HP Zbook X2 G4: A Creative Professional’s Dream Machine Materialized

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, people say, and the Surface Pro definitely has some accolades. HP, for example, has come out with their own Surface Pro type device with the Spectre X2. It’s honestly a decent effort but the Surface Pro still feels more premium. Recently, however, HP has released a Surface Pro inspired device that doesn’t really qualify as a knock off.
The HP Zbook X2 G4 is cut from the same jib as the Surface Pro but the philosophy is pretty refreshing. It’s primarily a tablet like the Surface Pro, but it’s aimed at power-users instead of the regular tablet PC consumer. It’s more of a mobile workstation than a simple portable; towards professional creatives who need to create art and edit movies on-the-go rather than your run-of-the-mill illustrator.
The result is a utilitarian piece of equipment that is slim, portable, and most of all, powerful. Beautiful and svelte, although they’re subjective qualities, might not be something that a lot of us would use to describe it.

Build Quality and Design

The Zbook X2 G4 is built very much like a Surface Pro. It’s a simple black slate with a built-in infinite angle kickstand at the back. It comes with an ultra slim detachable keyboard that surprisingly has great key travel and tactile feedback. There’s also an active pen that comes in handy for digital artists and creatives.
The materials are a confusing mix of gritty durability and premium luxury. Visually, the slate itself looks like it’s built like a tank. It looks like you can knock someone out cold with it in a similar fashion that a cast iron pan would. Up close, the CNC-milled aluminium housing on the Zbook X2 G4 feels undeniably premium.
All of these are certified with MIL-STD-810G standard which means it can withstand harsh pressures, temperatures, and to some degree, a few accidental falls. In short, it can withstand the elements in any place that you’ll likely choose to work in. That’s a huge plus for digital creatives who like to edit on-location.

Screen That Mimics Real Life

The screen is one of the most important aspects to a digital creative professional and the one found in the Zbook X2 G4 is definitely more than enough. It’s a 4K panel that gets plenty bright at 300 nits with a matte finish and a Wacom EMR layer. All of these makes it a pleasant screen to work long hours on without burning through your cornea.
The bezels are unapologetically huge. It houses a few extra drawing-related quick access buttons on the side of the 14-inch screen. They’re optimized for Adobe applications but can easily be re-mapped for others.
More than anything, it's the colour accuracy that's most impressive about the screen. It supports 100% of Adobe RGB on a 10 bit-per-pixel panel. HP calls it the Dream Color display. The truth is, the name is probably counterproductive because it doesn’t give photos and videos a dream-like quality to it. Instead, it presents us with the most accurate representations of the real physical world in pixel form.

I/O That Could Host All Your Peripherals

There’s a wealth of options when it comes to ports on the Zbook X2 G4. On the right side of the device, there are two Thunderbolt 3 equipped USB-C ports, 1 USB-A port, an SD card slot, and a full-sized HDMI port. On the left side are the volume rocker, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a lock slot. All of this help ensure that you can plug in all your peripherals without the need to bring an extra dongle or USB Hub.
The keyboard that it’s bundled with also enjoys the same sturdiness and durability as the tablet. It’s a Bluetooth connected device that enables you to use it even when it’s not physically attached to the tablet. This is an especially great attribute for artists as they can draw on the screen without the keyboard being on the way yet still have access to keyboard shortcuts that they’re so comfortable using. Key travel is great especially considering the 1-inch think cover. The keys are adequately sized to prevent mistypes. For some models, the keyboard cover also houses a dedicated GPU.
The stylus pen also comes in the box for the Zbook X2 G4. What’s great about it is that it doesn’t need a battery. Yet, it’s just as capable as others that are actively powered. It supports 4096 levels of pressure which would definitely please the creative professionals that it was designed for.


There’s not much a professional-grade hardware can do if it doesn’t have the horsepower needed to run programs that professionals are using. This is why the Zbook X2 G4 is equipped only with i7 chips. If you're trying to save money, your only option is to go for last year's dual-core i7 chips. For the most expensive option, you can buy the 8th generation quad-core i7 chips. The variance across the 6 options are at RAM which ranges from 8GB to 32GB and storage which ranges from 256GB to 1TB SSD. There are no i5 or i3 options for this high-performance machine.
Having such powerful processors make the battery suffer a little bit. For a supposedly mobile device, it lasts for just over 4 hours on web browsing. If you test it out with the professional applications that it's designed for, you can expect that number to be effectively halved.
For reference, the cheapest one costs $2,849 which is, to some, is a small investment account. It could go all the way up to $5,037 for the highest specced model but that one has a much more powerful Nvidia Quadro GPU. This essentially quickens the render time for your creative edits.

UX That Only a Few Would Absolutely Love

It’s the ideal product for a few people who truly need it. It’s like a creatives’ dream machine materialized. HP truly had creative professionals in mind from concept to finished product with the Zbook X2 G4.
But for the rest of us, there are plenty of extras that just aren’t worth it for the general user. It’s too heavy, too battery hungry, and too expensive for most of us mere mortals. Even for professional artists, this might even still be an aspirational product rather than a necessary investment. There are just too many cheaper, but not necessarily less premium, similar products out there that an artist could settle for.