I recently got a chance to have a brief hands-on with the new HP EliteBook 8770w Mobile Workstation. It’s basically identical to the 2011’s EliteBook 8760w on the outside with refresh processor and graphics card options on the inside. This isn’t something that EliteBook 8760w owners would immediately upgrade to, unless you’re really rich or going to have your company purchase it for you. The performance jump is very slight and battery life is about the same.
This specific EliteBook 8770w was one of the lower end models, with a basic 2.3 GHz Ivy Bridge Core i7-3610QM quad core processor and 2 GB of GDDR5 Nvidia Quadro K3000M, and basic 1600 x 900 pixel matte 17.3 inch display. I would recommend skipping over this display for either the regular 1920 x 1080 LED backlit display or DreamColor variant – the 1600 x 900 panel is too low resolution, in my opinion, for 17.3 inches of screen real estate and the panel itself is very dim and not too color precise. The Core i7 quad core processor and basic Nvidia Quadro graphics combo was sufficient to run models and CAD work at 1600 x 900, as well as recent games (Left4Dead 2 and Battlefield 3) at medium settings at well above 100 FPS.
There will be higher end quad core Intel i7 processors, as well as dual core Intel Core i5 and Core i7 choices, as well as Nvidia workstation-class graphics that max out at the top end Nvidia Quadro K5000M with 4 GB of GDDR5 graphics memory. The EliteBook 8770w continues the trend of sporting decidedly limited AMD workstation-class graphics (for a 17.3 inch notebook) and the only option if you’d like red-branding here is the 1 GB AMD FirePro M4000 graphics card. This graphics card is made for 15 inch form-factor laptops like the smaller 15.6 inch EliteBook 8570w and it still puzzles us why HP hasn’t made available higher end AMD graphics options for the past few generations of 17 inch EliteBook laptops.
The EliteBook 8770w is a model which is going to garner quite a bit of interest from EliteBook 8730w and EliteBook 8740w owners, since the performance improvement in processing power and graphics is far more significant than leaping from the more recent EliteBook 8760w. In physical size, the EliteBook 8770w is slightly longer on the sides than the EliteBook 8740w (a 2010 model) but also narrower in depth, giving the impression of a wider keyboard deck and palmrest area. The keyboard is now sturdier and no longer feels ‘fluffy’ (something that was an issue for the EliteBook 8740w with backlit keyboard).
The trackpad is much larger than 2010 or older HP model, making it far more spacious. However, the buttons are also stretched to cover the extra width of the touchpad, so those used to the ‘3 finger claw grip’ when using the trackpad/pointing stick on older models are going to have to re-learn the positioning of their fingers (the left and middle buttons alone on the new EliteBook series feel as wide as all 3 buttons on older models, so you might find your ring finger missing the right click button until you get used to it).
Thickness of the EliteBook 8770w remains similar to past models, as seen in the photo above. I see this as an improvement considering HP has fitted an extra large toolless bottom panel at the bottom since 2011 models, which allow you to access the hard disk bays, 2 slots of RAM, a portion of the cooling fan and other components with the flick of a release switch. It’s also somewhat of an engineering necessity in order to maintain the internal frame of the notebook, which is what makes the EliteBook series rock solid and durable.
Stay tuned for our full review of the EliteBook 8770w soon!