Review

HP EliteBook 840 G7 review: The best mainstream business laptop

HP's EliteBook 840 G7 has quickly become one of my favorite laptops. There's one big reason for that, which is that it's strikingly similar to the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 that I reviewed in February 2019, albeit without a convertible hinge. It's no surprise though, since the mainstream EliteBook 800 series is all about bringing down features from the premium EliteBook 1000 series.

Compared to the EliteBook 840 G5 that I reviewed in mid-2018, it's much thinner and lighter. In fact, just about everything about it has been upgraded. The keyboard has been vastly improved to be similar to the ones found on the 1000 series, and that's definitely a good thing. It's also got Intel's 10th-generation processors; in the model that HP sent me, it's the hexa-core vPro Core i7-10810U.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-10810U Processor, 1.1GHz, up to 4.9GHz with Intel Turbo Boost technology, 12MB cache, 6 cores
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Display 35.56 cm (14.0 in) diagonal FHD IPS eDP and PSR anti-glare WLED-backlit bent with Ambient Light Sensor for HD and IR camera and WWAN, 400 nits, 72% NTSC (1920 x 1080)
Body 32.36x21.46x1.78cm (12.74x8.45x0.70in), 1.34kg (2.95lbs)
RAM 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM
Storage 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports

(2) USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt support
(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port (1 charging)
(1) HDMI 1.4 (cable sold separately)
(1) Headphone/microphone combo jack
(1) AC power input port
(1) Nano SIM card slot
(1) Smartcard reader
(1) Nano security lock slot

Audio

Audio by Bang & Olufsen
(2) Integrated stereo speakers
Integrated 3 Multi-array Microphone

Camera 720p HD and IR camera
Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 combo
Intel XMM 7560 LTE-Advanced Pro Cat 16
Keyboard HP Premium keyboard

Spill resistant
Optional backlit keyboard and DuraKeys

Pointing device

Glass clickpad with multi-touch gestures enabled (taps enabled as default)
Microsoft Precision Touchpad default gestures supported

Battery HP Long Life 3-cell, 53Wh Li-ion, Supports fast charging, 65W Slim USB Type-C adapter
Material Aluminum
OS Windows 10 Pro
Price $2,199


Day one

Design

All of HP's mainstream to premium EliteBooks are made of aluminum these days. Well, that's not counting the magnesium Elite Dragonfly, which is sort of in a different class. All of those aluminum laptops come in the plain old Natural Silver color, presumably because as business laptops, they're not meant to be too flashy like HP's stunning Spectre x360 PCs.

One thing that I want to focus on is how much has changed. HP says that the G7 is 9% smaller than its predecessor. This is evident if you look back at my review of the EliteBook 840 G5. That thing was well over a half-pound heavier than the G7. I started this off saying that this is reminiscent of the premium EliteBook x360 1040, but guess what; this is actually 0.03 pounds lighter than that machine.

I really have to say, I haven't reviewed HP's latest EliteBook 1000 laptops, but they must be amazing. That EliteBook x360 1040 is already one of my favorite laptops around. To see so much of it in the 800 series kind of blows me away.

Another thing that's changed about the design is that it has a tapered edge in the front. Rather than being flat, you can now very easily open the machine with one hand. I think it makes the machine a little more stylish as well. It also has the angled edges on the back along the hinge.

On the sides, there are plenty of ports. On the left side is where you'll find the two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, which will get you speeds of 5Gbps. Toward the front, there's also an optional Smart Card reader.

On the right side are both Thunderbolt 3 ports. The ports can support a 4K display on either one. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to run two 4K displays off of a single port, as HP used to brag about always using "full" Thunderbolt 3 ports. For a little background there, the minimum Thunderbolt 3 spec supports one 4K display, but if it uses all four lanes, it can support two 4K displays or one 5K display on a single port, and it supports 40Gbps data transfer speeds.

On that side is also a pin charging port, HDMI 1.4, and a nano-SIM slot. If you opted not to get the cellular model, that SIM slot is still there; it's just filled with a slug.

Note that you do have an option in how you want to charge the EliteBook 840 G7. It can come with either the pin charger or a USB Type-C charger. This is meant for backward compatibility. If your business has a bunch of pin chargers lying around, you can use them. If you want to use your own USB Type-C charger, you can do that too.

Display and audio

HP actually gave me a choice between the EliteBook 840 and the 830. The difference between the two is the screen size. The 840 G7 has a 14-inch FHD display, while the 830 has a 13.3-inch screen. Personally, I think that 14 inches is the perfect size for a laptop, so that's what I went with.

There are several display configurations to choose from, all of which are 1080p. The one that HP sent me doesn't support touch, and it gets 400-nit brightness. There's also a 250-nit panel, which I really wouldn't recommend. If you want battery life, just turn the brightness down on the 400-nit panel. There are also options for multi-touch.

And finally, HP has some options with its Sure View privacy screen. It's actually pretty cool. You just hit a button and suddenly no one can see anything if they look at your screen from an angle.

The display on this unit reminds me of the EliteBook x360 1040 that I reviewed, in that I love it. The colors are accurate, and it's actually pleasant to use, something that can't be said of many matte anti-glare displays.

As I mentioned above, the footprint of the laptop is smaller than it was, and that's due to narrow bezels. This machine has an 85% screen-to-body ratio, with a 34% smaller top bezel, a 29% smaller chin, and 19% narrower side bezels. It still maintains the webcam and the IR camera in the top bezel though.

The Bang & Olufsen speakers are placed on either side of the keyboard, and they sound phenomenal. They're both clear and loud, and this something that I really appreciate from HP. The company understands that even though this is a business laptop, there's a good chance that it's your only laptop, and you're taking it home from work. That means that you might be using it for entertainment as well as productivity. It's your everything device, and it's meant to be.

Keyboard and trackpad

The EliteBook 840 G7 has one of the best keyboards on the market. No, really. It's comfortable and it's accurate, and in fact, HP says it's more accurate than the previous generation. This is the thing that made me fall in love with the EliteBook 1040. Not only do the keys feel sturdy with a perfect amount of depth and resistance, but they're quiet too.

If you've been following my reviews for a while, then you know that I used to be a huge fan of Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboards, but HP swayed me with the EliteBook x360 1040. It was the first time I was willing to entertain the idea that a keyboard could be better than on a ThinkPad. I'm really pleased to see that HP brought this keyboard down to the 800 series, because with Lenovo's PCs, you don't have to buy premium to get a great keyboard. I do hope that HP brings this keyboard to all of its tiers of both consumer and business laptops.

Right in the middle of the keyboard between the G, H, and B keys is a black nub for controlling the pointer. This is something that's not available at all on the 1000 series, and it was included on the EliteBook 840 G5. These exist from most OEMs in one or more models, and they're a relic from a time when Windows PC trackpads weren't very good. Obviously, some people still use them though.

The clickable trackpad uses Microsoft Precision drivers, so it's fast, responsive, and it supports all of the gestures that you're used to. Above it are two physical buttons, which are meant to be used with the nub on the keyboard, although I prefer the physical buttons with the trackpad.

Performance and battery life

The model that HP sent me is top-end, including an Intel Core i7-10810U and 16GB RAM. The Core i7-10810U is the vPro version of the Core i7-10710U, a 15W hexa-core CPU with 12 threads. It's from the Comet Lake family, as are all CPUs in business laptops that have Intel 10th-gen processors.

Some of the leading competitors to the EliteBook 840, such as Lenovo's ThinkPad T14 and T14s, aren't offered with this CPU. Those only go up to the Core i7-10610U, which is quad-core. Indeed, if you're looking for top-end Intel parts in a mainstream business laptop, the EliteBook 840 G7 is one of few choices.

Battery life is also weirdly good, although maybe I shouldn't feel like it's so weird because I know that this is something that HP focuses on. With my usual usage of the power slider being one notch above battery saver and the screen at 50% brightness, I got close to 10 hours of regular usage. I'm not talking about streaming Netflix or local video; I'm talking about actual work. If you're heading out for an eight-hour day, you can leave the charger at home.

For benchmarks, I used my usual PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.

EliteBook 840 G7
Intel Core i7-10810U
Lenovo ThinkPad T14s
AMD Ryzen 7 4750U
Dell Latitude 7310
Core i7-10610U
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga
Core i5-10310U
HP EliteBook 840 G5
Intel Core i7-8650U and AMD Radeon RX 540
PCMark 8: Home 3,717 4,298 3,639 3,335 3,874
PCMark 8: Creative 3,814 4,568 3,693 3,455 3,905
PCMark 8: Work 3,593 3,857 3,845 3,436 3,649
PCMark 10 3,909 4,963 4,253 3,819


I did include an AMD Ryzen score, because AMD's Ryzen 4000 processors are legit. But the Core i7-10810U is the best you can get from Intel right now in a business PC.

Conclusion

The EliteBook 840 G7 might just be my absolute favorite PC. That's easy for me to say, because I said it about the EliteBook x360 1040 and these are so similar. It's got one of the best keyboards of any laptop, and it's thin and light. With the previous generation, it was a great all-around PC, but thin and light wasn't how I would have described it.

Also, this model has 4G LTE, a must-have feature for me. Honestly, in 2020, everything should just be able to connect to the internet all the time. I shouldn't have to worry about ending up on the Starbucks mailing list because I wanted to use the Wi-Fi in one of its locations, and I shouldn't have to wander around an airport lounge to find the Wi-Fi password. 4G LTE is a must.

My only complaint is that the Thunderbolt 3 ports aren't 'full' Thunderbolt 3 ports, meaning that you can't use a single port to power dual 4K displays. It was an easy enough issue to work around though. I simply unplugged one of my 4K monitors from the Thunderbolt 3 dock and plugged it into the second Thunderbolt 3 port.

But all-in-all, this thing is nearly perfect. It has great speakers, an amazing keyboard, a solid anti-glare display, and a thin and light chassis. This model comes in at $2,199. You can find the EliteBook 840 G7 on HP.com here.

 

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