HP ZBook 17 G6 & ZBook 17 G7

The HP ZBook 17 G7 is the 2020 model of their flagship mobile workstation range. It’s perhaps useful to take a look at it next to the last generation ZBook. Hardware spec wise, the difference is very marginal. Both support upto Intel Core i9 / Xeon processor, upto 128GB RAM (4x32GB); the high end option for Quadro RTX 5000 Graphics, plus plenty of storage, etc. So where are the differences?


The weight and the dimension difference across the two designs will be the most obvious distinction.
It’s a noticeable difference, but they feel like they’re in the same weight class; the ZBook 17 G7 is lighter but it’s still not a light laptop. It’s still not as simple to carry it one handed, but you can at least lift one half of it with one hand comfortably, which is more than you can with the ZBook 17 G6.

ZBook 17 G6: 3.2 kg (7.0 lb)

ZBook 17 G7: 2.97 kg (6.55 lb)


Directly comparing them there is definitely a decrease in size (nearly 30% volumetrically), but when sat next to each other a casual observation makes it only apparently shorter - the reduced size on the bezel on the ZBook 17 G7 along the top and the sides is hard to miss, but length and width are easier to overlook.
With the weight and size combined, neither are something you’d want to carry as a frequent traveller; then again, considering the audience, these workstation laptops are often docked on desks, so it’s really a preference of whether you’d want something regular, or something thinner & lighter.

ZBook 17 G6: 4.6 x1 28.8 x 3.35 cm

ZBook 17 G7: 39.85 x 26.72 x 2.69 cm


Directly looking at the screen spec, the ZBook 17 G6 has a more conventional set of displays: FHD, UHD Dreamcolour, and UHD touch (perhaps can be described as “Good, Best, Touch”). Noticeably, the DreamColour was marketed as a 10-bit panel on the G6 model - able to target the AdobeRGB 100%.
In a simplistic view, the ZBook G7 model appears to have the same FHD panel as the previous generation. The three 4k panels on offer appear to be very similar at the first glance. Between the two non-touch UHD panels, one wonders what makes the DreamColour panel stand out. In the past (e.g. ZBook G3 DreamColor UHD vs standard UHD), DreamColour panels may support the HP’s own calibration software & have a higher quality panel. The touch screen UHD option may be useful for the customers who require the touch input, however, there may be more glare on these screens - due to the glass coating.
A subtle difference is that the newer ZBook G7’s panel targets the 100% P3 spectrum - following a similar trend with Apple’s MacBook line (similar to the AdobeRGB standard, the P3 it’s wider than sRGB in the coverage). It’s unknown if the newer ZBook G7 panel still achieves 10-bit colour depth, or whether it’s a 8-bit panel (8-bit panels tend to have 16.6M colour; instead of 1 billion colour on the 10-bit option).
To achieve the thinner and lighter design, it appears that the display is harder to service than before. You may need to replace the entire display assembly to replace the screen. This is a backwards step vs machines such as the Lenovo ThinkPad P17 - which retains some repairability in this aspect.


The HP ZBook G7 appears to add the useful NVIDIA Quadro T2000 options (which serves as a competent balance between getting some CAD performance and minimising the upfront cost), along with the midrange AMD options.
The RTX 4000 & 5000 models will carry a noticeable premium. The RTX model & the AMD models, both benefit from the vapour chamber cooling (to dissipate the extra heat). Whereas the lower end T series models have a more standard cooling system. Integrated Intel Graphics options may be available, but are expected to be niche options.
The largest change is the removal of the DVD drive; the ZBook 17 G6 has one, the G7 does not. Other than that, the same ports are included on both units but are moved around somewhat:
The SD card is on the left side for the G6 but the right for the G7, the same goes for the combined audio port, and the ethernet and security lock slot have switched positions from the security lock being closest to the screen on the G6 to the ethernet being closest on the G7.
Otherwise, all of the ports are there and the same:
  • 3x USB 3.1,
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • Ethernet,
  • Combined Audio Jack
  • Mini Displayport,
  • HDMI port,
  • Optional smart card reader,
  • A security lock slot and an SD card reader.


Like most laptops, some components are unable to be upgraded by the end user (especially easily) and then some can be. Both the G6 and G7 have upgradable RAM. 4x DIMM slots are available on both, two of which would be under the keypad, in case you’d like to replace the memory instead of simply adding more.
The G7 has 2x M.2 available plus either 2x more M.2 or 1x 2.5” slot (the latter two requires caddies).
The battery could be swapped easily, once you remove the base user servicing door. HP has uploaded a helpful video with the full disassembly, it’s available on YouTube.

When not under load, both machines were silent. When under heavy load, the G6 was notably louder than the G7 - not uncomfortably loud, and not a whiny noise from the fans either, but you could definitely hear it over a low amount of background noise, while the G7 was a bit easier to not notice. This may be partly thanks to the vapour chamber cooling on the G7.

Both keyboards have a very similar layout and size, both feature a numeric keypad, and both have function keys and function lock on Shift.
The only noticeable layout difference is that printscreen was moved from a function of the right Shift on the G6 to a dedicated button after the function keys on the G7, some of the function keys have different secondary functions, and the power button has gone from a separate button off of the main keyboard to a button just above backspace. It feels like it would be easier to press accidentally, but you have to hold it down to power off the machine - even repeatedly pressing it if you overshot the backspace key won’t cause the G7 to power off (and it is noticeably stiffer than the other keys).
Both provide a good tactile feel, though the ZBook 17 G7 feels a bit less responsive, so a few might prefer the ZBook 17 G6, but by no means a significant difference.
Privacy covers are provided for both, a simple slider over the lens to physically block the camera, and both are of a middling quality for video footage (tested with the built-in windows 10 camera app) with decent frame rate.
On the G6, left is closed and right is open for the privacy cover while on the G7 it’s the opposite, which was somewhat confusing to test and is something to note if you’re upgrading.
Additionally the cover on the G7 is a lot smaller to see and move over; you really need fingernails to move it, and it’s not very noticeable (especially when you’re further away from the device) when it is covering the camera. It’s physically easier to move the cover on the G6 (and also to see which position it’s in) so despite being bigger and less discrete it’s the one I prefer.
More Spec:


If you ignore specs and actual hardware performance and price, it’s really hard to say that one is better than the other. There’s not one big difference between one and the other that makes a substantial reason for you to get that unit.
The ZBook 17 G6 has a DVD drive (external drives aren’t that expensive nor uncommon), the ZBook 17 G7 is thinner and lighter (whilst carrying a similar performance level & feature set). For some, the value in the thin and light might be more appreciated. Though if you’re buying a workstation class laptop at this price range - you might be reasonably used to expecting a machine that weighs appropriately.
The bezels and the privacy cover on the ZBook 17 G7 are smaller and “sleeker” than the G6, but the bigger, “bulkier” cover is easier to use and check because of its size. Ports have been moved around a bit and might help a bit with cable management but if you have all of them full it’s still going to be a hassle regardless of the machine. It’s mostly marginal changes - less worth worrying over - the ZBook 17 G7 is technically smaller and lighter - so that will be useful for some customers.
So, frankly, it’s more about your budget or your required spec. If you need high end performance in a workstation, then the G7 probably has more recent options. If you need something slightly cheaper, the G6 is probably slightly less costly now that the G7 is on market.

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