HP 8710w Workstation Review

by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (211,974)

by Charles P. Jefferies


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The HP 8710w Mobile Workstation is HP’s top-shelf desktop replacement notebook for business. It is based on the new Intel Santa Rosa Centrino Pro platform and features a powerful Nvidia Quadro FX 1600M graphics card.

Our test unit has the following specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.20GHz/ 800MHz FSB/ 4MB L2 cache)
  • Nvidia Quadro FX 1600M with 512MB dedicated memory
  • 4096MB DDR2-667 RAM
  • 80GB 7200RPM SATA hard drive
  • 17" WUXGA (1920×1200) WVA anti-glare matte display
  • Windows Vista Business
  • 8X DVD Super Multi drive
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN WLAN
  • Internal Bluetooth

Pre-configured models are available starting from $2,499.

Reasons to Buy

HP makes several 17" business class notebooks. The 8710w we are looking at today is designed for 3D rendering tasks and extreme performance. It is an ideal machine for those needing to run 3D rendering software applications such as Autodesk’s 3Ds Max and Maya.

Build & Design

The 8710w is not a flashy machine and nor should it be. It has clean lines and a professional business class look. Up close the 8710w looks sophisticated yet simple. Everything on the machine is there for a reason. The 8710w is one of the slimmest and lightest 17” notebooks around – it starts at 8.5 pounds and has a chassis only 1.3” thin.

The 8710w is constructed out of durable plastic with an inner shell of magnesium. The outside of the lid, the palm rests, and the area directly below the LCD are of a silky smooth yet durable slate gray. All of the other areas are of heavy-duty granular black plastic. It is extremely difficult to get any part of the 8710w to flex – it is one of the most solid machines I have come across. Although the chassis is quite thin, it hardly moves when twisted. Every part of the notebook feels firmly anchored down. Tapping the surfaces of this notebook yields a solid sound.


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Even though the display is quite large at 17" diagonal, it flexes much less than a typical display this size. It is hard to push in the display from the back – pushing in does not produce any ripples on the screen.

I am impressed with the build quality of the 8710w. When I first laid hands on the machine, I instantly knew it was a high end machine from the first-class construction. HP did not cut any corners in the construction of this machine.

Screen

Our test 8710w has the WUXGA (1920 horizontal x 1200 vertical pixels) Wide Viewing Angle anti-glare (matte) display. Right off the bat I will state that it is stunning. Contrast is excellent and brightness is very high for a matte screen – it is brighter than many WUXGA glossy screens I have used. Text is clean and crisp and the entire screen is evenly lit. The anti-glare surface is ideal for a wider range of lighting scenarios than glossy displays – a glossy display can have glare problems in certain situations.

The side-to-side viewing angles are nearly perfect and the above and below angles are very good. The colors wash out slightly at extreme above angles and the display darkens slightly at extreme below angles.

I have seen and used a great variety of notebook displays before and the 8710w stands out as one of the absolute best.

Speakers

The 8710w has two stereo speakers situated below the palm rest. I was not expecting a business notebook to have good speakers but this one does – they are very clear and do not have the tininess of typical notebook speakers. There is a decent amount of bass; more than I would expect out of notebook speakers. It is enjoyable to listen to CD music on them.

Processor & Performance

Configured with 4GB of RAM, a Core 2 Duo T7500, and a powerful Nvidia graphics card, the 8710w is quite the performer.

Overall System Performance

PCMark05


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Windows Vista Experience Index:


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Processor Performance

Processor Specifications


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Super Pi

wPrime

Please see the Measure your Dual/Multi Core Notebook CPU Speed – Bye Bye to SuperPI thread in the forums for comparisons.

Cinebench 9.5

Cinebench is a rendering benchmark tool based on the powerful 3D software, CINEMA 4D. Its rendering tasks can stress up to sixteen multiprocessors on the same computer. It is a free benchmarking tool, and can be found here: http://www.cinebench.com/

CPU Benchmark

  • Rendering (1 CPU): 377 CB-CPU
  • Rendering (x CPU): 674 CB-CPU
  • Multiprocessor Speedup: 1.79x

Graphics Benchmark

  • CINEMA 4D Shading Test: 446 CB-GFX
  • OpenGL Software Lighting Test: 1547 CB-GFX
  • OpenGL Hardware Lighting Test: 3809 CB-GFX
  • OpenGL Speedup: 8.53x

SiSandra Arithmetic


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SiSandra Multimedia


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Hard Drive Performance

Our review unit has an 80GB 7200RPM hard drive.

HDTune 2.53


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Synthetic Gaming Performance

3DMark06


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3DMark05


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No doubt, our 8710w with top-of-the-line components is a powerful machine. The Nvidia QuadroFX 1600M is the fastest DirectX 10 workstation-class graphics cards for mobile machines. Paired with a fast Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of RAM, this is an ideal machine for graphics work.

Heat & Noise

The 8710w has one fan in the back left corner of the chassis. It pushes air out through two vents. At idle, the machine does not create a lot of heat; because the fan is larger than one found in a typical notebook (larger so another fan is not needed), it only needs to spin at a low RPM to adequately cool the machine. The fan is essentially inaudible while at idle. When the machine is stressed, the fan ramps up to a higher RPM and it is audible. However, even using the machine in a quiet office environment, the sound was not significant enough to be heard far away.

The 8710w gets mildly warm on the surface. The left side of the notebook stays warmer than the right because that is where all of the heat-producing components are located. While the surface of the notebook is warm to the touch in most places it is not hot – the heat is more than bearable. The 8710w runs warmer than comparable 17” machines because it is so thin – with a thicker chassis, there would be more space for the heat to spread into.

Overall the 8710w does a manageable job of handling heat. It runs reasonably quiet while keeping the machine cool.

Keyboard & Touchpad

Keyboard


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  1. Power button
  2. Launch HP Info Center
  3. Wireless on/off
  4. Presentation button
  5. Volume mute
  6. Volume control pad
  7. Calculator launch
  8. Status light s
  9. Buttons for trackpoint
  10. Fingerprint reader

The 8710w has a full size keyboard with separate number pad. I found the keyboard itself to be top notch. While the keyboard has no flex the number pad does – it flexes quite a bit when more than average pressure is used. The key travel for the entire keyboard is just right. The keys make a soft, pleasant sound when pushed down. All of the keys are more or less in their expected positions. Key action is light so it is easy to type fast.

Along the top of the keyboard are a series of touch-sensitive controls for launching applications. I found them to be easy to use although the volume control pad could have been a bit more sensitive.

Embedded in the right palm rest is a fingerprint reader. It adds an extra measure of security and makes logging and entering passwords as easy as a swipe of the finger.

Touchpad

Both a touchpad and a track stick are both present on the 8710w. The average-sized touchpad is offset to the left side of the machine to match up with the keyboard. It has a smooth surface and is easy to use. A strip along the left side of the touchpad is a scroll pad.

The mouse buttons are rubbery and feel rubbery to push down. The buttons feel pleasing to push down and they hardly make any noise when depressed.

The track point is located in the center of the keyboard. It has a knobby surface so fingers don’t slip off. It is easy to use. I preferred to set the sensitivity up because of the huge screen resolution.

Overall I found the keyboard, touchpad, and track stick to be first rate. The number pad does have flex but it is not an issue in my opinion because it takes more than average pressure to cause flex.

Input & Output Ports

Left Side


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  1. Kensington lock slot
  2. Vent
  3. Power
  4. HDMI
  5. VGA
  6. 2x USB 2.0
  7. IEEE 1394 mini-Firewire
  8. ExpressCard/54 slot
  9. Smart card slot

Right Side


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  1. Headphone
  2. Microphone
  3. 4x USB 2.0
  4. Optical drive
  5. 56k modem
  6. Ethernet

Front


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  1. Status lights
  2. Stereo speakers
  3. Display latch
  4. Media card reader

Back


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  1. Vent

Bottom


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  1. Hard drive module
  2. Battery pack
  3. Docking station connector
  4. RAM compartment
  5. Vent intake

Wireless

Our review 8710w came with the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN. It supports the draft N wireless standard as well as the standard a, b and g bands. I had no issues connecting and maintaining a connection to a variety of secured g band networks. I do not have access to an N router so I was not able to test its functionality.

Integrated Bluetooth 2.0+EDR wireless is also included with the 8710w. I was able to connect to and transfer files back and forth to my Bluetooth-enabled ThinkPad without problems.

Battery

While surfing the Internet with minimum screen brightness and the “Power Saver” settings in Windows Vista, I managed to get two hours and twenty-eight minutes of life out of the 8710w. I find the battery life to be more than acceptable. I did not expect to get this much life out of a machine that packs a 17” screen and powerful graphics card. Even though I believe those interested in a machine like this are overly concerned with battery life, it nonetheless is a plus for this machine.

Operating System & Software

The review unit came pre-installed with Windows Vista Business. There is very little pre-installed software to speak of besides the HP utilities, which are basic but useful.


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Customer Support

The HP 8710w comes standard with a 3-year parts and labor warranty with onsite service. During my time with the 8710w I did not have to contact customer service.

Conclusion

From the HP 8710w Mobile Workstation’s first class input devices and superb build quality to the gorgeous display and powerful Nvidia graphics card, the 8710w will more than satisfy its target audience. This machine is clearly designed for professionals inside and out, and it shows.

Pros:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Top notch input devices
  • Gorgeous WUXGA WVA display
  • Powerful Nvidia graphics
  • Thin & light
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Number pad flexes somewhat with pressure




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