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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  • aranyagag - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    yeah I was planning to get a 17" DTR with sandybridge-- all was fine and dandy till I Got to the specifications for the screen. Sorry, but I want a 1200p screen. even when I watch videos-- which is rare because I prefer to watch on home theater and use my laptop for work-- I PREFER to have space above/below the screen for the menu bar.
    Well, I am waiting for the 1200p screens to return and if they don't -- I will eventually settle for a 15.6" 1080p screen. I just am not buying a 17" or larger laptop with only 1080p screen.
  • oshogg - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    17" is a little too big for my taste - I would appreciate a similar in-depth review (great job on this one by the way!) for HP 8560w. Specifically, I am interested in knowing that Quadro 1000M is any less taxing on battery than the one in 8760w.

  • teng029 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    certainly a much better design than Dell's current Latitude line. i've tried carrying a 17.3 inch notebook before and didn't particularly care for it. and like so many other posters have mentioned, i still prefer 16x10 panels.
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    As always, computers of this class are something your employer buys you. Individuals are not likely to pay for items like this, but organizations whose cost-accounting recognizes that the hardware is a small fraction of the cost of maintaining an employee are not going to be put off by a thousand dollar premium. Compared to the software packages that enterprises use, the amortized cost of support and infrastructure, and the salaries of the people that use them, six thousand in hardware is chump change.

    Buy this one with someone else's money, not your own, and you (and they) get the value expected for something this expensive.
  • jecs - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Thank you, That was what I had in mind for years, but still something I wanted to check over time. I worked for BP years ago and sure they provided fancy hardware and software even for contractors. I remember a Silicon Graphics computer on a corner and it was only used for an advanced student on one study. Today this HP laptop is way too superior but computing requirements may also increase with time.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I really don't see how the desktop space has somehow "lost" 30" monitors almost entirely. From my experience over the past years, the 30" crowd has been very stable. The 27" high-res didn't destroy anything and gave people a cheap middle ground between cheap 24" 1200p and overpriced 1600p 30" monitors. I think 27" 2560x1440 has been about the only positive development in the desktop monitor market for a long time, partially making up for the move to 1080p in the 21"-27" market.

    I personally hope the tablet/smartphone display development with high densities will transfer to the desktop market soon.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    From a conversation with my associate, Brian Klug (who handles our monitor reviews), 30" screens are being phased out of production entirely.
  • zaccun - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Thank god I've already got one then- That almost makes me want to save up and buy a couple more to hoard :<
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Gah!!! Like zaccun I'm tempted to go after a spare. If the replacement was 2844x1600 I could probably live with the aspect ratio reduction, but for anything resembling work vertical size is more important than width.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Ah, haven't heard anything like that on my regular computer news sites. And I haven't noticed any increase in prices with 30" screens. But I'll keep an eye out for that now. :-)

    Still, even with them being phased out, I will not pay 1000-1100€ for a 30" 2560x1600 screen when I get a 27" 2560x1440 for 600-650€. The added value for me just isn't there.

    Unless I will have a lot of spare money soon I'll try and wait until the pixel density goes to tablet/smartphone levels or at least gets closer to them. :-)

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