Over the years we have become familiar with the different lineups within HP’s notebook range, but one we have not gotten to try out is the ZBook series. These notebooks are designed specifically with tasks that are normally associated with workstations in mind and, as such, tackle a niche consumer.
One such device in this lineup is the ZBook Firefly 14 G7, which HP bills as being the thinnest and lightest mobile workstation you can buy right now.
While we’ll need to take HP at its word regarding the thinness and lightness of this notebook, we have spent the past two weeks with the ZBook Firefly 14 G7 to determine if it is indeed a useful option for those who need a mobile workstation.
Before we delve into the performance, however, let’s touch on the stylings.
A bit of everything
Here, the ZBook seems to borrow elements from HP notebooks both past and present. The silver colour option on our review model for example looks like something that would have been used in older models of EliteBook, which are more enterprise-focused devices.
The overall design of the notebook also appears to favour function over form, and while thin by workstation notebook standards at 17.9mm, it is nowhere near as svelte as the Envy notebooks, for example.
That said, the ZBook Firefly 14 does borrow the triangular speaker designs of the Envy, with it even being certified by Bang & Olufsen. There are also a few other oddities one does not expect to see on such devices these days, such as the central mouse pointing stick and left/right click buttons.
It is unclear if the consumers this ZBook is aimed at would use such features, but when it comes to the number of ways to interface, this notebook is well equipped.
While the ZBook is not the thinnest around, the 1.41kg body is actually lighter in-hand than we were anticipated. It still remains a nice deal of heft to it, which means it sits neatly and in place when you start typing furiously on it.
There are also a few other small touches that we liked on the notebook, such as the lid (which houses the 14″ Full HD 1920×1080 display onboard) opening and closing smoothly with one hand.
It is not a groundbreaking feature, but when you’re comparing very similarly specced devices, it is the small touches like that which make a difference.
Hearing it in action
Now for the internal elements of the Firefly. We’ll touch on the silicon shortly, but first a word on battery life.
On this front, the ZBook is well appointed, with the 14 hours of battery life listed by HP closer to 11 hours in our use, which consisted of quite a lot of benchmark testing. As such, you may be able to squeeze out an extra hour or two with mixed use.
Either way if you plan to take the notebook outside of the office and away from any nearby plug points, you should manage a full day when needed.
Whether that is indeed how such a device would be used, remains to be seen, but luckily the ZBook does not need a hulking battery pack to charge, with a relatively sleek 65W version getting the job done quite nicely, and USB Type C handling the charging port.
Switching to the aspects doing the heavy lifting, and this particular review model features a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 (10510U) and Intel UHD Graphics. This serves up a base level clock speed of 1.8GHz with a turbo boost to 4.9GHz when needed.
When that turbo kicks in, you’ll definitely know it, which brings us to one of the issues we encountered on the ZBook – noise. When we ran our benchmark tests, Blender is particular, the ZBook generated quite a bit of fan noise, which is to be expected.
What we were not expecting was to hear it every so often when the notebook was doing less processor-intensive tasks.
It’s not a deal breaker right now, but should it intensify over the next six months or so, it may be reason for concern, at least for anyone working around you.
As for the benchmark testing itself, the Firefly performed solidly. The other component at work here is the 32GB RAM, which is double the 16GB that comes standard on this model, so that it something worth noting with these numbers.
To that end the Cinebench R20 scores peaked at 1 282, with the best score on V-Ray (CPU) being 4 267, and the aforementioned Blender taking the longest time on the FishyCat test at 35 minutes and 59 seconds.
The HP Firefly 14 G7 will cost you roughly R28 150, depending on retailer and specification. As a mobile workstation it seems to tick all the boxes, especially the most important ones – namely performance, display and battery life.
Added to this is a solid typing experience and a responsively nuanced trackpad, although we think most users will revert to an actual mouse for this notebook when not on the move.
The only issues that stand out to us are the fact that the Firefly can prove a little noisy at times, as well as looking a little dull as far as design goes. The latter is easily looked over, but the former less so, and in the long run, may be what forces you to look elsewhere.
For now though, the HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7 performs as advertised.