PROCESSOR: Intel®️ Core ™ ️ i7-1265U (10 core)
Graphics: NVIDIA® T550 laptop GPU
RAM: 16GB DDR5-4800 (8GB-64GB available with custom options)
Screen: 14 inches, 1920 x 1200, IPS, anti-glare, 250 nits, 45% NTSC
Storage: 512GB PCIe® NVMe ™ TLC SSD (256GB-2TB available with customization)
Ports: 2x USB-A 5 Gbps, 1 HDMI 2.0, 2x Thunderbolt Type-C 40 Gbps, 1x headphone / microphone combo
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E AX211, Bluetooth 5.3 (optional)
Camera: 5 MP webcam
Dimension: 315.6 x 224.3 x 19.9 mm (12.4 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches)
Weight: 1.47 kg (3.24 lbs)
The HP ZBook Firefly G9 is the latest offering in HP’s ZBook series, aimed specifically at professional level users; companies that want to run professional apps, view powerpoints, and with an expectation of reliability.
At $ 2,049 for the base model, it is on the market alongside the Dell XPS 17 9710 as a high-quality, customizable laptop suitable for creative activities across the board. If you’re looking for something more specific, check out our list of best laptops for graphic design.
I used the 14-inch version of the HP ZBook Firefly G9 for a week, in a wide range of writing, design work, video calling and photo editing. I also ran a series of benchmarks to see how it compares to other laptops and workstations.
HP ZBook Firefly G9: design and display
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The first thing you notice with the HP ZBook Firefly G9 is the minimal exterior; is a silver aluminum frame above and below, with a subtle plastic bevel around the screen. Out of the box, it looks and feels great to use. The 16:10 screen (as opposed to the standard 16: 9) is pleasantly tall, offering a larger workspace and the anti-reflective coating is effective; I often used it sitting with my back to a bright window and the screen was still legible.
The keyboard is well spaced and solid, with good travel and a satisfying but not too loud sound. There are three backlight options, bright, dim and off, and as a night owl, it’s appreciated! There is also a programmable key, which is always welcome. The touchpad is also very spacious, making it very easy to move the mouse.
The only problem I encountered with the keyboard is the close proximity of pg up and pg down to the arrow keys; when editing text, I often jumped up and down pages while trying to go a single space left or right, which is a nuisance. There is a fingerprint scanner included as an upgrade option, although I was unable to get it to work or even be detected as a device. Unfortunately, according to some online surveys, this appears to be a relatively common problem with HP’s integrated fingerprint scanners and one without a simple solution.
From a constructive point of view, the positions of the ports are very practical. I appreciate the flexibility of having two USB-C ports, both of which can be used to charge the laptop, as well as one USB-A on either side, which means that wired devices can be placed on either side without dragging cables anywhere.
Another welcome addition is to row F: a microphone mute key, meaning you’re not left looking for the button in the program if you urgently need to turn off the microphone during a call. And for those concerned about webcam safety, a physical webcam cover makes it quick and easy to hide with a single gesture.
HP ZBook Firefly G9: security features
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As a constant user of Tiles (on my keys, my wallet and, with a little less success, my dog) I’m always eager to see a product with a built-in Tile. This adds GPS tracking and the ability to “phone” your laptop, which means that if you have a habit of leaving it in slightly odd places around the house (or elsewhere), it’s much harder to lose. The laptop also comes with HP Wolf Security, business-focused security software that works on most HP business products, including printers, ensuring that security can be maintained throughout the organization.
HP ZBook Firefly G9: performance
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The HP ZBook Firefly G9 is a highly customizable (in the US) unit, making it easy to add extra RAM and storage without the hassle of self-installation. The unit I tested had 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB of memory, a backlit keyboard, and a fingerprint scanner included. The base unit has 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB of storage, no backlight on the keyboard, and no fingerprint scanner, and a full capacity version can have up to 64GB of RAM, one processor Intel Core i7 and 2TB of storage.
A relatively common problem with slim laptops is overheating, and unfortunately, that’s no different for the Firefly. When playing a fairly normal game (Stone hearth) the laptop fans got very loud and the bottom of the laptop was hot. This was not unexpected, however, and is easily remedied with a raised stand. However, the loud fan does not bode well for creative work that may require more attention to audio detail.
The laptop claims a battery life of up to 13 hours, although with my heavier use I found myself reaching for the charging cable about twice a day. It sure is extremely fast to load.
I ran the HP ZBook Firefly G9 through several benchmarks to see how it performs and the results mirrored my opinion – it’s a good machine, but not top-of-the-line.
PCMark recommends an Essentials score of 4100+ (which the Firefly more than doubles with an Essentials score of 9525). This reflects the computer’s ability to perform a variety of simple tasks, such as opening apps, video conferencing, and browsing the web. They recommend a productivity score of 4500+ for typical office work and light media (in genre for things like using spreadsheets and writing). The HP ZBook Firefly G9 scored 8638. And for digital content creation, for which the Firefly G9 is specifically designed, the recommended digital content creation score is 3450+, with the workstation having a rating of 6380. This covers elements like photo editing, rendering and video editing.
Going deeper in terms of benchmarking, I also ran Pugetbench for Photoshop and Premiere Pro benchmarks. These compare the system to a reference system (AMD Ryzen 5900X 12 Core processor, 10GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, 64 GB of RAM, 1 TB Samsung 960 Pro memory and Windows 10 Pro). Photoshop Puget’s score was relatively good at 654, beating the Dell Inc. XPS 15 7590 and the Acer Predator PH315-53 but not as good as the Apple MacBook Pro. Its Premiere Pro score was less than 493, with the lowest score in Effects, beating the Dell XPS 9570 but overall it compares rather poorly.
Another model of the HP ZBook Firefly G9 was also used by Puget and showed the difference the graphics card and RAM can make; with the upgraded graphics card and 32GB of RAM, the higher specification version nearly doubled Premiere Pro’s score to 892.
HP ZBook Firefly G9: Speakers
The HP ZBook Firefly G9 has excellent speakers, worthy of the Bang & Olufsen label. They offer a crisp, clean high-end, and the low-end is cramped and clean, albeit a little quiet (which can be expected from laptop speakers. The mid-highs could be a little more articulate, but this is probably a compromise to not have the typical current scratchy laptop spike that haunts most laptop speakers.
The speakers are mounted underneath the laptop which means that for the best audio performance the laptop should be on a hard, flat surface. They still perform admirably in your lap as they work and perform at their worst on soft, flat surfaces like sofa cushions.
Should you buy the HP ZBook Firefly G9?
The HP ZBook Firefly G9 is currently only available in a UK iteration, which is the tested model (16GB RAM, i7 1255U processor, 512GB SSD storage) priced at £ 1438.80. In the US it comes in a much more customizable size and customizable price range to match, ranging from $ 2,049.00 for the base model to $ 5,389.00 for the top of each spec.
In comparison with the Dell XPS 17 9710equally customizable, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the HP ZBook Firefly G9 has its weight, but the 16GB RAM version is underpowered for more powerful jobs like video rendering or audio design. While it should be able to handle most of the work that’s required of it, anyone looking to focus on video rendering or music production will want to upgrade to a more expensive version, an option that’s not yet available in the UK.