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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Thin and light design
Impressive range of professional features
Snappy operation at basic tasks
Excellent keyboard and trackpad
Advanced security features
Not ideal for graphically intensive tasks
Limited onboard storage
A tad expensive
No SD card reader
The HP Zbook Firefly 15 G8 is the ultimate ultra-portable workstation laptop. It packs in enough power for all but the most graphically intensive tasks and gives you the tools to connect from just about anywhere using its onboard 5G.
HP provided us with a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read on for our full take.
The HP Zbook Firefly 15 G8 might just be the ideal laptop for many working professionals. Lightweight and feature-rich, it’s a highly capable business laptop that could be perfect for photographers, graphic designers, and engineers. I put it to the test for 40 hours, evaluating productivity, graphic processing capabilities, battery life, and more.
Considering the powerful components packed inside it, the HP Zbook Firefly 15 G8 is impressively compact. It’s just 0.76 inches thick, and weighs a mere 3.74 pounds, making it surprisingly portable for a more aggressively specced machine.
It possesses a professional aesthetic that is both modern and solidly businesslike, its flashiest feature being the large shiny “Z” gracing its lid. This is particularly great if you’re fortunate enough to have a last name beginning with Z, in which case it’s as if the laptop has been specially monogrammed for you.
Inside, the G8 is just as attractive in a fashionably serious way. The laptop won’t appear out of place in any office or other professional setting. The keyboard is full-sized and features backlighting tied to an ambient light sensor; with nice texturing and a number pad, it’s a highly pleasurable typing experience. Along the top of the keyboard is a row of media and shortcut keys, including a programmable key.
The trackpad is expansively large and easy to use, and the G8 integrates HP’s classic pointing stick, which is preferred by many professionals. You also get large, tactile left and right mouse keys at the top of the trackpad for use with the pointer in addition to the keys situated within the trackpad. The end result is a laptop suited to adapt to a wide variety of users and their particular preferences.
You get plenty of I/O with the G8: a 3.5mm jack, Smart Card reader, a USB Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, and a HDMI 2.0b port. Power out of the box is delivered via an included USB-C charger, but there’s also a dedicated power port if you need to have both Thunderbolt ports available. Additionally, there’s a SIM card slot to enable 5G cellular connectivity. The only thing missing is an SD card reader, which would have been nice to have in this laptop.
The excellent design of the G8 goes beyond looks—this is a very durably built machine. Also important is sanitization, for which this laptop is specifically designed. It’s rated to withstand 1,000 cleaning cycles and features HP Easy Clean software which can be activated to prevent accidental key presses during cleaning. The point of all this is that if multiple people are going to be using the same machine it can be easily and thoroughly sanitized between users.
The G8 is TCO certified as a sustainably built IT product, with much of the laptop itself being built of recycled material. The packaging it comes in is also made of recycled material.
There’s not much to say about setting up the Firefly; it’s mostly just your standard Windows 10 install, though there are some specific options meant for workplaces setting up machines for employees. Also, if you’re going to use the 5G capability of the laptop you’ll need to supply and insert a SIM card from your cellular provider.
The G8 Zbook Firefly is a significant upgrade over its G7 predecessor. Not only do you get an upgrade to the latest components, but the overall value for a given configuration has increased significantly. It’s enough of an upgrade to make G7 owners seriously jealous of the G8.
For such a thin and light laptop, the Firefly 15 G8 is no slouch when it comes to processing and graphics power. At its core is an Intel Core vPro i7-1165G7 processor, which in addition to being Intel’s latest-generation processor is fine-tuned for productivity and creative tasks. Additionally, there’s 32GB of DDR4 RAM for multitasking and for RAM-hungry programs like Photoshop.
For graphics, you have similarly professional productivity and creativity-focused Nvidia T500 graphics card, and the 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD makes for fast data transfer speeds and snappy response times. While 512GB is adequate, a full terabyte of storage would have been appreciated, yet it's understandable given the highly connected nature of this laptop, which means you can more reliably depend on cloud storage if you opt to utilize its 5G capability.
In PCMark 10 the G8 did very well across the board, with scores generally surpassing six and even seven thousand in different categories. Only a very low video editing score brought the average down in the end. This lines up with the GFX bench results, which turned up an overall score of 13,892 frames, and with real-world performance.
For such a thin and light laptop, the Firefly 15 G8 is no slouch when it comes to processing and graphics power.
The Firefly 15 G8 is designed for 2D tasks such as photoshop, which it handles with aplomb, as well as design software such as AutoCAD. It performs very well so long as you don’t need a ton of onboard graphical power for heavy 3D tasks. That is unless you utilize HP’s ZCentral software to connect remotely to a powerful workstation PC.
I’ll go into more detail about that when we get to connectivity, but suffice it to say that the G8 is a very specialized machine designed to offer plenty of power as a highly mobile laptop, while also offering the connectivity capabilities for greater productivity.
Though not important in a laptop like this, I will mention that while it’s not designed for gaming, you will be able to enjoy less graphically taxing games on this PC. You won’t be playing the latest and greatest AAA titles, but it’ll work for Indie games and highly optimized competitive experiences such as DOTA 2.
HP clearly intended the G8’s 4K resolution display for professionals. The focus with this 15.6-inch screen is color accuracy, offering 100 percent DCI-P3 coverage, and utilizing HP’s DreamColor technology to ensure dependable color accuracy and improve battery life.
It really does look amazing, bringing photos and videos to life. This is absolutely essential for professional work, particularly when it comes to photography and graphic design.
The high resolution of the display also offers advantages for detail-oriented work, and it’s bright enough to use even outdoors. As a cherry on top, the G8 includes a light sensor so that the display dims or brightens to an optimal level for the given lighting conditions.
The G8 comes equipped with more than the standard connectivity features typically found in a laptop. It not only packs in Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, but also offers 5G cellular capability. This means that with an activated SIM card, the G8 can provide a high-speed link to the internet no matter where you happen to be.
The G8 comes equipped with more than the standard connectivity features typically found in a laptop.
This level of high-speed connectivity is vital in order to enable HP’s ZCentral Remote Boost. Essentially, for graphics-intensive tasks that the G8 can’t handle you can remotely connect to a more powerful workstation PC back at the office and overcome the intrinsic limitations of a mobile device. There’s a wide range of functionality that ZCentral enables on the Firefly 15 G8. This tech was used heavily by the film industry in 2020 to overcome difficulties imposed by remote work.
The webcam in the Firefly 15 G8 is pretty average for a laptop for the most part. Its 720p camera is perfectly adequate for video calls, though you do get infrared capability which is a potentially useful bonus, as it enables Windows Hello. A physical camera cover with a manual switch provides an extra level of privacy.
I’ve tested a lot of surprisingly decent laptop speakers recently, which makes the Bang & Olufsen speakers built into the Firefly 15 G8 particularly impressive for how much they stand out for their quality.
I use 2Cellos cover of “Thunderstruck” as a benchmark for speakers, and the G8’s speakers were actually able to handle the challenging low end in that song, which is something I’ve never been able to say of a laptop. Greta Van Fleet’s latest album “Battle at Garden’s Gate” also sounded amazing. Highs, mids, and bass are all rendered very well.
Also of note is the G8’s AI-based noise cancellation designed for video conferencing so that you can conduct conversations via the web even in relatively loud and busy environments.
A key feature of the Firefly 15 G8 is the advanced security features that make it ideal for professionals who need to protect sensitive data. In addition to the aforementioned physical webcam shutter, the G8 includes a self-healing BIOS that automatically recovers from attacks or corruption, HP Sure Click that traps malware in an isolated virtual machine, and HP Sure Sense to recognize and protect against a variety of threats.
You’re also able to set a BIOS-level password, as well as implement DriveLock security features. A smart card reader offers additional security in the workplace.
The G8 runs Windows 10 Pro, which you’d expect on a business-oriented device such as this. HP has packed a lot of useful functionality under the hood in this laptop, much of which has already been discussed here.
One I haven’t touched on yet is HP QuickDrop, which allows you to quickly and easily transfer files from your phone to the laptop and vice versa. This is a feature I find particularly useful, as it saves the hassle of dealing with physical connections.
Through its variety of power-saving measures, the G8 is able to last an impressively long time without having to be recharged. HP claims 14 hours, which was accurate for my use. It easily lasts a full workday.
Through its variety of power-saving measures, the G8 is able to last an impressively long time without having to be recharged.
With an MSRP of $2,490 for the configuration I tested, the Firefly 15 G8 isn’t cheap by any means, and there are certain gaming laptops out there that offer more power specs for the money. However, for the right customer, the G8 offers a lot of value with its professional, business-oriented features. For its intended audience, this laptop is certainly worth the money.
A tempting alternative to the HP Zbook Firefly 15 G8 is the Razer Blade Pro 17. If you don’t need the professional security, connectivity, and productivity features that are such valuable assets to some, a similarly priced configuration of the Blade Pro 17 will land you a much more powerful GPU. As a mobile, professional workstation the Zbook is extremely versatile, and can’t be beat for business use, but if you need to do 3D graphics work or intensive video editing on the go, the Blade Pro 17 is the better option.
A powerful, ultra-portable workstation laptop packed with professional features.
The HP Zbook Firefly 15 G8 is a laptop tailor-made for working professionals in a variety of fields where mobility is key. Its impeccable design is ideal for a business setting, and it offers an extended array of security and connectivity options that make it highly versatile. Throw in a bright, highly color accurate screen, and the Firefly 15 G8 is the ultra-portable workstation laptop to beat.
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