If Only Your HP Pavilion Looked This Good

Honestly, the more I play with enterprise hardware the more I wonder why we have to keep putting up with unattractive, kitschy designs in the consumer field, and the HP EliteBook 8760w really hammers it home. The 8760w isn't just a massive improvement on its predecessor (whose three-tone design wound up being a mess of clashing styles), it's a massive improvement on notebooks in general. Understanding the materials used in the construction of something like the 8760w are much more costly than the cheap plastic used for bargain basement notebooks, it's still tough to argue that it doesn't look better than the lion's share of Windows-based notebooks available.

If you read our review of the HP EliteBook 8460p or any of our continuing coverage of the 2011 HP refresh, nothing in the design of the 8760w is going to seem new to you. As a 17" notebook, it's sizable without being needlessly bulky; many of the gaming notebooks we've tested are both heavier and broader.

The gunmetal gray finish with silver accents is a constant throughout the entire design except for the bottom, though the lid enjoys a spiral brushed aluminum pattern and an HP logo that glows when the system is on. When you open it, you'll find a matte screen (much more on this later) with a clean black matte trim and fairly minimal flex owing to the reinforced frame.

Inside surfaces are largely the same gunmetal gray, of slightly varying shades, with the touch-based shortcut bar on the 8740w completely removed in place of four physical silver buttons: a wireless toggle, a mute button, HP's QuickWeb shortcut, and a calculator shortcut. Each of the buttons are lit with white LEDs, and the keyboard itself is backlit white with white LED toggles on the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys. Flex on the keyboard is minimal, and the touchpad surface is a joy to use, but undoubtedly some users will be bothered by the switch to the chiclet keyboard that's become the de facto standard across all of HP's notebooks, consumer or business. Personally I'm fine with it, but the arrow keys remain a sore spot for me: while the double-sized left and right keys aesthetically fill out the design, from a practical sense they feel strange compared to a garden variety directional key set.

Everything else about the feel of the 8760w is absolutely stellar, though. The keyboard is easy and pleasant to use, the touchpad has exactly the right amount of traction, and the three mouse buttons (take that, Apple!) have just the right amount of travel and resistance while making virtually no noise.

When you flip the 8760w over, you find the same fantastic single service panel that HP has deployed across their entire business line, making the notebook incredibly easy to service or upgrade. Honestly this is a development I wouldn't mind seeing carried over to consumer notebooks, although the difference there is that while a business notebook is designed to be serviced by an IT department, I can just see some hapless end user mangling their shiny new $500 laptop by popping off the bottom and messing with the insides. Maybe it's for the best that this stays in the market it's in.

As a whole, the HP EliteBook 8760w's design is much more minimalist and functional than its predecessor, owing at least lip service to the Jonathan Ive school of form and function intertwined. HP's mentality with their 2011 business notebooks is that "business" doesn't have to mean "stodgy," and they've hit a near perfect compromise with their new EliteBooks.

Introducing the HP EliteBook 8760w Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Belard - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Thought Apple sold the most expensive computers? A MacPro 17" notebook WITH 1920x1200, same quad CPU and 8GB RAM and 250GB SSD is $3500. It doesn't have internal Mobile Broadband options (why?)... but looks better and cheaper than HP... with the money saved, spend $1000 for the 27" 2550x1440 monitor.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Except the MacBook Pro doesn't have Quadro workstation graphics or the high gamut DreamColor monitor. If you have need of those (which is admittedly a large part of what this is for), a Mac isn't going to cut it.
  • jecs - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    I agree in part, Apple doesn't sell the most expensive or cheap computers. And to my understanding and direct experience Apple provides an intermediate professional grade driver support (when the app is available on OSX). Apple wont get you 4X full screen antialiasing but some aliasing however, they don't provide full support or some fancy features as 3D stereo, but absolutely professional work is way better on Apple computers with consumer hardware than in a consumer grade equivalent on a PC. Again, an intermediate and limited solution not an advance one. Lets remember GPU consumer hardware is very similar and even equivalent to pro GPUs. But today not the same.

    But for this review my conclusion is this $6500 HP with the Dreamcolor and Quadro 5000 is only justifiable for critical content creation. Not even for demanding CAD/CAM visualizations because those fields wont require such color accuracy and could get away with a decent and way cheaper LCD. For industrial design the fast CPU and powerful GPU never is enough. But why the Dreamcolor? if any IPS monitor with way less accuracy will do?

    And even for content creation not everybody needs a Dreamcolor as even most experienced users working in content creation does not require or even could distinguish critical color corrections.

    As a matter of fact very few professionals need such color accuracy. Only for final color correction on video, video games, animation, or final product visualization as in the car industry, but this could be also be considered video pre or post production.

    The Dreamcolor brand from HP was specifically created for Sony Pictures 3D animation (?) in 2008. Correct me if I am wrong.

    For final color correction in video post processing using Scratch I can see this machine as a way to present the client the final product, and even for some critical last minute color correction.

    Who else, please?
  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Where did you get a 1920x1600 monitor? That's 12:10 / 6:5 ratio, never heard of that. :-)

    As for the 27" vs. 30" argument, I agree that desktop monitor density has to pick up, because it's really not moving that fast compared to normal desktop computing hardware or mobile display densities. But I do wonder where you get your numbers from comparing 30" to 27" 2560*1xxx. Here in Germany the cheap consumer 30" options (Dell, HP, LG) start at 1050€ and go to 1200€ (Apple Cinema HD is an outrageous 1799,-€), while the 27" models come in at 600€ and go to 700€ (Dell, Fujitsu, Samsung) and there is even a new entry who used to only ship within the UK who sells one 2560x1440 monitor for 500€ and one for 580€, though I don't know if the quality is comparable to the others. :-)

    So for you the 30" models are 20% more expensive than the 27" options (1200$ vs 1000$) while for me the 30" monitors are 75% more expensive than the 27" options (1050€ vs 600€). If that is the case, you guys are being ripped off!
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Checking Dell's website the 3011 is $1499, the 2711 is $1099 at list prices. Dells older 30" models were several hundred cheaper and the 3011 goes on sale at 25% off once or twice a year. I'm not aware of the 2711 ever having done the same.

    I think the only way to get prices that close $1200 vs $1000 are to compare current vs last generation models or sale vs not sale prices.
  • kallogan - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    I don't see the point in buying a premium priced Core i7-2820QM. The rather cheap core i7 2630QM performs almost as well in most cases.
  • sjprg2 - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    The 8760W circle jerk was ordered directly from HP's SMB order desk. I ran into incomptence, buckpassing, and stonewalling at all levels I was able to contact. I have retained about 25 pages of documentation and emails pertaining to this order. Someday I might be able to reach someone in HP that has the cajones to solve the problem. I sure miss the days when Officers of HP were reachable.
  • dagamer34 - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Why can trackpads be centered?!?!?
  • EdShift - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    This is a great question.
    I guess the answer lies in the cost associated with having to produce left and right hand models. In the userspace this model targets there is likely to be higher than general population mean left handers given the creative nature of content creation and it's propensity to appeal to more right brain dominant thinkers.

    For most laptops though it would probably be a winner to move the trackpad to favour the majority.

    Interestingly if you look at the trackpad on 6740 it's central only to the qwerty keyboard and not the number pad. I guess it's to reduce the travel time between keys and trackpad.

    Clever ergonomics.
    I'm assuming English isn't your first language so if I've misunderstood your point I'm sorry.
  • sjprg2 - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    This portable workstation is a monster. I looked at Cleveos and decided the companies that supply them were too small and unknown to send them a $6000.00 wire transfer, and that HP would be safer, seeing as how HP also wanted the order prepaid. WRONG! My uses for this is usually in a small motel room at the end of a long day shooting landscapes with a high end DSLR and the raw images are initialy processed into TIFs with DXO and doing any finishing touches with Photoshop CS5.5. Battery life is unimportant in this case. 1 hour would be fine for me. Would I like a bigger screen? YES! but this one is liviable. I'm hoping that Ivy Bridge will be interchangable next year for an upgrade to the Ivy Bridge 2920 equivalente. I have to say I am happy with the unit so far other than the screwup on the SSDs. I only ordered 16 GB of memory as the 32 GB is extremely exorbinant. About the smallest prints I have made are 24X36 with most going to 36X48.

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