Sunday, June 23, 2024

HP EliteBook 1040 review: a simple, beautiful business laptop

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HP EliteBook 1040 2024 front view showing display and keyboard.

HP EliteBook 1040 (2024)

MSRP $3,089.00

Score Details

DT Recommended Product

“The HP EliteBook 1040 G11 proves that business laptops don’t have to be stodgy.”

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Attractive and conservative aesthetic
  • Very good keyboard
  • Strong productivity performance
  • Good enough IPS display
  • Superior security and management features

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Plastic bezels
  • A haptic touchpad would be preferred

Business laptops are a different breed, offering more security and management features to accommodate the largest organizations. They also offer a wider range of configuration options and better warranties. HP’s EliteBook 1040 series has long been among the most impressive of these.

Contents

  • Specs and configurations
  • Design
  • Keyboard and touchpad
  • Connectivity, webcam, and security
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Display
  • An excellent laptop, but mainly for enterpriseShow 3 more items

Related

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  • HP Envy 13 vs. Asus ZenBook 13 UX333

The 2024 model continues that trend. The redesign is an attractive and well-built thin-and-light 14-inch laptop that can compete with the best out there. And HP’s Wolf Security suite lets you lock it down and manage it with a diverse set of tools. For the right buyer, the EliteBook 1040 is an excellent choice.

Specs and configurations

 
HP EliteBook 1040 2024

Dimensions
12.36 inches x 8.66 inches x 0.41-0.58 inches

Weight
3.05 pounds

Processor
Intel Core Ultra 5 125H
Intel Core Ultra 5 135H
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Intel Core Ultra 7 165H

Graphics
Intel Arc

RAM
16GB
32GB

Display
14.0-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS
14.0-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS Sure View privacy panel
14.0-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, 120Hz

Storage
512GB
1TB

Touch
Optional

Connectivity
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C
1 x USB-A
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio
1 x nanoSIM/eSIM
NFC

Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4
Optional 5G/LTE

Webcam
5MP with infrared camera for Windows Hello

Operating system
Windows 11

Battery
56 watt-hour
68 watt-hour

Price

Starts at $2,837

Only a few configurations are currently available for the EliteBook 1040, among the very many different configurations that will eventually show up at HP’s web store. Right now, the least expensive model costs $2,837 for an Intel Core Ultra 5 125H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14.0-inch WUXGA IPS display. My review unit with a Core Ultra 7 165H, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD isn’t currently available, but the same specs with a Core Ultra 7 155H costs $3,089. The most expensive model currently available costs $4,057 with the faster chipset, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.

Those prices are sure to change, and there will eventually be a 14.0-inch 2.8K OLED display option. In the meantime, the EliteBook 1040 is a very expensive business class laptop.

Design

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The EliteBook 1040 has always enjoyed a premium design, and the 2024 model is no different. It may not be CNC machined out of a chunk of aluminum like the Apple MacBook lineup, but it’s equally as well made, with no bending, flexing, or twisting. The all-metal chassis has a nice texture that’s pleasant to handle, and the hinge is smooth and the lid opens with one hand. HP hit all the finer points that elevate the EliteBook 1040 above a less expensive laptop like the HP Envy x360 14.

Aiding that perception of quality is a thin-and-light chassis. It’s not the most compact 14-inch laptop due to display bezels on the top and bottom that are a little tall. The Dell XPS 14 manages to fit a 14.5-inch display into a chassis that’s around the same size, and that’s thanks to the XPS 14’s insanely thin bezels. The XPS 14 is considerably thicker and heavier, though, which makes it feel denser. But somehow, the EliteBook 1040 manages to avoid feeling flimsy by comparison.

Aesthetically, the EliteBook 1040 is conservatively designed, with smooth, angular edges and a silver color scheme that makes it suitable for its target corporate environments. The keyboard is dark gray, which adds a little to the overall look, but there’s no doubt that HP went out of its way to avoid creating a “consumer” laptop. The one negative I’ll note is the use of plastic display bezels rather than having edge-to-edge glass. That detracts a bit from the laptop’s modernity and also its status as a very expensive machine.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

As a writer, I’m very sensitive to keyboard feel. I like light, snappy keyboards with plenty of key spacing and large keycaps. Those things combine to make a keyboard that’s comfortable for long typing sessions. My favorite is the Magic Keyboard on Apple’s MacBooks, but the EliteBook 1040’s keyboard comes very close. The switches are a bit deeper and almost as precise, and the springy bottoming action means I was never slowed down as I used the laptop to write this review. I also like the bold lettering and clean backlighting.

The mechanical touchpad is large and has quiet, confident clicks. It’s a good touchpad, at least compared to many other mechanical versions. At these prices, though, HP should have incorporated a haptic touchpad. Some other premium laptops have one, including the HP Spectre x360 14 that has an excellent implementation. Again, Apple leads the way with its Force Touch haptic touchpad with Force Click functionality. Haptic touchpads are quieter, support clicking anywhere on the surface, and can be adjusted for overall feel. It’s an unfortunate omission.

A touch display is optional. My review unit did not have touch and so I can’t comment on its performance.

Connectivity, webcam, and security

The EliteBook 1040 has excellent connectivity. There are a variety of modern and legacy ports, more than on the XPS 14 and the MacBook Pro 14. HP included NFC, which is important to some enterprise customers, but did not include an SD card reader. Wireless connectivity can be configured up to the absolute latest Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4, and there’s a NanoSIM slot and an eSIM for LTE and 5G connectivity. Again, that’s a nod to corporate clients, but anyone could benefit from having such a wide range of cellular internet options.

The webcam is HP’s usual 5MP version, and it supports a number of features to improve videoconferencing performance. That includes Microsoft’s Studio Effects software, which can utilize the neural processing unit (NPU) in the Meteor Lake chipset. That’s not a particularly powerful NPU by modern standards, so what level of on-device AI functionality will make its way to the laptop is up in the air.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Security and manageability is where the EliteBook 1040 is most differentiated from consumer laptops. To begin with, there’s an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, as well as a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button (the best place for it). Both are backed by the usual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for on-device encryption.

Beyond that, though, the EliteBook 1040 features HP’s Wolf Security suite. This adds a host of security features, both hardware and software, that locks down the laptop from “the BIOS to the browser,” as HP states in its product specs. All of the security features can plug into an enterprise management system that makes it easier to manage a large fleet of laptops.

Some of these features would benefit individual buyers and small businesses, but they’re of most value to the large enterprises that need highly secure and manageable laptops — and that are willing to pay such high prices.

Performance

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

You can choose a variety of Intel chipsets for the EliteBook 1040, in both U and H variations and with or without Intel’s vPro technology — which is required for some of the security and management features mentioned above. HP offers so many different configuration options to please large corporate buyers. But looking at HP’s web store as I write this review, the number of configurations that can be bought outside of HP’s commercial channels are limited.

I reviewed the laptop with the 28-watt Core Ultra 7 165H, a 16-core (six Performance, eight Efficient, two Low Power Efficient), 22-thread chipset running at up to 5GHz. That’s slightly faster than the more common Core Ultra 7 155H, but not significantly. In our suite of benchmarks, the EliteBook 1040 was plenty fast, but not so much faster that performance alone is a reason to buy it.

Ultimately, the laptop will meet the needs of the most demanding productivity users. Its Intel Arc graphics are the fastest integrated graphics yet, but still considerably slower than entry-level discrete GPUs. That means the EliteBook won’t please creators, and of course, it’s not at all a laptop for gamers.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)

Handbrake
(seconds)

Cinebench R23
(single/multi)

PCMark 10
Complete

HP EliteBook 1040 2024
(Core Ultra 7 165H)
Bal: 2,237 / 12,554
Perf: 2,314 / 12,026
Bal: 75
Perf: 73
Bal: 1,733 / 11,216
Perf: 1,807 / 14,019
6,769

Dell XPS 14
(Core Ultra 7 165H)
Bal: 2,334 / 13,070
Perf: 2,344 / 12,818
Bal: 84
Perf: 72
N/A
5,992

HP Envy x360 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155U)
Bal: 2,130 / 8,175
Perf: 2,229 / 8,298
Bal: 139
Perf: 120
Bal: 1,713 / 6,751
Perf: 1,766 / 8,146
5,750

HP Spectre x360 14
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 2,234 / 11,878
Perf: 2,246 / 11,821
Bal: 138
Perf: 83
Bal: 1,750 / 9,832
Perf: N/A
6,316

Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 2,097 / 11,105
Perf: 2,111 / 11,883
Bal: 72
Perf: 70
Bal: 1,629 / 13,153
Perf: 1,676 / 14,529
6,688

Asus Zenbook 14 Q425
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 2,257 / 11,820
Perf: 2,279 / 11,806
Bal: 94
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,653 / 9,156
Perf: 1,635 / 12,130
6,316

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8
(Core i7-1360P)
Bal: 2,509 / 10,746
Perf: 2,553 / 11,324
N/A
Bal: 1,846 / 8,779 Perf: 1,906 / 9,849
6,102

Apple MacBook Air
(M3)
Bal: 3,102 / 12,078
Perf: N/A
Bal: 109
Perf: N/A
N/A
N/A

Battery life

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

There are two different battery sizes available for the EliteBook 1040 — 56 watt-hour and 68 watt-hour versions. My review unit had the larger battery, and that combined with the low-power and low-resolution IPS display should offer very good battery life.

In our benchmarks, battery life was good, but not great. I was a little surprised that I didn’t see a couple more hours of life given the components. The XPS 14 lasted longer with an IPS display, and a couple of the laptops in the comparison group went for as long or longer with OLED displays. And of course, the MacBook Air M3 lasted a lot longer.

In any event, the EliteBook 1040 may or may not last for upwards of a working day depending on workflow. If battery life matters to you, make sure you opt for the larger battery.

Web browsing
Video

HP EliteBook 1040 2024
(Core Ultra 7 165H)
10 hours, 23 minutes

Dell XPS 14
(Core Ultra 7 165H)
11 hours, 49 minutes
14 hours, 53 minutes

HP Envy x360 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155U)
7 hours, 37 minutes
9 hours, 30 minutes

Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
10 hours, 24 minutes
14 hours, 30 minutes

HP Spectre x360 14
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
8 hours, 6 minutes
13 hours, 3 minutes

Asus Zenbook 14 Q425
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
12 hours, 25 minutes
18 hours, 1 minute

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8
(Core i7-1360P)
7 hours, 41 minutes
13 hours, 25 minutes

Apple MacBook Air
(Apple M3)
19 hours, 38 minutes
N/A

Display

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

HP offers a number of different display options, all 14.0 inches with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The options include WUXGA (1920 x 1200) low-power IPS touch and non-touch panels, 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, and WUXGA IPS Sure View privacy panel. Only the OLED display runs at the increasingly common 120Hz that makes for a smoother Windows 11 experience.

I reviewed the EliteBook 1040 with the low-power WUXGA IPS display, which looks fine out of the box. I’ve reviewed so many OLED laptops lately that I’m always underwhelmed when I turn on a laptop with an IPS display, especially one at a lower resolution. This one was fine, with some pixelation in text that I noticed, but I suspect many people won’t.

According to my colorimeter, the IPS panel is a mixed bag. I’ve found IPS displays to be generally a lot better today than they were a couple of years ago, particularly in their brightness and contrast. Some have wider colors and better accuracy. The panel HP chose is bright at 425 nits and has excellent contrast (for IPS, when compared to OLED) at 1,630:1. We used to have standards of 300 nits and 1,000:1, but most IPS displays blow past them today.

The colors, while accurate at a Delta-E of 1.30 (1.0 or less is suitable for demanding creative work), weren’t very wide at just 99% of sRGB, 77% of AdobeRGB, and 77% of DCI-P3. That’s still roughly average for IPS, but the display on the MacBook Air M3 has wider colors at 100%, 88%, and 99%, respectively.

These results are likely more than good enough for business users, and there’s always the OLED option that is sharper and likely more colorful with inkier blacks. It has a faster refresh rate, but that would have a meaningful impact on battery life.

An excellent laptop, but mainly for enterprise

Unsurprisingly, the EliteBook 1040 is tailor-made for large organizations. It offers the kind of security and management features that enable efficient management of a large fleet of laptops, not to mention a superior three-year warranty. All of that combines to make for an expensive laptop.

It’s also a great laptop independent of those features. It’s extremely well-built, has a great keyboard, is thin and light, and it’s reasonably fast. Any very security-conscious buyer should take a look, and for that reason, I’m going to recommend it for a select group of laptop users.

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