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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  • 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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