HP EliteBook 1040 G4 Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Bright, vibrant display; Great battery life (on some models); Sweet sound

The Cons

Mediocre keyboard

Verdict

The HP EliteBook 1040 G4 is a slick 14-inch business notebook that offers long battery life.

HP's 14-inch EliteBook 1040 G4 is a solid business notebook that's as good for play as it is for work. That's because its bright, vibrant display offers great picture quality, and its Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers produce solid sound. The high-powered, quad-core model offers a ton of speed, while the dual-core (Intel U-Series) model lasts over 10 hours on a chargeFrom its excellent audio to its vibrant display, there's a lot to love about this laptop. However, some competitors offer a better typing experience and even longer endurance. 

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Editors' Note 12/20: Correction - A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the EliteBook 1040 does not have a fingerprint  or smart card reader. We've also updated the keyboard section to remove a reference to a problem we experienced on a pre-production test unit. We have also added comparisons to additional competitors for context.

Design

When closed, the aluminum EliteBook 1040 G4 looks like a sleek pair of silver wedges sitting on top of each other. Its matte lid and deck look somewhat standard, but its shiny, reflective edges stand out.

Weighing 3.2  pounds (3.35 pounds on HQ processor model) and measuring 13 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches, the EliteBook 1040 G4 is lighter and thinner than Lenovo's mainstream 14-inch ThinkPads, the ThinkPad 25 (3.6 pounds, 0.8 inches thick), which is a version of its popular ThinkPad T470 laptop (3.48 - 3.88 pounds), and the quad-core ThinkPad T470p (3.6 - 4 pounds, 0.94 inches thick. The 13-inch Dell Latitude 7380 (2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches thick) is obviously lighter. 

The EliteBook splits its dual Type-A USB 3 ports between its left and right sides, and both of its power-drawing USB Type-C (3.1) ports are on the right side, next to its HDMI 1.4 port. The left side also has a laptop lock slot and a headphone jack.

 

Display

The EliteBook 1040's 14-inch display offers crisp, vivid images. As I watched the teaser trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, I admired how it nailed the difficult-to-display purple of Thanos' body, his gold armor and the blue glow from Black Panther's spear. The 1920 x 1080-pixel panel is also crisp enough to show the intricate glowing patterns that emanated from Doctor Strange's hands.

According to our colorimeter, the two EliteBook 1040 models we tested produced an average of 113 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That beats the 101-percent average for thin-and-light notebooks and trounces Lenovo's ThinkPad 25 and T470p (69 to 77 percent) , but it's less than the 144 percent we saw from the Dell Latitude 7380. 

The two EliteBook 1040 models we tested emitted 278 and 292 nits (for the 7820HQ and 7500U models, respectively) of brightness. Those marks soar above what we recorded for the Latitude 7380 (267 nits), the ThinkPad 25 (221 nits) and the ThinkPad T470p (229 nits), as well as the 253-nit category average. That's bright enough for a solid range of viewing angles, as I saw Doctor Strange's red cape stay strong at 30 degrees to the left and right.

Those who want a solid business notebook with a great screen, strong performance and all-day battery life should check out the EliteBook 1040 G4.

The touch-screen display on the EliteBook offers speedy input recognition, doing a fantastic job of keeping up as I rapidly doodled in Paint. The screen's right and left sides correctly registered Windows 10's gestures for navigating windows and opening side menus.

The touch screen is a $133 upgrade, and HP also offers an optional 4K (3840 x 2160-pixel) display for $145, a 4K touch screen for $287 and a Sure View privacy screen for $53. Sure View, HP's technology that makes it harder for people to read over your shoulder, isn't available for either 4K display.

Security and Durability

The EliteBook 1040 G4 has several ways to keep your data secure. In addition to HP's optional Sure View privacy screens, which can help prevent someone from stealing intellectual property from you by peeping at your screen, the EliteBook 1040 packs HP's Sure Start technology, which automatically repairs your laptop's BIOS (the root-level infrastructure of your system) in case of attack.

While every EliteBook 1040 G4 features an IR webcam for Windows Hello-protected logins, only certain models (those with Intel's Core i5-7300U, Core i7-7600U and Core i7-7820HQ CPUs) include Intel's vPro security technology for remote management by IT professionals. A fingerprint reader comes standard and a smart card reader is optional. 

HP promises that this EliteBook is durable. To ensure this, the notebook passed MIL-SPEC-810G testing -- the rigors that U.S. military gear must pass -- which HP says will keep it safe from "drops and minor spills."

Keyboard and Touchpad

The EliteBook's keyboard delivered a mixed typing experience. Testing out the EliteBook 1040's keyboard on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit a rate of 73 words per minute, a small drop from my 80-wpm average. The keys felt OK, with 1.4 millimeters of travel and 68 grams of required actuation force. (We look for around 1.5 mm and at least 60 grams.)

In contrast to these EliteBook keyboards, the Lenovo ThinkPad 25, ThinkPad T470p and the Dell Latitude 7380 pack amazingly comfortable keyboards with stronger feedback and deeper travel. The T470p, for example, has a deep, 2.3 millimeters of travel and requires 74 grams of actuation force. HP says that its keyboard offers less snappy feedback than competitors in order to produce less typing noise, which may appeal to some users.

The 4.3 x 2.5 touchpads on the EliteBooks tracked my input accurately as I navigated the desktop. It also correctly registered the navigational gestures in Windows 10 and web-page scrolling in Chrome.The two ThinkPads also provide a TrackPoint nub that lets you navigate around the desktop, without lifting your hands off of the home row.

Audio

The strong sound produced by the EliteBook 1040 G4 is yet another example of HP's partnership with the audiophiles of Bang & Olufsen, whose branding sits next to the gridded speaker above the keyboard. When listening to St. Vincent's "Los Ageless" on the EliteBook, I noted clear vocals, accurate synths and sturdy bass. Neither the Dell Latitude 7380, the ThinkPad T470p nor the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 offers sound quality that comes close.

The included Bang & Olufsen Audio app includes three audio options; the default Music setting is best. The Movies option distorts vocals, and the Voice setting drops out nearly all of the bass.

Performance

Though both EliteBook 1040 G4 configurations we tested had 1080p screens, 16GB of RAM and 512GB solid-state drives, one was powered by a dual-core Core i7-7500U CPU while the other had a more powerful, quad-core Core i7-7820HQ processor. Both offer great multitasking, but the quad-core processor delivered much stronger overall performance.

When testing both machines, I saw no lag or delay as I scrolled down pages and moved between tabs after splitting each screen between a 1080p streaming YouTube video and a dozen Chrome tabs (including Giphy, Slack, Gmail and Google Docs).

The performance gap between these two HP machines widened on the Geekbench 4 general performance test. The 7820HQ-enabled model hit a higher 13,463, beating the 8,360 from the 7500U-powered unit. This means the U model is closer to the 8,493 thin-and-light-notebook average and the 8,355 from the Dell Latitude 7380 (Core i7-7600U CPU with vPro technology, 8GB of RAM). Both scores are higher than the 7,766 from the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 (Intel Core i7-7500U, 16GB of RAM). The ThinkPad T470p (Core i5-7440HQ), which also has a quad-core Intel HQ series CPU, scored 12,378.

The strong sound produced by the EliteBook 1040 G4 is yet another example of HP's partnership with the audiophiles of Bang & Olufsen.

The 512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSDs in the EliteBook 1040 G4 are fast, but the 7500U-powered model had an edge with its 282.7 MBps copy speed, outpacing its 231-MBps counterpart in the 7820HQ-enabled model. Both rates exceed the 218.8-MBps category average and the 196 MBps from the ThinkPad 25 (512GB NVMe M.2 PCI-e SSD) but fall below the 299 MBps from both the Latitude 7380 (256GB SSD) and ThinkPad T470p (256GB SSD).

On our OpenOffice macro test -- which matches 20,000 names and addresses -- the EliteBook 1040 notebooks posted a pair of close times (3:41 for 7820HQ, 3:36 for 7500U). Those marks are shorter than the 4:21 category average, close to the 3:36 from the ThinkPad 25 and longer than the 3:14 from the Latitude 7380 and 3:22 from the ThinkPad T470p.

Gaming and Graphics

Armed with Intel's 620 and 630 integrated graphics (for the 7500U and 7820HQ, respectively), the EliteBooks pack a modest amount of firepower for gaming. Both ran the Dirt 3 racer game (set to medium graphics, 1080p) at rates exceeding our 30-frames-per-second playability threshold. But the 7500U model's 620 card scored a higher 63 fps, and the 7820HQ's 630 card managed 34 fps. The 47-fps category average is between those two marks and the ThinkPad T470p (25 fps) was far behind. 

The EliteBook 1040's 14-inch display offers crisp, vivid images.

Over on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 scored 84,917 (7820HQ) and 78,347 (7500U), both of which are above the 70,461 category average and the 73,063 from the Dell Latitude 7380 but below the Lenovo ThinkPad 25's 112,717. The ThinkPad T470p came in just behind the quad-core EliteBook 1040 G4, scoring 80,577.

Battery Life

The EliteBook 1040 G4 offers decent to great longevity, depending on the model. Intel's HQ model uses a power-hungry 45-watt CPU, and the U model uses a 15-watt CPU. The more efficient U model of the EliteBook lasted 10 hours and 35 seconds on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi. The HQ model lasted a more modest 8:07.

The 8:37 category average falls between those two times, and the Dell Latitude 7380 made it even longer (10:46). The Lenovo ThinkPad 25 lasted a short 6:52 with its three-cell battery but 13:14 with its six-cell battery (an optional $139 upgrade). The ThinkPad 25 is a special edition of the T470; when we tested a regular T470 with a non-touch display and 6-cell battery, its time was a remarkable 17 hours and 25 minutes.

Lenovo's ThinkPad T470p, which has an HQ series processor to gulp down power, lasted an above-average 8 hours and 50 minutes. That beats the runtime from the HQ version of the Elitebook 1040 G4 by more than a half hour.

Webcam

The 0.9-megapixel webcam in the EliteBook 1040 G4 is serviceable, and that's about it. Yes, I can recognize myself in the selfies I shot in the office.

But the edges of my clear glasses are blurred out, and a chromatic particle filter seems to be applied to the image; you can see flecks of all the colors of the rainbow on the white ceiling tiles above me and the beige wall behind me.

Heat

Both configurations of the HP Elitebook 1040 G2 stayed cool throughout our tests. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on both versions of the laptop, our heat gun recorded temperatures on the touchpads (76.5 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (84.5 and 91 degrees) and underside (86.5 degrees and 94 degrees) that stayed under our 95-degree comfort threshold. However, the left side of the bottom of the HQ-series machine had a small spot that hit 97 degrees.

MORE: Top 10 Edge Browser Extensions for Productivity and Fun

Software

HP loaded software onto the EliteBook with a light hand. HP JumpStart is your guide to getting to know the laptop, while Sure Click monitors browser activity to protect you from malicious attacks. PhoneWise shares calls, messages and notifications from your smartphone to the laptop, and while it works seamlessly on Android devices, it requires iPhones to be unlocked, with the app open, to reap the benefits.

Expect the same third-party apps that come preloaded on Windows 10 laptops, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Drawboard PDF, the Keeper password manager, March of Empires: War of Lords, and Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition.

HP offers the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 with a one-year warranty. See how it performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Laptop Brands ranking.

Configuration Options

We tested two higher-end configurations of the EliteBook 1040 G4. The more affordable of the two is a $2,291 model with an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, an integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 chip, a 1080p touch-screen display, NFC connectivity and HP's 65-watt AC adapter.

For $273 more, you can upgrade to the other machine we tested, the $2,564 EliteBook 1040 G4, which bumps you up to a Core i7-7820HQ processor, an integrated Intel HD Graphics 630 chip and HP's 90-watt AC adapter. The entry-level $1,379 model includes an Intel Core i5-7200U, half the memory (8GB of RAM), a quarter of the storage (a 128GB M2 SATA-3 TLC SSD) and a 1080p nontouch screen.

I'd go with the $2,291 model we tested, because of its roomy storage, longer battery life and Core i7 CPU.

Bottom Line

If you want a solid business notebook with a great screen, strong performance and all-day battery life, check out the HP EliteBook 1040 G4. If you configure it with the quad-core, HQ series processor, you will get fantastic performance in a chassis that weighs just 3.4 pounds. But if you don't need that much oomph, the U series version will get you an excellent 10+ hours of battery life.

For a more comfortable keyboard and even greater longevity, you can get the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 with a six-cell battery for $2,038, though you're trading away some speed. But anyone who's looking for a high-end work laptop with great audio and image quality will find a lot to like in the EliteBook 1040 G4.

Credit: Shuan Lucas/Laptop Mag

CPU Intel Core i7-7820HQ
Operating System Windows 10 Pro
RAM 16GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 512GB
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 14
Highest Available Resolution 3840 x 2160
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel Integrated Graphics 630
Video Memory Shared
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.2
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.3 x 2.5 inches
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1 with Type-C
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI 1.4
USB Ports 4
Warranty/Support 1-year limited warranty
Size 13 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches
Weight 3.4 pounds
Company Website
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