HP EliteBook 840 G5, First Take: A solid business-class laptop

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HP's EliteBook 800 Series G5 comes in 13.3-inch (830), 14-inch (840) and 15.6-inch (850) models. I was sent a 14-inch EliteBook 840 to evaluate. Whichever of the three sizes you opt for, you'll get a solidly designed business laptop that, although it lacks bells and whistles, has plenty going on under the surface.

The EliteBook 840 starts at £1,078 (inc. VAT), which gives you an Intel Core i5-8250U processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. HP's UK website has a variant with a Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for £1,306.80 (inc. VAT). HP sent me a spec that isn't available off the page in the UK -- Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD -- and has not confirmed this model's price at the time of writing.

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The 14-inch EliteBook 840 runs on 8th-generation Intel Core i5/i7 processors with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. The IPS screen comes in touch and non-touch versions, and LTE mobile broadband is available.

Images: HP Inc.

HP's high-end EliteBooks major on functionality rather than styling. So here we have a very solid silver metal and plastic chassis with a little flex in the lid, but not enough to cause concern. The chassis build feels as though it should withstand knocks and bangs, although the lid might be prone to scratches if it travels without a protective sleeve.

The full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) touch screen is responsive and delivers good image quality. It's quite reflective though -- something that's particularly noticeable at lower brightness levels. Maximum brightness on the IPS screen, meanwhile, verges on the dazzling. The screen bezels are quite wide, and HP could improve this laptop's appearance by shaving a few millimetres off all round. This no convertible device -- indeed, the screen won't even push back far enough to sit flush on a desk, but stops at about 140 degrees.

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A high-quality screen should be complemented by decent speakers. Tested with some YouTube music streaming, we found the EliteBook 840's Bang & Olufsen audio subsystem to be above average. Volume goes up to impressive levels without distorting, and bass tones are pleasing. Well done HP (and B&O).

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The keyboard is nicely designed. Keys are well spaced, and bouncy, giving off a dull thunk rather than a more irritating click when pressed. There's a blue pointing stick between the G, H and B keys which is comfortable to use alongside a pair of buttons that sit above the touchpad. The NFC point is under the touchpad, and there's a fingerprint reader in the wrist rest.

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Right to left: SIM card slot, headphone jack, USB 3.1, HDMI, Ethernet (RJ-45), docking port, Thunderbolt/USB-C, power. The opposite side has another USB 3.1 port (with charging) and s smart card reader.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

There are plenty of ports. A single USB-C Thunderbolt connector and two 2 USB 3.1 ports are joined by a full-size HDMI connector and an Ethernet port, as well as a headset jack. There's not quite enough depth for a full-size Ethernet port, but rather than provide a dongle, HP has used a spring mechanism to pop the underside of the port down when needed. This works well. There's also a smart card reader on the left edge, and, on the right edge, a pop-in SIM card slot for LTE mobile broadband use. If all this isn't enough, there's a proprietary docking connector. HP also has the USB-C Thunderbolt Dock G2 (£105 inc. VAT) and the Elite 90W Thunderbolt 3 Dock (£272 inc. VAT).

All of this adds up to a laptop that copes well with mainstream workloads. I did experience quite a lot of fan noise, though -- even when simply browsing a few web pages, writing a document and streaming a bit of music.

The other potential issue is battery life. My anecdotal experience suggests that a full day's work should be possible if screen brightness goes no higher than around 60 percent. However, commuters might need to administer a power boost during the afternoon to keep the laptop running until they get home.

The EliteBook 840 weighs 1.61kg with a touch screen or 1.48kg without, so it's no lightweight. It's also on the bulky side at 32.6cm wide by 23.4cm deep by 1.79cm thick. Still, this is a well made laptop with some high-end components, including above-average speakers.

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