If Only Your HP Pavilion Looked This Good

Honestly, the more I play with enterprise hardware the more I wonder why we have to keep putting up with unattractive, kitschy designs in the consumer field, and the HP EliteBook 8760w really hammers it home. The 8760w isn't just a massive improvement on its predecessor (whose three-tone design wound up being a mess of clashing styles), it's a massive improvement on notebooks in general. Understanding the materials used in the construction of something like the 8760w are much more costly than the cheap plastic used for bargain basement notebooks, it's still tough to argue that it doesn't look better than the lion's share of Windows-based notebooks available.

If you read our review of the HP EliteBook 8460p or any of our continuing coverage of the 2011 HP refresh, nothing in the design of the 8760w is going to seem new to you. As a 17" notebook, it's sizable without being needlessly bulky; many of the gaming notebooks we've tested are both heavier and broader.

The gunmetal gray finish with silver accents is a constant throughout the entire design except for the bottom, though the lid enjoys a spiral brushed aluminum pattern and an HP logo that glows when the system is on. When you open it, you'll find a matte screen (much more on this later) with a clean black matte trim and fairly minimal flex owing to the reinforced frame.

Inside surfaces are largely the same gunmetal gray, of slightly varying shades, with the touch-based shortcut bar on the 8740w completely removed in place of four physical silver buttons: a wireless toggle, a mute button, HP's QuickWeb shortcut, and a calculator shortcut. Each of the buttons are lit with white LEDs, and the keyboard itself is backlit white with white LED toggles on the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys. Flex on the keyboard is minimal, and the touchpad surface is a joy to use, but undoubtedly some users will be bothered by the switch to the chiclet keyboard that's become the de facto standard across all of HP's notebooks, consumer or business. Personally I'm fine with it, but the arrow keys remain a sore spot for me: while the double-sized left and right keys aesthetically fill out the design, from a practical sense they feel strange compared to a garden variety directional key set.

Everything else about the feel of the 8760w is absolutely stellar, though. The keyboard is easy and pleasant to use, the touchpad has exactly the right amount of traction, and the three mouse buttons (take that, Apple!) have just the right amount of travel and resistance while making virtually no noise.

When you flip the 8760w over, you find the same fantastic single service panel that HP has deployed across their entire business line, making the notebook incredibly easy to service or upgrade. Honestly this is a development I wouldn't mind seeing carried over to consumer notebooks, although the difference there is that while a business notebook is designed to be serviced by an IT department, I can just see some hapless end user mangling their shiny new $500 laptop by popping off the bottom and messing with the insides. Maybe it's for the best that this stays in the market it's in.

As a whole, the HP EliteBook 8760w's design is much more minimalist and functional than its predecessor, owing at least lip service to the Jonathan Ive school of form and function intertwined. HP's mentality with their 2011 business notebooks is that "business" doesn't have to mean "stodgy," and they've hit a near perfect compromise with their new EliteBooks.

Introducing the HP EliteBook 8760w Application and Futuremark Performance
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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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