HP EliteBook 840 G9 First Impressions

The EliteBook 840 is HP’s mainstream business-class laptop and it’s been improved to better accommodate our hybrid work world, with a 16:10 display, a 5 MP web camera, and optional cellular broadband connectivity. It’s not trendy, but that’s by design. Instead, the EliteBook 840 is a workhorse, and one that should be able to sustain the rigors of multiple years of use.

I reviewed the two previous generation EliteBook 840 models in 2021—the G7 in March and the offshoot EliteBook 840 Aero G8 in August—and I’ve always liked the no-nonsense design, excellent keyboard, and port selection. And while the G9 isn’t a radical departure from either machine, it does arrive with several improvements.

The chassis is still silver aluminum, of course, but the EliteBook 840 features more recycled content than before and the rounded “pillow” edges that I’ve seen before on other HP business-class laptops.

It’s a professional and clean look, and those edges are much kinder on the hands. And it’s durable, having passed 19 MIL-STD 810H tests plus HP’s internal total test process and low-level drop testing.

The display is 14 inches, as before, but this year HP moves the 840 to the superior 16:10 designs that are sweeping the industry, and for good reason. There are four display choices, all of which offer a 1920 x 1200 resolution and anti-glare coating: non-touch (250 nits), touch (250 nits), low-power (400 nits), and HP Sure View Reflect (1000 nits); the latter two also offer built-in low blue light capabilities.

The display doesn’t quite lay flat.

As a business-class PC, the EliteBook 840 is backed by HP’s expansive Wolf Security suite of protections, which now work both in Windows and below the OS to help prevent all kinds of attacks and recover your PC should the bad guys get through. The list of services here is extensive, but much of it seems designed to expand on what Microsoft offers in Windows. Ditto for other security-related features, like Sure Shutter and the presence detection capabilities that work with Windows Hello facial recognition to quickly turn your PC on and off as you approach and walk away.

The hybrid work upgrades are extensive and should be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the other HP PCs I’ve looked at this year. There’s a 5 MP webcam with excellent low-light performance and auto face framing, dual user-facing microphones with improved AI-based noise suppression and dynamic voice leveling so you can walk around the room and still be heard, and the dual rear-firing speakers both feature discrete amplifiers for improved sound.

The internals are what you should expect at the close of 2022: 12th-Gen Intel Core U- and P-series processors, so you can optimize for efficiency or performance. But more impressively, perhaps, HP has updated the thermals to ensure that the 840 runs much quieter and cooler under normal or heavy workloads than did previous generations and the competition, which includes machines like the ThinkPad T-series.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: in a briefing, HP told reviewers, not for the first time, to run benchmarks multiple times because the 12th-Gen Intel Cor chipsets underperform on the first runs but do better over time. I have to wonder if this is related to the observations I’ve made about multiple 12th-Gen Core-based PCs, which seemed to have performance issues out of the box that cleared up over time. Of course, I don’t use benchmarks.

Connectivity is excellent, with Wi-Fi 6E and, if configured, 5G cellular.

The ports selection is strong. You will find HDMI 2.0, USB-A 3.1, and two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the left.

And another full-sized USB-A 3.1 port on the right, alongside a headphone/microphone jack, a nano lock slot, and, if configured, a nano-SIM slot.

The keyboard is excellent, as expected, and the glass precision touchpad seems great in early use as well.

The EliteBook 840 G9 features Windows Hello facial recognition and fingerprint recognition, which I appreciate.

Sustainability looks impressive. Among the gains, the cover is made of 50 percent recycled stamped aluminum, the bezel is 75 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and the keycaps are made from 50 percent post-consumer recycled DVDs and CDs. And HP’s outer packaging, meanwhile, is 100 percent sustainably sourced.

Battery life is rated at about 13 hours for video playback, so I’m guessing it will land between 6 and 7 hours in real-world use. This year, charging is via USB-C, not a barrel connector, so you will lose a USB-C port.

Pricing is reasonable, with a Core i5 P-series model with 16 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and a non-touch display starting at $1099. The review unit features a Core i7-1280P processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, a 400-nit non-touch display, and 5G, and retails for about $1600.

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