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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  • gigagiga - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    Just got one for my work with i7-2360QM 2GHz 8GB RAM 64 bit, AMD Firepro M5950 Mobility Pro graphics

    It was a quick order, because I was told it had the specs I needed for engineering software I use that is a CPU hog. But so far, I'm not exactly thrilled with it.

    Its definitely better than what I had to work with before, ie it dramatically speeds up processing time on a program that runs wireless network predictions that used to take several hours---this laptop has cut processing time down dramatically.

    But out of the box, the touchpad mouse didnt work. No big deal, but really annoying. Had to do a BIOs update, unistalled the driver. Driver actually seemed to make it work worse. On the plus side, I think the fan is relatively quiet. Surprisingly so. Heavy computer, which is to be expected

    Color is strange on this laptop. It apparently has HP Dreamcolor, which must mean "bright garish color". The red is almost blinding, and on the program I use most, the green shades blend, whereas on my old HP laptop, no problems. Have tried to figure out how to calibrate color, but it doesnt seem to make much difference. Most trouble Ive had with a computer out of the box since getting one with Vista.

    That said, I guess I should have looked more closely and gotten something with more powerful processor? The main program I run still maxes out this CPU for most of the time its running my predictions (which can be hours at a time), and just doesnt give me the lighnting fast processing that I was hoping for.

    But I know enough to be dangerous about processors--- maybe its a really good one and this is the best I could expect for under $3K? Any suggestions appreciated.
  • EdShift - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    If you absolutely must have a portable it's the best available but if not something with dual high-end Xeons is probably going to more likely to provide the grunt you need for high end engineering type apps like FEA software etc. I've moved today from an older generation workstation with dual Xeons (HP XW8400) to one of these laptops and it's definitely faster except on disk I/O performance but I moved because I needed a portable.
    I've no doubt that the new Workstations I see under the desks of the FEA guys are an order of magnitude faster for these tasks.
  • Timp74 - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - link

    I bought a 8760w(exact model is ) about 4 months ago. The motherboard failed after 2 days.
    Was sent for repair but came back with a problem with the fan. Was sent for repair again. Came back unfixed but with a dead pixel. HP sent an engineer to replace the screen. Engineer arrive with a mother board for a completely different laptop. 2nd engineer came and fix the screen. Hurrah!, but still problem with the fan always running. HP took laptop to be 'analysed' 3 weeks ago. Have heard nothing since. Despite asking a few times HP support has been unable to even give a status update. Don't know what's going to happen next but I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS LAPTOP and I THINK HP's 'Total Care' IS A JOKE!! Buy a Dell, Lenovo or Mac instead.

    It's frustrating enough that the laptop has problems. That HP seem unable to fix it has left me feeling I've been completely ripped off. Don't expect anything special from HP for buying their top of the line model. Clearly to their support operators it is more important that they tick boxes that try and help the customer.

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