804 Points ∼9% -57%
Dell Precision M6800
115455 Points ∼15% -25%
Schenker XMG P505
86071 Points ∼11% -44%

Legend

 
HP ZBook 15 G2 Intel Core i7-4710MQ, AMD FirePro M5100, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
 
Dell Precision M2800 Intel Core i7-4810MQ, AMD FirePro W4170M, SK hynix SH920
 
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 20BGCTO1WW Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
 
MSI WS60 2OJ8H11W7P Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ128G8NU
 
Dell Precision M6800 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K3100M, WDC Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT-80PK4T0
 
Schenker XMG P505 Intel Core i7-4870HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU256HCGL
3DMark 06 Standard
18717 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
12308 points
3DMark 11 Performance
3333 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
99576 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
12526 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
2197 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Even though the professional GPUs are not designed for gaming, they can still be used to play games. The performance is usually similar to the consumer counterparts since the DirectX capabilities are not affected. This means mobile workstations are usually sufficient for the occasional game. However, not even the top versions can replace a real gaming chip. The performance of the AMD FirePro M5100 is sufficient for high and sometimes the highest settings in our tested titles. Only Company of Heroes 2 required some quality reductions.

low med. high ultra
World of Warcraft (2005) 382 248 79 34 fps
Batman: Arkham City (2011) 188 150 72 35 fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 199 91 54 25 fps
Diablo III (2012) 195 134 105 67 fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 143 108 47 13 fps
Torchlight 2 (2012) 130 125 107 fps
F1 2012 (2012) 182 149 137 72 fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 79 68 34 16 fps
Assassin´s Creed III (2012) 47 44 19 fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 172 82 57 26 fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 80 73 62 21 fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 85 61 42 19.6 fps
GRID 2 (2013) 162 115 86 55 fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 49 42 24 9 fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 102 98 42 25 fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 118 90 76 12 fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 213 101 44 26 fps

We also tried some titles with a higher resolution (2048x1538 pixels) and medium details. While GRID Autosport and World of Warcraft ran pretty well with these settings, the result was borderline in Hitman: Absolution and Metro Last Light. However, you should be able to play these titles smoothly when you reduce the effects a bit.

Resolution, Quality

World of Warcraft GRID Autosport Metro LL Hitman Absolution

2048x1538, medium preset

105 fps 49 fps 27 fps 32 fps

3200x1800, medium preset

120 fps n.a. n.a. 19 fps

Emissions

System Noise

The device is almost exemplary in terms of noise development. You can only hear the quiet sound of the hard drive motor with 29.2 dB(A) during light workloads, and this could be easily changed with a Solid State Drive. The cooling solution is also pretty restrained with medium workloads and reaches a system noise of 36.8 dB(A). Maximum load finally resulted in 41.2 dB(A). The fan control is very convenient at these higher stages. Short peak load usually doesn't lead to an immediate rpm increase. Instead, the fans will only spin faster after a couple of minutes. The fan control is quicker after the load is reduced and quickly decreases the fan speed again. We did not notice inconvenient or high-frequency noises from our review unit.

Noise Level

Idle
29.2 / 29.2 / 29.2 dB(A)
HDD
29.2 dB(A)
DVD
37 / dB(A)
Load
36.8 / 41.2 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   PCE-322A (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The case surface reaches up to 45.7 °C at the left bottom after continuous load for 120 minutes. This is the area around the fan exhaust, where the heat from the other case areas is dissipated. The maximum temperature is lower at the top with up to 38.3 °C. Those values are not critical for a workstation, especially if you plan to use the notebook as a stationary device on a desk. However, we could measure a pretty critical 62.2 °C at the fan exhaust itself. This can be uncomfortable for the hand if you accidentally touch this spot. Otherwise, there shouldn't be any restrictions. As we already mentioned in the Performance section, both the CPU and GPU can maintain their performance even after 120 minutes.

Max. Load
 35.6 °C
96 F
31 °C
88 F
29.1 °C
84 F
 
 38.3 °C
101 F
43.5 °C
110 F
30.2 °C
86 F
 
 34.2 °C
94 F
34.7 °C
94 F
32.2 °C
90 F
 
Maximum: 43.5 °C = 110 F
Average: 34.3 °C = 94 F
31.7 °C
89 F
41.6 °C
107 F
44.3 °C
112 F
33.4 °C
92 F
40 °C
104 F
45.7 °C
114 F
32.6 °C
91 F
39.4 °C
103 F
44.7 °C
112 F
Maximum: 45.7 °C = 114 F
Average: 39.3 °C = 103 F
Power Supply (max.)  61.5 °C = 143 F | Room Temperature 20 °C = 68 F | Fennel Firt 550
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 34.3 °C / 94 F, compared to the average of 31.2 °C / 88 F for the devices in the class Workstation.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 43.5 °C / 110 F, compared to the average of 37.2 °C / 99 F, ranging from 22.2 to 69.8 °C for the class Workstation.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 45.7 °C / 114 F, compared to the average of 40.4 °C / 105 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 25.9 °C / 79 F, compared to the device average of 31.2 °C / 88 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (34.7 °C / 94.5 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 27.8 °C / 82 F (-6.9 °C / -12.5 F).

Energy Management

Power Consumption

A large part of the power consumption of the HP ZBook 15 with DreamColor display was caused by the screen. Even the minimum consumption was at 20 Watts, where more than 9 Watts (minimum brightness) were consumed by the display. The current review unit with a QHD+ display has a much smaller effect with around 2 Watts (minimum brightness) at a minimum overall consumption of 11.3 Watts. This value is higher with the high-performance energy profile at 15.5 Watts with all wireless modules activated and the maximum display brightness.

We measured 78.9 Watts with medium workloads and almost 130 Watts under maximum load for the CPU and GPU. The power adaptor has a nominal output of 150 Watts and therefore sufficient headroom. More powerful configurations of the ZBook 17 are shipped with a 200 Watts power adaptor. 

Similar to the DreamColor configuration, the current ZBook 15 G2 also has a 75 Wh battery that is designed for longevity. There is also the optional more powerful 83 Wh battery with a normal lifespan. A special feature of the ZBook-series is the external batteries that can be attached at the bottom of the device. They complement the standard battery as a secondary battery and can increase the runtimes significantly. They obviously increase the weight as well, but this is not the most important aspect for this device and performance class. You can choose between the HP ST09 Extended Life notebook battery with 73 Wh and the HP BB09 notebook battery for very long battery runtimes with a capacity of 100 Wh. The prices for both batteries are currently around 160 Euros (~$198).

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.3 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 11.3 / 14.4 / 15.5 Watt
Load midlight 78.9 / 129.3 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 870 ISO kalibriert

Battery Runtime

Even the "smaller" 73 Wh battery manages respectable battery runtimes, which should reach around 4 hours during "normal" use. We performed the WLAN and Video test with the energy-saving mode and a display brightness of 150 cd/m² (setting 16). Compared to the configuration with the DreamColor display, we can see twice the runtimes. The main task of this device class, however, will drain the battery very quickly. We used the SPECviewperf.11 (maximum display brightness, all wireless modules active, high-performance profile) to simulate this scenario and ran it until the device shut down. The result was a bit more than one hour.

Battery Eater Reader's Test
Battery Eater Reader's Test
Video Test
Video Test
WLAN Test
WLAN Test
SPECviewperf Test
SPECviewperf Test
Battery Eater Classic Test
Battery Eater Classic Test
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 50min
WiFi Surfing
4h 22min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
3h 42min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 04min

Verdict

HP introduced some interesting new features for the ZBook 15 with the addition G2. While the case, the ports, the input devices and the good expandability didn't require any changes, the new configuration options are nice additions for the targeted customers. 

The very good QHD+ display is pretty much on a level with the Full HD IPS panel in terms of specifications, but obviously it has the advantage of the much higher resolution. Color accuracy, contrast, viewing-angle stability and brightness are without a doubt very good for a notebook and should be sufficient for many professional tasks.

The second core element of this review is the attractively-priced AMD FirePro M5100 GPU. This solution does not have to hide behind the alternatives from Nvidia, despite the price differences. Quite the contrary: It usually performs very well and is only beaten by the direct rivals in some tasks.

HP did not change the convenient cooling concept of the ZBook 15, which is only noticeable if you need the corresponding performance. This means the emissions are moderate in every situation and should meet almost all expectations.

The only aspect that leaves mixed impressions is the current pricing concept, especially in the online configurator. Considering the pre-configured systems, there are some additional charges that are just not comprehensible, and they could almost be called horrendous in comparison with the competition. We were not able to clarify if there was a mistake with the pricing before we hit the deadline for this review.

Read all 5 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
In review: HP ZBook 15 G2. Test model courtesy of HP Germany.
In review: HP ZBook 15 G2. Test model courtesy of HP Germany.

Specifications

HP ZBook 15 G2 (ZBook 15u G4 Series)
Graphics adapter
AMD FirePro M5100 - 2048 MB, Core: 775 MHz, Memory: 1125 MHz
Memory
8192 MB 
, 2x 4 GB PC3-12800, 2 slots empty, up to 32 GB
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 3200 x 1800 pixel, Sharp SHP141C, UWVA LED, 81% sRGB, 60% AdobeRGB, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel QM87 (Lynx Point)
Storage
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680, 750 GB 
, 5400 rpm
Soundcard
Realtek ALC280 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 1 USB 2.0, 3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: combined audio in/out, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC, 1 SmartCard
Networking
Intel I217-LM Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000/2500/5000MBit/s), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
HP DVDRAM GU90N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 31 x 382 x 257 ( = 1.22 x 15.04 x 10.12 in)
Battery
75 Wh Lithium-Ion, 14.4V
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: DTS Studio Sound HD-Audio, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 36 Months Warranty
Weight
3.06 kg ( = 107.94 oz / 6.75 pounds), Power Supply: 730 g ( = 25.75 oz / 1.61 pounds)
Price
2700 Euro

 

The HP ZBook 15 G2 is the new member...
The HP ZBook 15 G2 is the new member...
...of the ZBook 15-series.
...of the ZBook 15-series.
Important elements did not change and represent the convenient basis.
Important elements did not change and represent the convenient basis.
This includes the case, input devices, ports as well as the exemplary expandability.
This includes the case, input devices, ports as well as the exemplary expandability.
The concept means you don't get a thin ultrabook,...
The concept means you don't get a thin ultrabook,...
...which is apparent when you look at the dimensions and the weight.
...which is apparent when you look at the dimensions and the weight.
However, you get numerous ports,...
However, you get numerous ports,...
...a robust chassis...
...a robust chassis...
...and a powerful cooling solution.
...and a powerful cooling solution.
The ports at the case...
The ports at the case...
...cover many potential requirements...
...cover many potential requirements...
...and can also be expanded by a docking station.
...and can also be expanded by a docking station.
You can equip the device with many displays...
You can equip the device with many displays...
...and every user should find the right panel.
...and every user should find the right panel.
Very interesting is the wide gamut DreamColor display and the reviewed QHD+ display.
Very interesting is the wide gamut DreamColor display and the reviewed QHD+ display.
The batteries of the ZBook 15 and 17 are almost identical and are exchangeable.
The batteries of the ZBook 15 and 17 are almost identical and are exchangeable.
External displays can be attached via DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 2 (MiniDP) or VGA.
External displays can be attached via DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 2 (MiniDP) or VGA.
DisplayPort 1.2 supports external displays with up to 4096x2160 pixels.
DisplayPort 1.2 supports external displays with up to 4096x2160 pixels.
The size difference between the HP ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 is pretty moderate.
The size difference between the HP ZBook 15 and ZBook 17 is pretty moderate.
The space advantage is more noticeable inside the chassis...
The space advantage is more noticeable inside the chassis...
...if you look at the expandability.
...if you look at the expandability.
Thanks to the better cooling solution, the bigger version can handle more powerful components.
Thanks to the better cooling solution, the bigger version can handle more powerful components.
But the HP ZBook 15 G2 is already very fast and should be sufficient for many tasks.
But the HP ZBook 15 G2 is already very fast and should be sufficient for many tasks.
While the port layout differs, the ports themselves are pretty much identical.
While the port layout differs, the ports themselves are pretty much identical.
The choice basically comes down to your personal needs and the available components. A QHD+ panel, for example, is not available for the 17-inch version.
The choice basically comes down to your personal needs and the available components. A QHD+ panel, for example, is not available for the 17-inch version.
Most configuration of the HP ZBook 15 G2 use the smaller 150-Watts power adaptor.
Most configuration of the HP ZBook 15 G2 use the smaller 150-Watts power adaptor.

Similar Laptops

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Review
FirePro M5100, Core i7 4910MQ
HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Long-Term Review
FirePro M5100, Core i7 4910MQ

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

HP ZBook Studio G5 (i7, P1000, 4K) Workstation Review
Quadro P1000, Core i7 8750H, 15.6", 2.091 kg
HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 (i7, P1000, FHD) Workstation Review
Quadro P1000, Core i7 8750H, 15.6", 2.352 kg
HP ZBook 14u G5 (i7-8550U, Pro WX 3100) Workstation Review
Radeon Pro WX 3100, Kaby Lake Refresh 8550U, 14", 1.576 kg

Links

Compare Prices

Pros

+Display
+Emissions
+GPU performance
+CPU performance
+Ports
+Expandability
+Chassis
+Configurability
+Warranty period
+System-specific accessories
 

Cons

-Price
-Weight
-Storage performance (review configuration)

Shortcut

What we like

That HP now integrates previously missing features and now offers very comprehensive configuration options. There should be a suitable system for every scenario. We obviously also still like the case, the input devices and the exemplary expandability. Great.

What we'd like to see

More practice-oriented standard configurations, a more comprehensible price structure in the online store and additional prices for storage and memory options that are in line with the market.

What surprises us

That HP only now offers a high-resolution display and AMD's FirePro M5100.

The competition

Dell Precision M2800

Dell Precision M4800

Dell Precision M3800

HP ZBook 15 (G1)

Lenovo ThinkPad W540

Toshiba Tecra W50

MSI WS60

Fujitsu Celsius H730 (not yet reviewed)

Rating

HP ZBook 15 G2 - 03/17/2016 v5(old)
Tobias Winkler

Chassis
91 / 98 → 93%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
64 / 81 → 79%
Weight
56 / 10-66 → 82%
Battery
86%
Display
88%
Games Performance
89%
Application Performance
87%
Temperature
89 / 95 → 94%
Noise
93 / 90 → 100%
Audio
46%
Camera
24 / 85 → 28%
Add Points
+1%
Average
70%
82%
Workstation - Weighted Average
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > HP ZBook 15 G2 Workstation Review
Tobias Winkler, 2014-12- 9 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.