HP EliteBook 8440w Core i7 Notebook Review

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  In our SiSoftware SANDRA tests, the EliteBook 8440w stood up well against the competition, thanks in large part to its relatively powerful Core i7-620 processor. In the real world benchmarks, the Elitebook's 7200rpm hard drive was extremely responsive, and we had no major gripes when it came to multi-media playback (even at 1080p) or light duty gaming. But the NVIDIA Quadro FX 380M GPU isn't terribly powerful with only 16 shader cores, so there's definitely some performance issues when compared to higher-end, discrete GPUs found in desktops and more expensive mobile workstations. In the PCMark Vantage benchmark, the Elitebook managed to hold its own despite having a GPU that's designed less for gaming and multi-media and more for professional workloads. Of course, having a Core i7 CPU at its heart helped things immensely. In the Cinebench and SPECviewperf 10 tests, the system performed consistently lower than even the lowest-end desktop workstation cards available now, as seen in our recent FirePro GPU tests, but again, the GPU in the Elitebook is far less powerful than any of those products. This is the price you pay for having a crossover machine; you'd expect some compromises, but hardcore workstation addicts will likely demand more from their machine's GPU.

HP has a real winner on its hands here, by most accounts. We are not certain if the company intentionally designed this machine to be a killer crossover between consumer notebooks and mobile workstations, but that's exactly what was delivered. The 14" form factor is extremely mobile, and the sub-5lb. weight makes it easy to toss in a backpack and forget about it. But the rugged DuraCase protects it from shock, vibration and even light water splashes very well, which is all the better for those who prefer to use their notebook outside rather than in the safety of an office. The gunmetal finish is also quite attractive, so even though the construction is professional grade, the average consumer can certainly appreciate the style. We can't help but note, however, that the bottom of the machine got quite warm after around 30 minutes of normal use, and that's just with basic Web browsing, no hard number crunching.

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The 14" LCD wasn't tailored for movie watching; it washed out easily and the viewing angles were nothing to write home about. Outside of that complaint though, most everything else was at or above satisfactory. The spill-resistant keyboard was one of our favorites on any laptop, and the trackpad buttons had a good amount of travel. There's even a tracking pointer in the middle of the keys for professionals who are used to their ThinkPad setup. The Core i7 (consumer chip) + Quadro FX 380M (professional GPU) combination makes for a real winner; it's speedy enough to handle everyday tasks when you leave the office, yet it's specialized enough to crunch those pro applications when you're on the clock. It's important to note, however, that this configuration will not provide the best of either world. The Quadro FX 380M has a core that's well over a year old, and it's basically like having a tweaked Ion (just 16 CUDA cores) on tap. Plenty for multi-media, and it's fine for occasional pro use, but it won't provide the kind of insane performance found in pure server-class notebooks that are far uglier, far heavier and far less useful outside of the office.

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The average user will find everything they need here: a DVD burner, plenty of RAM, a powerful CPU, a GPU that'll handle light duty gaming and 1080p multi-media, a portable chassis and plenty of outputs. The mobile professional will appreciate those aspects too, and the addition of a "pro" NVIDIA GPU is just icing on the cake. But the $1700 price tag places it out of reach for most average consumers who won't be taking advantage of the specialized GPU, and despite the fact that we love most everything about this machine, it's hard to recommend for those who have no use for a professional GPU. You've got other 14" options out there, and while they may not be as rugged, stylish or flexible, they'll probably be quite a bit more affordable. For the mobile pro, on the other hand, it's hard not to recommend the EliteBook 8440w. It's a great size with a great screen resolution, and HP has managed to craft a machine that you'll be happy to take home after a long day at the office, instead of one that you'll be happy to leave behind. We just wish the GPU was more powerful, and it ran a bit cooler.

  • Great overall performance
  • Gorgeous Gunmetal  Design
  • Great Keyboard
  • Stellar Multimedia Playback
  • Rugged + Lightweight
  • Pricey at around $1700
  • So-so Battery Life
  • Lackluster LCD
  • Runs Very Warm

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