HP Elitebook 8730w Performance & Noise

In my previous write-ups about HP’s Elitebook 8730w this month, I provided some battery life figures for the 8730w Mobile Workstation when doing various tasks and also talked about the Elitebook’s gaming abilities. And now, we come to the Elitebook 8730w’s performance figures and noise. Again, here’s the configuration on the HP Elitebook 8730w I used for testing: Intel Centrino 2 (Core 2 Duo) T9400 2.53 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM (2 X 2 GB), 17 inch DreamColor display, 160 GB hard drive and top-of-the-line Nvidia Quadro FX3700M 1 GB workstation-class graphics card.

Temperature and heat: When idling, the 8730w’s processor temperature hovers around the 39 to 41 Celcius range and when doing “light things” such as typing out this write up or surfing the net, it’s around 40 to 45 Celcius. Doing heavy (and multiple) tasks like HD video editing, graphics rendering and gaming, the processor temperature can rise up to 50+ degrees Celcius but so far, during my 3 months with the 8730w, never above 60 Celcius. Generally, you won’t notice the heat being emitted from the notebook, even under intense use (the most your palms and hands will ever feel will be an occasional “slightly warm” feeling), as it only gets hot on the underside of the 8730w… so unless you literally use the Elitebook as a lap-top and place it on your lap while using it, everything should be fine. Speaking of the heat being mostly on the underside of the notebook, things there can get hot (though it won’t burn your hand) so keep that in mind after finishing work and carrying the notebook by your side.

Noise: The HP Elitebook 8730w has a single fan with two side vents. When it’s under light to medium load, the fan runs very quietly – I wouldn’t say dead silent but you won’t notice it unless you put your ear close to the notebook’s fan location. Under heavy load, the Elitebook’s fan tends to spin up but even then, it’s still fairly quiet. You’ll hear a fairly distinct very low humming sound (much more low profile than the usual “whooshing” fan sounds of typical notebooks) which isn’t too loud or annoying… I doubt the person sitting next to you would even notice unless you’re in a completely silent, soundproof room. Compare this with the Elitebook 8730w’s consumer relative, the HP Pavilion dv7 (which spots a 17 inch glossy LCD and shares the T9400 processor) which makes a fairly noticeable “shhhhhhhh” fan sound when being put to the test.

And this is how the HP Elitebook 8730w performs based on Windows Vista’s Windows Experience Index rating system:

  • Processor: 5.4
  • Memory: 5.9
  • Graphics: 5.9
  • Gaming graphics: 5.8
  • Hard disk: 5.3

Again, I should remind you that the HP Elitebook 8730w uses a workstation-class graphics card (not your usual gaming graphics cards). If you have any questions or comments, do feel free to drop a comment below or email me.

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  1. Grahame October 27, 2009 Reply

    Have just read your article and was wondering if it is an easy task to change the graphics card (mine has Nvidia Quadro FX 2700m) to something more suitable for gaming and what card you would recommend (512MB-1GB). I thought I was getting a decent gaming card but soon discovered that it is more suitable to CAD applications and not gaming. (I should have investigated more fully but saw the 512MB graphics spec and assumed all would be well!).


    • Brad October 28, 2009 Reply

      Hi Grahame, that’s an excellent question that you pose there. Unfortunately, you can’t change graphics cards in notebooks (at least not easily/cheaply). Workstation-class graphics cards like the Nvidia Quadro series are meant for heavylifting in terms of frame quality, while gaming cards are more suitable for producing more frames. In a non-scientific test involving a few big notebooks and modern game titles, I found that the Quadro’s (especially higher end models like the FX2700M and FX3700M) consistently produce better looking frames than their ‘gaming’ cousins, but at an average 20 to 40% less frames per second. Assuming you want high frame rates on your Quadro FX2700M, you could try installing the drivers of Nvidia’s mobile gaming cards, so your FX2700M “thinks” itself to be something like a 9600M or 9800M – driver swapping is a common solution recommended by most people to those who want to use their workstation rigs for gaming. You could also right click your desktop, go to Nvidia Control Panel > Advanced settings to adjust graphics settings (Anti-aliasing and such). Hope this helps

  2. Grahame October 29, 2009 Reply

    Hi Brad,
    Thanks for that. I will try tricking the card into thinking is one of these other cards. I did come across an article on laptopvideo2go and tried installing one of their modified inf files but still had no joy. I assume that these other cards are the GT or GTS models you are refering to?
    Thanks again for the pointers.

    • Brad October 29, 2009 Reply

      Hi Grahame, great, glad I could be of help. I managed to spend a little time today looking up graphics card specs for you – for the Quadro FX2700M, I’d say the GeForce GT240M and GeForce FTS 160M are the two closest ‘matching’ cousins. You might wanna try out drivers for those (at your own risk of course =)
      Nvidia’s direct driver download page http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us . In any case, I would recommend going for ‘notebook’ graphics card drivers for reasons related to compatibility and power consumption. Tell me if you manage to make things work =)

  3. Grahame October 30, 2009 Reply

    Cheers for that Brad. Am downloading the drivers (both models appear to use the same one) as I am writing this. I will let you know how it goes (fingers crossed for smooth sailing :)!)

  4. Olivier January 7, 2010 Reply

    Hi Brad,

    quick feedback .. on my 8730w unit, i recently installed Windows 7 64-bits.. makes quite a difference .. !

    here are my Rating

    Proc : 6.6
    RAM : 5.9
    Graphics : 6.4
    Gaming : 6.4
    HDD : 5.9

    Overall index : 5.9

    BTW , this is a pre-release HW 2 years old with an ATI FIREGL V5275 and 4gb of Ram

    keep the good work

  5. Brad January 7, 2010 Reply

    Hi Olivier, thanks for your comment. Wow that is a big difference indeed, especially in the graphics area and processor areas. Are you using the same T9400 2.53 Ghz processor as I did when testing out the 8730w?

  6. Olivier January 7, 2010 Reply

    ah .. that’s where all the difference comes from !!

    i have the Intel Core2 Extreme X9100 @ 3.06ghz ..

    i should read better 😉

    • Gery March 13, 2013 Reply

      Hi, Oliver I am wondering that your HP 8730W was quiet or noisy under light and heavy loading.

  7. Ultrasensitive? October 6, 2010 Reply

    I guess I am too sensitive to high frequency noise. Just got an elitebook at work and the very low volume, but high frequency noise is driving me nuts. It causes ringing in my ears even after I leave the room. I am going to relocate it away from me, but may have to give it up. Anybody else experience this?

  8. Brad February 26, 2011 Reply

    Ultrasensitive, yes, seems that’s an annoyance with some Intel processors. I’m unsure of what the pattern is, perhaps it’s the batch of processors or that they make high pitched sounds over time. But I’ve noticed that happening to some notebooks I’ve used, usually when the computer is idling.

  9. Morgan October 25, 2011 Reply

    Hi I have the HP Elitebook 8730w and running Debian based linux on it. I have found that the heat gets very hot under my palms and was wondering if this will ever come right now I have also noticed it on Windows so I think its time for a new laptop

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