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Review: HP's EliteBook 1040 G4 Goes All-Out On Performance

Kyle Alspach

With the latest generation of the business-oriented EliteBook 1040, HP has pulled off a feat: delivering a laptop with stunning speed while making few compromises in other areas.

While there's a lot to like about the EliteBook 1040 G4, this clamshell laptop is all about the performance. The processor in our tryout unit is an H series Intel chip—the Core i7-7820HQ—a quad-core processor that's more commonly found in workstations and gaming PCs than in highly portable laptops.

[Related: HP CEO Weisler: 'Strong Innovation,' Partner Wins Drive Third Straight Quarter For Both PC And Printing Sales Growth]

The laptop combines the H series chip with 16 GB of RAM and a WiFi connection optimizer. The result is that the EliteBook 1040 G4 is the fastest laptop we've tried in the CRN Test Center this year. Loading of websites and applications is virtually instantaneous; waiting for web pages, videos, and apps to load is a thing of the past with this laptop. It's a dream come true.

We toggled the Windows settings to favor performance over battery efficiency during our tryout and still got robust battery life. With brightness set to 75 percent, we were able to get 7.5 hours of battery life with the EliteBook 1040 G4.

The 14-inch display, which is an FHD touch screen on our tryout model, is super bright, sharp, and vivid. Options for the display brightness include 340 nits, 400 nits, and a whopping 700 nits, while the display also comes in non-touch and UHD configurations.

Meanwhile, there's also an option for including the Sure View integrated privacy screen on the display. The privacy screen blocks visual hacking attempts by reducing visible light when viewed at angles.

Another highlight of the laptop is the keyboard, which is a real standout from others that we've tried recently. The keyboard is very comfortable and quiet, with a soft material included at the base of the keycap, according to HP. Additionally, the keyboard has dedicated collaboration keys for launching and ending calls, muting/unmuting your mic, and sharing your screen.

Powerful speakers from Bang & Olufsen (there are six speakers in all) further assist the laptop in serving as a collaboration workhorse.

The touchpad is good, too, though we noticed a tiny bit of lag when doing two-finger scrolling in the Chrome browser. The touchpad was flawless when used with the Edge browser, however.

The EliteBook 1040 G4 is impressively thin, with a thickness of just 0.63 of an inch, for a machine with this much packed in (including a number of ports, such as two USB-A, two USB-C, and HDMI).

The laptop is also surprisingly light at three pounds; you'd expect a much bulkier machine given its performance, battery life, and touch screen.

The EliteBook 1040 G4 features additional business-friendly features that EliteBooks have become known for, including military-standard drop protection and advanced security (including HP's self-healing Sure Start Gen3 technology, BIOSphere Gen3, and Client Security Gen3).

The laptop is also a real winner on overall appearance with its eye-pleasing metallic design.

Novel features available with the laptop include HP Phonewise, which enables users to respond to calls and text messages using the laptop.

In a nutshell, with the EliteBook 1040 G4, everything looks great, everything feels great, and everything works great.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the laptop won't come cheap, particularly if you want the top-level performance. The EliteBook 1040 G4 starts at $2,099 with the H series processor and touch screen, while a model with a U series processor and the non-touch display starts at $1,379.

That price tag for the model with an H series chip may just be worth it, however, depending on how highly you value peak performance on your laptop. In our view, the EliteBook 1040 G4 is the gold standard right now for a laptop that deftly combines speed, design, and security.

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