HP EliteBook 1040 G4 review: A solid 14-inch workhorse with excellent battery life

hp-eb-1040-g4-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good
  • $1,549.00

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Bright IPS touch-screen
  • Two USB-C/Thunderbolt and two USB 3.1 ports
  • Useful Privacy Screen mode
  • Multiple off-the-page configurations

Cons

  • Expensive, especially at the top end of the range
  • No 8th generation Core processors yet
  • No discrete GPU option

HP Inc is now on to the fourth generation of its 14-inch Elitebook 1040, a sure sign that the design is a winning formula worthy of regular refreshes. Back in 2014, I reviewed the first generation of this notebook, judging it "every inch a business executive's ultrabook". How does the latest generation match up?

The HP Elitebook 1040 G4 doesn't offer any fancy screen gymnastics, but its conventional clamshell design should still suit plenty of businesses. The silver metal chassis is distinctive, and HP's minimalist logo looks eye-catching in the centre of the lid.

hp-eb-1040-g4-main.jpg

Notable features of HP's 4th-generation EliteBook 1040 include a bright FHD touch-screen, a tough chassis, a good keyboard and optional mobile broadband. It's not the slimmest in its class, but the 1.36kg weight is in line with the competition.

Images: HP Inc

The metal chassis is tough (the EliteBook 1040 G4 passes MIL-STD 810G testing), providing plenty of protection for the notebook in a bag without the need for a sleeve. That helps to keep the overall weight down to a starting point of 1.36kg.

However, the Elitebook 1040 G4 is challenged in overall size when set against some other 14-inch laptops. With 329mm by 233mm footprint it's a little larger than 14-inch 360-degree Lenovo Yoga 920, for example, whose tiny vertical screen bezels help it squeeze into a chassis measuring 323mm by 223.5mm. There's a thickness difference too, with the Yoga 920 coming in some 2mm thinner -- 13.95mm versus the Elitebook 1040 G4's 15.9mm. Weight-wise, the two systems are very similar, with the Yoga 920 starting at 1.37kg.

Download now: Computer hardware depreciation calculator

These might seem like small differences, but if you're looking to conserve precious space in a tote bag they could be worth noting.

Top ZDNET Reviews

HP offers no fewer than 21 'off the page' versions of the EliteBook 1040 G4 in the UK, ranging in price from £1,179 (ex. VAT) up to a serious £2,574 (ex. VAT, or just over £3,000 including VAT).

One of the many areas where EliteBook 1040 G4 configurations vary is the screen. My review unit was near top of the range, sporting a full-HD (1,920-by-1,080) IPS touchscreen -- the highest-resolution screen available in the UK. Not all configurations support touch, and it's worth noting that the screen is quite reflective, while the maximum brightness level is a positively eye-searing 700cd/m2.

hp-sureview-privacy-shield.jpg

The Sure View Privacy Screen feature, triggered by the F2 key, narrows the IPS screen's viewing angles to foil potential snoopers.

Image: HP Inc

Some models, including my review unit, incorporate the HP Sure View Privacy Screen. Tap the F2 button and the display reconfigures to reduce the vertical and horizontal viewing angles. It's not impossible to view the screen from wide angles, but anyone sitting next to you on a train would need to fidget around to find a viewing angle that works for them, and in doing so would need to get pretty close to your head. You'd certainly notice their manoeuvring.

The downside is that when viewed head-on in Privacy Screen mode the screen has a somewhat washed-out appearance. This can be mitigated by boosting the screen brightness, although you'll need to find the right balance between viewability and privacy.

The keyboard is springy and responsive, the keys are nice and large, and well-spaced. There is no flex at all, even when hitting the keys very hard. Typing is a comfortable experience and I easily managed my normal touch-typing speed. The cursor keys, which are normally shrunken, have been designed as full-size for left and right, and wide half-height for up and down.

The Fn row has dedicated Call and End keys for those who want to use Skype, as well as a microphone mute key. There's a Fn key that toggles the keyboard backlight through two brightness settings, plus an Outlook shortcut key. The touchpad is very responsive and a pleasure to use -- one of the best I've used in a while, in fact.

When a vendor offers several iterations of a laptop it can be useful to do a quick comparison of the key specs. But, with 21 different off-the-page configurations, that's not very practical here. Instead, I'm comparing the lowest- and highest-priced models to give a feel for the range on offer, and adding in my near-top-end review unit.

There are key differences across the range in CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD storage, as you'd expect. Some models also offer mobile broadband. However, HP had no Elitebook 1040 G4 variants running an 8th Generation Intel Core processor at the time of writing, and there's no external GPU option.

Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen with Privacy Screen, 256GB SSD
£1,179 (ex. VAT)

Intel Core i7-7820HQ, Intel HD Graphics 630, 16GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen with Privacy Screen, 512GB SSD, mobile broadband
£2,574 (ex. VAT)

Intel Core i7-7600U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen with Privacy Screen, 512GB SSD
£2,405 (ex. VAT, as reviewed)

see also

Chromebooks in 2018: Ready for take-off?

Will Microsoft's Windows 10 S ecosystem halt the advance of Chrome OS?

Read More

The EliteBook 1040 G4 generally ran very quietly during testing but, on the rare occasions that the fan kicked in, it became pretty noisy for short bursts. That's something to be aware of if you're used to a very quiet working environment. Heat dissipation is very good though: the base of the laptop, which is where the fan outlets are, remained cool at all times.

There is a full-size USB 3.1 port and a headset jack on the left side, while the right side has room for a second USB 3.1 port, a pair of USB-C/Thunderbolt ports (one of which doubles up as the power input), and a full-sized HDMI connector. There's no microSD card slot, which is not uncommon, but it's easy enough to access microSD storage via a USB dongle. The wrist rest houses a fingerprint sensor.

Sound comes via Bang and Olufsen speakers with the main outlet being a neatly designed grille that stretches the width of the area above the wrist rest. Secondary speaker outlets are on the underside of the chassis, towards the front edge where the chassis tapers, so they're not muffled by the desktop. Although you get significant distortion at top volume, 70 percent is perfectly acceptable and would be adequate for small-scale conferencing or presentation use cases.

In order to create a USP for its laptops, HP has started to introduce a feature it calls HP PhoneWise. To date this is available only on a small selection of HP systems -- the Elitebook 1040 G4 is joined just by the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 and the desktop EliteOne 1000 G1 PC. It allows you to take and make calls, and send and receive texts, without taking your Bluetooth-connected iOS or Android phone out of your pocket.

HP claims up to 18 hours of life from the Elitebook 1040 G4's six-cell 67Wh battery. I didn't get anywhere near that during testing, but in one typical morning's work involving writing, web browsing and some streaming the battery only dropped from 98 percent to 80 percent in four hours.

On that basis, I'd expect the Elitebook 1040 G4 to easily keep going for a full working day and have enough juice left for the evening commute. If you need a burst of power before leaving the office, Fast Charge will deliver a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes.

Conclusions

hp-eb-1040-g4-verdict.jpg
Image: HP Inc

The Elitebook 1040 G4 is a solidly built 14-inch laptop that should prove a capable, if potentially expensive, workhorse. There are 21 off-the-page configurations available at the time of writing, so it's a shame none currently sport an 8th generation Intel Core processor. Still, battery life is excellent, you get four USB ports (two USB 3.1, two USB-C/Thunderbolt) and the Privacy Screen is likely to prove useful for mobile professionals.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

HP grows both PC and printing revenue in Q4
The company's fourth quarter results were in line with market estimates, with broad-based, double-digit growth in all three regions.

Spectre flaw: Dell and HP pull Intel's buggy patch, new BIOS updates coming
Dell and HP have pulled Intel's firmware patches for the Spectre attack.

HP Inc's UK boss on life after the split
How have the fifteen months since HP split into two businesses gone for the PC and printing company? We talked to George Brasher, managing director for the UK and Ireland.

Read more reviews

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices hood sensor
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition - English
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5 (7th Gen) 7300U / 2.6 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3.5 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
Memory
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Speed 2400 MHz - 2400 MHz
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-600
RAM
Memory Speed 2400 MHz
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Rated Memory Speed 2400 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features 72% color gamut, Full HD ultra wide-viewing angle (UWVA) eDP anti-glare, Ultra Slim Design
Type LED
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.56 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 620
Sound Stereo speakers, dual array microphone
Features Bang & Olufsen Audio
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2 2280
Capacity 256 GB
Hard Drive Features Self-Encrypting Drive, TCG Opal Encryption 2, triple-level cell (TLC)
Input
Type ClickPad, keyboard
Localization & Layout US
Features gesture function, glass with chemical etched surface, multi-touch touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
Bluetooth Class Class 2
Wireless Controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 - PCI Express Mini Card (M.2)
Features Miracast, dual stream (2x2)
Processor
CPU Type Core i5
Processor Number i5-7300U
Generation 7
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.6 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Battery
Capacity 67 Wh
Cells 6-cell
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 18 hour(s)
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 90 Watt, 5 / 9 / 10 / 12 / 15 / 20 V
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (charging)
2 x USB-C/Thunderbolt
HDMI
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Header
Brand HP
Product Line HP EliteBook
Model 1040 G4
Localization English
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, NFC
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.11i, IEEE 802.1x, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Interface (Bus) Type PCI Express Mini Card (M.2)
Wireless NIC Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous
Color diamond cut design, natural silver
Case Material aluminum
Integrated Options Hood sensor
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip, fingerprint reader
Features HP Automatic Drive Lock, HP DriveLock, HP Fast Charge, HP Sure Start Gen 3, Power On Authentication, Setup Password, power-on password
Included Accessories USB-C power adapter
Manufacturer Selling Program HP Smart Buy
Theft/Intrusion Protection security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Security Slot Type Kensington nano security slot
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
Image Brightness 340 cd/m2
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.9 in
Depth 9.2 in
Height 0.6 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Keyboard
Keyboard Name HP Premium Collaboration Keyboard
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 620
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Input Device
Backlight Yes
Interfaces
USB-C Ports Qty 2
Comment charging
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 3 years

Top ZDNET Reviews

Where To Buy

HP EliteBook 1040 G4 (i5-7300U)

Part Number: 2UL93UT#ABA
Price
$1,549.00