HP EliteBook 8740W notebook

HP EliteBook 8740W review: a powerful notebook for engineers, designers and animators

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HP EliteBook 8740W
  • HP EliteBook 8740W
  • HP EliteBook 8740W
  • HP EliteBook 8740W

Pros

  • Good build quality, quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, powerful graphics, USB 3.0, fast I/O performance

Cons

  • Keyboard is poor, very expensive

Bottom Line

The HP EliteBook 8740W will suit engineers, designers, animators and anyone else who requires a powerful notebook that they can use both at work and at home. It's solidly built and has lots of speed and plenty of features, but don't expect much out of its battery; its keyboard is poor, too.

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The HP EliteBook 8740W is a mobile workstation with a quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA Quadro graphics adapter. It's designed for professionals, such as engineers, architects and graphics artists, who need plenty of grunt under the hood — and the ability to transport that grunt to and from the office.

Read more reviews of business notebooks: best notebooks for business.

The EliteBook 8740W is a big beast: it has a 17in screen, a base that's chock-a-block full of ports and slots, and it weighs over 3.6kg. Its LCD screen is one of HP's DreamColor panels and it's one of the best displays we've ever seen on a notebook. Colour reproduction was excellent during our tests and its viewing angles are wider than what you'll find with a typical notebook screen.

See how the HP EliteBook 8740W compares to the HP EliteBook 8440p.

The EliteBook 8740W feels heavy and cumbersome to transport, and it's not the type of notebook you will want to use as a laptop. It's easiest to use when it's resting on a desk, and you can get a docking station that makes it easy to manage your peripheral and network cable connections. You can't use the EliteBook 8740W away from a power outlet for long. In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the battery only lasted 51min.

The base of the EliteBook 8740W has almost everything — well, everything a pro user is likely to need. It has DisplayPort, VGA, USB 2.0 (two), FireWire (mini), a Smartcard slot, an ExpressCard/54 slot, an SD card reader, a fingerprint reader, USB 3.0 (two), eSATA, a Blu-ray writer (BD-MLT-UJ240), Gigabit Ethernet, a 56Kbps modem, a 2-megapixel webcam and 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi. The upgrade bay, which houses the Blu-ray writer, can also be used to house a second hard drive.

On the inside you get an Intel Core i7-820QM CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB, 7200rpm hard drive. Its performance is great for multithreaded applications, as its score of 45sec in our Blender 3D rendering test shows, and its I/O performance also proved to be good -- its hard drive recorded a transfer rate of 84.8 megabytes per second in our tests. Graphics are handled by an NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800M adapter, which is geared towards speeding up engineering, design and 3D animation applications, instead of gaming. Its 3DMark06 score of 12,646 is a great result nonetheless, and shows just how powerful this notebook is.

The usability of the EliteBook 8740W is hit and miss; we like the big palm rest and the comfortable touchpad with soft buttons, and also that it has a Trackpoint device installed. However, we don't like its keyboard. The buttons are soft, but they require a lot of force to hit and more often that not we had to go back and correct our mistakes. The spacebar is quite unresponsive unless you hit it hard.

We like the build quality of the EliteBook 8740W. It's definitely not a unit that will fall apart easily as you transport it to and from the office. It's made out of metal and its hinges are tough. If you're in the market for a mobile workstation with lots of CPU power, RAM and hard drive capacity, and most importantly, an excellent screen, the 8740W is definitely one to consider.

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