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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  • Siorus - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Nice writeup as always Dustin. I was just in the market for a 17" mobile workstation, and it came down to either the 8760w or the Dell Precision M6600. I very nearly went with the HP because I wanted the ips panel, but ultimately I wanted Optimus more.

    At least I know for sure now that the ~$1k price premium on the HP (before adding the IPS panel or the 5010) evidently stems from some delusion that the HP brand still carries a reputation for premium products (something which I suspect most people stopped believing at about the same time that calculators with reverse polish notation started losing popularity), rather than because the machine is engineered and built to a standard that justifies it.

    Looking at those temperatures and the machine's internals makes me glad I went with the Dell. Mine has a 2920XM in it (55w TDP vs 45 for the 2820) and it still doesn't get anything like as hot as the HP does. Furmark and prime95 will get the GPU (a quadro 4000 in this case, which I believe has the same 100w power envelope as the 5010, if not the same real-world TDP) and the CPU into the low 70s and low 80s, respectively. CPU temps over 90*c in a 17" dtr are beyond ridiculous; they're downright asinine. Trying to cool a 100w GPU AND a 45w CPU in a notebook using only one fan is idiotic.

    I mean, I'd love to have the 5010 and that ips panel in the m6600, but from a build quality standpoint the Dell looks to be a much nicer machine. And with Optimus and a nearly 100Whr battery I can see 7hrs+ of real-world usage on a charge. If you need the IPS panel (and those of you that do already know that you do), this is your only option until Dell releases theirs (hopefully later this year). For the rest of you that need a 17" mobile workstation... I'd strongly suggest taking a pass on this one and grabbing a m6600 instead.
  • Solidstate89 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    As an owner of a Dell Precision M4600, I have to agree with everything you just said. I essentially use the same CPU (just clocked .1GHz lower) as this, and yet it runs at least 10 degrees cooler under load if not more. I can't believe it can even get remotely that hot in a much larger 17" chassis.
  • Aaron_J - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    I also absolutely agree with your comment. I too looked at the Dell vs the HP and ultimately chose the m6600 and could not be happier with my choice. Nearly everything 8760w does, the m6600 does better and for less money. The m6600 bases at a much lower price point and offers nearly the same components.

    As of yet the m6600 is not available with an IPS screen or the Nvidia 5010m, however it still does not lag behind in performance because of this. The Quadro 4000m is still a beast and ultimately matches the 5010m when overclocked. I overclock my 4000m to 620/1240/1625 (core/shader/memory) from the stock 475/950/1250 clock and the temps still max out at just over 70*c while gaming. Im sure that the 5010m would also be a great a overclocker but certainly not in the 8760w, the cooling is simply far too inadequate to handle it.

    There are many other smaller details that I believe push the m6600 ahead of the 8760w, and as such it'd be great if Anandtech did a comparison review of the two.
  • Sufo - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    16:9 is for TVs.

    I don't understand why there has been this push. Who does it benefit? The only things it's beneficial for is the elimination of black bars around video. Big deal. To be honest, I'd happily sacrifice a little pixel density to have an appropriate aspect ratio. There were very good reasons for the adoption of 16:10.

    I was going to buy an x220 - didn't because of the 16:9 panel. It's now becoming apparent that I can't keep this up, as soon I will have no other options.

    Oh, and that pixel density jump that everyone's waiting for? Not happening any time soon. Next gen of consoles will output at 1080p mark my words - and video won't be released in higher than 1080p for some time (not to mention the limits of HDMI etc). So until there is media that requires greater res, we are stuck here.

    If anyone can offer me some words of comfort/hope, please feel free.
  • Ushio01 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    When manufacturing LCD's from the standard set size of glass you can get more 16:9 than 16:10 panels of the equivalent size and also get less waste glass.

    As to your other comment the most common size monitors were 5:4 1280x1024, 16:10 1680x1050 and now 16:9 1920x1080 so yes monitor resolutions are increasing.

    In the UK for what it cost to buy a 22" 1680x1050 TFT monitor 3 years ago you can now get a 23" 1920x1080 IPS monitor or if you want something bigger a 27" 2560x1440 monitor is now available for what it used to cost to buy a 1920x1200 monitor.
  • HMTK - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    You get more pixels on your screen but the ratio between vertical and horizontal if getting way out of proportion making the higher resolution less efficient. Maybe 16:9 is nice for movies and a wide spreadsheet but 16:10 and even 4:3 or 5:3 are far better when working on text documents or drawings. I still have a nc6320 or soemthing with a 15" 1400 x 1050 screen. It's getting a bit long in the tooth but I still like that screen better than the 1600 x 900 affair that's common on many laptops today.
  • noeldillabough - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    I too feel your pain but the performance increase s so worth it. Also, buy the X220 its the best netbook ever (yeah it's a laptop but compared to my workstations it's a netbook)

    I have an Air too and I love the X220 the best.
  • Medallish - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I actually like the new HP business laptops looks, I ordered a Probook 6465b myself, sports the same kind of look as Elitebook, although at 14" and with Llano :P.

    I hope Lenovo sees this and starts improving their Thinkpads, and that finally we start seeing screens improving, another reason why I bought the probook was the 1600x900 that's almost impossible to find in a mid-priced laptop.
  • arnavvdesai - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    The Sony Vaio Z has a 13" screen & it has a 1080p resolution. Its time to get better screens.
  • Sladeofdark - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Thank you for the great review as always. Now im going to go find out what Clevo is.. and purchase one.

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