Last week, I got an email from HP asking if I’d like to take part in a review project. They were going to send me an HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation (model 8740w) which was fully loaded with 8gb of RAM and an NVIDIA Quadro 5000m GPU, and I would write and Tweet about my experiences with it. If I got that done, they would give me a second fully loaded EliteBook to give away to one of you guys.
That sounds like a pretty damned good deal, and so I decided to take one for the team and get a fully loaded laptop so that I could get one for you guys. I know, I know. I’m a martyr.
First, before we start, know that according to federal law, I have to inform you that HP sent me this laptop to keep; that’s called material compensation. I’m not going to let that color my review though, as I take a look at this thing over the next ten days or so. In addition to my opinions, I’m going to run it through our standard battery of Icrontic-approved benchmarks which will give you an unbiased look at the performance of the machine. The numbers won’t lie.
Next, you’ll want to know that as HP configured it, this thing is fully loaded. This sucker will run you almost $5000 at retail if you ordered it the way I have it. This machine is no joke. The specs are:
- Intel Core i7-740QM (1.73ghz, 6mb L3 Cache)
- 8gb DDR3-1333
- 17″ WUXGA (1920×1200) LED-backlight DREAMCOLOR display
- NVIDIA Quadro 5000m with dedicated 2gb DDR5 workstation-class GPU
- 500gb 7200RPM HD
- Full-sized backlit keyboard
- 230w external power adapter
It comes with some other perks too, like a fingerprint scanner, ambient light sensor, dual microphones, a three button trackpad mouse as well as a three button pointstick mouse (the nubby one), touch-sensitive media keys, a 2.0mp integrated webcam, and a LightScribe DVD +- RW burner. It’s also got a Bluetooth module and an Intel Centrino Ultimate N wireless adapter. I said fully loaded, and I meant it.
Clearly the price range puts it into the realm of serious content creation professionals or students only. This is not a daily touch-and-go fun machine, although it is without a doubt the lightest workstation-class machine I’ve ever had my hands on. Even with all this firepower, it’s only around 8 pounds. The shell is a very attractive brushed steel and the entire machine just screams fit and finish. This is, essentially, the Bentley of the HP mobile line, and every single detail shows it. The hinges are rock solid, the lid locks into place with a satisfying click, the mouse buttons are solid and the keyboard is a dream (I wish I could have a desktop version of the keyboard, it’s fantastic.)
I did a simple, non-scientific battery test: I fully charged it overnight and then took it to the office. I fired it up at 9:45 AM and did what I would consider “light” work; a lot of Wi-Fi activity (email, several browser tabs open, downloading files), and listening to MP3s from the hard drive. At 10:53 AM it hibernated. That’s right, the battery lasted just over an hour. It’s not a shock, though; with a Quadro 5000m and the massive LED-backlit display, there’s really nothing for it; this is not meant to be a netbook. Plug it in, and deal with it. You’re not going to run a Ferrari on a bunch of lantern batteries and solar panels, either.
Let’s talk about that display for a minute. Kids, I’m not lying. This is the most gorgeous display I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. The LED-backlit 1920×1200 panel is stunning. I mean, yes, it’s a $600 panel, but by the tubes this thing is a freaking masterpiece. I am now permanently spoiled and ruined, because my previously “really nice” 24 inch Samsung panel on my desktop now looks like a muddy mess in comparison. My other laptop is just unforgivable. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Nearly every single inch of this beast screams pure power. I said nearly. If you’re spending $5000 on a mobile workstation, there is no point in getting a mechanical hard drive as your primary. I understand the capacity is nice (500gb/7200 rpm is no slouch for a laptop), but man… it’s the only thing that chugs on this monster. Configuring it with a 256gb SSD tacks a measly $500 to the price, but I can’t imagine that $500 really matters once you’re in this price range. You could alternatively purchase it with the cheapest HD option (a 250gb/7200rpm) and get yourself a nice and fast lower capacity main SSD and stick a mechanical in the secondary slot (giving up the optical drive, but not many people really need an optical drive anymore). All that said, the $500 upgrade price for a 256gb SSD is not actually a bad price (although I couldn’t find manufacturer information for the SSD.)
At any rate, it takes a hell of a laptop to make me say that a 7200rpm HD is slow, but yeah. There it is.
I’ll be playing around with this computer over the next few days and benching it with the assistance of the Icrontic tech team (special thanks to Nick Mertes), so be sure to follow along on Twitter as well as right here on Icrontic. For now, here’s my goofy unboxing video: