HP EliteBook 840 Aero review: It’s incredible, but it’s expensive
I have to say, HP has been really killing it lately. I recently reviewed the HP Pavilion Aero, and I found it truly remarkable that the company put that much value into a mainstream laptop. It felt more premium than Pavilion. I get the same feeling from the HP EliteBook 840 Aero.
This thing feels like a premium PC. It wasn’t long ago that the EliteBook 800 series was thicker and heavier, but now it offers much of the same that you’d get from an EliteBook 1000. It’s super-light at two and a half pounds, it’s got one of the best keyboards around, and it’s offered with 5G connectivity. I’ll put it this way — despite all the different laptops I’ve had my hands on to review, this is the one I’ve been taking to events, simply because it’s so good and has cellular connectivity.
HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 Specs
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro (3.0GHz, up to 4.8GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 12 MB L3 cache, 4 cores)|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe|
|Body||12.71×8.46×0.7in, 2.5 pounds|
|Display||14″ diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080), non-touch, IPS, anti-glare, 400 nits|
|Memory||16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200|
|Storage||512GB PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Battery||HP Long Life 3-cell, 53 Wh Li-ion|
HP Smart 65 W External AC power adapter
|Ports||(2) Thunderbolt 4 with USB4 Type-C 40Gbps signaling rate (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4)|
(2) SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5Gbps signaling rate (1 charging)
(1) Stereo hjeadphone/microphone combo jack
(1) HDMI 2.0b
(1) AC power
|Audio||Audio by Bang & Olufsen, dual stereo speakers, dual array world-facing microphones|
|Webcam||720p HD IR privacy camera|
|Input||HP Premium Collaboration Keyboard – spill-resistant, backlit keyboard|
Clickpad with multi-touch gesture support
|Connectivity||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5 combo|
Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 LTE+5G
|Price as configured||$3,329|
Note that the price is as configured on HP.com. You can almost certainly find it for less.
Design: The HP EliteBook 840 Aero has a magnesium chassis
I actually feel like the EliteBook 840 Aero has an aluminum body, but it doesn’t. It’s made out of a magnesium alloy, which is what brings the weight down from where it would be if it was aluminum. It might feel more like metal to me just because it comes in the same Natural Silver color. When something looks a certain way, our brains might tend to think it feels a certain way.
That’s mostly irrelevant though. All that really matters is it has a magnesium alloy build and it feels premium. The weight is just under 2.5 pounds, making it nice and easy to carry around. Obviously, there are lot of parallels that can be drawn to the more consumer-focused Pavilion Aero, which was under 2.2 pounds and a 13 inch laptop.The HP EliteBook 840 Aero is a lightweight laptop that’s made to be used on-the-go. With an ultra-light design, it’s the type of thing you can throw in your bag and forget it’s even there. Yes, I’ve actually double-checked when leaving the house. It also comes with options like 5G connectivity, so you’re instantly connected from wherever you are. Those two things working together make for the perfect on-the-go experience.
It’s also got plenty of ports, starting with two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports on the left side. On the right side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, and an AC power port. As usual, I didn’t use the barrel charger. You’ve got two Thunderbolt 4 ports, so I just used USB Type-C like I always do.
And of course, Thunderbolt 4 means you can connect an external GPU on one port, or dual 4K monitors on another. It’s the most powerful kind of port you can get.
Ultimately, the external design of the EliteBook 840 Aero looks a lot like any other EliteBook. It comes in Natural Silver with flat sides, and the front is chamfered making it easier to open.
Display: The HP EliteBook 840 Aero has an FHD 400-nit screen
As the ‘840’ number indicates, this EliteBook has a 14 inch display, and there are several configuration options, all of which are FHD. The one HP sent me includes a 400 nit non-touch panel, while there’s also a 250 nit option and one with the company’s Sure View privacy display.
400 nits feels like the sweet spot between brightness and battery life. The problem with 250 nit screens is they’re simply not bright enough in all situations. It can be a real problem.
The display is still 16:9, which is something of a shame with the industry heading toward 16:10. We’ll probably see the taller screens in next year’s models as they start to become more ubiquitous.
The display is pretty good too, supporting 99% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 78% Adobe RGB, and 78% P3. As far as mainstream productivity-focused laptops go, that’s pretty good.
The HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 has narrow bezels on the sides, with a bit more room for the webcam and IR camera. The bad news is the webcam is still 720p, something that’s still an issue even in the premium tier. Sadly, webcams simply weren’t a priority until the last year and a half.
Audio quality is pretty solid too, thanks to the B&O speakers. When you’re in a meeting, it’s pretty clear the Achilles’ heel is the HD webcam. Other than that, the calling experience is pretty sound.
Keyboard and touchpad: It’s the best around
HP’s EliteBooks have some of the best keyboards on the market. Lenovo is renowned for the keyboards on ThinkPads, but at the least, HP has matched Lenovo in this area, if not surpassed it. It’s comfortable, accurate, and making its way down the lineup. For a while, I had to criticize HP while Lenovo was putting great keyboards in all of its ThinkPads, while you had to shell out for the premium tier with HP. That’s not the case anymore.
There are some differences between the HP EliteBook 840 Aero and the premium tier though. In fact, these are differences that are reflected across the entire EliteBook 800 series.
Between the G, H, and B keys, there’s a pointing stick. That’s right, it’s the little nub you can use to control the pointer on the display. Lenovo puts them on all its ThinkPads, which is a pain point, and both HP and Dell only include it on more mainstream machines. Frankly, it’s a relic from the era when Windows touchpads were terrible.
This also results in a smaller touchpad. For anyone who might be using the pointing stick to control the pointer, you can use the two physical buttons above the touchpad with it. Of course, the touchpad itself is still clickable.
Performance: It has Tiger Lake vPro processors, and 5G
The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 that HP sent me includes an Intel Core i7-1185G7, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and 5G connectivity, so it’s pretty specced out. And yes, it’s pretty awesome. It performs like a champ, which is no surprise given the dozens of other PCs we’ve seen with similar specs.
As you’d expect, this is a laptop that’s designed for productivity, even though the Core i7-1185G7 has a massive boost in graphics performance over the previous generation. Given that productivity focus, that’s why the excellent keyboard is even more important, adding to that total package of a Tiger Lake U processor, Iris Xe graphics, and more.
Like many, my workflow consists of web apps that I access through the browser, along with some local apps like Skype, Slack, OneNote, and so on. That’s also where the 5G connectivity comes in. It’s tough to describe how much this improves the user experience. I know that public Wi-Fi is pretty common, but cellular makes connecting to the internet seamless and secure. There’s no more asking for Wi-Fi passwords, signing up for mailing lists to connect, and so on.
I mention my work flow because frankly, there’s not that much I do offline anymore. While apps like Photoshop and Office do work offline, it represents a significant shift in how I work. All of my files are in OneDrive too, so syncing becomes an issue too.It’s worth noting that while this laptop is pricey, it does come with a 4G option, which costs less. 5G comes at a weird premium over 4G, and that’s especially strange because 5G itself isn’t particularly valuable. Most of the time, it’s no faster than 4G LTE, and sometimes even slower.
For battery life, I was able to get up to seven hours and four minutes, which is pretty good. The worst I got was four hours and nine minutes, but I think that was more of an edge case. As usual, this was with the screen at medium brightness and the power slider on a balanced setting.
For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, and Geekbench.
|HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T14s Gen 1|
Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U
|Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel|
Core i7-10750H, GTX 1650
|Lenovo Yoga 7i|
|PCMark 8: Home||4,495||4,298||3,945||4,043|
|PCMark 8: Creative||4,736||4,568||4,631||4,771|
|PCMark 8: Work||4,140||3,857||3,812||3,963|
|3DMark: Time Spy||1,560||1,093||3,058||1,055|
|Geekbench||1,518 / 4,966||1,238 / 5,081||1,522 / 4,680|
The HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 benchmarks pretty well, beating last year’s H-series processors with dedicated graphics.
Conclusion: Should you buy the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8?
Like I said at the beginning of this review, I’ve been using the EliteBook 840 Aero everywhere I go, even when I have plenty of devices to choose from. Honestly, it’s the 5G that makes it the perfect travelling companion, but when you add in the phenomenal keyboard and the lightweight package, it gets even better.
The two big downsides are it’s expensive and it has a 720p webcam. I haven’t talked too much about the price, because the pricing on HP.com right now is absurd. You’ll be able to find it at a lower price from channel partners, and frankly, the price should come down on HP’s own website. The 720p webcam is just an awkward part of buying a laptop in 2021, as these things were designed before we all found out how important webcams would be.
Aside from that, it’s everything I want it to be. It reminds me of the Elite Dragonfly series, which is in the premium tier. That’s the other time HP went and made a magnesium alloy super-light business laptop, and this is designed to be more mainstream.
If you can find this at the right price, I totally recommend it. HP makes fantastic business laptops, and this has everything you’ll want.