HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 review: Superlight and superexpensive
“The HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is a superlight business laptop with a high price.”
- Solid build quality, yet lightweight
- Bright, color-accurate display
- Good productivity performance
- Superior battery life
- Class-leading suite of business tools
- Very expensive
- 16:9 display is old school
How important is a half-pound in designing a laptop? Well, for HP, it’s enough to justify a new brand known as “Aero” in its line of laptops.
There’s the budget-oriented Pavilion Aero 13, which packs a bunch 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 hits that goal of being a half-pound lighter than its non-Aero version.
I reviewed 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 commands an extremely high price of $2,679. But it’s light and powerful, and is loaded with business features that your IT staff will appreciate.
If you compare the Aero version of the EliteBook 840 G8 with its non-Aero sibling, you’ll find a laptop that’s almost identical in size, within a few fractions of an inch in width and depth, and exactly as thick at 0.70 inches. But HP crafted the EliteBook Aero 840 G8 out of magnesium rather than aluminum and managed to shave off almost half a pound, bringing it from 2.92 pounds to 2.5 pounds. That’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, like the Acer Swift 5 that weighs 2.31 pounds and is 0.59 inches thick, there aren’t many business machines that can match it. The Dell Latitude 7420, for example, is 2.7 pounds with carbon fiber in its construction and 2.89 pounds with an all-aluminum chassis while being 0.68 inches thick.
One laptop that matches the EliteBook is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 at 2.49 pounds and a thinner 0.59 inches, which also uses magnesium in its chassis and is more flexible. Ultimately, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 achieves its goal of being extremely light even as it’s not the thinnest laptop around.
The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 also manages to avoid a common pitfall of magnesium chassis, which is that they tend to be less rigid than aluminum. The EliteBook is solid all around, with a lid that only bends if you apply inappropriate pressure, a keyboard deck that exhibits zero flex, and a chassis bottom that has no give. Business laptops tend to be more solidly built than some consumer laptops, such as the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, which is aluminum but still has a slightly bendable lid, so this isn’t anything new. But being so light and so solid is a great combination and not one that you find all that often. The laptop’s hinge is a bit tight and it requires two hands to open the lid, but it’s tapered all the way around to make it easy to open and it reclines to 170 degrees for collaborative viewing.
Aesthetically, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 fits HP’s general EliteBook look and feel. It’s all silver with little in the way of adornments. 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 a minimalist design. The Dell Latitude 7420 is similar in its simplicity, which is also true of other business laptops.
Business laptops need to connect, and the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 delivers.
Manufacturers tend to go conservative in their designs for this class of notebook — you don’t want a laptop that grabs attention in a conference room. However, that doesn’t make the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 a bad-looking laptop at all. It’s quite attractive and has just enough angles, plus rounded rear and lid edges, to give it quite a modern appearance. I’ll note that the large top and bottom display bezels detract from that perception a bit — the EliteBook has an 85% screen-to-body ratio, which is low for a modern laptop.
Business laptops need to connect, and the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 delivers. On the left-hand side, you’ll find a nano security lock, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an optional smart card reader. On the right-hand side are a proprietary power connection (my review 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. Besides WWAN support, there’s WI-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 on board.
Security and privacy
You’re not going to spend so much money on the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 just for its conservative, lightweight chassis and relatively standard components. Rather, you — or more likely your business — is going to make the investment to gain access to the wide range of security and manageability tools built into HP’s business machines.
It’s this level of security and manageability that helps to justify the laptop’s very high price.
The EliteBook utilizes HP’s Wolf Security for Business, which provides many features that make the laptop meet the most demanding organization’s security needs. The list is exhaustive, starting with HP’s Management Integration Kit (MIK) that makes it easier to integrate the laptop into Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager for enhanced manageability. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 offers Intel vPro as an option, further expanding how well it can be integrated into enterprise IT systems.
HP’s Endpoint Security Controller (ESC) runs at the laptop’s lowest level, providing hardware-enforced technology that provides a Hardware Root of Trust via HP Sure Start that’s physically isolated and protects the laptop’s critical firmware. The protection works during runtime as well, constantly monitoring the security system, and utilizes Wolf Security cryptographic hardware functions. HP Sure Recover minimizes downtime by providing embedded recovery tools, network-based recovery, and the ability to support corporate images. HP Tamperlock protects against physical case intrusions 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 highly secure and easy to manage, providing users and enterprises with a ton of confidence that their machines and data will remain secure. It’s this level of security and manageability that helps to justify the laptop’s very high price.
My review unit was equipped with the 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 with vPro. This top-of-the-line U-series GPU in Intel’s lineup is aimed at thin and light laptops, and it offers a theoretical performance lift over the more popular Core i7-1165G7.
In our benchmarks, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was competitive with most of the similarly equipped laptops in our comparison group. It was third-highest in Geekbench 5, with the HP Elite Dragonfly Max coming in first place in this test. In our Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the EliteBook scored well for the CPU, coming in fourth, with only the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo being significantly faster than the Intel pack.
I included the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED to give a taste of AMD Ryzen 5000-series performance, and as you can see, it’s significantly faster at CPU-intensive tasks. The EliteBook also fell in the middle of the pack in the Cinebench R23 benchmark, another test that taxes the CPU. In PCMark 10, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 kept up its middling performance, and that extended across both the Complete score listed in the table and the Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation portions of the benchmark.
Overall, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is a solid productivity performer that doesn’t lead the pack but manages to keep up. You’ll find it useful for keeping up with your demanding productivity workflow, but you won’t want to use it for creative applications. However, that’s no knock against the EliteBook, as it applies to all current Intel U-series laptops. You’ll need to look to AMD for better creative performance.
|Geekbench 5 (single/multi)||Handbrake (seconds)||Cinebench R23 (single/multi)||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
|Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1165G7)||1540 / 5432||201||1399/4585||3859||1589|
|HP Spectre x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7)||1214 / 4117||236||1389 / 3941||4728||1457|
|Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
(AMD Ryzen 7 5800U)
|1423 / 6758||124||1171 / 7824||6034||1342|
The EliteBook 840 Aero G8’s gaming performance was in line with other laptops equipped with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics. That is, it wasn’t great. You’ll get around 29 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1080p High graphics and 22 fps at Epic graphics.
That’s good enough for older titles, or newer titles with resolution and graphics turned way down. But this is a business laptop and makes no pretense of being a gaming machine.
I’m not a fan of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) displays, even on 14-inch displays. I like higher resolutions. That said, I liked the low-power display on the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 more than usual — outside of its old-school 16:9 aspect ratio. The display was bright, colors were dynamic without being overblown, and black text popped on a white background. Subjectively, it’s one of the better 1080p displays I’ve used on a laptop that’s not specifically intended for creators.
My colorimeter backed me up. First, the display was indeed bright at 479 nits, way above our 300-nit threshold and well above the premium average. This is a display you can probably use in sunlight. The contrast was also excellent for an IPS display at 1,740:1, again well above our preferred threshold, in this case 1000:1. It’s better than the display on many other business laptops, including the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 that put out just 306 nits and had a much lower contrast ratio of 970:1.
Colors were also good for a non-creators display, coming in at 77% of AdobeRGB and 99% of sRGB. That’s a few percentage points above the premium display average and again beats out the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s 76% and 96%. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8’s display was also accurate, at a Delta-E of 1.11 (1.0 or less is excellent), compared to the ThinkPad at 0.99.
All in all, I found the display a pleasure to use for productivity work and bingeing Netflix. Again, I would have preferred a higher-resolution display, but many people will find a Full HD display to offer a sharp enough image on a 14-inch display. However, I do wish the display had been touch-enabled, and that’s an option for those who feel the same way.
The audio is provided by two upward-firing speakers on each side of the keyboard. HP touts the volume and bass provided by the speakers, and I found the claims to be true. There was plenty of sound when turned up all the way and no distortion. Mids and highs were nice and clear, and, yes, there was a touch of bass. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 can’t live up to Dell XPS 15 or MacBook’s audio standards, but it’s good enough for watching Netflix and listening to the occasional tune.
Keyboard and touchpad
HP’s EliteBooks all have great keyboards. The one on the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was redesigned to be even better, specifically to provide a consistent feel across all of the keys. The redesign includes adding in a programmable hot-key, and moving the power button to the keyboard and requiring a little extra pressure and a longer hold to activate it. The keyboard’s mechanism is deep, with a snappy bottoming action, and it’s very quiet. I’d rate it up there with the HP Spectre keyboards, which have long been my favorite Windows 10 keyboards, and better than the keyboards on Dell’s XPS line. Only the MacBook’s Magic Keyboard is better.
The touchpad is moderately sized, with a smooth glass surface and Microsoft Precision Touchpad support. I found it serviceable, with reliable performance when using Windows 10’s suite of multitouch gestures. It’s smaller than it could be, though, to accommodate buttons for the Lenovo TrackPoint-like cursor nubbin in the middle of the keyboard. That works well if you’re into that kind of control, and it offers a textured surface to help maintain 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 without fuss, making it easy to log into the EliteBook 840 Aero G8.
The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 packs in 53 watt-hours of battery, which is average for a 14-inch laptop. With a 1080p display, I would expect good but not great battery life, probably enough to make it through a workday but not enough to keep working through the evening.
As it turns out, battery life was a little better than I expected. I saw roughly 11 hours on our web-browsing test, which is a strong result. The MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo with the same CPU, a Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200) display, and a 70 watt-hour battery came in at just a minute longer. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, a more direct competitor, lasted for about another hour. In our video-looping test that plays a local 1080p movie trailer, the EliteBook made it to 14 hours and 15 minutes, again a good time. Anything over 12 hours is right in line with what we expect from a premium laptop. I’ll note that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 lasted for a spectacular 21 hours, so the EliteBook doesn’t quite dominate the business class.
In the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, which is the best indication of productivity battery life, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 achieved a strong 13.75 hours, placing it in the upper end of our database. The ThinkPad again dominated, though, at 17.25 hours. I also ran the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test, where the EliteBook hit just over five hours — the longest we’ve seen. This test, though, seems to show how hard a laptop works while on battery rather than the absolute battery life, so you can expect reduced performance when unplugged.
Overall, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 was a robust performer in terms of its battery life. It exceeded my expectations, and it will keep you working well into the evening if you have the need. You might not get the fastest performance while on battery life, but it will keep you going when you’re away from a charger.
HP took the EliteBook 840 G8 and made it lighter with the Aero version, giving business users a solid alternative that leverages HP’s strong suite of business-oriented security and manageability tools. The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is well-built yet very light, performs well, and offers great battery life.
It’s expensive, though. You’re definitely paying for the business features, and most likely, it won’t be the user footing the bill. But organizations looking for a great business laptop should keep the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 on their shortlist.
Are there any alternatives?
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a strong competitor in terms of its performance and battery life, and it’s also less expensive when configured the same ($2,260 on sale), but it only has a one-year warranty, Lenovo also packs in several business features, but they’re not quite as extensive as HP’s selection.
Dell offers the Latitude 7420, another solid alternative that’s also less expensive at $2,020 (with a three-year warranty). Dell has its own suite of business tools, and the Latitude will also serve organizations well if they need security measures that are easy to manage.
If you don’t need a business-class laptop, then there are a host of consumer alternatives. But in that case, the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 shouldn’t even be under consideration.
How long will it last?
The EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is well-built and should give confidence that it can last for years of typical business use. The components are up to date, meaning it will keep up with Windows requirements for years as well. You’ll appreciate the three-year warranty, which should be expected for business-class machines but isn’t always provided without an extra fee.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It’s expensive but worth it if you need a laptop that your business can trust.