HP ZBook 17 G6 review – 100% workstation experience with upgradable graphics

Okay guys, today we have a machine that we simply cannot joke about. If you are in desperate need of a mobile workstation with extreme performance onboard and you don’t want to hear about no desktop computers – you, friend, are at the right place. Forget everything about Dell’s XPS series, ASUS’ latest ROG laptops or even the ThinkPad series, because now we are getting serious.

The ZBook 17 G6 that we have with us is equipped with the eight-core Core i9-9880H processor from Intel, while the manufacturer also offers it with the Xeon E 2286M. Yes, we have already seen Core i9-9880H on some laptops (pretty thin in fact). However, you won’t see a Quadro RTX 5000 on every notebook out there. Sadly, we were only able to get our hands on an RTX 3000 model, but you will be impressed with its performance. Moreover, there are the options for ECC memory, a 4K panel and more. Not to mention the mandatory security software features of the high-end business HP laptops.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/hp-zbook-17-g6/

Contents


Specs Sheet

HP ZBook 17 G6 - Specs

  • AUO B173HAN01.0
  • Color accuracy  1.8
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 6000GB SSD + up to 1000GB HDD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 2x 2280 PCIe NVMe 
  • RAM
  • up to 64GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Battery
  • 95.6Wh, 6-cell, 96Wh, 6-cell
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum
  • Dimensions
  • 416 x 288 x 33 mm (16.38" x 11.34" x 1.30")
  • Weight
  • 3.20 kg (7.1 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 2x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • 2.0
  • Displayport mini
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.0
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5 mm combo
  • Smart Card Reader
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • Full HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Speakers
  • 2x Stereo Speakers, Bang & Olufsen
  • Optical drive
  • optional
  • Security Lock slot

What’s in the box?

We have to note that the packaging this laptop came in was pretty heavy. Inside the box we found two sections – the first one comprises the laptop and all of its protection and stuff, while the other represents a box, which contains the 200W power brick, some paper manuals, as well as an original Windows 10 Pro copy and a drivers disk, and a tray for using the optical drive as a SATA drive expansion.

Design and construction

This behemoth is a mix of metal and plastic all around. In order to house all of the killer hardware, you need a lot (and we mean A LOT) of space inside. So the new 2019-style clamshells won’t do the job. You need a proper space – 33 mm thick for example. In addition to that, the laptop weighs 3.20 kg, which is actually not that much, given the footprint of the device.

Expectedly, you can open the lid with a single hand fairly easily. Its display has pretty thick bezels. On the bright side, the top one is home to the camera and the duo of IR face recognition sensors.

Then, at the base, you can find the speakers, which are hidden beneath the rather long grill above the keyboard. They have a Bang and Olufsen branding, so one should expect pretty nice quality sound. Further below, there is the spill-resistant, backlit keyboard, which looks pretty standard. On the downside, the arrow keys have a weird layout, which could have been improved, given the amount of space, HP had at their disposal.

Nevertheless, the keyboard is very comfortable to use with its good key travel and clicky feedback. Obviously, it features a nipple, that deforms the “G”, “H” and “B” keys. It also has its own dedicated keys above the touchpad, which on the other side (literally) has a set of buttons as well. We found the trackpad to be nimble and accurate, with its gliding being effortless, thanks to the glass finish. Additionally, there is an NFC antenna placed underneath the touchpad.

On the bottom side, you can only see ventilation grills. By the way, HP has retained the rarely seen nowadays service lid. With the flick of a switch, you have access to all of the upgradable features of this notebook.

Ports

In terms of the, I/O this laptop will certainly save you some money for a dock. On the left side, there is an RJ-45 connector, as well as three USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports (one of them can be used for charging a smartphone for example. Furthermore, there is an SD card slot and a Smart Card reader. Then on the right, you will see the charging plug, two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 connectors, a Mini DisplayPort, a full-sized HDMI connector, an audio combo jack, as well as an optical drive. By the way, inside the box, there is a tray for adding another SATA drive, in the place of the optical drive.


Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

As we mentioned, you only need to remove the service panel by moving the switch to the right. After that, you will be able to change almost everything you will possibly need. However, if you would like to do some repair on this machine, you have to take the entire bottom panel off. Sadly, we were not able to do it, because some of the screws were severely overtightened and we risked damaging the screws (and still not being able to remove them), so we backed off.

Nevertheless, we were able to find a representable image from HP, which shows the cooling setup of this laptop. Frankly, it looks pretty similar to the gaming laptops of the world, with the manufacturer using two rather big metal plates and two heat pipes. Moreover, the fans have quite the bulk, which ensures a good airflow.

Depending on the processor, you have the option of ECC memory and memory that goes up to 128GB. Additionally, there are two M.2 NVMe slots, as well as two SATA drive slots, one of which is unclocked when you remove the optical drive from the system.

Lastly, HP has included a pretty beefy battery inside this machine – 95.6Wh.


Display quality

HP ZBook 17 G6 is equipped with a Full HD IPS screen, model number AUO B173HAN01.0 (AUO109D). Its diagonal is 17.3″ (43.94 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 127 ppi, their pitch – 0.1995 x 0.1995 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 69 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Its viewing angles are comfortable. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.

The maximum measured brightness is relatively high – 300 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 306 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 9%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 7260K (average) – colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB. The average color temperature through the grey scale before profiling is 7060K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 73% Brightness (White level = 142 cd/m2, Black level = 0.11 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1300:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows HP ZBook 17 G6’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 93% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976, which provides a vibrant and punchy image.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of HP ZBook 17 G6 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 23 ms.


Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

HP ZBook 17 G6’s display doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment. This makes it comfortable for long working periods, without being harmful to your eyes in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusions

HP ZBook 17 G6’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution with a good contrast ratio and comfortable viewing angles. Moreover, it covers 93% of sRGB and it doesn’t flicker at any brightness level. What is interesting about it, is that with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile, it can be used for Web design work, thanks to the accuracy of the colors it produces.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for HP ZBook 17 G6 configurations with 17.3″ AUO B173HAN01.0 (AUO109D) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Sound

HP ZBook 17 G6 features premium Band & Olufsen speakers that produce a very loud and clear sound. Its low, mid and high tones are clear of deviations.


Drivers

You can get all drivers and utilities for the ZBook 17 G6 from HP’s official web page: https://support.hp.com/us-en/drivers/selfservice/hp-zbook-17-g6-mobile-workstation/22892902

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. The battery we have onboard here is on the limit of air travel policies – 95.6 Wh.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

HP ZBook 17 G6 95.6Wh, 6-cell

We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

HP ZBook 17 G6 95.6Wh, 6-cell

CPU options

Going from low to high, the processor options with the ZBook 17 G6 go as follow Core i5-9300H/9400H (4c/8t), Core i7-9750H/9850H (6c/12t), Core i9-9880H (8c/16t), Xeon E 2286M (8c/16t).


GPU options

In addition to the vPro processors, the laptop comes in a wide variety of professional graphics cards – NVIDIA Quadro P1000 (4GB GDDR5), Quadro RTX 3000 (6GB GDDR6), Quadro RTX 4000 (8GB GDDR6), Quadro RTX 5000 (16GB GDDR6).


Gaming tests

Far Cry 5 Full HD, Normal (Check settings) Full HD, High (Check settings) Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)
Average 85 fps 78 fps 75 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings) Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average 103 fps 65 fps 43 fps

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Full HD, High (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings) Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)
Average 66 fps 59 fps 43 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i9-9880H (45W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
HP ZBook 17 G6 3.56 GHz (B+55%) @ 89°C 2.86 GHz (B+24%) @ 76°C 2.77 GHz (B+20%) @ 79°C

We were impressed by the way HP ZBook 17 G6 handled the temperature of the eight-core Core i9-9880H. In the end, it finished the test at 79C, with a reasonable frequency. What is also important is the amount of noise we got from the fans – they were almost inaudible.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
HP ZBook 17 G6 1356 MHz @ 63°C 1306 MHz @ 71°C

GPU temperatures were well controlled throughout the entire test. While the fan was clearly audible, we didn’t found it too loud or obtrusive.

Comfort during full load

In addition to not being too loud, the laptop is not too hot on the outside, as well.


Verdict

You can hardly argue against a laptop such as the ZBook 17 G6. We mean, there are some obvious downsides to the machine, which can be ignored, simply because of the purpose of its build. First, at 3.20 kg it is not one of the heaviest we’ve tested, but standing at 33 mm height makes it one of the bulkiest devices of 2019.

And yet, we can easily forgive HP, because the performance of the laptop is the Bomb! In fact, the ZBook 17 G6 is one of the best performing laptops on the market out there. This possible thanks to its cooling solution. Especially the CPU performance. Not that, the GPU wasn’t performing good enough, it is just that the fans had to ramp up to a rather high, but not uncomfortable level when we put it under the stress of Rise of the Tomb Raider.

HP ZBook 17 G6’s IPS panel (AUO B173HAN01.0 (AUO109D)) has a Full HD resolution with a good contrast ratio and comfortable viewing angles. Moreover, it covers 93% of sRGB and it doesn’t flicker at any brightness level. Furthermore, with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile, it can be used for Web design work, thanks to the accuracy of the colors it produces.

Additionally, the laptop has all of the certifications the Quadro line-up provides it, to run all kinds of 3D modeling software flawlessly and with good support behind it. By the way, if you are in the business, where you need all kinds of dongles to fit every peripheral… well, you can ditch these dongles or give it away to some unfortunate colleague that has a MacBook.

Sadly, there is some annoying coil whine you can easily hear from time to time. However, on the other side, you can (also easily) upgrade your machine’s memory or storage, even swap out batteries, as this device features a service lid panel. However, if you want to upgrade your graphics card, you need to remove the entire bottom plate.

What is more impressive about this laptop is its battery life. Guys, honestly, we were kind of expecting a good time on battery power, as the laptop is equipped with a 95.6Wh unit. However, the Core i9-9880H was expected to draw a lot more power than it did, so kudos to HP for the optimization. Speaking of numbers, we got more than 14 hours of Web browsing and more than 13 hours of video playback.

So, if we have to be fair, we would probably never go and buy this laptop for ourselves. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In fact, if you are a VR developer, 3D designer, etc. we can encourage you to do so because this thing works.

Pros

  • Strong chassis
  • Workstation hardware with Quadro GPU inside
  • Supports RAID 0
  • Great battery life
  • I/O has everything you need + two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Upgradable graphics card
  • Covers 93% of sRGB and our Gaming and Web design profile makes it appropriate for color-sensitive work (AUO B173HAN01.0 (AUO109D))
  • Doesn’t use PWM to adjust its brightness levels (AUO B173HAN01.0 (AUO109D))


Cons

  • High price
  • Not very portable

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/hp-zbook-17-g6/

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Fusion
Fusion
3 years ago

Nice review and yes you are completely spot on: The RTX version of the ZBook 16 G6 suffers badly from severe COIL WHINE. This sound is so annoying that I returned two seperately bought workstations to HP and a dealer. Funny thing is that the dealer nor the official HP webshop are bothered by a customer willing to pay € 3000+ and asking for a normally working third one…. Another thing is the quality control of HP being far from perfect: The first model arrived with a loose screw in the battery compartment and heavily distorting speakers (another loose or… Read more »