Introducing the HP EliteBook 8760w

Just over ten months ago, we had a chance to take a look at a very big, reasonably impressive mobile workstation: HP's EliteBook 8740w. It sported HP's DreamColor IPS screen at a glorious 1920x1200 resolution and had fairly beefy hardware under the hood, including the at-the-time fastest mobile workstation GPU, the NVIDIA Quadro 5000M. But since HP unveiled the dramatic redesign of their enterprise notebooks earlier this year, we've been anxiously anticipating the 8740w's refresh. Today we have it, specced to kill with a shiny new DreamColor IPS screen, Sandy Bridge quad-core processor, and an even faster NVIDIA Quadro GPU.

I'll go ahead and get this out of the way right now before we even get into the nitty gritty: the chassis on the 8760w is a massive improvement on the 8740w's schizophrenic aesthetic, but there's a cost that some of you aren't going to be willing to pay, and I'm not talking a monetary one. You may have noticed that all of HP's new business-class notebooks feature 16:9-aspect panels instead of the old standby 16:10, and the 8760w hasn't been spared. I personally don't have a huge problem with it, but it's hard to deny something's been lost here. Where consumer notebooks have potentially benefitted from the move to 16:9 (1280x800 to 1366x768 is basically a wash, while 17" notebooks got a boost from 1440x900 to 1600x900), the change from a 1920x1200 panel to a 1920x1080 panel is a loss; end of conversation.

With all that said, hopefully the move to Sandy Bridge and access to the new GF110-based Quadro will make the transition a little less painful.

HP EliteBook 8760w Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2820QM
(4x2.3GHz, 32nm, 8MB L3, Turbo to 3.4GHz, 45W)
Chipset Intel QM67
Memory 4x4GB Samsung DDR3-1333 (Max 4x8GB)
Graphics NVIDIA Quadro 5010M 4GB GDDR5
(384 CUDA cores, 450MHz/900MHz/2.6GHz core/shader/memory clocks, 256-bit memory bus)
Display 17.3" LED Matte IPS 16:9 1920x1080
(LGD02FC Panel)
Hard Drive(s) Micron C300 256GB SATA 3Gbps SSD
Optical Drive HP BD-ROM/DVD+-RW Combo Drive
Networking Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth v3.0
Audio IDT 92HD81B1X HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Mic and headphone jacks
Battery 8-Cell, 14.3V, 83Wh battery
Front Side SD/MMC Reader
Left Side Kensington lock
Exhaust vent
eSATA/USB Combo port
2x USB 3.0
4-pin FireWire
Right Side Headphone and mic jacks
USB 2.0 (charging)
USB 2.0
Smart Card Reader
Optical drive
Back Side Modem
Exhaust vent
AC adaptor
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 16.4" x 10.7" x 1.47" (WxDxH)
Weight 7.8 lbs
Extras Webcam
DreamColor IPS display
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB charging
HP Performance Advisor
Backlit keyboard with 10-key
Warranty 3-year limited warranty
Pricing Starting at $1,899
Priced as configured: $6,497

Thus far we've only really seen the i7-2820QM in the Sandy Bridge review notebook we received way back when Sandy Bridge was first launched, so the EliteBook 8760w is at least going to be our first experience with it "in the field" so to speak. It's a pretty beefy CPU, too, with a 2.3GHz nominal clock speed that turbos up to 3.1GHz on all four cores or a very healthy 3.4GHz on just one. That actually puts it within spitting distance of desktop Sandy Bridge quads, and it's a testament to the power efficiency of Intel's architecture. HP has also seen fit to grant it access to four memory slots and our review unit is specced with 16GB of non-ECC DDR3-1333.

The NVIDIA Quadro 5010M is a much more incremental update to its predecessor than the GeForce GTX 485M was to the 480M, though I suspect NVIDIA opted to continue using GF1x0 for their top shelf mobile workstation GPU due to its superior HPC capabilities. With the move to GF110, the 5010M now benefits from 384 CUDA cores instead of the 320 found on the previous generation Quadro 5000M, as well as bumps in clock speed to 450MHz on the core, 900MHz on the shaders, and 2.6GHz on the GDDR5. Gamers will undoubtedly be disappointed at the low clocks across the board, but the 5010M isn't really for them. While GF1x4 is more friendly for high-end mobile gaming hardware, GF1x0 likely remains the better choice for workstation tasks.

Our review unit is also bolstered by Intel's QM67 chipset, allowing for RAID 0/1/5 support as the EliteBook 8760w can support two 2.5" drives natively and a third if the user chooses to swap out the optical drive for another drive bay. As befitting a workstation notebook of this caliber, there's also virtually every type of connectivity the end user could ask for: eSATA, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, Bluetooth, and even ExpressCard/54 are all present.

If Only Your HP Pavilion Looked This Good
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  • Impulses - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    HP should showcase it at retail to show people what they're missing... You can't even buy desktop IPS screens at a brick & mortar store anymore, it's sad. I'm about to but three 1920x1200 displays (ZR24W or possibly the new Dell if I can get a discount) and I'm already dreading the day one of them dies, because I know I'll have even less options by then.
  • Roland00Address - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Ever since LG has made E-IPS screens you been seeing a steady decrease in prices for ips screens. This has accelerated now that LED monitors are the norm.

    Yes you can get IPS at B&M, and you can get them for $150 to $300 dollars. Currently microcenter has lg ips 226v for $159, bestbuy has lg ips 236v for $199, frys has lg ips 231p for $199. LG also designs the panels that other manufactures then use, Asus, Dell, HP, and Viewsonic all have ips monitors, and some of the monitors are in various B&M.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    The problem is that these eIPS screens are 6-bit color and not 8-bit. I think they're still a major improvement on TN and would love to see the market shift over to them, but they're not as good as full-on IPS panels (although I still very much prefer *VA panels for their deeper, inkier blacks.)
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    While they're better than TN, I dislike *VA for blackcrush. That's when the lowest 5-10% of the brightness all appear equally dark from head on, but pop up when looking from an angle. Hubble galaxy pictures tend to demonstrate this effect well since the edges of the galaxy generally fade down to the background black in a relatively smooth fashion.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Honestly I found my ZR24w (IPS) to crush blacks far worse than my LP2465 (*VA). A decently calibrated VA panel can produce fine detail in the darks, but the shimmer on an IPS panel's black drives me insane.
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Odd. My NEC 2090's and 3090 are blackcrush free. I have an HP panel I never tested for it, will take a look when I get home. I've never noticed anything that could be called shimmer on my screens; but I've never looked either...
  • velis - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Yep, agree with Dustin. This monitor is WAY better than my U2711, not to mention that it consumes A LOT less power. The U2711 heats like it was intended to (do only that) while this monitor stays perfectly cool. Plus backlight uniformity issues and bad out-of-factory colors - had to calibrate to get anything resembling good colors out of it.

    $500 + $200 = $700 * resdiff (1,78) = $1250, not $2500 (for the same res)
    I see no reason why the panel should be different except to keep the DPI lower on desktop, but I said I dream of a desktop variant of this same monitor == same panel.
    Much more competitive market == much lower prices. Limited to mfg options = higher prices.
    Agree about targeted pricing for a market, but I don't agree with the premium HP charges to this market.

    As far as I'm concerned, I super love this display and would gladly see it duplicated for my desktop. I hated the U2711 for its heating before, now I just do most of my work on this one... But I do agree a comparison would be in order. Mostly a $200 1080p desktop IPS will more than adequately serve as the primary screen for a crappy 1080p laptop. The dreamcolor is definitely expensive, but IMO it's worth it at this price point. Not so much at $2500 :P
  • velis - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Forgot to mention:
    You really have to see this monitor with your own eyes to see how good it really is. The colors are just so ... smooth ... I'm not sure it can even be described. Like the display was soothing your eyes as you look at it.
    Not to mention it's uniformity which compared to other LCDs is just about what LCD geometry is to CRTs.
  • wsaenotsock - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Well, looks like the workstation & enterprise products are finally succumbing to the market forces behind 16:9 panels. Oh, and simultaneously charging more for the IPS upgrade as well. Margins must be really tight.
  • alpha10 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I would like to see the 2 full HD screens compared for the 8760w.

    I did a comparison with the 8560w, and wasn't impressed by the Dreamcolor, the "grain" or "sparkle" was too much for me, the regular screen looked a lot cleaner and nicer. Obviously the Dreamcolor has much better viewing angles, but who cares about this when working and looking at the screen at an optimal position? I also found the over-saturated colors to be too much. For a web designer all the colors were too strong, I had to set the color profile down to sRGB to get correct colors.

    I ended up buying the 8760w with the regular screen, after a calibration using Spyder 3 Elite, the colors are perfect, gone is the blue tint that most TN panels have.

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