HP 8740w Review! - Full Metal Jacket!

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by Aikimox, Jul 25, 2010.

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  1. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    Full Metal Jacket...

    Last update - 30/08/2010

    HP Elitebook 8740w - Mobile Workstation, -
    is a flagship(Small&Medium Business) system with primary focus on color critical applications, engineering, software development, etc.
    The notebook is available both with ATI and Nvidia powerful graphics [with ISV certifications] to handle professional applications.

    This very laptop was purchased for software development, all-around computing as well as gaming in mind.


    System specifications:

    Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

    Processor: Intel Core i7-840QM (1.86GHz, 8Mb L3 Cache), up to 3.2GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology

    Intel Vpro Technology

    Display: 17 inch diagonal IPS LED-backlit DreamColor WUXGA WVA anti-glare (1920x1200) with 2.0MP integrated camera

    Graphics: ATI FirePro M7820 with 1GB dedicated GDDR5 memory

    Memory: 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (1D) – upgraded to 16GB(4x4GB)

    Internal Storage: 250GB 7200RPM Hard Drive

    Upgrade Bay: DVD+/-RW Super Multi with Double Layer LightScribe Drive

    Pointing Devices: Backlit – Full-sized keyboard with numeric keypad and dual pointing devices (touchpad and pointstick) with scroll zone

    Bluetooth: HP Integrated Module with Bluetooth 2.1 Wireless Technology

    Wireless LAN: Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3)

    Modem: 56K v.92 high speed modem

    Security: Integrated Fingerprint Reader

    Adapter: 200W HP Smart AC Adapter

    Battery: 8-cell 73 Wh Li-Ion Battery (1 year warranty)

    Warranty: Limited 3 year standard parts and labor warranty (3/3/3)

    Retail price as configured: 3,600.00 USD



    Length: 39.4cm
    Width: 28cm
    Thickness (including rubber feet): 3.7cm-4.5cm
    Weight: 3.8kg

    Length: 16.4cm
    Width: 8cm
    Thickness: 3.3cm
    Weight: 0.85kg


    Build Quality and Design

    The entire line of Elitebooks is made almost exclusively of metal (DuraCase magnesium-alloy structure, hardened steel pin axels and scratch-resistant DuraFinish ).
    According to HP - Elitebook 8740w meets tough military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures.
    The system indeed feels extremely sturdy and well built with very minimal imperfections almost invisible with a naked eye.
    The lid, most of the bottom area and palmrest color can be described as a "brushed gun-metal", while the keyboard and touchpad are black.
    The entire chassis is very solid with minimal flex.
    There's no rippling or wobbling when pushing on the lid, other than the necessary minimal
    movements to prevent the cracking and breaking in case of bumps, drops and other accidental mishandling.
    The hinges are very powerful holding the lid with no issues at any angle in its ~180 degrees range.
    It's also possible to open and close the lid with one hand.
    The system is can be considered light for its category - only ~3.7kg. It's slightly lighter than Dell Precision M6500 and Lenovo W701 - two direct competitors.
    It's relatively thin - 3.7-4.5cm and can be easily transported.



    The DC2 (DreamColor2) screen in our system is absolutely gorgeous.
    It's an IPS 30-bit panel with 10-bit per primary color.
    From what we know it's a younger brother of the famous HPLP2480zx an external IPS professional monitor.
    It has perfect viewing angles, both horizontal and vertical as well as almost perfect (perfect to my eyes) sRGB.

    Some info from HP regarding the screen:
    Contrast Ratio 800:1 typical
    Brightness 210 nit typical
    Backlight RGB LED
    Viewing Angle ±89° Horizontal, ±89° Vertical (typical)
    Technology Type 30-bit In-Plane Switching (IPS)
    Color Depth 10-bits/color
    Display Colors Over 1 billion colors (native mode)

    Color Gamut Coverage CIE1931 (x,y) CIE 1976 (u',v')
    NTSC 109% 129%
    AdobeRGB 114% 127%
    sRGB 154% 148%

    The attached images
    should say it all:

    courtesy of M8o and NotebookGrail




    Outdoor usage of this system is possible even under direct sunlight (@Maximum screen brightness).
    Two things, however point against it:
    the dark metal surface which can heat up very easily and a minor reflectivity of the anti-glare layer.



    Conveniently located in front and beneath the palm rest on either side of the touchpad the speakers offer a decent sound
    quality and crispy enough sound for a business workstation.
    They cannot ,for example, compete with the AW M17X speakers in terms of volume level and depth of sound but at the same time
    offer a better sound than those of the Lenovo W510.


    The port distribution is very convenient with a single possible disadvantage
    for those who use DVD drive frequently. Three out of four USB ports as well as eSata
    located on the right side of the laptop, together with the DVD drive.


    Devices plugged into these ports might create a little obstacle when accessing the DVD drive.
    But if you sacrifice the DVD towards a second HDD – problem is solved.
    Other than that all of the ports can be accessed easily without extra maneuvering
    or moving the laptop.
    The exact port positioning can be seen from the attached images.

    Keyboard and Touchpad


    8740w has a classical business full-sized keyboard
    with numeric keypad, pointstick and touchpad similar to those
    found in Lenovo TnikPads and Dell Precision series.
    It's also spill resistant (but don't try this at home unless you have a complete care warranty pack ;) )
    The keyboard is somewhere in between the classical ThinkPad and a chiclet style,
    therefore users coming from TPs may need some extra time adjusting.
    Nevertheless, Typing is very pleasant and smooth, key size is neither too small nor too big
    as well as the spacing in between, making it very difficult to miss the target.
    The keys are very responsive with a short and fast clicking, which is quiet enough and yet distinctive.
    Backlight is very comfortable with no blinding effect found in AW systems,
    adjustable brightness and auto-dimming feature, which is very convenient
    and never distracting when working in a dark environment.

    *** Update! 04/08/2010 ***
    It appears that many (if not all) systems equipped with backlit keyboards have a common problem: a slight bump in the upper left corner and as a result - significant flex near that area.
    So in an attempt to solve the problem I ordered another keyboard (non-backlit) and upon close examination came to the conclusion that backlit keyboards do have a design flaw, - (This is all my personal opinion of course, so take it with a grain of salt) - while the entire bottom of the regular keyboard is covered with a single metal plate adding the sturdiness and helping to minimise the flex, the backlit keyboard has uneven bottom partially plastic and partially metal, thus some areas are very flimsy...
    Plus the DuraKeys on the regular KB feel sturdier and thicker.
    Needless to say, that installing the regular KB solved the "bump and flex" issue entirely and now the system seem to be perfect.

    Just a note of advice for those looking to buy HP 8740w -
    Opt for the regular keyboard, at least till the problem is resolved by HP.
    It feels sturdier and has almost no flex compared to the backlit keyboard.

    Touch-sensitive keys, similar to those in Alienware systems
    suffer from the same plague - occasional response delay.

    The touchpad and pointstick are very similar to those found in other business notebooks,
    but the general feeling of a slight shift to the left is present.
    For a long-term ThinkPad abuser the shift could be annoying at first,
    but soon becomes bearable and even unnoticeable.
    The pointstick is very similar to the famous TP trackpoint but is somewhat slower and less maneuverable.
    The problem is solved entirely when replacing the stock pointstick cap with the red ThinkPad cap:


    The touchpad is convenient, responsive and feels "in place"
    with very smooth control and distinctive clicking short clicking of the pad keys. Same is valid for the pointstick keys.

    Performance and Benchmarks

    Equipped with a i7-840QM (1.87-3.2GHz) CPU and ATI FirePro M7820 this notebook offers one of the best
    levels of performance found in single GPU systems today,
    surpassed only by those equipped with extreme (920XM/940XM) processors and GTX 480M video card (e.g. Clevo D900F).
    HP 8740w can also be equipped with the extreme (mobile) CPUs and Quadro equivalent of the GTX 480M, according to HP.
    With up to 16GB of RAM and a SSD this workstation should be able to effectively handle
    all rendering, audio/video/photo processing, CAD, DCC, VT etc. Gaming is also possible.
    All current games (except for Crysis, Metro 2033 and a few others) will run at maximum setting and native resolution.
    With all settings set on high we were able to play Crysis perfectly smooth at 1920x1200 with no input lag whatsoever, experiencing a whole new level of color display.
    Gamers will be surprised to discover how greatly can a billion color screen contribute to their hobby.





    3DMark Vantage:


    DPC Latency can pose a problem for video/audio critical work manifesting in stuttering, sound pop-ups etc.
    Luckily our system doesn't suffer from high latency as can be seen from a DPC Latency Checker screenshot:


    Heat and Noise

    8740w has a single fan to direct the heat out of the crucial inner components,
    yet the notebook stays very quiet most of the time.
    One can only hear the fan when putting one's ear near the vents.
    When under load, the system will occasionally become audible for brief moments.
    Even while playing Crysis (27C room temperature) the fan noise stayed well within the tolerable limits.
    Keeping in mind how thin this notebook is and the low noise level of the fan,
    the question comes forth, - what about the heat?
    Here are the screenshots of the HWinfo32 monitoring software, first during idle/office mode,


    then, during a 1 hour long Crysis session:


    2 hours of playing King's Bounty The Armored Princess:

    *** There was a minor lag in this game, not bothering but visible for a picky eye.


    All testing was done with the ambient temperature of 27C and stock thermal compounds.
    While the processor gets a little hot under heavy load
    83C for the M7820 (aka MR5870) is within the safety limits. Therefore, the system can even handle heavy gaming without overheating and/or throttling.


    More tests will be done to support or disprove this statement, but at this point we are satisfied with the results.

    Battery Life

    The battery life varies between 1 and 2hrs depending on the load level.
    With minimum brightness and power saving mode we were able to get almost 2 hours out of the 8-cell 73wh battery. Load and maximum brightness reduces this time almost in a half.


    HP 8740w is a unique notebook model offering a 1200P IPS screen capable of showing 1 billion true colors, with perfect viewing angles and color uniformity.
    The screen is intended for color critical applications but can be perfectly utilized in gaming just as well.
    Semi-rugged approach with military grade certifications,
    the most powerful mobile hardware components up to date as well as an adequate cooling system - make this notebook a very desirable piece of technology for professionals and enthusiasts alike!

    IPS anti glare screen with perfect viewing angles and color reproduction
    Build quality
    Thin and light
    Very good keyboard (non-backlit) - updated 04/08/2010
    Powerful components

    Flex and a noticeable bump on a backlit keyboard - updated 04/08/2010
    Poor pointstick maneuverability
    Poor responsiveness of touch sensitive keys





    Thank You!

    Special thanks to M8o and NotebookGrail for the great pictures!

    To be edited! :)........
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  2. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    M17x-R2 (TN RGB LED) vs 8740w (IPS) screen comparison.

    Finally I got a decent camera to make a few shots.
    I'm skipping the viewing angles part (unless special requests will follow), since it's clear who's the winner.
    Just one pic to prove the point (120-130 degrees):


    So without a further delay:






    Enjoy :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2015
  3. Megacharge

    Megacharge Custom User Title

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    Very nice review, and stunning screen! +rep
  4. m8o

    m8o Notebook Evangelist

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    Enjoy I did! Glad I could be of some small service. I really like that it's in keeping with the format of the reviews that attracted me to NBR and kept me here. ... one thing tho, it's not just m8 but m8o , [annonimity be damed] as in Mato. ;)

    edit: If I could recommend one thing, it's to state perhaps that it's an IPS display in the specs section? I know HP doesn't do it, but I think it's worthy of being mentioned up top rather than only in the body of the review. Oh, and to perhaps avoid confusion by the un-informed this is intended for, state that it's a DreamColor2 as opposed to just DreamColor. We wouldn't folks to think the 8730w is the same thing. ;)
  5. Sotton

    Sotton Notebook Evangelist

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    $3600 US is really a bargain! If you can get it in such a configuration at all here in Europe it would be over $5000 :(
  6. Charles P. Jefferies

    Charles P. Jefferies Lead Moderator Super Moderator

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    Excellent review. That screen looks amazing - the viewing angles are unbelievable.

    HP makes some of the highest-quality notebooks on the the market today; their business machines are second to none IMO.

    The only thing I don't like about this notebook is how three USB ports are clustered together on the right side of the notebook, and how they are at the front of the notebook. As a right-hander, I would be hitting anything plugged into there constantly.

    Thanks for posting this!
  7. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    Thank you :)

    Oops, sorry M8o. Fixed
  8. timtravel42

    timtravel42 Notebook Virtuoso

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    That notebook is epic - but I would definitely switch out the HDD for an SSD to match the amazingness of the rest of it :p
  9. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    You are certainly right! Waiting for Intel G3 here ;)
  10. NotebookGrail

    NotebookGrail Notebook Evangelist

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    @Aikimiox, Nice review. One thought tho, you can mention the WPI as well in the review.
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