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HP ZBook Studio and x360 look like laptops, not workstations

With sleek milled aluminum bodies, the latest generation of HP's premium mobile workstations meld industrial consumer aesthetics with pro power.

Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
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Studio and Studio x360

The two models are extremely similar, in both design and configuration options, with some accommodations for needs of the x360, such as hinge design and display technologies. 

They adopt some of the slicker aspects of the Spectre and EliteBook lines, such as the milled aluminum bodies, while remaining more durable. I expect to see a lot more of these unworkstationlike mobile workstation designs this year.

Updated April 16, 2018 with corrections.

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ZBook Studio x360, tablet mode

Unlike the ZBook x2, the x360 uses Wacom AES technology, which requires connecting via Bluetooth and a AAA battery.  However, the HP stylus has two buttons and no eraser.

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Thickness

Although it looks quite thick folded into tablet mode, the hinge is what produces that effect. The ZBook x360 is really only about 0.1 inch (2mm) thicker than the consumer Spectre x360. As you'd expect, a Xeon plus Quadro requires more space for cooling airflow. 

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ZBook Studio x360 hinges

HP designed the hinges so that when it's lying flat you can still use the stylus without irritating your hand.

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Design

HP is in love with chamfered edges this year. It's not my taste, but it achieves the industrial look HP probably hopes people will equate with workstation power. The x360 looks identical to the ZBook Studio G5 in clamshell mode from this angle. Unlike the more meat-and-potatoes models, the Studio keyboards don't have extra buttons on the touchpad or a joystick embedded in the keyboard.

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The Studio x360's hinge

The bulkier hinge is one of the ways in which the x360 looks different from the ZBook Studio G5; compare this shot of the back with the following photo of the Studio.

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ZBook Studio hinge

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Redesigned elements

HP changed the look of the speaker grille. Also, the G5 ZBook keyboards now include dedicated keys for conference call controls -- connect and disconnect -- plus a button for jumping into presentation mode.

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Left side

Both Studio models have a headset jack, HDMI connector, two USB-C or Thunderbolt ports and a UHS-II compatible SD card slot on the left side.

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Right side

On the right, there are two USB 3.0 Type-A connections. There's a spot for a SIM card slot, so you can add a cell-network connection.

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Display

The Studio models have an option for a 600-nit, Adobe RGB DreamColor 4K display. Also, note the thinner bezels. That's a consumer trend that's finally starting to make its way into mobile workstations.

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ZBook Studio x360 in tent mode

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ZBook Studio x360 in presentation mode

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ZBook Studio closed

The Studio has a cleaner look on the top because there are no slits where the hinges break up the line surface.

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Upgradeability

There is none. On the non-premium ZBook G5 models, there's a removable hatch covering three quarters of the bottom for IT upgrades. Here, just vents.

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ZBook Studio x360 profile

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ZBook Studio

Ready for takeoff.

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