HP EliteBook 840 G7 First Impressions

Posted on September 17, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 17 Comments

The new HP EliteBook 840 could be the perfect business-class laptop for the pandemic, with better performance and efficiency. It can even withstand being sanitized with normal household wipes.

As some of you may know, I’ve long been a fan of HP’s EliteBook series, but I haven’t actually reviewed one since last year: That was the EliteBook x360 1040 G5, a convertible laptop that is among the very best I’ve ever reviewed, with a nearly-flawless typing experience that I still use as my baseline for other reviews.

Flash forward to 2020 and the new EliteBook 840 is a familiar and similar PC, from build quality and features perspectives. But it’s also slightly different in that it is a traditional laptop and not a convertible. And while those who are familiar with HP’s model number schemes may already realize this, the EliteBook 840 (like the 1040) sports a 14-inch display, which I prefer. But HP also sells a 13-inch version of this laptop, called the EliteBook 830, for those who prefer a bit more portability over screen size.

The other notable high-level point is that HP wisely outfits its business-class offerings with a smart combination of new and legacy ports, which I still prefer. In this case, it means that the EliteBook 840 arrives with one Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, one USB-C port, two full-sized USB-A ports, one HDMI video-out port, and a nano-SIM card slot for cellular connectivity.

Compared to its predecessor, the 7th-generation EliteBook 840 shaves off both inches and ounces, with a 9 percent smaller footprint overall and 20 to 39 percent thinner display bezels, depending on which edge you’re looking at. It’s the first EliteBook 840 to weigh under 3 pounds—2.96 pounds to exact—and HP now anodizes the CNC aluminum body to provide twice the abrasion protection of any of its competition (according to HP).

That latter improvement also provides an interesting COVID-era benefit: The EliteBook 840 body and keyboard keys have been sanitizer hardened so that they can withstand 1,000 disinfection cycles with normal household wipes. This protection is also useful for normal fade and stain protection against such common enemies as alcohol, crayons, ink, and lipstick, too, HP says.

From a design perspective, the EliteBook 840 is, as noted, familiar, and I happen to really like the non-assuming, all-business looks of this product line. But there’s one minor change that makes a big difference: The front edges of the device—on the display lid and the keyboard deck—are now angled inward. This has two neat side-effects: It’s easier to open the lid, and the deck edge no longer feels sharp on your wrists; it’s much more comfortable. On the flip side, those edges are now sharper when the lid is closed: You may want to carry it from the other side.

The keyboard appears to be very similar to that of the EliteBook x360 1040, with the same smallish and quiet rubber-domed keys and island design.

But here, too, there’s a difference and it’s kind of an anachronistic one: In addition to the glass precision touchpad, which is also on the small side, the EliteBook 840 provides a nubbin mouse pointer, similar to that on ThinkPads, between the G, H, and B keys, and two hardware buttons. Interesting.

Speaking of the keyboard, it has my preferred layout, with the Home, PgUp, PgDn, and End keys in a column on the far right.

And instead of the HP Collaboration keys, which I never used, it features a single programmable key, which can be customized launch up to four different app or commands (when used with modifier keys like Ctrl), and a power button/key to the left of the Delete key where it belongs. Perfect.

It also supports Windows Hello-based authentication via facial recognition and a fingerprint reader, which I find to be the optimal configuration. And there are two top-firing stereo speakers plus 2 front-facing microphones and one rear-facing microphone. The HD webcam is wide-angle and comes with a privacy shutter.

The EliteBook 840 is powered by 10th-generation Intel Core U-series processors (i5 or i7), 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB or more of NVMe Gen3 x4 SSD storage. There are two 1080p display panel options, one at 250 nits of brightness and one at 400 nits.

Prices start at $1350 for a model with a Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and the 250 nit display. The review unit has a Core i7-10810U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage, plus the upgraded 1080p display and the cellular data, and costs $2200.

More soon.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “HP EliteBook 840 G7 First Impressions”

  1. anoldamigauser

    Since the ThinkPad TrackPoint is my preferred mouse pointer on a laptop, I will be interested in how the nubbin mouse pointer works, relative to it. Years ago, when they were more common, I used those on a Dell laptop for work, and another, possibly a Gateway, which was my wife's computer, and neither were anywhere near as useful as the ThinkPad version.

  2. crp0908

    The nub mouse pointer takes a big chunk out of the B, G, and H keys. Dell implements this better on their 14" Latitudes. I'm not familiar with Lenovo, but I am guessing that they implement it better as well.

    Also agree with several others in this thread that the price seems high.

  3. G_Mel

    I'm personally waiting for the 8x5 versions with Ryzen chipsets. Good to know the build quality is still solid.

  4. eric_rasmussen

    I love the muted design of the professional laptops as well, it looks really nice without trying to stand out with bling.

    I've never seen a non-IBM/Lenovo laptop with the thumb controller. I wonder if IBM's patent finally expired? It's nice to have control of the mouse while leaving your hands on the keyboard.

    I'm an AMD fanboy so take that for what it's worth, but I really wish there was a Ryzen 4000 variant of this thing available. ?

  5. wright_is

    and a power button/key to the left of the Delete key where it belongs.

    No. The power button shouldn't be anywhere near the keyboard! Put it to the right of the keyboard, put it on the sides of the case, fine, but please not in the middle of the keyboard, where it will get pressed by accident!

    The rest of it sounds really good though, although I would like to see it with the recently announced Tiger Lake 11th Generation or AMD Ryzen 4000u processors. (Tiger Lake brings PCIe 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 to the mix.)

  6. dougkinzinger

    EliteBook 840's are my go-to laptop of choice (I sell them) and I use them. It's a perfect travel companion.

  7. colin79666

    Annoying the Ethernet port has finally kicked the bucket. Was handy in enterprise, not least for the guy tasked with imaging the thing.

    • joeaxberg

      In reply to colin79666:

      It would seem to me that the days of ethernet ports on laptops, even enterprise ones are numbered. Was this not considered as something that one day might happen? MS doesn't' have a solution for this? Truly just curious as this seems odd.

      • colin79666

        In reply to joeaxberg:

        They do make use of SMBIOS GUID but there is still a fallback to MAC. For imaging you can save a list of MAC addresses for imaging that aren’t to be associated with the device but you still have to maintain that list. If every USB NIC worked with every model it would help but some laptops are USB C, some still A, some tablets micro USB, some only work with the same brand as the laptop and so it goes on. In the long term imaging will become redundant as machines will just use the OS installed at the factory and be managed with MDM (like an iPad is today) but enterprise is slow so that is a while off and still immature technology.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I don't see this as an issue. If there was an Ethernet port, you'd have a cable to plug in. Without an Ethernet port, you still have a cable to plug in. It will just have a USB dongle on the end of it. Same difference.
      • colin79666

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        It becomes an issue when you have to image a machine and can’t find the dongle. You can’t use just any dongle either as only some will work with PXE and WinPE for certain models and you have to have set Endpoint Configuration Manager to not tie the MAC address of the dongle with the machine. Believe me this is a right PITA for desktop admins.

        • Paul Thurrott

          The dongle is just attached to the Ethernet cable all the time.
          • wright_is

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            That is the problem. The dongle has the MAC address, which screws everything up. Everything assumes the MAC is unique to the PC, but in this case, it is the device connected to the cable, connecting it to the PC that has the MAC address - it is essentially a USB Ethernet adapter, not a USB dongle to convert USB to Ethernet... The same problem with docking stations, the docking stations Ethernet port has its own MAC address.

            That means you have to be really careful with the adapters/docks and never use them on more than 1 laptop, when setting them up. Or a lock of messing around with configuration settings.

  8. RobertJasiek

    Interested consumers should wait for Tiger Lake to be used, which is a significant improvement over 10th generation.

  9. aretzios

    I have had lots of Elitebooks myself (since G1, all 850's) and I really like these machines but I have to say that they are way overpriced for the ordinary individual. These are business laptops and HP is targeting large corporations with them. If you compare their specs and contrast them to offerings by Lenovo, they simply do not match well in terms of "bang for the buck". They are well made, work well in most cases and they are dependable, but not the appropriate choice for a sole PC buyer.

    • Paul Thurrott

      They are definitely expensive, and, yes, they are aimed at businesses. You do get a lot for the extra money, however, in terms of durability, support, and overall quality.
      • aretzios

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Hmmm...I am not sure about support. I recently have had a horror story with HP support. My Elitebook 850 G5 keyboard stopped working (weird) and I sent it to the repair facility with direct instructions not to re-image the disk. Guess what? They did re-image the disk and I had to spend 2 days resurrecting this machine. Despite many inquiries, they never provided a justification. Just a screw up, I guess!!

    • Elwood P Suggins

      In reply to aretzios:

      Agreed... I longingly looked at the Elitebooks for myself last year but just couldn't justify the price for my needs. I ended up going with a mid-range Dell Latitude 5300 costing ~33% less - not as sexy as the HP but has a brighter display (300 nit) than the stock Elitebook display... otherwise the basic specs were very similar.

  10. dougkinzinger

    And if you want essentially the 840 but with the added number pad on the right, enter the 850. Both great, great units!