The business notebook market has two types of systems; notebooks and mobile workstations. The workstation-class systems offer faster processors, better graphics options, and sometimes additional features over the regular business systems. In this review we take a look at the HP EliteBook 8540w Mobile Workstation and see how it compares to other systems we've reviewed.
Our HP EliteBook 8540w Specifications:
Build and Design
The HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations are very similar to their standard EliteBook counterparts. Besides the name tag, the only external feature that changes is the color of the brushed metal finish... in this case from bright silver on the standard EliteBook to gunmetal-grey on the Mobile Workstation. EliteBooks have a very stylish brushed-metal exterior that adds a splash of sophistication to what is usually a dull or boring business notebook. The metal cladding gives the notebook a bright eye-catching design, helps to hide fingerprints, and really pulls together the look that the notebook could stand up to the rigors of daily abuse. HP even went as far as putting matching trim pieces around the screen hinges, showing no design element is too small. The brushed-metal finish really flows well with the black chassis and black inlays around the keyboard and touchpad.
The EliteBook feels as hard as a rock when you first pick it up. The alloy chassis and brushed metal body panels have very little give under a strong grip. The screen cover has some mild flex but nothing we haven't seen in other business notebooks. Even with its small about of flex the screen cover does an excellent job of looking good and protecting the display housed within. The brushed metal finish resists scratching and fingerprints, keeping a pristine appearance long after most painted notebooks might be looking a bit worse for wear. Screen protection is excellent with no distortion of the LCD-panel even with strong pressure applied to the back of the cover.
When you open the notebook and start squeezing on the palmrest and surrounding panels the first thing you notice is how strong the entire chassis feels. The thin brushed-metal panels have excellent support underneath, with absolutely no flex at all under a strong grip. The keyboard has minimal flex if you squeeze it hard, showing maybe 1-2mm of movement before it stops dead like you were pressing it into a rock.
On most notebooks the strength of the lower chassis is usually overlooked, especially around the optical drive which is the widest open bay. Pressing on the edge of the opening it flexes slightly until it makes contact with the bezel of the DVD-recorder. As you move away from the edge it feels like you are trying to squeeze a wood board.
Users looking to upgrade the HP EliteBook 8540w will find it relatively easy to access some user-replaceable components. One memory slot, the hard drive, CMOS battery, and WWAN card slot are all accessible through individual compartments on the bottom of the notebook. In certain configurations the 8540w can be configured with up to 16GB of RAM using four memory slots. This only applies to systems with that amount of RAM configured from the factory, otherwise you get a system without those slots soldered to the board. In our configuration we only had two memory slots total; one located on the bottom of the chassis and under underneath the keyboard. Both slots were occupied.
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