HP EliteBook 8730w

09 January 2009

Unrivalled colour depth from its DreamColor display, backed up with top-end components for high-end CAD. At over £3,000 though we’re talking silly money, says Greg Corke

Product HP EliteBook 8730w
Company name Hewlett Packard
Price £3,312

Hewlett PackardLike its predecessor, the HP Compaq 8710w, the HP Elitebook 8730w is a bit of a design classic in the world of mobile workstations. For a machine of its size, it’s actually very slender, and it manages to pack an incredible amount of technology into its elegant metallic chassis. The full size keyboard with numeric keypad used to be a unique selling point but now all attention is on the brand new 17-inch display which is based on HP’s DreamColor technology. On page 55 we have a full review of the 24-inch DreamColor LP2480xz monitor, so we won’t go into too much detail here, but in short it delivers exceptional colour depth and vibrancy. You really will be blown away.

In addition to having what is without doubt the best screen on any mobile workstation, there’s actually an incredible amount of power behind the 8730w. Our review machine was kitted out with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Extreme x9100, the fastest mobile processor on the market, 4GB RAM (upgradeable to 8GB with a 64-bit Operating system), and a Quadro FX 3700M (1GB) graphics card.
These high-specification components ensured that the 8730w came out top in all of our single threaded benchmarks, though it played second fiddle to the ThinkStation W700 in our multithreaded 3ds Max rendering test, simply because the W700 has a Quad Core CPU.

All of this performance doesn’t come cheap, and it will cost you £3,312 to secure this particular unit. However significant savings can be made if you reduce the speed of the processor, the level of graphics and swap out the DreamColor monitor for a standard TFT.

The 8730w is quoted with a starting weight of 3.4kg. Our review unit felt significantly heavier than this, though it was definitely lighter than the 3.76kg quoted for the Lenovo W700. We should probably get some scales that go over 2kg. It should also be noted that the power supply is not exactly light. Battery life was OK, offering around two and a half hours of typical 3D CAD work. This can be boosted by a battery upgrade, though this also increases the bulk.

In summary, the 8730w in an excellent mobile workstation for high-performance CAD which offers exceptional colour depth for industrial design. With its size and bulk, this is not a laptop per se, but more of a desktop replacement that is readily portable.

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Benchmarks (XP)

Graphics (bigger is better) SolidWorks 2009 - 13 3ds Max Design 2009 - 152 Inventor 2009 - 2.8
CPU (smaller is better)  3ds Max Design - 1,696 secs

Dual Core Intel Core 2 Extreme X9100 (3.06GHz)
4GB (1 x 4GB DDR2) memory  
320GB hard drive
Nvidia Quadro FX 3700M (1GB)
Windows Vista Business with XP Professional downgrade
17-inch DreamColor display (1,920 x 1,200)
Starting at 3.4kg
32 (at front) x 393 x 282mm
Three year parts and labour warranty

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