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
Ethernet
DisplayPort
eSATA/USB Combo port
2x USB 3.0
4-pin FireWire
ExpressCard/54
Right Side Headphone and mic jacks
USB 2.0 (charging)
USB 2.0
Smart Card Reader
Optical drive
VGA
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
Blu-ray
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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  • prophet001 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    lol

    Clevo is like a laptop pressure cooker. They basically build out a desktop into a laptop and the one that you see toping the charts has Cross Fire GPUs.

    Make sure you carry a generator with you if you get one.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    That no mention was made of HP exiting the PC business? Its a very nice machine (if not cheap exactly), but why buy a machine from a company that is no longer going to be in the business? Reply
  • mbetter - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    Why not? Reply
  • Tuffrabbit - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Way to go HP, by going to a 16:9 aspect ratio vs. 16:10, you've just lost another customer... Reply
  • prophet001 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I don't know why 1920 x 1200 is going by the wayside. That's a phenomenal resolution. I'm not a graphic artist but I do take advantage of that resolution by being able to have 2 windows side by side as well as being able to run games at that resolution. Reply
  • teng029 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    possibly cost? i remember when i was working for an OEM, we were told that LCD sizes depended largely on how much can be cut out of a single sheet of glass. something to the effect of you can get more by cutting a piece for a 17 inch panel compared to an 18 inch panel. don't know how true any of that is though. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    It is cheaper to manufacture just like teng029 said. You get less wasted glass, because the glass is usually circular meaning the bigger rectangle from 16:10, you'll get more wasted material and fewer panels from a single piece. Reply
  • jecs - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I think, these high-end laptops are the best option only if you really need to travel or move too frequently and even a dedicated carry on would be a pain. I understand the need for this machines but they offer a reduced performance or some critical size compromises. I would go with the HP if the Dreamcolor and a decent performance are required. But the Clevo is the monster option on specific apps.

    A consideration I would do is having a SFF PC as it would be "easy" to transport on a carry on and it will cost you 2 or 3K less. I builded one Shuttle PC with a Quad-core and a single slot Quadro a few years ago. Today there are more options and very powerful too as the same 990x and a dual slot Quadro are real options on SFF PCs. I know the monitor needs to fit inside the carry on and in my case a Wacom tablet too. But I did it and it is a good choice if you need to move for maybe a few days or more on one location. Also I included a Mac Book Pro.

    Finally, if I ever do need a laptop in this class I guess I would also consider a tablet to read the internet.
    Reply
  • sjprg2 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    On May 13th I ordered the 8760W with all the goodies and specified dual Intel 510 240GB SSDs installed in raid 0. (Note these are 6GB sata). Delivery estimate was approx three weeks. About 3 months later I finally get delivery (August 10 th) and on inspection I find that Instead of the Intel 510 SSDs I ordered it had obselete Micron (no longer in Microns database) 3 GB SSDs.
    After severel days of going round and around the support chain from the Philipines to Mexico and talking to at least 6 Managers the bottom line from HP is TOUGH. You can send it back to us and we will evaluate it or live with it. After a three month delay in shipping with new shipping dates every other day which really screwed up my client scheduling they wanted it back. They flatout refused to send me the correct drives and accept the wrong ones in return. They all quoted "policy", and not one of them would move me up the chain of command to authorise any change.
    Bottom line is that while the 8760W is a beautiful piece of machinery and does Panoramics as fast as my I920 OC desktop I still feel that they did a bait and switch on the SSDs.
    After the dozens of HP laptops I have recommend to my clients this is the last. NO MORE!
    Reply
  • HMTK - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Where did you buy that laptop? If our dealers deliver something wrong we just send it back and do not pay. If there is no delivery date we look somewhere else. We have several dealers and they know we have the option of switching so they do their best if something goes wrong. Reply

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