HP EliteBook 8730w Review

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The HP EliteBook 8730w is the largest workstation in HP's current lineup of business notebooks. Featuring the latest Intel processors and Nvidia Quadro graphics and available with HP's exclusive 17-inch "DreamColor" display, the EliteBook 8730w might be a graphics artist's best friend. We took a closer look at this desktop replacement mobile workstation to see if the system performance and color quality of the screen are as good as HP wants you to believe. Read on to find out if the EliteBook 8730w deserves a place in your office.

Our review unit of the EliteBook 8730w features the following configuration:

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 Processor (2.53GHz, 12MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
Microsoft Windows XP (downgrade from Windows Vista Business)
17.0-inch WUXGA+ anti-glare DreamColor display (1920 x 1200)
1GB NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M Workstation GPU
4GB DDR2 800MHz RAM (2 x 2GB Configuration)
250GB 7200RPM HDD
Blu-ray burner and DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
8-Cell 73WHr Battery
3-Year on-site Warranty
Dimensions: 1.3" x 15.5" x 11.1"
Weight: 7.5lbs
MSRP: $4,958 ($4,065.56 at time of writing with 18% instant discount)
The 8730w starts out at $1,699 but more powerful configurations top out at $4,879.00 after instant discount.

Build and Design

The HP EliteBook 8730w is a business workstation notebook, which means the 8730w has to meet very specific requirements for performance, durability, power consumption and a host of other features. In every case the EliteBook line meets or exceeds those standards, so you can rest easy that the price you pay for this notebook is money well spent.

The main body of the laptop is covered in the "HP DuraCase" and "HP DuraFinish" which is essentially a hard plastic and strong magnesium alloy inner shell much like its predecessor strengthened by a brushed aluminum outer shell that is scratch resistant (but not scratch proof). The entire chassis from the base to the screen lid feels exceptionally strong and resistant to flex when heavy pressure is applied. The keyboard is almost completely rock solid except for some minor flex on the dedicated number pad directly above the optical drive. Although I never recommend doing this, you could throw this notebook across the room and it would likely survive unharmed.

The outer shell of the screen casing is made of metal, but the inner screen bezel is plastic. HP says that this mobile workstation "has been tested and meets the military standard MIL-STD 810F tests" so this notebook is built to last.

Additionally, the 8730w also features hard drive shock protection in the form of the new HP 3D DriveGuard which will help to protect your hard drive in the event the laptop gets dropped or violently bumped ... or smacks into a desk because an editor wasn't paying enough attention. You can also configure the 8730w with a solid state drive (SSD) if you need extreme speed and resistance to vibration.

Despite the rugged durability built into the design the weight of the 8730w is perfectly reasonable compared to other 17-inch workstations. If you didn't already notice, the EliteBook 8730w tips the scales at seven and a half pounds but a similarly equipped workstation such as the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 weighs in at more than eight pounds. In any case, this is clearly a desktop replacement system so most people won't be too concerned about the weight of this notebook.

Finally, in the same way that the gray and black exterior and smooth design suits a professional environment, so do the internals. The EliteBook 8730w uses two simple plastic covers on the bottom of the notebook (each held in place with standard Phillips head screws) so that the user or your IT department can easily access the hard drive, wireless cards or RAM for fast upgrades. The optical drive can also be removed and replaced with a second hard drive or SSD if you need more storage. The bottom of the notebook also features a dedicated docking station port, external battery port, and a convenient place to store your business card.


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