HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 review: super light and super expensive

RRP $ 2,679.00

"The HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is a super light business laptop with a high price."

advantages

  • Solid build quality and yet light

  • Bright, color-accurate display

  • Good productivity performance

  • Superior battery life

  • World class suite of business tools

disadvantage

  • Very expensive

  • 16: 9 display is old school

How important is half a pound when designing a laptop? Well, that's enough for HP to justify a new brand called "Aero" in its line of laptops.

There's the budget-conscious Pavilion Aero 13, which packs a ton of power into a 2.18-pound chassis. A lighter laptop could be even more convenient for business people, and that's why HP has an Aero for you too. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 accomplishes this goal of being half a pound lighter than its non-Aero version.

I tested the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 with a Core i7-1185G7 and a 14-inch 1080p display. Unfortunately, it comes in the old school 16: 9 aspect ratio and comes at an extremely high price of $ 2,679. But it's light, powerful, and packed with business features that your IT staff will appreciate.

draft

If you compare the Aero version of the EliteBook 840 G8 with its non-Aero sibling, you will find a laptop that is almost identical in size, just a few centimeters in width and depth and just as thick at 0.70 inches. But HP made the EliteBook Aero 840 G8 out of magnesium instead of aluminum and managed to save nearly half a pound, from 2.92 pounds to 2.5 pounds. It's light for a 14-inch business-class laptop and noticeably easier to carry around.

While there are 14-inch consumer laptops in the same weight range as the Acer Swift 5, which weighs 2.31 pounds and is 0.59 inches thick, there aren't many business devices that can match this. The Dell Latitude 7420, for example, weighs 2.7 pounds with carbon fiber in its construction and 2.89 pounds with an all-aluminum chassis while being 0.68 inches thick.

HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 sits on the desk. Rear view from above / cover.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

One laptop that goes with the EliteBook is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 at 2.49 pounds and thinner 0.59 inches, which also uses magnesium in its case and is more flexible. Ultimately, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 achieves its goal of being extremely light, even if it is not the thinnest notebook on the market.

The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 also manages to bypass a common pitfall of magnesium chassis, namely that they tend to be less stiff than aluminum. The EliteBook is solid all round, with a lid that only bends if you put inadequate pressure, a keyboard deck that doesn't bend, and a bottom that doesn't give way. Business laptops tend to be more solidly built than some consumer laptops, like the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, which is made of aluminum but still has a slightly flexible lid, so it's nothing new. But being so light and so solid is a great combination and not too often. The laptop's hinge is a bit tight and requires two hands to open the lid, but it's tapered all around to make it easier to open and it retracts to 170 degrees for collaborative viewing.

Aesthetically, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 matches the general HP EliteBook look and feel. It's all silver with few decorations. There's a chrome HP logo on the lid and a subtle EliteBook logo on the keyboard deck, and the speaker grilles on each side of the keyboard have a laser-cut pattern, but otherwise we're talking about a minimalist design. The Dell Latitude 7420 is similar in its simplicity, as are other business laptops.

Business laptops need to be connected, and the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 delivers.

Manufacturers tend to be conservative in their designs for this class of notebooks – you don't want a laptop that attracts attention in a conference room. However, that by no means makes the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 a bad looking laptop. It's pretty attractive and has just enough angles and rounded tail and lid edges to give it a fairly modern look. I'll note that the large top and bottom display bezels detract from that perception a bit – the EliteBook has an 85% screen-to-case ratio, which is low for a modern laptop.

Right side view of the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8. Plugins and ports.
Left side view of the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8. Plugins, connectors and hinges ..

Business laptops need to be connected, and the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 delivers. On the left you will find a nano security lock, two USB A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a 3.5 mm audio jack and an optional smart card reader. On the right is a proprietary power connector (my test unit came with a USB-C charger), a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, and a nano-SIM slot for 4G LTE or 5G support. In addition to WWAN support, WI-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 are on board.

Security and privacy

You won't be spending that much money on the EliteBook 840 Aero G8, just for the conservative, lightweight chassis and relatively standard components. Rather, you – or more likely your company – will make the investment to get access to the wide range of security and management tools built into HP's business machines.

It is this level of security and manageability that justifies the laptop's very high price.

The EliteBook uses HP's Wolf Security for Business, which has many features to enable the laptop to meet the most demanding business security needs. The list is complete and begins with HP's Management Integration Kit (MIK), which makes it easy to integrate the laptop with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager for better manageability. As an option, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 offers Intel vPro and thus expands the ability to be integrated into enterprise IT systems.

HP's Endpoint Security Controller (ESC) runs at the lowest level of the laptop and provides hardware-assisted technology that provides a hardware root of trust through HP Sure Start that is physically isolated and protects the laptop's critical firmware. The protection also works during runtime, constantly monitors the security system and uses cryptographic hardware functions from Wolf Security. HP Sure Recover minimizes downtime with built-in recovery tools, network-based recovery, and the ability to support corporate images. HP Tamperlock protects against physical attacks on the chassis and DMA, flash replacement, side channel and TPM probing attacks.

We'll stop there, but suffice it to say that the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is very secure and easy to manage, giving users and businesses the peace of mind that their machines and data will remain safe. It is this level of security and manageability that justifies the laptop's very high price.

power

HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 sits on the desk.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

My test device was equipped with the 11th generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 with vPro. This top U-series GPU in Intel's product range is aimed at thin and light laptops and offers a theoretical increase in performance compared to the more popular Core i7-1165G7.

In our benchmarks, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was able to compete with most of the similarly equipped notebooks in our comparison group. It was the third highest in Geekbench 5, with the HP Elite Dragonfly Max taking first place in this test. In our Handbrake test, which converts a 420 MB video to H.265, the EliteBook does well for the CPU and takes fourth place, with only the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo being significantly faster than the Intel pack.

I added the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED to give a taste of the AMD Ryzen 5000 series performance, and as you can see, it is significantly faster on CPU-intensive tasks. The EliteBook also ended up in the midfield in the Cinebench R23 benchmark, another test that loads the CPU. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 maintained its average performance in PCMark 10, and this extended across the complete score listed in the table as well as the essentials, productivity and content creation areas of the benchmark.

Overall, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is a solid productivity performer that is not at the top but can keep up. You will find it useful for keeping up with your demanding productivity workflow, but you will not want to use it for creative applications. However, that's not a blow to the EliteBook as it applies to all current Intel U-series laptops. You need to turn to AMD for better creative performance.

Geekbench 5 (single / multiple) Handbrake (seconds) Cinebench R23 (single / multiple) PCMark 10 3DMark time spy
HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 (Core i7-1185G7) 1569/5279 204 1474/4496 4868 1663
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7) 1327/5201 170 1469/4945 5147 1776
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo (Core i7-1185G7) 1352/4891 203 1360/4392 4872 1751
HP Elite Dragonfly Max
(Core i7-1185G7)
1570/5297 252 1385/3604 4724 1468
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1165G7) 1540/5432 201 1399/4585 3859 1589
HP Specter x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7) 1214/4117 236 1389/3941 4728 1457
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
(AMD-Ryzen7 5800U)
1423/6758 124 1171/7824 6034 1342

The gaming performance of the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 corresponded to that of other laptops that are equipped with Intel's integrated Iris Xe graphics. That said, it wasn't great. In Fortnite, you get around 29 frames per second (fps) on 1080p high graphics and 22 fps on Epic graphics.

This is good enough for older titles or newer titles with greatly reduced resolution and graphics. But this is a business laptop and doesn't pretend to be a gaming device.

advertisement

Close-up of the screen of the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

I'm not a fan of full HD displays (1,920 x 1,080), not even on 14-inch displays. I like higher resolutions. However, I liked the power-saving display of the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 more than usual – apart from its traditional 16: 9 aspect ratio. The display was bright, the colors were dynamic without looking excessive, and black text appeared on a white background. Subjectively, it's one of the better 1080p displays I've used on a laptop that isn't specifically designed for developers.

My colorimeter supported me. First, the display was actually bright at 479 nits, well above our 300 nit threshold and well above the premium average. This is a display that you can probably use in sunlight. The contrast of 1740: 1 was also excellent for an IPS display and is again well above our preferred threshold, in this case 1000: 1. It is better than the display of many other business laptops, including the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, which only delivers 306 cd / m² and had a much lower contrast ratio of 970: 1.

The colors were also good for a non-creator display with 77% AdobeRGB and 99% sRGB. That is a few percentage points above the average of the premium display and again surpasses the 76% and 96% of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9. The display of the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was with a Delta-E of 1.11 (1.0 or less is excellent) also accurate, compared to the ThinkPad with 0.99.

All in all, I found the display a pleasure to use for productivity work and Netflix binge. Again, I would have preferred a higher resolution display, but many people will find a full HD display to provide a sufficiently sharp image on a 14-inch display. I wish the display had been touchable though, and that's an option for those who feel the same way.

Sound is provided by two upward facing speakers on either side of the keyboard. HP advertises the speaker volume and bass, and I found the claims to be true. Fully turned up there was a lot of sound and no distortion. The mids and highs were nice and clear, and yes, there was a hint of bass. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 can't live up to the audio standards of the Dell XPS 15 or MacBook, but it's good enough for watching Netflix and occasionally listening to music.

Keyboard and touchpad

Close up on the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 keyboard.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

HP's EliteBooks all have great keyboards. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 has been redesigned to be even better, especially to provide a consistent feel across all keys. The redesign includes adding a programmable hotkey and moving the power button onto the keyboard, and requires a little more pressure and longer holding to activate it. The mechanism of the keyboard is deep, with a snappy floor movement and very quiet. I would rate it on the HP Specter keyboards, which have long been my favorite Windows 10 keyboards, and better than Dell's XPS line of keyboards. Only the MacBook's Magic Keyboard is better.

The touchpad is medium in size with a smooth glass surface and Microsoft Precision touchpad support. I found it serviceable, with reliable performance using Windows 10's multi-touch gesture suite, however, it's smaller than it could be to accommodate buttons for the Lenovo TrackPoint-like cursor nubbin in the center of the keyboard. This works well if you're into that type of control, and provides a textured surface to stay in control.

Windows 10 Hello support is provided by both a fingerprint reader in the upper right corner of the palm rest and an infrared camera for facial recognition. Both worked quickly and easily, so that logging into the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was possible without any problems.

Close-up of the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 webcam.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Battery life

The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 offers a 53 Wh battery, which is average for a 14-inch laptop. With a 1080p display, I'd expect good but not great battery life, probably enough to last a day of work but not enough to last through the evening.

As it turned out, the battery life was a little better than I expected. I saw about 11 hours on our web browsing test which is a strong result. The MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo with the same CPU, Full HD + display (1,920 x 1,200) and 70 watt hour battery is only one minute longer. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, a more direct competitor, lasted for about another hour. In our video looping test, which is playing a local 1080p film trailer, the EliteBook again managed a good time with 14 hours and 15 minutes. Anything over 12 hours is exactly what we would expect from a premium laptop. I have to say that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 lasted a spectacular 21 hours, so that the EliteBook does not completely dominate the business class.

In the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, which provides the best indication of the battery life, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 achieved a strong 13.75 hours and is thus at the upper end of our database. The ThinkPad dominated again with 17.25 hours. I also ran the PCMark 10 gaming battery test, which saw the EliteBook hit a little over five hours – the longest we've seen. However, this test seems to show how hard a laptop works on battery power, rather than absolute battery life, so you can expect reduced performance when turned off.

Overall, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was a robust performer in terms of battery life. It exceeded my expectations and will keep you working well into the evening if necessary. You may not get the fastest performance while on battery life, but it will keep you going when you are not on a charger.

Our opinion

HP took the EliteBook 840 G8 and made it easier with the Aero version, giving business users a solid alternative that leverages HP's powerful suite of enterprise security and management tools. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is well made and yet very light, offers good performance and offers excellent battery life.

It's expensive though. You are definitely paying for the business functions and most likely it will not be the user who does it. But organizations looking for a great business laptop should keep the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 on their shortlist.

Are there alternatives?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a strong competitor in terms of performance and battery life and also cheaper with the same configuration (2,260 US dollars on offer), but only has a one-year warranty, Lenovo also packs several business features, but they are not quite as extensive as the selection from HP.

Dell offers another solid alternative with the Latitude 7420, which is also cheaper at $ 2,020 (with a three-year warranty). Dell has its own suite of business tools, and the Latitude will serve companies well when they need easy-to-manage security measures.

If you don't need a business-class laptop, there are a variety of consumer alternatives. But in this case, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 shouldn't even be considered.

How long it will take?

The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is well made and should trust that it can last many years in typical business operations. The components are state-of-the-art so that they will keep pace with Windows requirements for years. You will appreciate the three-year warranty that can be expected for business-class devices, but is not always offered at no extra cost.

Should you buy it?

Yes sir. It's expensive, but worth it when you need a laptop that your business can trust.

Editor's recommendations