HP Elitebook 8440w Review (Quad-core i7 model)

No this is NOT an article written from the CES floor. Not too long ago, I was kidnapped and dragged into a secret location to play with this gunmetal gray little toy. And the minute I lay my hands on the chilly cold keyboard deck and powered it up, I was in love. I confess I’ve been hugging this thing for quite a while now (and yes, its real owner wants it back!). Like many people around the world (I know because they sent in plenty of tips), I was not bound to anyone or anything, so I could’ve posted this earlier but I was in a dilemma whether to go ahead.

Now that it’s official, I’m really happy for HP and I’m now posting my review based on my time with the HP Elitebook 8440w Mobile Workstation!

Main features:

  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 Extreme 920-XM quad core processor
  • 8 GB of DDR3 RAM (2 slots)
  • 512 MB Nvidia Quadro FX380M graphics (not to be confused with the high-end FX3800M)
  • 14 inch 16:9 matte widescreen, super-high res option (1600 x 900)
  • 4 USB ports, VGA out, Display Port out
  • 6 cell primary battery with HP 8 cell secondary battery

Based on emails from sources and readers I’ve been receiving since September last year, there are a variety of different configurations floating around. I believe a Core i5 option exists, along with “gaming” graphics (I think those are more recent units).

1.73 GHz Intel Core i7 820QM quad core processor – looks like majority of “closet Elitebook 8440 holders” have their Elitebook 8440w’s configured with this processor. I’ve gotten word from a few people that they’re getting similar battery life numbers to what I’m getting (about 9 hours of light use on 9 cell and 4+ hours on heavy loads).


Besides offering improvements in performance, Core i7 spells out sheer power, HP also evolved the design of this year’s Elitebooks a little. The changes are subtle but well appreciated. Unless you have a keen eye or are extremely familiar with HP notebooks, you might not spot them at first. So let me point them out to you.

The fingerprint reader of the latest Elitebook 8440w is a lot more low profile than the silver colored one on previous Elitebooks. It blends in with the gray design… just like that.

Left side of the Elitebook 8440w

Over here, you can see the Elitebook 8440w’s airflow vent, three USB ports, firewire port, Express Card slot and dedicated headphone/microphone jacks. Although there’s word the larger 15 inch Elitebook 8540p and 8540w models will get USB 3.0 ports (personally I just received the latter, but have no USB 3.0 devices to test out on it), the smaller 8440w here is stuck with your everyday USB 2.0 ports as far as I can tell.

Right side of the Elitebook 8440w

On this side of the notebook, we have the optical drive (see that logo, ooh Blu-ray!), combined USB + eSATA port, LAN port and modem jack. There’s also a smartcard reader cleverly hidden between the palmrest and optical drive area (that very thin slit).

Ports on the back

The biggest surprise (or not, if you read our “Spotted: Elitebook” article in November 2009) is that HP ain’t putting HDMI ports on their latest Elitebook models. Instead, they’re jumping straight over to using Display Ports (those wanting to hook up the notebook to their TV shouldn’t fret, as there are various HDMI adapters available). HP has also included a more traditional VGA output so business users can easily connect the notebook to a projector without the hassle of an additional adapter.

Battery life: Isn’t this everyone’s concern when a Core i7 Mobile processor is used in a notebook? First off, I was amazed at the battery life of the Elitebook 8440w considering its powerful processor. Unplugged and working on documents/surfing the web, I managed to clock in 6 hours of work using the primary battery (6 cell) and another 8 hours with the secondary battery (screen at medium brightness). And using it for CAD work and gaming at maximum brightness slashes those numbers into half.

24 hour battery life: You read that right, but only the Elitebook 8440p models will manage that. The p “professional” variants run on less powerful (hence, less power consuming) processors and have other power saving measures, while the 8440w “workstation” variant here trades some battery life for power.

Fan noise: The Elitebook 8440w is almost silent when idling and doing light work. Under heavy stress (gaming and CAD), the fan spins up noticably to an audible level but as I observed, it’s still quieter than the 8530w/8730w’s respective fans at full tilt.

Display: The Elitebook 8440w I played with had a marvelous matte 1600 x 900 display. Simply put, the resolution alone makes the Elitebook 8440w’s 14 inch widescreen display feel bigger than it really is. I have more good things to say here: I love matte displays (and have an apparent dislike for glossy ones, as they’re hard to see under bright lighting) which the Elitebook 8440w has, and the LED backlit display is on the bright side. I had no problem viewing the screen indoors under living room lighting with brightness at the lowest setting.

There’s also an ambient light sensor below the display which you can opt to enable or disable by pressing Fn + F11.

HP Night Light: This is an Elitebook standard feature. The change in current generation Elitebook’s Night Lights is that the light pops out by pressing the light itself (kinda like the spare change compartment in your car), compared to the old Elitebooks which required a press of a separate button next to the Night Light. The brightness is decent – sufficient to illuminate the keyboard in low-light, but it’s certainly not blinding or overly bright to the point that it’s distracting. Despite the centralized location, the Night Light is able to provide sufficient illumination even to the edges of the keyboard. The photo above was taken in total darkness with exposure adjusted to reflect what my own eyes saw.

Touch sensitive controls: The Elitebook 8440w has a reworked set of touch sensitive controls above the keyboard. The “Info” and “Presentation” buttons of the old Elitebooks have been replaced with more useful controls to launch your favorite email application and internet browser. That’s followed by a wireless on/off control and touchpad lock button (turns red when touchpad is locked). The touchpad lock feature is new to this generation of Elitebook models: previously only the Elitebook 2530p had one. It basically disabled the touchpad itself and lower mouse buttons to prevent accidental presses. However, it does NOT lock the pointing stick and upper touchpad buttons (which is great news for pointing stick fanatics).

Keyboard: There isn’t much change in the keyboard layout of the Elitebook 8440w. In fact, the layout is exactly the same as that of the Elitebook 6930p: full-sized keys with Page Up/Page Down/Home/End buttons positioned at the very right side with a small gutter separating that row with the rest of the keyboard. The full sized right Shift key remains, as with the decently sized arrow keys. There is a change, however, to the keyboard’s design. HP has shifted from the traditional keyboards found on earlier Elitebook models to a partial-chiclet styled one (first seen here on HP’s Touchsmart all-in-one PC keyboard). I know people who own 1st generation Elitebook models of all sizes (from 12 inches to 17 inches) and some of them have been kind enough to let me use them extensively from time to time =). I didn’t find any issue with the keyboards on any of the 1st generation Elitebooks, but I must say the new keyboard here on the Elitebook 8440w is even more comfortable to type on. Keystrokes are softer (but still stiff enough to prevent accidental presses) and more responsive, but not really quieter when typing.

The keyboard is apparently spill-proof, but I was not fortunate enough (or not unfortunate enough, depending on how you see things) to spill anything on the keyboard during my time with the Elitebook 8440w. In fact, I pampered the little thing like a baby for the obvious reason it does not belong to me (see below for the paragraph about owner’s durability demonstration though)

Elitebook 8440w’s pointing stick

The Elitebook 8440w’s pointing stick is an improvement over that of previous Elitebook models. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I personally know several Elitebook owners, and some of them do complain a lot about the hassle of their pointing stick coming off after a lot of typing (especially using the G, H and B keys) and need to be plugged back in (believe me, they are indeed a small challenge to reattach firmly). The new partial-chiclet keyboard gives the pointing stick a bit of breathing room around the G, H, B keys and using the pointing stick itself is a breeze – responsive and accurate.

Elitebook 8440w’s touchpad

Gaming performance (Plugged in): I managed to play Left4Dead 2 at native 1600 x 900 resolution at 4X anti aliasing, 2X AF and all Medium settings with an average frame rate of 30-40 FPS. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 worked just as well with similar frame rates at Medium settings. The older Elitebook 8530w manages roughly the same frame rates, but with a mix of Medium/High settings at 1920 x 1200 as it has a higher end graphics card (FX770M) versus the FX380M on the 8440w.

Display lid: The Elitebook 8440w has a lid locking system which LOOKS similar to that of the old Elitebooks, but there’s yet another small improvement here. The small ejector “stubs” (see the small black circle near the touchpad in the photo above) now don’t have a catch point half-way through. Press the button on the front of the Elitebook 8440w and it instantly ejects the lid. On old Elitebooks, there was a chance the lid would not fully open if you didn’t press hard the button enough.

CAD work: It takes around 5 minutes to encode 20 minutes worth of HD video in AVI format using Adobe Media Encoder CS4. Graphics rendering using AutoCAD is faster than the last gen Elitebook 6930p/Elitebook 8530w models. The 8440w can usually do the same job in 60-70% the time it takes for a 8530w. This is due to the 8440w’s quad-core processor – it gives this machine a large advantage in many day to day tasks (and sadly, there aren’t as many GPU reliant applications versus those that rely a lot on CPU). However, in the graphics department, the older Elitebook 8530w still wins in terms of smoothness and crispiness with its older but higher end FX770M.

Speakers: There’s a SD/SDHC/MMC card slot on the front of the Elitebook 8440w. Although not 100% centralized, the Elitebook 8440w’s speakers performed well in terms of sound quality (they produce some sort of “spatial” effect with a slight bit of bass). In fact, it’s one of the better speakers I’ve heard on a business notebook (Elitebook 8730w takes 1st place in my mind). They definitely sound better than the tinny speakers on my own Pavilion dv4. Music playback was good, and they sounded just as impressive when gaming.

Size: The Elitebook 8440w is a hair wider but very slightly shorter versus the old Elitebook 6930p due to its slightly wider 16:9 display.

Durability: I was treated to a surprise, scary demonstration by -anonymous-, the owner of this Elitebook 8440w, when he first offered to let me have a go at this notebook. I won’t say names, but this dude is about 6′ 2″ and 200 lbs, powered on the notebook, closed the lid and lay it down on the carpet before proceeding to stand on top of the notebook (!!!), and he didn’t even bother to take off his shoes. Needless to say, it held up, if not I wouldn’t even have been able to test this thing out anyway. Warning: Don’t try this at home, this advice applies to both kids and adults! HP Fansite is not responsible for your actions should any mishaps occur.

I’d say build quality is right up there with the Thinkpads and more solid than the unibody MacBook Pro’s.

Final thoughts: The HP Elitebook 8440w is a nice step up from the Elitebook 6930p and definitely a worthy successor. Compared to the Elitebook 6930p, the main improvements include a far more powerful processor, much better graphics, higher resolution screen (+160 pixels to the side), slightly better keyboard, 1 additional USB port, added Display Port, touchpad lock and very good battery life (if you want to stretch things a bit, go for the dual core Core i7 or i5 processor options).

Me: I’m thinking of replacing my aging Pavilion dv4 this year, and I’m torn between this smaller Elitebook 8440w and the more powerful Elitebook 8540w. Aaargh, decisions, decisions.

Why don’t I have a similar review available for the Elitebook 8540w? One main reason: because the 8440w arrived earlier (I feel that I haven’t spent enough time with the 8540w to write a user’s perspective, in-depth review)

If there’s anything else you wanna know, drop me an email or preferably, post in the comments section below and I’ll gladly answer.


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  1. Allan January 6, 2010 Reply

    Hey Brad great review. I just read another review of the 8440w on http://forum.notebookreview.com, they had the high end Arrandale dual core Core i7-620M version. The 8440w is the first 14″ laptop that I’ve seen that has the quad core Core i7 mobile cpu, amazing (everything else is mostly giant 15.6″, 16″, 17″ and 18.4″ and higher laptops, like Asus, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, Alienware, etc.

  2. Chema January 6, 2010 Reply

    I have drooled with this review! 🙂

    But what about temperatures? Since this machine has the most powerful i7 mobile processor and it has a small size, this machine should run very hot with high loads…

  3. Dana January 7, 2010 Reply

    Hmm, the fact that you can lock the touchpad without locking the stick buttons, implies that they’ve put the stick buttons on the stick instead of on the touchpad. Hopefully we should be able to use stick middle button (or left+right) to scroll while keeping the pad buttons normal.

    Also, can you please check what sort of advanced features the touchpad offers? Please check the mouse control panel for fancy gestures, and press alt-shift-i in the mouse control panel and check for multiple finger reporting.

  4. Brad January 7, 2010 Reply

    @Chema Surprisingly, I didn’t find heat to be an issue, plugged in or not. I can spend a few hours doing stuff in Auto CAD and Photoshop, and then hop straight on to a session of Need For Speed Shift (or Left4Dead 2)… and I can carry the notebook from one place to another while doing this, without frying my fingers. The keyboard deck (mostly the middle/left parts) does get noticeably warm, so does the lower left part where the hard disk sits, but not to the point where it feels uncomfortable.

    I’d say heat levels are on par with last generation Elitebooks. Core Temp reports processor temperatures of 60-65 degrees Celcius when running on high load, about 40+ degrees on light load.

    @Dana Yes, activating the lock function will only disable the lower 2 buttons and touchpad. The touchstick and upper 2 buttons will still work, however. I suppose this is part of the functionality and also probably due to hardware (not that I recommend doing so, but if you remove the keyboard, you’ll find the touchstick is “linked” to the upper two buttons).

    At the moment, I can’t find any sort of multi-touch features on the Elitebook 8440’s Synaptics panel. It looks like HP recycled/reused the same single-touch trackpad as the 6930p (or at least the touchpad features remain the same). I’ll keep you posted if anything changes (though the software and drivers on the 8440 seem to be finalized already)

  5. Chema January 7, 2010 Reply

    Brad, thanks for your reply 😉

    I plan to use the laptop on my lap for some hours at night (with low illumination). So my main concern was the dissipated heat, specially on the bottom side. But my preference is the big brother :D, the much waited 8740w (can’t wait any more!!). It will replace my old desktop PC as my main computer (I hope).

    • Brad January 7, 2010 Reply

      @Chema, great. As long as you don’t try to run too many instances of Photoshop or Illustrator or Maya while it’s on your lap, you should be fine 🙂 . Heat on the bottom side is not bad or uncomfortable so far, could be because the notebook is brand new… I’ve almost burnt my fingers before touching the RAM compartment door of a friend’s 8730w, but thankfully that’s not the case with the 8440w.

      Hey if you’re waiting for the 8440w to start selling in February, mind as well consider your options and check out what the 8740w has in store during then, right? HP has done quite a bit of redesigning this time round – rearranging ports, tweaking certain elements like the display hinges/ejector mechanism, apparently a “different” spill-resistant keyboard too… compared to the Elitebook xx30w series which were “higher quality” but had roughly the same design as their xx10w counterparts. If you saw Asus’ announcements yesterday at CES… I *think* we might see HP coming out with an “Asus-fighter” 8740w soon…

  6. Allan January 7, 2010 Reply

    Hey Brad, just to confirm, does the laptop have the Quad core/8 threads Core i7-920XM, or the dual core/4 thread Core i7-620M ? thanks

    • Brad January 7, 2010 Reply

      @Allan The model that I handled does indeed have the quad core i7 (2.0 GHz AKA 920XM Extreme)

      I’ve updated the article a little as well – seems that many “closet” Elitebook 8440w holders also have quad core i7 models (either 920XM or 820QM, but the latter seems more popular based on the emails I’m getting). Haven’t gotten any word about anyone (individuals) with the dual core i7, but I do see notebook review websites getting the dual core i7 620M you mentioned.

  7. Allan January 7, 2010 Reply

    Brad thanks for the reply. I’ve been looking at quad core Core i7 laptops for a little while, and would prefer a 14″ model like this one. Other than perhaps the HP Envy 15, everything else is relatively big, 1.5″-2″ , 7-8lb monstesrs, like the Asus gaming laptops, Alienware, etc (or low/poor resolution like the HP dv6 15.6″ model at only 1366×768). 16″, 17″ and 18″ laptops. Also other quad core Core i7 (720qm,820qm, and 920xm) laptop models were mostly observed to have sub 2 hour (typically only 1.5 hour) hour, so it sounds promising if this quad core/power hungry cpu can get over 3 hours somehow in the 14″ 844w.

    The Core i7-620M and Core i5-430m/520m/540m sound like great compromises for excellent single core to dual core thread performance, and great battery life.

    • Brad January 7, 2010 Reply

      Hi Allan, yes I believe the 8440w is the first ever 14 inch notebook with i7 Quad core and if they launch them for sale in time, I think HP can sell the 820QM and 920XM models like hot cakes. You’ll probably appreciate its size as the notebook is very much smaller than the Envy 15. I have a sling bag that -just- fits the Envy 15 (length and width wise), but the same bag is able to fit in a 14 inch notebook like the 8440w with leftover space at the sides/top for placing the charger. I’m not quite sure about the 1.6 GHz, 720QM though – no one I’ve heard from is using it, and it doesn’t make sense to offer it either (820QM is slightly more powerful but same TDP, around the same battery life if the Envy 15’s 720QM vs 820QM applies here).

      Yes it is possible for the 8440w to get even 6 hours using the 6 cell battery (doesn’t stick out from the notebook), because the Intel Mobile i7 processors are smart enough to tune themselves down when on battery power. I believe Turbo Boost only works if you have the charger plugged in. 3 hours of battery life would be when you run a lot of heavy applications and max out screen brightness and/or play music/sound all while running on battery power

  8. Dana January 7, 2010 Reply

    Hmm, try pressing alt-shift-i in the control panel — it’ll open a hidden Synaptics debug thingy. Also, I’m curious about UEFI firmware, as in my comments on here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?p=5699811
    Also, on the 8530w, the stick buttons are on the touchpad… did the 6930p have the stick buttons joined to the stick, or does only the new one do that?

    If you have time, please try installing WinVista or Win7 using the UEFI Boot Mode — when I do that on my 8540w, I get non-working wifi. http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?p=5699811

  9. Geoff January 7, 2010 Reply

    it seems that the 8440w is going to be a nice little machine. Can’t wait for the 8540W review.

  10. Chema January 8, 2010 Reply

    I agree, this thing is VERY sexy and attractive. In fact, for me it’s the most beautiful laptop I’ve ever seen (including those famous MacBook Pro’s). I don’t know if purchase the 920XM processor or the 820QM. There is a big leap in price here in Europe (Spain), but is it well worth the extreme version since HP locks out the BIOS to avoid overclocking?

  11. Allan January 8, 2010 Reply

    Hey Brad, HP’s website has the 8440w/p and 8540w/p models up, but you can’t configure a custom order laptop yet.


    But to confirm according to the 8440w/p models specs page, the website lists the only 14″ laptop to offer both dual core (Core i5) & dual core/quad core (Core i7 620M and core i7-720QM/820QM models)! Thanks for your review and confirmation! The advantages with the 15.6″ 8540w/p are the 1) FHD or 1080p resolution, and 2) Four RAM sockets for 8GB/16GB of DDR3 ram, and 3) USB 3.0. HP is releasing a new version of the Envy 15 with USB 3.0, so the Envy 15 pretty much matches the 8540w/p minus the internal dvd burner.

    It’s time to upgrade from my Thinkpad T61 for either the dual core 620M CPU with similar battery life to my old Core 2 Duo T8300, or just go for the power quad core 720QM CPU. What’s nice about the Elitebook, like the T-series thinkpads and some of the Dell latitudes, there is a “upgrade” modular bay for the DVD drive, so you can take it out and add another hard drive – you could carry two 500GB or two 640GB 2.5″ drives, or 1.2TB internally without going USB or eSATA.

    • Brad January 8, 2010 Reply

      Hi Allan, thanks for the heads up. I have a feeling HP is going to add several more of their mentioned “future Intel Core” processors into the mix once Intel (the supplier, of course) makes them available, just like how they added in The Core 2 Extreme and Core 2 Quad processor options into the 8530w/8730w. Right now I’m torn between the 8440w and 8540w as well – to go for smaller size or better graphics/more RAM/higher def display…

      I can’t help but feel the 8540w is a far superior notebook compared to the Envy 15. Having handled both, the 8540w matches the Envy 15’s feature set (as you mentioned), but adds on: a matte display (must-have for me), [Edit: Envy 15 has matte option too], more ports (VGA out is useful, and I feel the Elitebook’s 5 spread out USB ports is a big step above the Envy’s 3 tightly-packed USB ports), much more accessible under-side compartments and optical drive, compatibility with HP’s existing Extended Batteries since 2004/5 and even the keyboard feels better (8540w has numeric pad; Envy 15 has an irritating extra row of “media/app” keys on the left side – takes some getting used to when typing).
      Edit: Just noticed the Envy 15 has an anti-glare screen option now, guess that negates the point on the Elitebook 8540w’s matte display.

      Both Elitebooks look extremely tempting at the moment… I also noticed how the 8440p offers Nvidia Quadro NVS graphics as an option: not really my cup of tea, I’d rather see it have consumer Nvidia/ATI graphics instead, seeing its 8440w sibling already has workstation-class graphics.

  12. Dana January 8, 2010 Reply

    No ATI… bleh! Especially when you see the difference in attitude between AMD/ATI and nvidia.

    Oh, and can you please try out that UEFI stuff? It’ll just take installing Win7 this way (on a spare drive): http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c01717787/c01717787.pdf
    What my EliteBook gives: old-style boot logo, and non-working wifi.
    To revert, you can just disable UEFI Boot Mode.

  13. Geoff January 8, 2010 Reply

    so glad that the keyboard on the Elitebooks aren’t like the HP Probook/Apple Macbook Pros.

    • Brad January 8, 2010 Reply

      Well, I think it has something to do with the new spill resistant design that HP used this kind of keyboard. What makes you say that (glad they’re not like the Probooks/Macbooks)? I wouldn’t mind if the keyboard was Probook-like, since they’re still pretty comfortable to type on. Agreed with the Macbook keyboard part though – definitely a no-no, despite being visually similar, I personally feel the Macbooks don’t offer enough tactile feedback; clicks from typing are not really re-assuring.

  14. Charles January 15, 2010 Reply

    I was wondering if the 9-cell battery will stick out of the laptop, or if it fits smoothly into it?

    Also, any word on when HP will take orders for this machine?

    • Brad January 15, 2010 Reply

      Hi Charles, the 9 cell battery sticks out the back of the notebook by a bit. HP says they’ll be available around next month, so I expect pre-orders to take place soon. Word on the street is they’re already preparing to ship them to large enterprises with direct/close links, so it’s likely those corporate guys will get the stock first before individuals who order/pre-order online.

  15. Darwin January 19, 2010 Reply

    The Elitebooks are one of the few PC laptops I can stand for build quality. prefer a mac Book Pro and OS X in any and all circumstances but Linux on these is really nice.

  16. grant February 7, 2010 Reply

    Hmm, 8440p or 8440w. They seem basically the same except for the NVS 3100 in the p and the FX380 in the w. Does anybody have any insight into which is better for what type of work? Is there a significant performance difference? I’m guessing that it’s the same hardware but one is ISV certified and the other isn’t. Thoughts? Thx, g-

    • Brad February 7, 2010 Reply

      Having used both models, I’d say the Quadro FX380M has a somewhat slight edge in terms of graphics power, in both gaming and graphics work. ie I can use a medium or high shader model setting in the 8440w (GPU dependent) for most games as opposed to low or medium in the 8440p. Also, the 8440w has the 1.73 GHz Core i7 820QM option, while the 8440p is limited to the less powerful 1.6 GHz Core i7 720QM processor; and lastly, it is speculated the 8440w has a slightly harder and more durable casing that’s MIL-STD certified (personally I didn’t really notice a difference)

  17. Franz Kafka February 7, 2010 Reply

    It seems the 8440w will not be available in Europe.
    I looked in Sweden, Finland, Norway, US.

    I asked HP in Sweden and I got this answer:
    “The HP 8440W will not be available in Sweden”.

    Too bad, it seems HP is discriminating parts of
    the world by not offering the same things as in US.

  18. Kami February 11, 2010 Reply

    Why it doesnt come to europe? 🙁

  19. TrumanHW March 3, 2010 Reply

    Hi Brad — I’d prefer these answers for the 8540w, but will gladly accept them for the 8440.. Do the keys CLICK while typing? Or is it more like a thinkpad, in that if you can type nearly silently? Do the mouse buttons click on depression or are they nearly silent as well? Can you remove the CD-ROM drive quickly to swap it out for the extra hard drive? How’s the vertical viewing angle on the display? Can you swap the point stick for the Lenovo convex ultra-nav? What all applications (bloatware) are imposed with the factory install of win-7? Which graphics processor(s) have you been able to demo? Can you test the signal strength to intels previous generation, say, N vs. G? Thank you very much! 🙂

  20. TrumanHW March 5, 2010 Reply

    Brad… hate to be a pest but, I hope you’re still replying to posts here.

  21. Brad March 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi, sorry, I’ve been busy designing some stuff in real life (As well as reading a ton of reader emails in my inbox) lately. I did read your comment earlier on but had a lot of other comments posted earlier to tend to.

    *I have tested many configs of both the 8440w and 8540w and what I mention below can be applied to both notebooks*

    In regards to your questions, I’d say typing is fairly silent, depending on how quickly your typing speed is. Mouse clicks are completely silent and yes, the optical drive can be removed to be replaced with a 2nd hard disk (though removal of a screw is needed).

    Viewing angles are decent with good side-to-side viewing and average up-to-down viewing, though that’s made up by the fact the display can be tilted back up to a full 180 degrees (and the hinges are solid).

    I haven’t had the chance to bump into my Lenovo/IBM notebook totting friends lately, and I personally don’t own any Thinkpads, so I’m not sure if their pointing stick tops are interchangeable.

    There are some pre-installed HP applications on the notebook, but nothing I’d really consider ‘bloatware’ except the annoying Wireless Assistant and HP Update. There’s useful drivers/software installed for the Quick Launch buttons (one touch access to browser and mail client) and Power Assistant (shows you a very detailed rundown on what’s guzzling battery power).

    Graphics or processors? For the 8440/8540, the top end Core i5 (540M) and quad core i7’s; and both Nvidia Quadro NVS and Quadro FX graphics.

    I haven’t gotten around with any ‘hardcore’, quantitative testing of wireless signal strength but I’d say it’s pretty good, as good as most ‘good’ notebooks out there.

    Hope this helps

  22. TrumanHW March 5, 2010 Reply

    AWESOME! Thanks Brad.. that covered most of my lingering concerns.. If you’ve tried the 1800m and 880m, do you by chance have any opinions to offer? I know there’s 15 pages of people discussing this in just one thread who’d be elated to have some preliminary thoughts. And they’d (and clearly I) would be grateful for any and all feedback. NO ONE has benchmarked the 1800m, so any quantitative data would be vitally appreciated for making our purchases. Thank you very much!


  23. TrumanHW March 5, 2010 Reply

    AWESOME! Thanks Brad.. that covered most of my lingering concerns.. If you’ve tried the 1800m and 880m, do you by chance have any opinions to offer? I know there’s 15 pages of people discussing this in just one thread who’d be elated to have some preliminary thoughts. And they’d (and clearly I) would be grateful for any and all feedback. NO ONE has benchmarked the 1800m, so any quantitative data would be vitally appreciated for making our purchases. Thank you very much! Also, is the front edge where your wrists would drape when typing as sharp on this as on an Apple? Is it comfortable? Or fatiguing after a while..?

  24. arza March 9, 2010 Reply

    hi elitebook it is a great laptop i have 6930p but i cant use it since 2009 bios adminisrator password….

  25. Anson March 13, 2010 Reply

    hi, loved your review. Very detailed and well written. I’m on the edge of buying this laptop but reading some other reviews of the 8440w and some have said it had inferior audio quality from the headphone jack and jagged DVD playback.

    From the PC World review:

    “Multimedia playback on the 8440w, on the other hand, is problematic. Though our test system was supposed to arrive with a Blu-ray drive, it came with only a DVD one. We copied over a WMV HD file to check out high-definition playback. Though colors seemed a little washed out and we caught some visible noise, HD playback looked passable. DVD upscaling, however, was an unpleasant experience. We tried DVDs of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Raiders of the Lost Ark. In Windows Media Center, DVD playback was noisy, with way too much edge enhancement. When we installed PowerDVD Ultra 9 and tweaked the nVidia control panel’s noise-reduction feature, we were able to mitigate some of the noise–but some noise remained visible, as did the horrible, excessive edge enhancement.

    Audio playback wasn’t much better. The integrated iDT audio control panel included an equalizer that seemed to have little effect on any of the music files we played. The speakers seemed bright and edgy. And while we expected relatively little from the bass, the overall bass performance didn’t even meet those lowered expectations. Our advice: If you get the 8440w, use a good set of headphones for audio.”

    Can you test this and confirm? I’d really hate to drop $1600 on a laptop and get horrible sound quality from the headphone jack…

    Many Thanks,


    • Brad March 14, 2010 Reply

      Hi Anson, during my time with the 8440w, I did not run into the two nasty experiences that PC World described, and its current owner (a heavy user of the notebook) also has not experienced such issues. Perhaps they received a lemon or bad egg unit?
      I used VLC Player with its default settings (a free music-video player that supports a kazillion file formats) and experienced no such issues with VGA, 720p and 1080p video playback. One possible reason for poor playback could be uprezzing of (low resolution) video… since the 8440w’s 1600 x 900 display option has quite a bit more pixels than your average 1366 x 768, the effects of upsizing may be more obvious.

      As for audio, the headphone jack sounded pretty clear to me, on par with other notebooks (tested with a pair of headphones and two Sony earbuds, all sounded ok). I have had a negative impression of IDT’s sound control panel drivers from the past – both on my dv4 notebook and a friend’s dv2 notebook (old Elitebooks used mostly SoundMAX panel)… and the implementation of their drivers are a hit or miss thing – it’s either they work nicely as they were made to be (like on the Envy 15 I recently reviewed, and the 8440w), or they reset and mess up each time (like in the 2 cases above). In the end I solved the issues for the dv4 and dv2 by “borrowing” the IDT driver from another notebook model and the sound settings stopped messing up.

      Might be that they received an earlier unit of the 8440w (as there were several pre-production batches) with a bunch of old/beta drivers?

  26. Andrew March 14, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for this review. I ended up ordering one of these a few weeks ago and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. (Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage with the 9-cell batteries and all.) My only remaining concern has been with the graphics performance, since there’s a pretty large gap between the 380M and the 880M in the 8540w. Ah, the price of portability.

  27. Andrew March 28, 2010 Reply

    I got my 8440w yesterday. It is truly amazing. I’ve had no multimedia playback issues. The battery life is much, much better than what I had before. I don’t think I’ll stray away from HP/Elitebooks after this…

  28. antsiou April 1, 2010 Reply

    I’m really hoping tobuy this laptop, but now some people at NBR are reporting a somewhat poor screen quality http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=460072&page=9 (post #88 and forth).
    What ould be your take on this Brad?

  29. Domiel April 12, 2010 Reply

    Has anyone outside of North America managed to get one of these (local channel not mail order from the US).

    I’m in Australia and out of the four models announced earlier this year (8540p, 8540w, 8440p, 8440w) the 8440w is the only one not available here for some odd reason. Is this a global thing or is it just the local HP outfit screwing us over?

  30. moruzgva April 12, 2010 Reply

    … “Can you swap the point stick for the Lenovo convex ultra-nav?”

    Well, if the pointing sticks are anything like the old ones from a few several years ago, then yes!

    Personally I use (heavily) an old banger, nc8430, with exact same “modification”, I swapped the original blue pointing stick cover for a “convex red one”.

    Why? Out of curiosity, and I had access to a little bag with various pointing stick covers – higher-end Lenovos did come with 5-6 different covers for you to choose.
    The smallest one attached firmly to HP pointing stick, and since it’s smaller, it left some space for the keys, so the cover never came off again! A minuscule detail, but makes you happy 😉

    Only now I feel compelled to buy a new laptop, after 3+ years of heavy use of my 8430.
    8510 was “more of the same”, I don’t like the large power adapter of 8530w. Go 14″? OK, high end 6930p were almost there…
    8440w will really be enough of a step forward to justify shelling out money. And it looks cool. The only thing I mildly dislike is the screen form factor.

    Hopefully the 8440w will appear in Europe.

  31. antsiou April 13, 2010 Reply

    @Domiel and @moruzgva
    As far as I know it’s a global unavailibility for the 8440w outside of US (well Europe and Australia, I think it’s available in Japan).

    I did order it from a US based store and will get international delivery.
    My locals HP dealers didn’t do special orders..

  32. Carl April 20, 2010 Reply


    I ran into your website by chance and am glad to know I’m not the only one using the HP Business Notebooks as personal workhorses. Keep up the great work!

    As an HP employee I have a bit of an advantage in that I can view every CTO option for a given product number. *grins* Each product has a Product Number (located below your Serial Number on the Service Tag) that varies by region. Now each PN will have different CTO options, underchassis labels, and availability. I ordered my 8440w (due in another week, yay!) with the Core i7-620M; the Core i5 and i7-920XM are unavailable in my region. Given that none of the quad-core options available here hit 2.0GHz, I figure the i7-620M is the best deal of the lot despite the 667MHz FSB. At the moment the 8440w may not be available in all regions, but this should be sorted out once sales become steady.

    Let me know if you’ve got questions and I’ll try to help out. We at HP are encouraged to spread the word through social media and I’m happy to do advocacy for products I use myself. 🙂

    As for the obligatory disclaimer, the opinions represented here are my own, and not those of my employer. All information provided is publicly available, provision of which is on an as-is basis and does not bind HP in any way, shape, or form. 😉

    • Brad April 29, 2010 Reply

      @Carl, hi Carl, (apologies for the belated welcome) glad to have you here to comment =). Like Chema and Dana, I too am about to get one of the new Elitebooks (I’m eying the 8540w), just waiting on the news on what ATI Mobility Radeon card the FirePro M5800 is based off before picking my options.

  33. Chema April 21, 2010 Reply

    Hi Carl,

    Please, can you ask HP when the EliteBook 8740w will be released in Spain? I’m spanish and I’ve already asked this to HP Helpdesk guys, and they don’t know anything about a model called ‘8740w’. Even they offered me the old 8730w, and I don’t want this. I want to buy the 8740w as soon as it will be available in Spain.

    Thanks for your help and regards

  34. Domiel April 22, 2010 Reply


    I’ve been (im)patiently awaiting the release of the 8440w in Australia.

    Perhaps you can answer a few questions for me.

    I’ve had a look at the hp.com US site and it seems that even if you buy CTO the 920XM isn’t available which is a little surprising since the unit Brad reviewed here has one.

    Also (and more importantly to me) is there a non-CTO product number for an 8440w with a quad core i7 (720QM or 820QM) I have a friend who’s offered to buy for me at staff price but apparently staff pricing doesn’t apply with CTO.

    Lastly does anyone know if the ATI cards mentioned for the 8540w and 8740w are going to be offered on the 8440w?


  35. Carl April 28, 2010 Reply

    Hello Chema,

    I’m not from the division that handles portables, and can only be sure about the APJ region, but I did take a look at the HP Spain Online Store for you. It seems only the smaller 14″ and 15″ models are available in your region. My best advice is for you to check with an HP reseller for commercial systems, or an HP Smart Office outlet if they are available in your area. They may be able to do a custom order for you. If all else fails, you may wish to try ordering the product from a different region, though this will involve extra expense and possibly travel.

    I’ll try to look up the appropriate Product Number for your region when I get back to the office. If one exists then it is slated for release in Spain, and you can provide this number to your local HP Support team so they can order the unit for you. Good luck!

  36. Carl April 28, 2010 Reply

    Hi Domiel,

    The P/N for the Australia 8440w is WZ083PA; the machine is available now. A machine ordered CTO will be ordered with the same P/N, but different innards. To answer your questions:

    – I’m not sure about the 920XM myself as it’s not an option in the parts sheet. The fastest I have here is the 820QM, and its replacement part number is 58053-001. I recommend this over the 720QM as that part is about as fast as the 620M unless the app can leverage all 4 cores.

    – All I can say about the Employee Purchase Program is that the price usually applies only to pre-configured systems. If your friend has any friends in the Personal Systems Group, he/she may be able to ask them for help. Good luck with that! 😉

    – The only graphics option for the 8440w is the 512MB Quadro FX380M. This may change in future iterations, but I strongly recommend choosing Nvidia because ATi will leave you in the lurch when it comes to new drivers. They do not provide reference drivers so if HP decides to stop supporting your notebook, you’re out of luck. The computer the 8440w is replacing is an nc6400 with an ATi X1300; I can’t play Torchlight on it because there are no new drivers!

    If you’d like to order CTO, please visit an HP Smart Office outlet near you. They are usually able to configure boxes to your liking.

  37. Dana April 28, 2010 Reply

    Actually, it’s no longer true that ATI leaves you in the dirt…

  38. Carl April 28, 2010 Reply

    Hi Domiel,

    The 8440w is available in Australia. The PN for your region is WZ083PA. I’ll do my best to answer your questions below:

    – When you order a product CTO, the PN remains the same; only the innards change. The PN is specific to products in a given region (eg an 8440w sold in AU will have a different PN from one sold in Singapore, but their model remains 8440w).

    – I’m not sure about the 920XM either; it’s not offered in the parts sheet I am referring to. Here are the replacement part numbers for the quad-core CPUs (the fastest one can configure for this model):

    > 58053-001 – i7-820QM
    > 586170-001 – i7-720QM

    I recommend the 820QM because the 720QM exhibits similar performance to the 620M, except in benchmarks that can leverage all 4 cores. Indeed, the excellent clock speed and Hyperthreading of the 620M generally makes up for the reduction in cores, L2 cache, and FSB.

    – All I can tell you about the Employee Purchase Program is that it generally only applies to fixed configurations. If your friend has friends in the Personal Systems Group, they may be able to help him/her though! 😉

    – The Nvidia Quadro FX380M 512MB is currently the only graphics option for this model. Personally, I strongly recommend choosing Nvidia solutions because ATi does not provide reference drivers of their own – this leaves you in the lurch when HP decides to stop supporting your notebook. The machine the 8440w is replacing is an nc6400 with an ATi X1300; I can’t play Torchlight because there are no updated drivers for my graphics card! 🙁 In contrast, Nvidia always releases updated generic reference drivers for their chipsets.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck with your purchase and let me know if I can be of more help.

  39. Carl April 29, 2010 Reply


    Thanks for the link! I got the “no support” landing page when I used the driver selection tool. I found the 32- and 64-bit driver packages. A pity I can’t test them because this machine will soon be replaced anyway!

  40. Domiel April 30, 2010 Reply


    Thanks for your feedback.

    As for the CPU if they can add it in at the staff price I’ll opt for the 820QM otherwise I’ll stick with the 720QM – I run lots of VMs so more cores is more important than more MHz for me.

    You said that the nVidia was the only _current_ graphics option – do you know if that will change. I’ve waited 6 months already another month won’t kill me. As for the ATI driver issue, I don’t run windoze so that’s not an issue.

    Also, I have a funny feeling that we may actually work in the same building 🙂

    Drop me a line and I’ll buy you a coffee next time I’m in… email me on domiel42 yahoo com au

  41. Carl May 1, 2010 Reply

    My 8440w arrived today; can’t wait for the end of my work week so I can finally set it up and migrate my files! Lovely review, Brad – it’s everything that was promised and then some. This is a very light yet very rigid machine I can see myself carrying everywhere – equally at home in my docking station and on an airplane tray table. I configured a machine with everything on it plus cherries on top; will let you know how the GSM+GPS module and all the other doohickies work once I have it running. 😉

    Brad, being welcomed is welcome. This is an awesome site and I’m glad to be here!

    Domiel, I’m not sure if there will be other graphics options for this box; you may as well go ahead and buy it now. Personally I doubt there will be because there’s only so much oomph you can stuff into a 14″ chassis, but since the FX380 can run Left 4 Dead 2 and Modern Warfare 2 quite well I think you’ll be happy. I certainly am, and I haven’t even switched it on yet! 🙂 I’ll take you up on that coffee should I ever visit AU; I work somewhere in APJ unfortunately! 😉

    • Brad May 5, 2010 Reply

      Hi Carl, got your welcome email =) . How is your 8440w coming along so far? I assume that you’ve started using it (it’ll be a shame if it’s still in its box!)

  42. Carl May 10, 2010 Reply

    Hey Brad, it took me a while to get it up and running (migrating from an old PC with your life in it and “growing into” the new one takes time), but the effort was well worth it. Simply put, this is the most awesome machine I’ve ever owned!

    The only quirk I can find fault with is that we could have done a better job with the drivers. I was puzzled to not find a driver package for the 56k modem (which I special-ordered because of the occasional trip to places with neither a cell signal or broadband). Turns out a quick Windows Update fixed that. The Nvidia sound driver should also NOT be installed as it conflicts with the IDT HD audio driver. And my existing docking station doesn’t fit the 2010 Elitebooks! The decision to change the connector is an odd one… if anyone wants a 3-month old 135W docking station for 4:3 and 16:10 notebooks mine’s for sale! :p

    That aside, this laptop is simply awesome. I have it running a custom Vista x64 image and the Nvidia 197 driver package. I primarily use my computer for photography, which makes full use of the Quadro’s OpenGL acceleration. Performance is blazing fast – Photoshop CS4 x64 with 64-bit Imagenomic plugins render previews in real-time, apply filters almost instantly – even the compute-intensive Noiseware Pro filter, show every GUI widget with zero lag, and chew through my Pentax K-7’s 14.5Mpx DNG RAW images with aplomb. Games are no problem for the mighty FX380M either – I play L4D2 at 1600×900 with 4xAA, 4xAF, Trilinear, Very High Everything. A friend with a Penryn+8800GTX-based desktop rig says it rivals the performance of much larger systems – not bad at all for something that fits nicely on your lap or an airplane tray table!

    Mobility-wise, it doesn’t get warm, even here in the tropics – very lap-friendly but do remember I have a 35W CPU. The 6-cell battery lasts two hours with moderate use (20mins of which was L4D2), so I’ll be picking up an 8-cell secondary. Bluetooth works great, with multiple intuitive profiles that successfully pair with my BlackBerry Bold 9700 and two Bluetooth headsets – no hiccups be it data transfer, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra over A2DP, or long Skype sessions. The Qualcomm un2420 GSM/EVDO+GPS module works great too, reception is solid thanks to the triple-mast antenna array, the connection is reliable, and the client software even detects your carrier and sets it up for you – sweet. The webcam and Nightlight work quite nicely too. Finally, you won’t feel bad at the local Starbucks; the gunmetal gray aircraft aluminum chassis elicits envious glances from Macbook Pro users. 😉

    Bottom line, it doesn’t get any better than this. The 15″ models may have twice the RAM, but for a go-anywhere, do-anything system this is hard to beat.

  43. Rita May 13, 2010 Reply

    whats the part number for 8440w

  44. Carl May 17, 2010 Reply

    Hi Rita,

    The Product Number for all items depends on your region. Please visit http://www.hp.com, select your region, and navigate to:

    Products and Services > Small and Medium Business > Notebooks

    Select the Elitebooks and look for the 8440w. The code in parentheses is the Prosuct Number for your region, e.g. Elitebook 8440w Mobile Workstation (AB123XY).



  45. ChrisB June 6, 2010 Reply

    Does anyone know why the 8440w is rare / unavailable in the UK?

    It’s not available as a standard build or CTO from HP’s UK distributors (eg Ingram Micro).

    http://h41111.www4.hp.com/notebooks/uk/en/ doesn’t even mention it – it’s 8440p, then 8540p/w.


  46. Carl June 23, 2010 Reply

    Hi Chris,

    Have you tried visiting a business reseller? Most resellers cater to the consumer/home office market only. You’ll have better luck with the ones that sell to large enterprises; they sometimes carry ProLiants too.

    It’s pretty rare even over here for individuals to order commercial notebooks. They can be quite challenging to get outside of normal retail channels but with luck you can find an enterprise reseller who can order the notebook for you. Happy hunting!



  47. Tim June 29, 2010 Reply

    Do you know how to change what program pressing the email button launches? Outlook is set as my default email program in Windows 7, but pressing this button launches Lotus Notes and I cannot figure out how to change this

  48. ChrisB July 12, 2010 Reply

    Hi Carl,

    I work for an HP reseller in the UK. It seems the 8440w isn’t sold into the UK / EU by HP.

    I asked HP CTO and the reply from Germany was:

    “I am sorry but the 8440w is not a part of the EMEA Top Config program so it is not configurable.”

    Hence I’ve ended up going for the 8440p. I liked the higher screen resolution on the 8540w but I’ve been lugging around a 3kg+ FSC Lifebook for a for a few years, so wanted a nice drop in weight/size. I’m very pleased with the 8440p to date.

    Tim – are you running W7 x64? HP have a utility called Quick Launch Buttons which is meant to let you tweak the buttons. However, it seems it doesn’t let you change tbe buttons on x64 (the tab in the utility is missing for me) and I’m not reinstalling x86 to try (though I might build a virtual machine to try it).


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