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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  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    You guys really need an edit button ;) at least for a few minutes. I forgot to say thanks for the reply!
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Got a question for Brian, why are the manufacturers phasing them out less than a year after launching new models? I'd assumed that the 2011 models would be around for at least a few years like their 07/08 ancestors were.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    I think it's mostly that the manufacturers aren't going to be making any new versions of their 30" panels. Heck, HP has been selling the LP3065 for a very long time, and while it's a great 30" panel, the lack of any improvements over a 4 year span is pretty shocking. Now, they're figuring they can make a 27" LCD and sell it for nearly the same price, and get more of them per glass substrate.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    <<Now, they're figuring they can make a 27" LCD and sell it for nearly the same price, and get more of them per glass substrate. >>
    I really don't see that idea taking off.
    Sure, with professional monitors the class of Eizo and NEC which are used in business environments, it can work as price is only a small fraction of the consideration (although especially business environments with the need for big software will likely still want the 16:10 aspect ratio).
    But I doubt anyone in their right mind will take to the idea of paying the same price for 27" monitors that you used to pay for 30" monitors. With the switch from 16:10 to 16:9 in the 21"-27" scene, at least you also got decreased prices across the board.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    HP has replaced the LP3065 with the ZR30w earlier this year. With the 30" model being a top end item aimed primarily at business customers; not the consumer market several years between new revisions doesn't strike me as a major problem.

    Truth be told, I wasn't expecting new models for a few years and suspect the impetus will either be LED backlights finally surpassing the best CCFL backlights in color accuracy and stability, or when the hardware driving the panels becomes capable of running at 120hz for 3d support. LED backlighting is what I'm hoping to hold out for before replacing my 3090. My desktop is more of a space heater, but I'd still like to be able to drop ~50-75W from my main screen.
  • KPOM - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    While these desktop-replacement EliteBook monsters are nice for their raw power, I think they are a bit off the mark for the average enterprise buyer. A large company looking to outfit a workforce of consultants or traveling salespeople with notebooks might keep their employees happier with smaller and lighter notebooks.

    Will HP be producing any ultrabooks under the EliteBook brand? I don't need a quad-core i7 to run Outlook, PowerPoint, or Excel, but a .8" thick, 3 lb notebook with a nice 1440x900 screen would be just perfect.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    A lot of people don't realize the value of a desktop-replacement monster like this one. I used to decry 17" notebooks just like most of you do, but ever since I graduated college I've found that a 17" notebook can actually be practically ideal for travelling. When I was at CES I set my Studio 17 up in the hotel room to get serious work done, and then brought my ThinkPad X100e with me in the field.

    There are circumstances where an 8760w would be ideal; as a business machine, the user could easily carry his or her work to and from home. Most of their travel time would likely be commuting to and from work on a daily basis, and that makes the notebook's weight largely irrelevant.
  • Belard - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Not even Apple makes a .8" thick notebook. Keep in mind, super-thin notebooks are:
    (A) not usually the fastest options
    (B) Very very few ports
    (C) More breakable
    (D) Less screen options.

    The ThinkPad X1 is 1" thick, 3.7 lbs, 13" screen @ 1366x768, gorilla glass, lighte-up keyboard. Can come with Core i5 or i7 CPU, 4 or 8 GB RAM, HD or SSD, Optional broadband card. Issues: noisy fan and the keyboard gets warm, short battery time. Starts at $1300 (NO DVD-RW Drive)

    The ThinkPad X220 is also 1" thick (Looks thicker than the X1), 3.0lbs, 12.5" screen @ 1366x768. Has a normal keyboard, almost silent, i5 or i7 CPUs. No glare screen. Starts at $900. (NO DVD-RW Drive)

    ThinkPad T420s is the closest spec. 1" thick, 14" screen at 1600x900 (Remember, 16:10 is dead - those bastards!), i5 CPU, 4~8GB RAM. But its 3.9lbs.
    Starts at $1,150.

    I personally prefer the T420 (non S) because its $250 cheaper, but its thicker and heavier.

    Whenever I order ThinkPads for my clients or friends, I usually get them in 10 days or less. Not 2-3 months.
  • KPOM - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    I'm typing this response on my .68" thick Apple notebook, complete with a Core i7 processor. No, it isn't as fast as the 8760, but it's quick enough for about 90% of traveling professionals. I raised the question since the EliteBook line is well-made and specifically targeted at enterprises. Thus, if there will be an EliteBook Ultrabook, it will likely be something that large companies notice.
  • Belard - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Okay... I am in COMPLETE agreement Dustin Sklavos about the computer industry's stupid desire for 16:9. Yes, its fine for HD-Movies, etc. but for computer usage, I want my 120 pixeld back!

    During the transition to 16:9 with Lenovo. Here is how BAD 16:9 is... I buy/order ThinkPad for friends and clients. I compared a new ThinkPad T14 with a 16:10 vs a ThinkPad with a 15" 16:9. Both had the same vertical resolution. Both monitors were the exact same height.

    When working with small screens... it just makes the screen feel smaller, more cramped! (*@&$#$@ Drop the 1080 for bloody business computers! I'll be keeping my OLD 24" 1920x1600 monitor for as long as possible! I'm GLAD to see 27" monitors hitting the market with 2550x1440... but I'd really WANT to see a 27~28" with 2560x1600 instead. Such monitors are already OUT OF HD-SPEC anyway... so why stick with STUPID 16:9....? Oh yeah, it costs LESS to make a 16:9 vs 16:10... as as wide screens are cheaper than 4:3 monitors (Which are still nice). But at 30" and $1200 - these have to sit WAY back and suck up way too much desk space. We're still looking at $1000 for such a 27". *sigh*

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    $6500 for this notebook? Okay, its more workstation than business notebook - right? With LOUD fans and chicklet keyboard, it should be far cheaper. That standard HP keyboard is HORRIBLE, tiny UP/Down cursor keys? (Only backlit ThinkPad keys are also island style, but with some slight curve).

    ThinkPads don't come in 17" anymore (or at this moment). Not much desire for such screens, especially when 15.6" 1920x1080 screens is almost as big as a 17.3".

    For $3045, I custom built a ThinkPad W520 (Workstation Series).
    Same i7-2820QM CPU, 8GB RAM. Has a 1920x1080 FHD screen (these look very nice, but I doubt as good as on this HP). Quadro 2000M with 2GB. This is usually half to a third slower than the Quadro 5000 series.

    160GB intel SSD (320 series) drive (better than that crap Micron drive) - but its easy to simply save $320 to go with a regular HDD and buy an aftermarket Intel 510 series 250GB unit.

    This config includes BlueTooth 3.0 / Centrino 6300N (if you you're going to upgrade beyond the basic... might as well go all the way), Mobile Broadband with GPS. 3 year on-site warranty with Damage protection.

    This weighs about 5lbs, far better keyboard, better touch pad. Meanwhile HP double-copies ThinkPad's 3-button touchpad design as well as the mouse-stick in the middle of the keyboard (Might as well just get a ThinkPad). Battery life is about 4 hours with general usage. The HP has about a 1~2hr running time? This is almost useless for business!

    I've setup an X220 (13" screen), it has about a 5~6hr battery life (optional big battery lasts about 10~20hrs), barely 3lbs, 1" thick with an i5 CPU.

    Most of these ThinkPads are very quiet. The T and W series are very quiet. Bigger X series as well, not the X1 - way too thin with bad cooling.

    For $6500... this notebook needs to offer a lot more. Is this HP trying look like Apple?

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