When HP invited me to attend a press reception for their new mobile workstations, I was understandably confused. I'd just been out to San Francisco to see the new mobile workstations a little over a month before, what could possibly be so new that it needed to go under NDA? As it turns out, HP was saving the best for last.

We had the opportunity to review the HP EliteBook 8740w last year, complete with DreamColor IPS display, and it was...well, a monster. It's expensive, but it's the most powerful workstation-class notebook with the best quality screen you're ever going to find in a portable. The refresh of the 8740w, indeed the entire EliteBook w-series line, only amps up HP's game that much more. This entire line enjoys a gunmetal finish, strengthened glass touchpad, and ISV-certified graphics, and they've all been updated with Sandy Bridge processors, the latest mobile graphics from AMD and NVIDIA, and USB 3.0 connectivity. They're all expected to be available in May.

Starting small and working our way up, there's the EliteBook 8460w. HP offers this notebook with dual-core Intel i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of DDR3, and 14" matte screen resolutions at either 1366x768 or 1600x900. The 8460w also comes standard with the AMD FirePro M3900 with 1GB of GDDR3 and supports EyeFinity with up to four screens. MSRP starts at $1,299.

When we get to the EliteBook 8560w, we see our first big improvement: a 15.6" 1920x1080 DreamColor display option. The 8560w also doesn't even offer a 1366x768; it comes standard with a basic 1600x900 display, and all the displays are matte. The 8560w can also be configured with quad-core processors, and in those configurations can support a staggering 32GB of DDR3. Graphics options include an AMD FirePro M5950 with 1GB of GDDR5, an NVIDIA Quadro 1000M with 2GB of DDR3, and an NVIDIA Quadro 2000M with 2GB of DDR3. MSRP starts at $1,349.

Finally, the big daddy: the EliteBook 8760w. The largest refresh of the EliteBook line also sees the least change. Users will be disappointed to know that while DreamColor is still available, the 8760w loses the 1920x1200 resolution of its predecessor in favor of the more common 1920x1080. That said, there are improvements: the 8760w supports all of Intel's new mobile i7 chips, allows for up to three internal hard drives (two bays plus the optical drive bay can be converted) in RAID 0, 1, or 5 configurations, and offers the fastest mobile workstation graphics on the market. It starts with an AMD FirePro M5950 with 1GB of GDDR5, but can be upgraded to an NVIDIA Quadro 3000M with 2GB of GDDR5, NVIDIA Quadro 4000M with 2GB of GDDR5, or an NVIDIA Quadro 5010M with an incredible 4GB of GDDR5. MSRP starts at $1,899.

HP was also showing off their entry-level desktop workstation, the Z210. There are two flavors of Z210: the CMT which is a more standard-sized mid-tower, and the SFF, a tinier and in some ways more impressive machine. We're hoping to get one of these in for testing soon; the black box is fairly bland, but the cooling design in these towers (particularly the SFF) is smart, and HP is offering these towers with either Xeon E3 or desktop-class Sandy Bridge processors. These should be available now, with the CMT at an MSRP of $659 and the sleeker SFF at an MSRP of $569.

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  • douglaswilliams - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    The EliteBook 8560w looks like a sweet spot. How many DDR3 slots do they give to get to 32 GB?

    Maybe four slots by 8GB? Do they make 16GB SODIMMs?
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    According to the HP website, quad-core models come with 4 slots, dual core with 2 slots.
  • AstroGuardian - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    That's true.
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  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    They don't even make nonECC 8GB dimms yet. 16GB dimms are at least a die shrink away.
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    From what I can gather:

    M3900 ~= 6470M

    M5950 ~= 6770M
    1000M ~= GT540M
    2000M ~= GT555M

    M5950 ~= 6770M
    3000M ~= GTX560M
    4000M ~= 485M
    5010M ~= 485M

    I know at least half of those are wrong, though. If anyone has a better idea of the rough consumer equivalents, I'd be grateful.

    (And yes, I know the differences between Quadro and GeForce, so there's no need to drag that pony out of the barn.)
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    Professional graphics can still run consumer applications like video games, right? I admit I'm rather under-read on the subject.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    Generally, yes, though the driver differences mean that frequently the professional GPUs are optimized for OpenGL and other apps and not so much for gaming. If they had all of the latest game code optimizations in the Quadro drivers it might help, but there may be some BIOS level tweaks as well to improve certain tasks.
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    When it comes to the Quadro, its drivers are certified to work with the big pro apps (Solid Works, etc etc). These drivers are typically slower, but more stable.

    But they still run consumer stuff just fine. You can load standard drivers onto a machine with a quadro and get the speed bump though.
  • enbeuu - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    when DDR3 came out it was a bitch to find 4GB modules; as in all DIMMs they finally ramped up production and 4 GB DIMMs are a reality.

    My concern is who is the MOBO maker?
    I have a MSI MOBO on current desktop and the plastic clamp holding the DIMM into its slot FELL OFF...so it will not hold my 4GB DIMM into its slot. and it would not boot that way.
    So, beware of the MOBO that a maker or you use to shave a few bucks...
    As in everything like that poop happens...but it bends me when a few bucks is shaved for lesser quality.
    MSI one of the companies that shaves for the $ advantage. IMHO.

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