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Hands-on with HP's vision for creative working, and it's a bit good

New HP laptops
(Image credit: Future)

HP revealed its lineup of new laptops and workstations at a lavish London design space and I was impressed. The future for HP is a hybrid working environment where we'll be splitting our time between the studio, office and home. Whatever the future of work for creatives holds, HP is looking to offer you the tech to make it easier.

While we love Apple computers there's always room in our lives for an excellent Windows PC. HPs new lineup includes updates and revisions of some of its most-loved models, including the HP Envy and the HP Z2 G9 Mini Workstation. As well as a bold new Chromebook Dragonfly that feels incredibly overpowered – really, I came away wanting a Chromebook more than I ever thought possible.

Read below where I'll go into a bit more detail on the models and laptops that caught my eye, including the excellent ZBook range. These aren't available to buy until September / October but it gives you a chance to circle any of HP's new tech that impresses. In the meantime, take a look at the best HP laptop deals available now, or keep an eye out for deals on HPs current laptops this Memorial Day and Amazon Prime Day.

First impressions of the new HP line-up

A photo of the new HP ZBook Studio

Compact, stylish and powerful – you will want a HP ZBook (Image credit: Future)

01. HP ZBook Studio / Pro

The best new HP laptop for creative professionals

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7, i9 (up to 14-core)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 - NVIDIA RTX A5XXX
Memory: Up to 64GB
Internal storage: 4TB
Display: up to 16-inch, 4K, 120Hz
Connections: Thunderbolt, USB-C, VGA,
Speakers: Bang & Olufsen; Quadspeakers

If you want more power then HP's two new mobile workstations should be on your most wanted list. The new HP ZBook Studio G9 is the maxed-out model, while the updated HP ZBook Power G9 will be a little more affordable.

The HP Studio G9 packs in a Intel Core i9 vPro CPU with a choice of either a VIDIA RTX A5500 or a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and up to 64GB RAM and 4TB of storage to deal with any large images or intensive video-editing you'll need to do.

If your budget or workload doesn't match the setup of the Studio, then HP's new Pro G9 model still looks like a great option. The ZBook Power G9 has a smaller 15.6-inch display (the Studio has a 4K, 120Hz, 16-inch screen), and inside is an Intel Core i9 vPro processor, 64GB RAM and 8TB storage.

This laptop feels great to use and looks like it will be a good alternative to the MacBook. The screen is fantastic and it feels fast and responsive to use, the only downside is we're going to have to wait until the Autumn to buy one.

A photo of the HP Envy 16 taken on a stand against a brick wall

The new HP Envy 16 looks like a great all-round laptop (Image credit: Future)

02. HP Envy 16

The best new all-round HP laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel i5, i7 and i9
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, Intel Arc A370M Graphics, Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Memory: 16GB, 32GB
Internal storage: 512GB - 1TB
Display: 16-inch diagonal, UHD+
Connections: 2 Thunderbolt, x2 USB-A, 1 HDMI 2.1, SD media card reader, headphone jack
Speakers: Bang & Olufsen; Quadspeakers

This is HP's first 16-inch Envy model and it's aimed at creatives and gig workers, the setup comes with a range of models and specs for all kinds of uses. Inside HP has included a choice of Intel 12th Gen Intel Core i5, i7 or i9 CPUs, and you can opt for either 16GB or 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB internal storage.

The HP Envy 16 comes with all the ports you may want, including two Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A, SD card, HDMI 2.1 and headphone jack. The laptop's camera and AI software really stood out in my brief hands-on with the HP Envy 16; the HP True Vision camera auto focuses on whoever is speaking and could even detect this in a crowd of seven people. It auto adjusts light and balance too. At a time when more of us are working remotely, this is a fantastic inclusion. 

Both versions of the PH Envy come with the new HP Palette suite that enables you to easily link up a second device

HP also has a 17.3-inch model of the Envy, which is designed as a desktop replacement but its wider and larger screen also ensures this is an eye-catching new model if you have the money (and space). For creatives, both versions of the HP Envy come with the new HP Palette suite that enables you to easily link up a second device – such as a drawing tablet.

In the hand the new HP Envy 16 feels light and easy to handle, the large screen and vibrant screen impresses and its camera and AI tech is something I never realised I needed until now – if you work remotely this could really help your meetings run smoothly.

A photo of the HP Dragonfly Chromebook

A powerful laptop that will change your view of Chromebooks (Image credit: Future)

03. HP Dragonfly Chromebook

The best new HP laptop for creative professionals

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7, i9 (up to 14-core)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 - NVIDIA RTX A5XXX
Memory: up to 64GB
Internal storage: 4TB
Display: up to 16-inch, 4K, 120Hz
Connections: Thunderbolt, USB-C, VGA,
Speakers: Bang & Olufsen; Quadspeakers

HP’s Dragonfly Chromebook is the best thing I've seen in a long time. Seriously, even in a room with the Envy 16 and the ZBook Studio I still found myself heading back to this ChromeOS laptop. The Dragonfly Chromebook is expected this summer for $1,149 / £1,400, so it's not cheap, but what do you get and why am I impressed?

For starters the base model of this ChromeOS laptop comes with a Core i3-1215U, 8GB of memory, 128GB of storage, and a QHD+ touch display – meaning it can be flipped to a tablet or used as a laptop. That i3 can be upgraded to a 12th Gen Intel processor, too. It also comes with the world’s first haptic touchpad on a Chromebook – which is a thing I never realised I needed – as well as the option for a screen that can hit an impressive 1,000 nits of brightness.

Whichever way you use it this is a light laptop and comes with a pen stylus so it's art work ready. It's tactile and lovely to hold, and that screen impresses. I regularly use my ageing Google Pixelbook for creating digital art – however Google still needs to get more high-end apps on its store to match the power of new laptops such as the Dragonfly. If ChromeOS can bring more apps to make use of this laptop, Chromebooks could really be something in 2022.

A photo of the HP Z2 Mini workstation

The small HP Z2 G9 Mini packs a lot of power for creatives (Image credit: Future)

04. HP Z2 G9 Mini Workstation

The best new all-round HP laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel i5, i7 and i9
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, Intel Arc A370M Graphics, Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Memory: 16GB, 32GB
Internal storage: 512GB - 1TB
Display: 16-inch diagonal, UHD+
Connections: 2 Thunderbolt, x2 USB-A, 1 HDMI 2.1, SD media card reader, headphone jack
Speakers: Bang & Olufsen; Quadspeakers

The new HP Z2 mini G9 Workstation looks like a traditional rack-mounted tower PC or indeed an Apple Mac Mini and is being pitched as the ideal high-end solution for creatives, art workers, video editors and designers. Inside are a choice of either Intel vPro 7 or even the newer K-Series processors; a Nvidia RTX A2000 graphics card can handle any task. For added performance, choose the K-Series Multiple HP Z2 mini G9's that can be linked up and stacked to give you even more power.

These small black boxes are a neat 8.3 x 8.6 x 2.7-inch in size, in my demo HP says the devices have been used in some data centres for cheaper storage and server solutions. This little box of tricks can support up to eight displays and features USB, DP, HDMI, VGA and Thunderbolt ports. Security comes from HP's own Wolf Pro Security.

In my hands-on there is something very functional and work-like about the HP Z2 mini G9. Unlike a Mac Mini or even the Acer ConceptD series this little workstation lacks style. But it more than has the power under the hood to do all the heavy image and video lifting you'll want. If you're looking for power and style, then the new HP ZBook series is the laptop you need (above).

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Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creative Bloq. Ian is the former editor of many leading magazines, including digital art focused ImagineFX and 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. Ian launched the magazine X360 in 2005 and has relaunched many others. In his early career Ian wrote for music and film magazines, including Uncut, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. With over 25 years' experience in both print and online journalism, Ian has worked on many leading video game and digital art brands. With a passion for video games and art, Ian combines his loves to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq. In his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.