HP TECH TAKES /...
Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
Best HP Laptops for Data Science
October 11, 2019
Trying to find the best laptops for data science and analysis can be a challenge. The world of data science is constantly evolving, with the demands of complex data handling changing and expanding all the time. You risk falling behind or getting bogged down when you use the wrong device, particularly if it’s been a while since your last upgrade.
In this article, we take a thorough look at a full slate of laptops from HP®. You’ll find serious variety here, but these models all offer the portability and performance that professionals need in the field.
Here are the devices we’ll focus on:
- HP ENVY 17t laptop
- HP Spectre x360 - 15-df0069nr laptop
- HP ZBook 15v G5 mobile workstation
Before we get into these specific models from HP®, let’s discuss the components and features you should focus on during your search.
What features make the best laptop for a data scientist?
Data science is a big field with many different focal points. And while we all have our own unique situations, many of the features preferred by data scientists are consistent at all levels. Beyond the field itself, it’s worth noting that the best laptop for data processing would also be a great multipurpose laptop for any user. As you set out to find the right laptop for your data science career, keep the following specs in mind.
1. Processor and GPU
When it comes to deep learning, artificial intelligence, and other applications, data science demands a good processor. Making sure you’re well-prepared in this respect can cut out a lot of hassle, particularly if you’re concerned about an increasing workload. Not all processors are the same, but you should try to focus on the latest-generation options.
While it may be less important for some users, a high-capacity GPU is critical for the most complex data science applications, like deep learning and AI. While conventional processors struggle with certain formats, a good GPU from NVIDIA® or AMD® will be more than up for the task. As with your processor, the latest generation will be the best choice to match the performance you need.
Data work can be demanding, so the more memory the better. But how much RAM do you need? For some users, 8GB can be enough RAM to start, but 16GB is a better target most data science applications. Fortunately, the models in this guide have options to customize your configuration or expand beyond that level on your own. And if you’re trying to save at checkout, you can just configure yours for a little less capacity and then upgrade when the need arises.
As the scale of data sciences grows, the size of software and files have grown too. Cloud storage can offer some help here to handle any bulky archives and long-term storage, but you’ll likely want to access your most important files offline. Of course, your needs depend on your routine, but 1TB of storage is a solid rule of thumb. And if you choose a solid-state drive (SSD), you can get away with less because you’re probably prioritizing speed over storage capacity.
4. Size and weight
Measurements and physical weight are common characteristics we all use to evaluate portability when shopping for a new laptop. That being said, they’re not the only factors you should keep in mind.
Power consumption and energy efficiency should also play a part in your decision. Less efficient devices face an uphill battle, particularly with growing energy costs. If your routine demands a laptop with a good power profile, check for certifications from groups like ENERGY STAR® and EPEAT®.
Security is another key consideration that connects to mobility: if a laptop isn’t secure, is it really portable? Protecting your personal information and work, especially sensitive data or projects, is paramount. Each model we’ll cover packs its own robust suite of security systems, and there are even some with additional biometric security and anti-tamper features.
Best HP laptops for data science
1. HP ENVY 17t laptop
The HP ENVY 17t laptop has a surprisingly accessible price point and a great mix of base features. It has a generous 17.3-inch diagonal 1080p display along with room to customize for a higher-performance build and built-in DVD writer. Plus, it’s got an optional touch screen.
High bar for hardware
From the robust HP ENVY line, this laptop is a strong starting candidate with a great hardware ceiling for its class. Choose between an 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 8265U or 8565U processor with dedicated NVIDIA GeForce® MX250 graphics in each configuration.
Customize yours with up to 16GB of RAM and choose the perfect storage configuration for your needs. It starts with a 1TB SATA and 16GB of Intel Optane™ memory for added speed, but you can upgrade to the high-efficiency mix of a 512GB SSD and 32GB of Intel Optane memory.
Strong marks for security and portability
The HP ENVY 17t is the most affordable option on this list, but it still sets an extremely high bar for security. In addition to passive HP security features, it has an integrated privacy camera kill and a fingerprint reader to thwart bad actors.
Designed to accommodate a larger screen, this HP ENVY weighs a little more than other options on our list at 6.14 lbs, but it also has a super-thin 0.88-inch thick build. Plus, you’re backed up by HP Fast Charge technology that lets you restore up to 50% of your battery in under an hour.
ENERGY STAR certified
A bigger display typically equates to a bigger power drain. Not the HP ENVY 17t laptop, which is recognized for its low environmental impact with ENERGY STAR certification and an EPEAT Silver rating.
2. HP Spectre x360 15-inch laptop
With a premium build and competitive price, the HP Spectre x360 - 15-inch is a great laptop for any purpose. Designed to support mobility and a variety of different work styles, it provides more flexibility than any other laptop on our list and has a strong emphasis on multimedia.
High-resolution 4K touch screen
For some users, the centerpiece of this HP Spectre x360 will be the stunning 15.6-inch diagonal 4K WLED-backlight display. It also has edge-to-edge glass and comes with full touch functionality.
A touch screen can present a certain level of anxiety for those who use it regularly, afraid that they will wear down the screen. That’s particularly true if you damage your display through use but still depend on touch. Well, that’s exactly why the HP Spectre x360 features Corning® Gorilla® Glass NBT™ to protect against extra contact stress.
The flexibility of a convertible
As an x360 model, this laptop is a fully convertible 2-in-1 laptop. You can use it as a traditional laptop or switch it into a full tablet after folding the display back against the keyboard.
There is also a range of intermediate settings to explore in-between the standard laptop and tablet modes. It features a strong hinge for easy and secure conversion so you can explore different settings for taking notes, crunching numbers, showcasing data, or just keeping recipes handy in the kitchen (or the lab).
Great energy efficiency and portability
The HP Spectre x360 15r tops our list for battery performance, offering as much as 16 hours or more during mixed use. Plus, the HP Fast Charge feature gets you back to 50% capacity in 45 minutes or less. It’s even ENERGY STAR certified and has an EPEAT Silver rating.
And in terms of portability, this laptop weighs only 4.79 lbs and measures a mere 0.76 inches thick. Plus, like all the models we’ll cover today, it has a great security outlay including a biometric fingerprint reader and privacy camera kill switch.
3. HP ZBook 15v G5 mobile workstation
For the absolute best performance, the HP ZBook 15v G5 mobile workstation has amazing features and a high ceiling for customization. Drawn from our high-performance HP Z series, the HP ZBook 15v G5 is also highly portable and not as pricey as you’d imagine. It’s actually one of the most affordable mobile workstations from HP®, even when upgraded for a 4K display.
Start by choosing your own processor, including the next-gen Intel Xeon® E-2176M processor with integrated Intel UHD Graphics P630. You can also add on the NVIDIA Quadro® P600 graphics card for a powerful dedicated GPU to handle the most complex data tasks. These components are the bedrock for some serious power.
Backing that up, you’ll find a high upper limit for memory and storage. For RAM, configure up to 32GB before choosing from a variety of storage options in both HDD and SSD formats. To get the best performance, you can opt for as much as 3TB worth of SSD storage.
Great security and a rugged build
The HP ZBook 15v G5 is one of the most secure laptops on our list. You’ll get an extra line of biometric defense in the form of a built-in fingerprint reader, plus a standard security lock slot for extra protection. That’s in addition to a full range of passive and integrated security features.
Security on-the-go doesn’t just mean protection against intrusion or theft, because there’s the physical well-being of your device to consider as well. The HP ZBook 15v G5 is built for durability and passed the rigorous MIL-STD-810G standards.
Despite all that potential capacity, the HP ZBook 15v G5 still has strong marks for energy efficiency. How you configure yours can change the specifics of your power profile, but there are many configurations available with both ENERGY STAR and EPEAT recognition.
For battery life, it offers up to 10 hours on a single charge, with HP Fast Charge technology all configurations. With this HP ZBook, you can restore as much as 50% power with just a 30-minute charge.
Finding the best laptop for data science
The demands placed on data scientists and analysts will only continue to grow, and the same goes for the laptops they use every day. With this list, we’ve found the 3 best options from HP®, all of which can be customized to meet your specific needs for performance. Whichever laptop you choose, you’ll be better equipped to handle every task that comes your way.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.