HP Elitebook 8760w, workstation power in a laptop

September 08, 2011 |
Jeff Yoders

HP has significantly expanded the 8760ws touchpad. It features three buttons and is large enough to accommodate the pinch and other new input/output features that come from the tablet world.

The HP Elitebook 8760w was released in April as the successor to its 8740w mobile workstation PC, and the laptop is ideal for architecture, engineering, power-computing, and content-creation customers who need the performance of a workstation with the portability and convenience of a laptop. That being said, the 8760w is a big, beefy laptop sporting a 17.3-inch HD Dreamcolor IPS screen. While this big a screen is great for navigating 3D models and displaying renderings and construction photos, it’s still quite big for a laptop. The hardware underneath the chassis is just as powerful, with an Intel Core i7-2820QM (2.3Ghz speed) Sandy Bridge processor, and an NVIDIA Quadro 4000M GPU. My test unit has two 500-GB, 7,2000-RPM hard drives so there was plenty of space to store AutoCAD and Revit models and there is an option to get three hard drives if you need that much storage.
The 8760w is an excellent “home and away” computer for the virtual design and construction or BIM manager. It is certified MIL-STD 810G business-rugged, the military’s standard for rating laptop rigidity, and has a gunmetal gray exterior design that will fit in great with all the black suits and turtlenecks at your design firm, too. HP has significantly expanded the 8760w’s touchpad. It features three buttons and is large enough to accommodate the pinch and other new input/output features that come from the tablet world. I frequently used the pinch to expand or decrease the type in browser windows.
Running Revit Architecture 2012 and Navisworks, I was able to quickly navigate a model and find clashes without having to slow down for graphics to load. I also used Photoshop, Luxology’s Modo 401, and other memory hog programs without being able to hang the system. I’ve noted before that both Autodesk and Adobe design their software for GPU acceleration with NVIDIA’s graphics cards and the 8760’s Quadro 4000M was no exception. Photoshop, AutoCAD, and Revit took little to no setup using the NVDIA control panel included with Windows 7. AMD graphics cards are available, too.
The 8760w was also secure enough to carry reams of project data to and from sites without worry of losing it over unsecure connections or to prying fingers. HP has included a fingerprint scanner for logon and at least two protocols must be matched to log on (fingerprint and password, for instance).
As soon as HP announced its decision to either sell or spin off its Personal Systems Group (PSG)—the division of HP that produces laptops and desktops—last month, I immediately wondered how it would impact this review. Would customers continue to buy from a company getting out of the computer business? If HP does, indeed, spin off or sell the PSG the new owner or separate company would immediately become the largest provider of personal computers in the market. In a CNBC interview, HP Executive VP for the PSG Todd Bradley said that no decisions have yet been made on what will become of the PSG and that there is still a slim chance that it could stay at HP.
IBM’s former ThinkPad division is thriving today with Lenovo, so HP’s systems group would be an attractive acquisition for competitors. The US Air Force also chose HP as its workstation provider in the interim. Interesting times, indeed. BD+C

Jeff Yoders | BD+C Editors

For five years Jeff Yoders covered IT, CAD, and BIM as Senior Associate Editor of Building Design + Construction. He's a chair at-large of the Associated General Contractors of America's BIM Forum and speaks regularly to audiences about how to transition to digital workflows. Jeff has won four American Society of Business Publications Editors awards.

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