HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 review: A simply fantastic mobile workstation for creators

Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech

HP made something amazing in the ZBook Studio x360 G5 and creators will love it.

TA-ratings-95

November and December have been excellent for me in terms of testing laptops. I’ve had several premium models in my hands and it’s been a pleasure using them all. The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 was particularly fun to use. Not only because it goes toe-to-toe with the competition but because it’s an absolutely stunning piece of craftsmanship.

The various laptops I’ve tested over the past few months all have similar specs and were all excellent at performing. The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5, besides having the longest name, was by far the best looking of the bunch. The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is without a doubt, a creators workstation. Not only are we awarding this ZBook a Top Pick for 2018 but we’re also adding it to our Editor’s Choice picks for Q4 2018. Read on for the full review of the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 laptop!

Specifications

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 we reviewed has the following features and specifications:

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
  • CPU: Intel® Xeon® E-2186M (2.9 GHz, up to 4.8 GHz with Turbo Boost, 12MB cache, 6 core)
  • GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics, dedicated NVIDIA QUADRO P1000 (4GB DDR5)
  • RAM: 32 GB DDR4-2666 MHz ECC
  • Storage: 1 TB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
  • Display: 15.6″ diagonal 4K IPS eDP LED-backlit touch screen with Gorilla Glass 4 and ambient light sensor, 400 cd/m2 (3840×2160) @378 nits
  • I/O
    • Headphone/microphone combo port
    • Barrel style power port
    • HDMI 1.4
    • 2x USB 3.1 Type-A
    • 2x USB 3.1 Type-C
    • Micro SIM card slot
    • Security cable slot
    • Memory Card reader
  • Audio: Bang & Olufsen, quad stereo speakers
  • Keyboard: Backlit with function key row
  • Battery: HP Long Life 4-cell, 70 Wh Li-ion polymer (up to 10 hours battery life)
  • Dimensions: 14.17 x 9.65 x 0.8″ (W x D x H)
  • Weight: 4.99 lbs

What’s In The Box

  • HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 laptop
  • Power supply and cable
  • HP Wacom AES Pen2 (optional)
  • Thunderbolt Dock with B&O Audio (optional)
  • Documentation and manuals
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Design

When I reviewed the HP ZBook X2 G4, I was thoroughly impressed with the design of that convertible. HP really put some thought into what that machine should look like. I’m pleased to say that they put just as much effort, if not more, into the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5. The ZBook Studio x360 G5 is an amazing piece of aesthetic design. I understand that not everyone cares this deeply about how their laptop looks but for those who do, you will not be disappointed in this design.

First, let’s get the elephant in the room addressed. The weight of this laptop is slightly more than the competition. Coming in at nearly 5 lbs it’s easily a pound to a pound and a half heavier than some of its competitors. This is mostly due to its all-metal construction — which is part of its appeal, at least for me. I don’t think the weight is a deal breaker but some may prefer a lighter option.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
I love this design and build quality.

As I mentioned, the whole laptop is made of metal with very nice polished accents. I’m a fan of the cut corners on the back end of the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5. I also like that they only did this on the back and not the front. It’s a nice little aesthetic touch. The build quality is impeccable and the materials used throughout the build are as premium as you’ll find anywhere.

The bottom of the Studio x360 G5 is as plain as you’ll find on any other laptop. There’s a very nice vent which is both long and wide, plus two other smaller vents at the sides. The bottom also has two very long feet which give the laptop a decent amount of room for venting. The bottom is held together with 9 T8 screws that are removable. You can add a second SSD to this system if you’d like, or order it through HP. It’s worth noting that this is a PCIe NVMe TLC SSD setup so your 2.5″ SSD’s won’t fit.

The lid of the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is fairly plain. The HP logo is slick though, I love the new look. The front edge has a nice polished finish to it as does the back edge. The back edge has “Mobile Workstation” branding across the edge. It’s subtle though, very clean and well done, not gaudy at all.

Now, on too the inputs and outputs. Along the right side of the Studio x360 G5 is the SD Card reader, the headphone jack, another vent for cooling, HDMI port, two USB Type-C ports, power port, and LED battery indicator.

Along the left side of the Studio x360 G5, you’ll find two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, Micro SIM card slot, security cable slot, another vent, and the power button. Yes, the power button is on the side. This is done so you can use the laptop in tablet mode and still power it on and off easily.

Since this is a “360” laptop, that means you can use it in a variety of modes. Laptop (of course), tablet mode, tent mode, and presentation mode. This isn’t a new concept, it’s been around for a some time now and I think most of us are used to it.

Opening up the laptop you’re greeted with just an amazing looking glass panel, more on the display in the next section. The keyboard and trackpad are full size and wonderful. The keyboard is comfortable to type on and has a good amount of travel. It is also backlit. The trackpad is smooth and silky and works well. Gestures work great on it:

  • Tap or double-tap to select
  • Two-finger pinch to zoom
  • One-finger slide
  • Two-finger slide
  • Two-finger tap
  • Three-finger swipe
  • Four-finger tap

Some of those gestures only work on the trackpad and not on the touch display.

The quad-stereo speakers by Bang & Olufsen are also located above the keyboard. Yes! Top mounted speakers! More on that later. Overall, the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is a gorgeous piece of art any creator would love to own.

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Display

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 sent to us came with HP’s 15.6″ diagonal 4K (3840×2160) IPS eDP LED-backlit touch screen with Gorilla Glass 4 and ambient light sensor, 400 cd/m2 at 378 nits. HP has a large number of ways you can configure this panel. From Full HD all the way to 4K with some features in-between.

One feature you can get with HP displays is Sure View. Sure View allows you to push a button and create a privacy screen. Basically, the display is much harder to view at an angle giving you better privacy when needed. You can still see it perfectly fine straight on so someone behind you can still view the screen. It’s a neat feature and a nice touch not having to use a separate privacy screen.

The most impressive feature, in my estimation, is the nit rating of this panel. Coming in at 400 nits, this makes this HP panel one of the (if not the) brightest laptop panel on the market and that’s fantastic. I love the brightness here. Maybe it’s because I’m going blind or something but brightness matters to me. Not only for outdoor use, which this laptop does phenomenally, but just in general. If you want a bright display, you won’t be disappointed here. If you’re brave and can afford it, HP also offers panels with 600 and 650 nits respectively.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
Just a fantastic display!

This display is glossy but with that 400 nit brightness, the viewing angles are fantastic. The display delivers 135% of sRGB and the colors are brilliant here. Contrast is spot on black and whites are clean and crisp. This display is calibrated with content creators in mind. So it will deliver color accuracy for videographers and photographers.

Touch responsiveness for your fingers was also excellent. Scrolling and gestures all worked fluidly and without stuttering or lag. Touch points were all precise, no odd tapping off to the side to register input.

Overall, this 4K display’s premier features are its 400 nit brightness, 135% sRGB, and color accuracy. This is really meant for those who work with photos, videos, and artwork. Those needing clarity, color accuracy, and resolution.

Software/Ecosystem

Like most PC’s, our HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 came loaded with Windows 10 Pro. Not much to see or talk about there, if you’re familiar with Windows it’s more of the same.

I’ve mentioned bloatware in the past, and that’s from most PC makers. This HP laptop comes with little to no bloatware, which is fantastic. It does come with some of HP’s security software features though. I wouldn’t call these bloatware as they do serve a good purpose in the overall health and use of the machine.

  • HP Sure Start: Self-heals BIOS from malware, rootkits, and corruption
  • HP Sure View: Protect your company from visual hacking (optional)
  • HP Multi-Factor Authenticate: Makes your login a million times more secure, hardened protection at the silicon level

Overall, Windows 10 Pro is great, it has its quirks and Microsoft can do silly things from time to time but it’s still the best Windows to date. Love that there’s little to no bloatware. Security features are useful and not overdone.

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Performance

Our HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 came with an Intel Xeon E-2186M (2.9 GHz, up to 4.8 GHz with Turbo Boost, 12MB cache, 6 core), integrated Intel HD graphics, dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P1000 graphics, and 32 GB of RAM. Yes, beast specs for beast work. These aren’t specs for the normal user at all and it is much more than most will ever use. But for content creators, it’s perfect. There are other configurations you can go with to bring the price up or even down.

The day-to-days work fine here, that’s a given with these specs. Web browsing, email, word processing, content streaming, music, all worked very well without issue. But those menial tasks are nothing for this machine and while it can do these, it was built for so much more.

What about heavier tasks like Premiere Pro, Lightroom, and Photoshop? This is the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5’s bread and butter. This is what it was made to do. There are other heavier art type software that can be used to utilize the HP Wacom Pen 2, but I did not use those. I stuck with what I know for photography and video.

Working on 4K video in Premiere Pro with multiple files open was great. Nothing lagged and I was also able to have Photoshop open working on images while video rendered. The fans do kick in when the system is under load but that’s perfectly normal. You can’t expect to put a huge load on it and not have a need to cool the CPU and GPU down. The chassis did get a bit warm but not so hot that it was uncomfortable. This laptop muscled through everything I could throw at it without a problem. My workflow may be different from others so perhaps, at some point, you’ll see the performance slow.

Overall, the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is one solid performer and simply excellent for content creators who need solid power and muscle.

HP Studio x360 G5
The Bang & Olufsen speakers are some of the best on any laptop I’ve used.

Speakers/Sound

I generally don’t have a lot of good to say about laptop speakers. Most of them are tinny, thin, lack bass response and spatial quality. Not so of the quad-stereo Bang & Olufsen speakers included on this laptop.

These speakers are fantastic for laptop speakers. No, they’re never going to replace a great pair of headphones. But for what they are, they are excellent. They deliver much more bass response than most laptops I’ve used. There is spatial clarity when listening to music, meaning you can hear different instruments and not just a muddy mess. They also get decently loud.

You also get a built-in EQ from Bang & Olufsen to tune the sound further, a nice touch.o HP has definitely gone the extra mile when it comes to sound here.

Overall, these are some of the best speakers on a laptop I’ve ever heard to date.

Camera

The 720p camera on this laptop is decent. It’s not much better than most other 720p cameras but it gets the job done. It’s good enough for video conferencing and all the things you’d expect from a webcam. I will say, for the price of a machine like this, the camera should be better. Not much more to say than that.

Battery Life

Battery life will vary and HP says they target 14-hours of life for normal use. This is going to depend largely on what your settings are and if you use any power saving settings. I do not and I like my panel at full brightness. I generally got between 8.5 to 9 hours of battery life in normal day-to-day use with my settings. Battery life is severly drained when using power heavy apps like Adobe CC, but that’s to be expected.

Overall, the battery life is acceptable given the specs of the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5.

Accessories

HP Wacom AES Pen2

Since the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 can work as a tablet the display is touch capable. The Studio x360 G5 also comes with an optional HP Wacom AES Pen2 for those artists out there. I’m not much of a painter or sketcher but I did use the pen for a bit. It’s comfortable in the hand and comes with a USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable for charging. The sensitivity of the pen feels good, input was spot on and there was no noticeable lag when drawing. The pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, I suspect artists will enjoy using this.

Optional Thunderbolt Dock w/Audio

HP sent along their optional Thunderbolt Dock with audio, this is an extra $296USD should you opt for it. While the laptop has plenty of I/O, for those who’d rather keep their cable management under control and out of the way, the dock may be a good option.

It’s an interesting cubed shape dock and has plenty of extra I/O for power users. The Bang & Olufsen speaker comes in a separate box and has to be attached to the top and secured with a screw. You’ll get the following I/O on this dock:

  • 3x USB 3.1 Type-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 3x USB 3.0 Type A ports
  • 2x DisplayPorts
  • VGA port
  • RJ45 Ethernet port
  • Headphone jack

The B & O speaker is actually really great. It more than doubles the sound of the laptop speakers and sounds great doing it. It gives you better bass response and spatial clarity as well. It also has the echo-cancelling mic that the laptop has and comes with the buttons for answering calls and hanging up. There are also volume buttons on top.

This is a nice add-on if you can budget the extra money for it. Overall, this is more of a perk and not really necessary unless you need more I/O and want better sound.

Plenty of I/O on the optional Thunderbolt dock.

Price/Value

Holy price tag. You didn’t think you’d get all of this for a small price did you? The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 will start you off at just under US$2,000. As tested, our review unit will set you back around $2,799.99. Of course, with the customizable options, you can be well north of $10,000 for this beast of a machine. With current savings, a maxed out system is currently on sale for just over $7,000 without extended warranty or additional software.

This is far more than any regular consumer needs to pay and far more machine than any consumer needs to use. This is a professional machine intended for pros to use and in that regard, it holds its own against the other machines in this class.

I think there is tremendous value here for the content creator professional. HP has really concentrated on making content creators worry less about their machines performance and given them the tools to concentrate on their creations.

Wrap Up

This machine is expensive. If you’re a regular consumer and have this sort of money to spend then go for it. But if you’re just looking for a basic laptop, this isn’t it. No, this is for pros and pros alone. While it is pricey, it’s priced right for its category and for its intended audience. Content creators: this is most certainly a machine you should consider as your next tool.

*We received a review unit of the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 for the purposes of this review.

HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

US$1,999+
9.5

Design

10.0/10

Display

10.0/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

9.5/10

Camera

8.5/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Accessories

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Slick and sexy design
  • Build quality is amazing
  • The 4K display is stunning
  • Great Windows 10 experience
  • Solid performance for content creation
  • Banging speakers
  • Good battery life
  • Priced competitively

Needs work

  • Slightly heavier than other laptops
  • Standard webcam
  • Price may be high for some

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