HP EliteBook 8440w Core i7 Notebook Review

Introduction and Specifications

Splitting the difference. Satisfying the niche. Exploiting an opportunity. All of those phrases could be used to accurately describe what HP has done here with the new EliteBook 8440w. It's one of the smaller options in the expanding EliteBook family, yet also one of the most powerful. That's not a combination you hear of very often. In most circumstances, you'll need a larger machine in order to accommodate more powerful components within, mostly because the more powerful components emit more heat than the lower-end components. Hewlett-Packard, however, has managed to get a Core i7 Mobile processor within the frame of a 14" notebook and still keep the heat under control. What we're left with is an extremely unique machine that has fewer competitive alternatives.

In general, 14" notebooks are harder to find than 13" ultraportables and 15" mainstream options. The 14" machine is still a great size in our eyes for those who want the power of a mainstream machine with added portability. But what's even less common is a 14" mobile workstation, which has workstation-level graphics, a cutting-edge CPU and a rugged enclosure. It's definitely a unique combination, and HP's EliteBook 8440w marries all of those. The company is clearly aiming at mobile professionals with this machine, particularly ones who appreciate style, build quality and sturdiness, not to mention cutting-edge technology notebook technology.

The 14" machine is equipped with a "gunmetal" finish that's frankly one of the most attractive we've seen, particularly for a business-class notebook. It doesn't attract fingerprints, and it's pure class inside and out. There are also a great deal of ports, and our review unit ships with an extended battery that protrudes from the rear but provides much-needed extra life considering just how much power a Core i7 Mobile and NVIDIA Quadro FX 380M will draw. There's also an option for integrated WWAN (mobile broadband), which is a must for most mobile professionals. Toss in an enclosure built to meet military standards (MIL-STD 810G) and a spill-resistant keyboard with drain vents, and you've got one well-rounded workhorse of a noteobok.

HP 14" EliteBook 8440w Notebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Core i7-620  @ 2.67GHz, 1066MHz FSB; 3MB L3 Cache
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM (1333MHz; 2x2GB)
  • 14.0" LCD (1366x768 or 1600x900); LED backlght, matte
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 380M (512MB) graphics
  • 320GB (7200RPM) Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9320423AS
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • DVD R/W dual-layer LightScribe Optical Drive
  • 2.0 megapixel webcam
  • VGA and DisplayPort outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 3; eSATA x 1
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Multi-Gesture Trackpad
  • Starting at 4.9 Pounds
  • Removable 55WHr 6-Cell  or 9-cell 100WHr Li-ion Battery
  • 13.21" x 9.30" x 1.23" (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
  • Price (as tested): $1649
  • Price (starting): $1425 MSRP
  • 1/3-Year Warranty

You can tell immediately from the $1649 price tag here that this machine isn't meant for bargain shoppers. In fact, we think that HP really isn't aiming to compete on price at all. This rig is built for professionals who are looking for the components and size they need regardless of price, and are willing to pay just about anything in order to get that perfect combination. On paper alone, there's not a whole lot of value when you consider the near-$1700 price. That's a lot of cash, and it can buy you quite a few impressive machines. But HP is banking on the fact that people will be willing to pay a premium for a rugged, small, lightweight and powerful workstation. Alternatively, you could also consider HP's Core i5-based Elitebook 8440P, for under $1K.  That said, join us on the pages to come to find out if we think it's higher-end brethren is worth its price tag.

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