HP Zbook 14u G6 Review: A Thin, Powerful Mobile Workstation

HP Zbook 14u G6: Storage, CPU, And General Productivity Benchmarks

To see what the Zbook 14u G6 could do with our suite of benchmarks, we first installed the latest version of Windows 10 (version 1903, the May 2019 update) with all patches direct from Microsoft. We also made sure all of the mobile workstation's drivers were up-to-date from HP. We wanted to use the very latest drivers for both the integrated and discrete graphics, but had to settle for the UHD 620 drivers on HP's website. Intel's installer told us the Zbook wasn't qualified for the the current release, but that doesn't impact much since we wanted to use the discrete GPU across the board. Fortunately, AMD's Radeon Pro driver version 2019.Q3 made no such fuss and installed without complaint, so all of our graphics results come from the latest and greatest drivers directly from AMD

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Peak Sequential Storage Throughput

ATTO's disk benchmark gives us an idea just how fast the NVMe PCI Express x4 primary storage drive is in the Zbook 14u G6. This system came with a 500 GB Samsung PM981a installed, and we know from prior experience with the 7th-generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon that this gumstick SSD should be pretty quick. 

chart atto disk

Indeed Samsung's NVMe drive boasts some blazing-fast speeds. The write speeds cap out at 1.76 GB per second, where the read speeds inch very close to 3 GB/s. Compared to the last system we tested with this model, the 7th-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon from Lenovo, the write speeds are quite a bit slower, but that system had a 1 TB drive compared to this system's 500 GB model. Larger drives tend to handle write tests better since they can saturate the controller with more NAND dies, so what we see here is the expected result. The read speeds are pretty similar, though, and that's what the majority of users would notice. 

Speedometer Web App Benchmark
Browser Performance

BrowserBench.org's Speedometer test automatically loads and runs several sample webapps to guage browser performance. The sample apps come from ToDoMVC.com and use the most popular web development frameworks around, including React, Angular, Ember.js, and even vanilla JavaScript. Speedometer is a better example of how systems cope with real web applications than a pure JavaScript compute test like JetStream. All tests were performed using the latest version of Chrome, which is up to 76 as of the time of this writing.

graph browserbench speedometer

The Zbook 14u G6 performed pretty well in this test, which was performed with HP's Secure Click plug-in disabled. All of the systems with Core i7 Whiskey Lake-U CPUs kind of bunch together with the Zbook about 15% behind the Dell XPS 15 we just reviewed, bu that's to be expected. The bigger Dell system's Core i9-9980HK has a much higher 45-watt TDP. Being limited to four cores didn't handicap any of the systems here, since web browsing is a lightly-threaded load. 

Cinebench R15 and R20
3D Rendering Performance

Cinebench R15 is a 3D rendering benchmark that tests both the CPU and GPU engines in the processor. Cinebench is developed by Maxon, which is better known for its Cinema 4D software employed in professional 3D rendering and animation studios. We use both of Cinebench’s integrated tests for CPU and GPU.
graph cinebench r15

The Zbook 14u G6 got soundly thumped by pretty much every other Core i7 system on the chart, falling behind Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon by nearly 30% on the CPU chart. At first we thought maybe the CPU was throttling, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Firing up HWMonitor on those two systems pointed us in the right direction. The ThinkPad was allowed to stretch its CPU's legs, running in the 25-watt TDP up configuration, where HP's new Zbook held steadfastly to 15 watts of power at all times HP told us this was the case so that there was ample thermal headroom for the Radeon Pro graphics. The lower power consumption resulted in a relatively low (but still above base) maximum all-core speed of 2.2 GHz, even though temperatures only topped out in the low 70s Celsius. That's fine for lightly-threaded tasks like web browsing where a single core can ramp up and stay within the power limit. For wider loads like Cinebench, however, the constraint results in performance that trails the pack a bit. We'll keep an eye on this as we proceed to see if other benchmarks are similarly affected. On the other hand, that discrete GPU should run our graphics tests faster than systems with integrated graphics.

Speaking of the integrated graphics, our test unit's Radeon Pro WX3200 does pretty well. The scale here makes it a little tough to tell, but the Radeon Pro WX3200 bested all of the UHD 620-equipped systems by around 75%. The Radeon Pro fell well short of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1650 in Dell's XPS 15, though. Still, in a system that needs to run graphically-intense workloads, there's no substitute for having a discrete GPU onboard. 

The latest version of Maxon's rendering benchmark, Cinebench R20, takes longer to complete so this is a better test of the Zbook 14u G6's cooling system. This release also drops the OpenGL test, making Cinebench a pure CPU test this time. We tested both single-threaded and multi-threaded performance.

graph cinebench r20

Here we see basically the same result. The lower TDP configuration on the Zbooks Core i7-8665U forces Intel's fastest U-series processor to the back of the pack with a bunch of Core i5's, while the Lenovo speeds ahead. On the other hand, the XPS 15's Core i9-9980HK made short work of every other CPU with not only the fastest multi-threaded score thanks to its eight cores, but the fastest single-threaded score, too. Three times the TDP will do that for you. 

Geekbench 4
Single and Multi-Core Performance

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark that simulates real world processing workloads in image processing and particle physics scenarios. We tested the machines represented here with Geekbench's single and multi-core test workloads.

graph geekbench4 single multi

In Geekbench's relatively burst-heavy tests, the lower TDP didn't seem to hurt the Zbook 14u G6, because it had a moment to spin down in between tests. HP's workstation bested nearly every other eighth-generation system on the chart, and posted the very best single-threaded score of the whole bunch. 

PCMark 10
Productivity and System-Level Benchmarking

PCMark 10 uses a mix of real-world applications and simulated workloads to establish how well a given system performs productivity tasks, including image and video editing, web browsing, and OpenOffice document editing.  While these scores appear to be all over the place, the systems are sorted by their overall PCMark score, which is the third (gray) bar in each cluster. 

graph pcmark10

The Zbook 14u G6 scores relatively well on this test, scoring right with its peers on the Productivity and Essentials tests, and takes a substantial lead over most of the systems here in the Digital Content Creation test, thanks largely to its Radeon Pro WX3200 discrete graphics processor. Only the 2019 XPS 15's GeForce GTX 1650 and the XPS 15 2-in-1's AMD Vega M graphics score higher in the content creation test. As a result, the Zbook takes the second-highest overall score among the quad-core systems represented here. 

Next up we'll take a more focused look at graphics performance in HP's mobile workstation. 

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