Fuel Brand Network recently had the opportunity to review the new HP Elitebook 8740w Mobile Workstation, courtesy of the wonderful folks over at Hewlett-Packard, and they jumped at the chance to get this bad boy in their hands. Of course, they felt it would be best tested by us here at Fuel Your Motionography because of the work we do, the long render times we run into and the powerful programs we use. I stepped up to the challenge of running this workstation through the paces, and I’m here to give you the results. Oh, did I mention there will be a giveaway, as well? Yes, one of our excellent readers will have the chance to win one EliteBook 8740w. You can thank me later.
At this point, I’m legally obligated to tell you that HP is giving me my laptop as material compensation for completing my review. I can assure you, this won’t affect my review in the slightest. In fact–a little disclaimer of my own–I love Apple products. I have a dual monitor iMac sitting on my desk, an iPad in my living room and an iPhone in my pocket. I feel they have better designed products and, although I’m not going to focus on it in this review, a better operating system. That said, I took on the responsibility to review this product as fair an unbiased as possible, and that’s what I’m going to do. Although I may have to bring up some comparisons during the review, I’m not going to let past biases sway my judgment. So, with that said, here we go.
If you didn’t happen to see my posts on the Fuel Your Motionography Twitter account (@fuelyourmotion), then let me recap it here, briefly.
The laptop was dropped off at my place a little over a week ago, and I immediately opened it and began taking pictures. I have to say, HP has clearly stepped up their game since the days when I knew what a PC looked and felt like. The packaging alone I can only describe as something reminiscent of an Apple product. A simple pitch black box with the HP logo on one side and a message in multiple languages on the other telling its new owner, “The computer is personal again.” A nice sentiment.
As soon as the box was open, HP was pulling me into their world. The 8740w is constructed of a beautiful anodized aluminum case with a smooth brushed metal surface that covers the entire laptop. On the back of the monitor, a simple raised HP emblem made of a smooth silver metal with “EliteBook” boldly printed underneath greets any onlooker and tells them what you are using. Of course, in this case, the beauty isn’t only skin deep. Underneath the surface is a magnesium alloy chassis being held together by metal alloy hinges and four-point lockdown display latches, and that’s more than pretty titles and technical talk. Inspired by aircraft construction, HP assembled their flagship workstation to be strong on the inside and out. “How strong,” you ask? All of this allows the 8740w to withstand 1,800 square pounds of force. It’s that strong.
The strength doesn’t end there, however. The guts of this beast are where the real power sits waiting for you to command. Let’s take a look inside my version of the laptop (and the one in the giveaway).
- Intel Core i7 processor (Q 740 @ 1.73Ghz, 6 MB L3 cache)
- 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
- 17″ LED-backlit WXGA anti-glare HP DreamColor display (1920 x 1200)
- NVIDIA Quadro 5000m (2 GB dedicated GDDR5 video memory)
- 500GB Hard drive (SATA II @ 7200 rpm)
- Spill-resistant full-size backlit numeric keyboard
- Dual point three button trackpad + Pointstick three button mouse
- 2 MP built in webcam
- 4 USB ports (2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0), 1 eSATA port, 1 external VGA monitor, 1 1394a (FireWire), 1 Express Card/54, 1 Smart Card Reader, 1 Secure Digital, 1 RJ-11 (dial-up), 1 RJ-45 (ethernet), 1 mic, 1 headphone
There is, of course, much more. To put it lightly, this computer is decked out; clearly worthy of the “EliteBook Mobile Workstation” branding. Read more about the specifications here.
Just looking at the specs, you can clearly tell HP is aiming at selling this bad boy to the creative professional crowd–a spot almost exclusively owned by Apple’s Macbook Pro–and with a price tag of $2,000 to around $5,000, I had to do my homework to find out if it is worth it. Of course, in this situation, I thought it would only be right to compare it to the “current reigning champ”.
On Apple’s website, I took the only 17″ MacBook Pro and upped the specs to get it as close to the EliteBook 8740w (the version I received) as possible. The only place the Macbook Pro excelled was in the processor speed (Intel Core i7 @ 2.66 Ghz on the MacBook Pro). It clocked in at just under $3,000. That’s a difference of around $2,000. Where was all this extra money going for the HP laptop? I had to find out.
Part of this extra cost I saw right when I first got the computer. Compared to the MacBook Pro, the EliteBook has two more USB ports (and they are 3.0, at that), 1 eSATA port, 1 Express Card/54 slot and 1 Smart Card Reader and a docking station port on the bottom. It has two three button mice (for what that’s worth), and a full keyboard with a num pad. Oh, did I mention it has finger scan security? Yes, you can scan all your fingerprints and use them to sign into your computer, Windows, even specific webpages and documents which I am using constantly at this point because of the ease use. I actually find it annoying to type in passwords when I know I could just swipe my finger.
A larger chunk of the cost was staring me right in the face. The DreamColor display costs around $600 alone, but it’s money very well spent. I have, honestly, never seen a monitor with such vivid and crisp colors. The moment you first lay your eyes on it, you won’t be able to look away. I look at my iMac and the additional Samsung monitor sitting next to it and I think they’re “just okay” in comparison. This thing truly is a marvel to behold.
Yet another fraction of the cost goes to the NVIDIA Quadro 5000m graphics card with 2 GB dedicated GDDR5 video memory. The MacBook Pro comes to you with a NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 512 MB. This jump in processing power (only available for workstation computers) gives HP the hand up in power and speed. Add in the case construction, and you have yourself a $5,000 dollar Mobile Workstation.
The HP EliteBook 8740w Mobile Workstation comes in with a hefty price tag, but for serious creative professionals, it comes with the territory. If you want the best, you have to lay down the cash for it. But I’m not making any final decisions yet. I have a long way to go before I give my final review. Come back for the second part of my review where I dive even further into the hardware and software in the 8740w and show you it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in happy town. No, there are some donwnfalls, and maybe even some pitfalls, in this workstation. For the third part of the review, I will dive into the meat and potatoes of any motionographers life–render times. Oh, and we’ll give away one of these beasts to a lucky reader!
Go to Part 2 of the review.