Heat and Noise
The HP EliteBook 8540w does a good job of handling the thermal output of its fast processor and graphics card, but compared to other notebooks we have reviewed it does run a bit loud. At a distance of 6-inches from the exhaust vent we measured the fan noise at upwards of 50dB during our stress test. Under normal daily activities fan noise isn’t as loud, cycling between off and silent and roughly the same noise output as a whisper. We measured higher levels of heat output from the 8540w compared to the 8540p, but that was expected given its faster and more power hungry components. The metal cladded palmrest and keyboard sections still stayed within reasonable levels though. This is very important since the metal cladding can sometimes act as a heatsink on some notebooks and transmit more heat into your legs or wrists.
The HP EliteBook 8540w performed quite well running off its battery, even with its Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M graphics. During our battery test with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active and refreshing a webpage every 60 seconds, and Windows 7 on the Balanced profile, the system consumed between 15 and 17-watts of power. The total time running off battery was 3 hours and 6 minutes, compared to 5 hours and 5 minutes on the slightly lower configured EliteBook 8540p. While this time isn’t anywhere near the insane 10+ hour mark of newer ultraportable notebooks, it is still plenty of time to get through most meetings or a handful of classes in a given day.
HP Power Assistant helps users realize the impact of the notebook running in various power configurations. Not only do you get the standard power profiles, time remaining figures, and power usage in watts, but you can also have it graph out what that works out to in cost per day, week, and year. You input your local cost per kWh and it estimates the costs based on current power usage. Another cool feature is you can work out how much that translates into CO2 output to estimate your carbon footprint. This looks like a fantastic tool for IT managers who need to provide total system costs to company accountants … or for bosses who need to explain why it’s important for employees to shut down their computers at the end of the day.
The HP EliteBook 8540w Mobile Workstation had very solid performance in our tests, combined with excellent looks and build quality, topped off with an equally impressive sub-$2,000 price-point. Right now the MSRP of $1,679 is the current going rate with sales few and far between. Compared to the standard EliteBook 8540p with a very similar configuration and performance, it’s roughly $300 and change more. With the recent drop in SSDs and hybrid hard drives we were surprised to see no higher performing drives trickle down into the pre-configured models. A slightly more affordable 8540w is also offered with a Core i5 processor and ATI FirePro M5800 for $1,469 for users on a tighter budget. Overall if you are in the market for a Workstation-class notebook, the HP EliteBook series is highly recommended.
- Great build quality
- Stylish and functional design
- Solid performance
- Custom configurations skyrocket in price
- Still no backlit keyboard option