The best business notebooks offer the manageability IT pros need, the durability buyers desire and the experience users require. Starting at $1,249 (tested at $1,505), the thin, lightweight and stylish HP EliteBook 1030 G1 makes working a breeze with its long-lasting battery, solid keyboard and zippy performance. While its display should be brighter, the laptop has so much going for it that execs everywhere should consider it as their next co-passenger in first class.
Some business laptops have all the sex appeal of an egg salad sandwich, but the stylish silver EliteBook 1030 G1 is fit to flaunt. Reminiscent of a MacBook Pro, the 1030's machined aluminum deck and lid look and feel fantastic.
Upon opening the notebook, small touches like its thin bezel and the shiny beveled-edge that wraps around its deck, really helped define the look. I also appreciate its soft rubbery underside, which feels nicer than the hard plastic you often find.
Weighing 2.6 pounds and measuring 0.6 inches thick, the EliteBook 1030 is similar to the Dell Latitude 7370 (2.7 pounds; 0.6 inches) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.6 pounds; 0.7 inches). The 2016 12-inch Apple MacBook however, is lighter and slimmer (2 pounds; 0.5 inches).
Unlike the 12-inch MacBook or 12.5-inch EliteBook Folio, the EliteBook 1030 packs a full set of slots and ports. HP placed a security lock, HDMI port, USB 3.0 port and data-only USB Type-C port on the left side of the notebook. Its power port, headphone jack, second USB 3.0 port and docking connector sit on the right side. A fingerprint reader sits to the right of the keyboard.
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The EliteBook 1030 G1's 13.3-inch display offers great color and detail, but it could be brighter. When I watched a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer on the 1920 x 1080-pixel panel, I was struck by the lush green of the trees in a forest, the burning orange flames of a blown-apart ship and the glowing bright-blue jet engines. The screen even picked up crisp details, such as the wisps of Star Lord's hair and the marbled bark of Baby Groot's body.
According to our colorimeter, the EliteBook's panel reproduces 116 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which edges out the Latitude 7370 (107 percent), the MacBook (107 percent), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (104 percent) and the ultraportable average (98 percent).
When I first opened the EliteBook 1030, I held down the increase brightness button, to little avail. Its display emits up to 239 nits (a measure of brightness), which is less than the Latitude 7370 (395 nits), the MacBook (327 nits), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (292 nits) and the average for ultraportables (302 nits). Still, it offers great viewing angles, so you can share the screen with people directly to your left or right.
Security & Durability
IT departments and corporate buyers alike should be happy with the security and durability features that the EliteBook 1030 offers. The machine passed 12 MIL-SPEC safety tests, which means that it should survive drops (on its edge, faces and corners), getting blasted with sand and being used in extreme temperatures.
The EliteBook 1030 packs a TPM chip so IT departments can diagnose problems remotely and a fingerprint reader for biometric security. Some models, such as the one we tested, feature a vPro chip, which enables encrypted storage of sensitive materials. HP's SureStart technology will also guard users from attacks on a system's BIOS, the root-level system that everything loads from.
The EliteBook 1030 G1's keyboard and touchpad enable smooth typing and browsing. When I tested the keyboard out on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I clicked my way to 80 words per minute, tying my personal high score. Its keys are responsive enough to compensate for the 1.4 millimeters of travel and 58 grams of actuation force (both lower than the 1.5-2.0mm, 60g measurements we hope to find).
The notebook's 3.6 x 2.1-inch glass touchpad offers solid feedback with each click. It also provides accurate input tracking while accepting my desktop navigations. Two-finger page-scrolling and three-finger app-switching proved quick and smooth.
The Bang & Olufsen-tuned speaker at the top of the EliteBook's keyboard deck produces enough volume to fill a large conference room with quality sound. In my testing, it was great for audio podcasts and emitted a solid version of The Weeknd's "Six Feet Under" with clear vocals, solid bass and accurate synthesizers.
If you don't like what you hear, check the included Bang & Olufsen app to make sure Audio Enhancement is enabled and set to Voice, which was the default setting for our review unit. The other presets, Music and Movies, added fuzziness that distorted the audio.
Powered by a 1.1-GHz Core m5-6Y57 CPU and 8GB of RAM, our review configuration of the the EliteBook 1030 can handle a fair amount of multitasking. I saw no stutter when I split the screen between a dozen tabs (including TweetDeck, Slack and Gmail) and a 1080p YouTube video. The smooth sailing continued after I added a full-system scan from Windows Defender and started snapping photos in the Camera app.
The EliteBook 1030 G1 turned in a respectable score of 5,739 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, which beats the 1.1-GHz Intel Core m5-6Y57-powered Dell Latitude 7370 (4,891) and the ultraportable notebook average (5,523). The MacBook's 1.2-GHz Core m5 (5,906) edged it out, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and its 3-GHz Core i5-6300U (6,828) earned a much higher score.
The 256GB SSD in the EliteBook 1030 is speedy, duplicating 4.97GB of files in 35 seconds, for a transfer rate of 145.4MBps. It's a slight step behind the competition, however, as the pair of 256GB SSDs in the Latitude 7370 (173.38 MBps), the MacBook (355.9 MBps), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (419 MBps) and the ultraportable average (173.01 MBps) turned in faster rates.
The EliteBook 1030 finished our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test (matching 20,000 names to addresses) in 4 minutes and 32 seconds, a time that beats the Latitude 7370 (6:56) and the ultraportable average (6:32). The MacBook (3:11) and ThinkPad X1 (4:14) took less time.
With just its integrated Intel 515 HD Graphics, the EliteBook 1040 scored a decent 59,071 on the Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. Lower scores came in from the HD Graphics 515-powered Latitude 7370 (42,323) and the average ultraportable (51,805), while the HD Graphics 520-equipped Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (67,488) did better.
When you pack the EliteBook 1030, you can probably leave your charger at home. The HP business notebook made it 9 hours and 23 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous Wi-Fi browsing at 100 nits), which beats the Latitude 7370 (7:53), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9:06) and the ultraportable average (8:02). Only the 12-inch MacBook lasted slightly longer with a time of 9:38.
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The 0.9-megapixel webcam above the EliteBook's display is good with color and offers acceptable detail. The selfie I snapped in our office captured the purple of my undershirt as well as the red wall behind me. But while you can see the pattern of my black-and-white sweater in that photo, the details of its material do not appear.
The EliteBook 1030 stays cool under pressure. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, the touchpad registered a cool 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The G&H keys (84 degrees) and underside (87 degrees) were also well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The EliteBook 1030 includes several HP-branded programs for business users. HP Touchpoint Manager enables IT managers to easily log into the notebook remotely, so systems in the field can be serviced from home base. Oddly enough, the EliteBook 1030 has Royal Revolt 2, a free-to-play game packed with tons of in-app purchases preinstalled. We'd wish business notebooks come free of this kind of bloatware, but it's easy enough to uninstall.
HP sells the EliteBook 1030 in a number of configurations, starting with the $1,249, entry-level model that features a Core m5-6Y54 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 1080p non-touch display.
Our review configuration costs $1,505 and includes a Core m5-6Y57 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p non-touch display. For even more power, you can opt for a Core m7-6Y75 CPU that brings the total price to $1,867. If you're looking for a higher resolution display, you can upgrade to a QHD+ (3200 x 1800) touch screen for $186, but don't expect as much battery life with that model.
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The HP EliteBook 1030 G1 is a fantastic business notebook with the power and keyboard you'll need for a productive workday, as well as the sound and picture quality you'll want for relaxing later. But its screen isn't as bright as we'd like and the SSD can't match the speeds of its competitors.
If you want a system with a brighter screen and better performance, check out the $1,119 ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The $1,299 MacBook offers an even lighter chassis and better screen, but lacks the business-friendly features and deep keyboard of the EliteBook. However, if you want a lightweight business system with strong battery life, solid performance and plenty of style, the EliteBook 1030 is a great choice.