HP EliteBook 840 G5 Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Classy design; Awesome keyboard; Solid battery life; Vivid privacy display; Quality audio

The Cons

Blurry webcam; Display on base model is mediocre

Verdict

The EliteBook 840 G5 is an absolute beauty of a business laptop, providing a comfy keyboard, strong performance and amazing sound in a stylish design.

Let HP swoop you off your feet with a powerful and luxurious business notebook that embraces productivity and security just as much as it does its multimedia capabilities. The 14-inch EliteBook 840 G5 ($1,182 starting; $2,295 as reviewed) delivers solid performance with its 8th-Gen Intel Core processor and a comfortable keyboard to speed up your workflow. The Bang & Olufsen speakers will make you feel like you're at a concert, and the bright privacy display will immerse you in your own private theater. The EliteBook trips up only in its webcam and its base model display.

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Design

With the EliteBook 840, you can work in style. The full aluminum exterior presents a minimalist silver finish accompanied by HP's stylish slash logo. There's a lightly engraved EliteBook logo on the hinge, and toward the top of the lid is a gray line dividing the lip of the laptop. I love that the hinge is at an angle, giving the notebook some flair compared to the plain, rectangular chassis of many other business laptops. The design is quite neat and simple.

As the laptop opens, you see a classy, backlit, island-style keyboard with a pointing stick. There's a sleek power button in the top left corner, and above that is an elegant, triangle-pattern lid for the Bang & Olufsen speakers. The display's chin is a little thick, but it's proportioned well with the slim bezels to make it look seductive.

The EliteBook 840 features several ports for business use. The left side features a secure lock slot, one USB 3.0 with always-on charging and a Smart Card Reader. On the right, you'll find one USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt, an HP UltraSlim dock connector, an RJ45 port, an HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port, a combo headphone/microphone jack and a WWAN SIM card reader.

At 3.4 pounds and 12.8 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches, the EliteBook 840 is slightly bigger than most of its competition. It matches the Dell Latitude 7490's 0.7-inch thickness but just beats that machine's weight of 3.5 pounds. The Huawei MateBook X Pro is lighter and thinner than the HP machine, at 3.5 pounds and 0.6 inches, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) wins all the marbles, at 2.5 pounds and 0.6 inches.

Security and Durability

Need something to survive your next work trip? Easy. The EliteBook 840 has gone through MIL-STD-810G certification, which means it can endure extreme humidity, extreme temperatures, vibration and high altitude.

For some extra cash, you can choose from multiple configurations that increase the security of this laptop. There's the Sure View privacy screen, which protects the information on your display with a bright light that's visible to anyone that isn't directly in front of the laptop. This is activated by a simple click on one of the function keys. Our configuration (Intel Core i7-8650U) comes with Intel vPro for remote management as well as an IR camera to access Windows Hello.

One thing that you'll notice right away is HP's Privacy Camera, which contains a slider that physically blocks the webcam's lens. Additionally, there's a subtle fingerprint reader underneath the rightmost arrow key. HP's Sure Recover feature can reimage your PC even if the hard drive gets wiped. HP also built in an Endpoint Security Controller, which is a physical chip that powers the company's Sure Start software, a self-healing BIOS. BIOS is the first software run by all IBM-compatible PCs when turned on.

Display

The 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS LED display on the EliteBook 840 base model was lackluster and too dim to enjoy. As I watched the most recent trailer for Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the display spoiled the lighting in every scene with a blue tint. Watching Henry Cavill and his Superman muscles march across a bathroom to beat someone to death was designed to be an intense and joyful experience. Instead, it felt trivial as the bathroom lights faded out the color in the characters' clothes and faces. Superman's magnificent bod and mustache meant nothing to me.

On the other hand, the config with the 1920 x 1080 integrated privacy screen produced bright and vibrant images. I was mesmerized as Tom Cruise fumbled with his seat belt and had a confused, then panicked expression as a military helicopter tumbled down a bright, snowy mountaintop toward him. From the sunset shading Cruise's complexion to the different hues in the blue sky, the colors were dynamic.

MORE: Laptops with the Best Display Brightness

According to our colorimeter, the base display covers a measly 70 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which pales in comparison to the 114 percent category average. However, the privacy display hit a very good 119 percent.

The base display produced a dim 217 nits of brightness, crashing below the 305-nit category average. The HP's privacy display, however, annihilated the competition, with a whopping 619 nits. This surpasses even the result from the HDR-ready ThinkPad X1 Carbon (469 nits), as well as our 293-nit standard. The MateBook X averaged 458 nits, and the Latitude 7490 missed the average with 277 nits.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Pointing Stick

The EliteBook 840's backlit keyboard is tight; it sharply sinks into the chassis, and the keys feel substantial and clicky while you're typing. The backlighting has only two settings, which is disappointing for a laptop of this price. For business users, however, HP included three useful keys to present, answer and hang up calls via Skype.

The keys have somewhat short travel (1.4 millimeters) but require strong actuation force (77 grams). We usually look for travel between 1.5 and 2 mm and actuation force above 60 grams. The keyboard is incredibly comfortable, allowing me to sail past my 60-words-per-minute average with 68 wpm on the 10fastfingers typing test.

For pointing stick users, the nub has plenty of room to work with, cutting a decent chuck off the G, H and B keys. There are two discrete mouse buttons for it at the top of the touchpad, but unlike the Latitude 7490 and ThinkPad X1, this HP doesn't have a scroll button.

The keyboard is incredibly comfortable, allowing me to sail past my 60-words-per-minute average.

The 4.2 x 2.3 touchpad is smooth and responsive, with a decent pair of clickers. It captures all of the key Windows 10 gestures, from two-finger window scrolling to three-finger task swiping.

Audio

The EliteBook's Bang & Olufsen speakers are a blessing to my ears. While listening to "Stressed Out" by Twenty One Pilots, I heard every single entracing beat from the percussion to the keyboard as they creatively intertwined with Tyler Joseph's vocals. These echoed loud enough to fill a medium-size conference room.

While listening to 'Stressed Out' by Twenty One Pilots, I heard every single entracing beat from the percussion to the keyboard as they creatively intertwined with Tyler Joseph's vocals.

The balance of bass and treble allows each instrument to shine, creating a surprisingly intense experience. Bang & Olufsen provides its own equalizer app, so you can customize the sound to your specific needs. Options are tailored for voice, movies or music, but if that doesn't satisfy, you can perform a full manual equalizer setup.

Performance

Why you would need 30 Google Chrome tabs playing the same 1080p SNL skit all at once is beyond me. But with the EliteBook 840, you can do it all without a hint of lag. Our config is loaded with a quad-core Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an Intel UHD Graphics 620, which allowed the notebook to perform this multitasking with ease.

On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the EliteBook 840 scored an excellent 13,253. It soared past the 10,483 premium laptop average, the Matebook X's 12,913 (Intel Core i7-8550U) and the ThinkPad X1's 13,173 (Intel Core i5-8250U). The Latitude 7490 was able to speed past all of the competition with a score of 14,458 (Intel Core i7-8650U).

MORE: Laptops with the Best Overall Performance

The EliteBook 840 took 15 minutes and 50 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our Handbrake test, which completely destroys its competitors' results. The average premium laptop takes 22:05; the MateBook X slugged behind at 27:18; the Latitude 7490 beat the average, with 21:35, and the ThinkPad X1 took 19:00.

Copying 4.97GB of data was a breeze for the EliteBook 840's 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, taking only 10 seconds (for 509 megabytes per second). The category average is nearly half that speed (286 MBps).

The integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 (upgradable to AMD Radeon RX 540 2GB) maintained a solid 55 frames per second while running Dirt 3. While that is well above a playable 30 fps, the EliteBook's competitors ran the game at higher frame rates.

Battery Life

The EliteBook 840 will last an average workday. While web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the laptop lasted for 8 hours and 31 minutes. It narrowly beat the 8:20 average but fell behind the Latitude 7490 (8:55) and MateBook X (9:55), and it didn't come close to the ThinkPad X1 (11:01). It's important to note that the EliteBook 840 lasted only 6:17 while Sure View was turned on.

Webcam and Mic

While the Privacy Camera feature is neat, malicious hackers wouldn't be able to make out much anyway. As I pulled my face toward the webcam, it could barely capture any details, whether it be the hairs on my head or the freckles on my face. This camera does handle contrast rather well, as the light from the office windows didn't overwhelm the photo, but the colors were dull.

HP's noise canceling, world-facing microphone can filter background noise decently, but voices not so much. I placed the back of the laptop toward my editor, who sits two chairs away from me, and the microphone could pick up her voice clearly as she spoke on the phone. Even though the microphone couldn't remove background voices, the quality itself was relatively clear.

Heat

The EliteBook 840 can run a little warm, but nothing too extreme. After I ran an HD video for 15 minutes, the HP's undercarriage measured 99 degrees Fahrenheit. That's slightly above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the touchpad and center of the keyboard hit a cooler 87 and 98 degrees, respectively. The hottest temp was 101 degrees, which came from the lower left side of the undercarriage.

Software and Warranty

HP jam-packs a ton of its own apps into the EliteBook 840. The most useful one is HP's Recovery Manager, which can perform maintenance, reinstall drivers and manage backups. HP Support Assistant manages warranty and computer updates. On the security side, HP Client Security takes care of fingerprints, Sure Recover and other features.

HP JumpStart provides tutorials and download suggestions for people who need help with their PCs. HP PhoneWise allows you to connect your phone to your PC to take and make phone calls as well as send and receive text messages. HP WorkWise provides a way to manage your PC's performance and security via a phone app with the same name. There's also HP's own download manager, a malware scanner for web browsers and a printing manager.

MORE: Best Hard Drive Speed

Along with all of those apps, comes a decent amount of bloatware, starring Candy Crush Saga, Cooking Fever, March of Empires: War of Lords and so much more.

The EliteBook 840 comes with a three-year limited warranty that can be downgraded to a one-year warranty. See how HP performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Configurations

The EliteBook 840 I tested cost $2,295 at the time of this review and comes with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an Intel UHD Graphics 620.

The lowest possible config costs $1,182 and features an Intel Core i5-7200U, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB M2 SATA-3 TLC SSD. This config removes the webcam.

The ultimate version costs a meaty $3,319.50 and is capped out with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD, an AMD Radeon RX 540 2GB graphics card and the 700-nit Sure View privacy display.

Bottom Line

Power, security, productivity and entertainment: The EliteBook 840 excels at it all. From its keyboard and privacy display to its speakers and performance, every aspect of this business laptop is high quality. Just avoid the dim display on the base model of this system if you can, particularly if you like to watch movies on your laptop.

If your main priority is battery life, go for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (starting at $1,519), which lasts a couple of hours longer on a charge and has a stunning (but pricey) optional HDR display. But overall, the EliteBook 840 provides everything you could want from a well-rounded business notebook.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag

CPU Intel Core i7-8650U processor (1.9 GHz, up to 4.2 GHz with Turbo Boost, 8 MB Cache, 4 core)
Operating System Windows 10 Pro
RAM 16GB
RAM Upgradable to 16GB
Hard Drive Size 512GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type M.2 PCIe NVMe 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 UHD Graphics 620
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi Model Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC 8265
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.2
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.2 x 2.3
Ports (excluding USB) RJ-45
Ports (excluding USB) USB Type-C
Ports (excluding USB) SIM card
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) Smart Card Reader
Ports (excluding USB) Combo Headphone/Mic Jack
Ports (excluding USB) Docking Connector
Ports (excluding USB) Fingerprint Scanner
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
USB Ports 3
Card Slots SIM
Card Slots Smart Card
Warranty/Support 1 or 3 year limited warranty
Size 12.84 x 9.22 x 0.7 inches
Weight 3.39 pounds
Company Website http://www8.hp.com/us/en/home.html
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