3 min read

HP EliteBook 8440w

A 14" mobile workstation that's a lot more mobile than its 17" cousin

The newest edition to Hewlett Packard Co.‘s (NYSE: HPQ) mobile workstation line-up is the EliteBook 8440w, a 14” laptop that, unlike it’s 17” 8740w cousin, actually offers more portability than just from desk to desk.

While the 8740w was primarily intended as a desktop replacement model, although I did lug the nearly eight-pound monster with me on the road when I reviewed it last year, at 14” and weighing-in at about five pounds, the 8440w is a much more road-friendly travelling companion.

Like the other members of HP’s EliteBook family the 8440w offers solid and sturdy design, but this model takes it up a notch. With a gunmetal anodized aluminum finish, steal-pin metal hinges and a four-point reinforced display latch, this feels like a study, well constructed, enterprise-quality laptop. No give in the display case or chassis at all it doesn’t have that cheap feel that some laptops have. The keyboard similarly has a solid chiclet-style deign with good resistance to the touch.

Above the keyboard is a lit power-on button, and a backlit touchpanel with buttons for functions such as volume and WiFi, and several quick-launch keys. An integrated 2MP webcam is above the display, as it a feature I didn’t actually notice into a late in my review period: a miniature night light that shines down on the keyboard. Cute, but a backlit keyboard would seem more effective.

The display itself is a 14.0″ diagonal LED-backlit HD anti-glare widescreen display. The right boasts the optical drive as well an eSata/USB 2.0 combo port, a LAN port and a fax modem port. On the right side are three USB 2.0 ports, as well as firewire 1394a and an express card slot, plus the headphone and mic jacks. The power port is at the back, along with VGA and DisplayPort connections, and there’s an SD card slot at the front.

For navigation, if you haven’t connected a mouse you can choose between a pointstick in the middle of the keyboard with click buttons below the space bar, or a trackpad below the keyboard with its own click buttons. I found the track pad more intuitive, although it was on the smallish side to accommodate the buttons for the pointstick.

My demo unit came with an Intel Core i7 620 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive. Configurations are available with a range of Core i5 and i7 processors and the RAM cam be expanded to up to 16GB. Hard drive options go up to 500 GB for a SATA II drive, or 256GB for solid state. Graphics are NVIDIA Quadro FX 380M graphics with 512 MB gDDR3 dedicated video memory

As befits a workstation-class notebook, I was pleased with the performance of the 8440w. It was excellent for my every-day tasks. My workstation test, however, is video editing and while I was satisfied with the 8440w, I still expected faster rendering times than I got. A configuration with more RAM would likely have addressed this; pairing four gigs with a Core i7 seems an odd choice.

I was quite pleased with the battery performance of the 8440w, which I found to be a good bit better than the 8740w. A given, of course, given that this is a smaller laptop but still, the battery performance was almost on par with non-workstation laptops, which was a pleasant surprise.

Pricing on the 8440w starts at $1,399 for a Core i5 configuration with 4GB of RAM and 320GN hard drive. For the average laptop user you’re getting a powerful, well-constructed laptop that will last you much longer than the more budget models. If you’re a true workstation user you’ll want to up with specs, and the price as well.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.