- ProsHDMI, Ethernet, and USB 3.0 Type-A ports, as well as Thunderbolt 3. Long battery life. Fast charging.
- ConsTouch screen isn’t bright enough. Half a pound overweight.
- Bottom LineHP’s EliteBook 830 G5 13.3-inch business ultraportable scores on connectivity, configurability, and keyboard comfort, but it’s a little too heavy and its screen a little too dark to reach the top of the corporate ladder.
If you ask HP execs, they’ll explain that the EliteBook 800 series is the company’s mainstream business laptop line, competing with the likes of Lenovo’s ThinkPad T and Dell’s Latitude 7000 families. Challenging the upscale ThinkPad X1 and Dell XPS models is the job of the premium EliteBook 1000 series. Yet we can’t help but disagree: As a 13-inch system in a 12-inch chassis, the HP EliteBook 830 G5 (starts at $1,149; $2,379 as tested) reminds us oh-so-much of the Dell XPS 13. And while we’ve given the latter an Editors’ Choice as our favorite high-end ultraportable, this new HP has certain features that could make business travelers like it even more. On the whole, we wouldn’t put this model above the excellent XPS 13, mainly because of its screen and its heft, but it’s a solid business ultraportable th
Engineered for Business
Those “certain features”? Freedom from dongles, for one. While the XPS 13 has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a USB-C port, the EliteBook has full-size HDMI and Ethernet, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and a Thunderbolt 3 port, making it much handier for someone who wants to join a wired office network or plug into an HDMI projector to give a presentation.
Like other EliteBooks, the 830 G5 has passed MIL-STD tests that certify its resistance to shock, vibration, temperature extremes, and so on, though it stops short of being a fully rugged, droppable system like the Panasonic Toughbook 33 or Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet. It features HP’s “collaboration keyboard,” which has dedicated keys for making calls, hanging up, and sharing screens during Skype conferences. IT managers will like the laptop’s support for Intel vPro manageability and HP Sure Start protection against BIOS hackers.
The $1,149 base model features a seventh-generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. Our tester ($2,379 list, though an HP rep tells us street prices will be lower) doubles the memory and storage, and packs an eighth-generation Core i7-8650U quad-core CPU and a full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) touch screen.
The EliteBook 830 G5 is a handsome aluminum unibody system. It has HP’s stylized four-slash logo centered on the lid and a vaguely trapezoidal profile. (The sloping rear edge, with the name “EliteBook” etched into the near-full-width hinge, is particularly elegant.) Skinny screen bezels keep the 13.3-inch system to 0.7 by 12.2 by 9 inches (HWD), barely bigger than the 12.5-inch model 820 G4 it replaces (0.74 by 12.2 by 8.6 inches), though the XPS 13 is smaller still (0.46 by 11.9 by 7.8 inches).
The touch screen adds about a third of a pound, bringing in the test unit I received at a slightly portly 3.32 pounds, versus 2.68 pounds for the Dell XPS 13$1,249.99 at PCMag Shop and 2.45 pounds for the ultralight HP Spectre 13$749.99 at PCMag Shop. Touch operations are smooth, and colors are crisp enough, but I was disappointed by the IPS panel’s lack of brightness. HP rates it at only 220 nits, compared to 400 nits for the available non-touch display. You can also get the EliteBook 830 G5 with HP’s Sure View privacy screen, which foils seatmate snoops at the press of the F2 key, turning the display opaque to viewers not seated directly in front of the laptop.
Connectivity, as I noted, is first-class. On the EliteBook’s left side, you’ll find a Kensington lock slot, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, and a SmartCard slot. On the right are a SIM card slot for mobile broadband configurations, another Type-A port, HDMI and Ethernet ports, a docking-station connector, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and the AC adapter connector…
An NFC hotspot in the touchpad joins 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless buffs.
Our only gripes are the lack of an SD card slot and the Thunderbolt 3 port being so close to the power connector that, with the laptop plugged in, I couldn’t insert a USB-C flash drive. On the positive side, the EliteBook 830 G5 is one of the fastest-charging notebooks I’ve tested. (HP says it will get you to a half charge in just half an hour.)
Keyboard and Audio: Two Thumbs Up
I despair of HP ever arranging its cursor-arrow keys in the “proper” inverted T—the EliteBook’s are in the company’s trademark, but sub-optimal, layout, with half-height up and down arrows sandwiched between full-height left and right. Other than that, however, the keyboard is a pleasure to use, with a quiet yet snappy typing feel and firm tactile feedback. Both the touchpad and the pointing stick embedded in the keyboard provide slick, almost hypersensitive, cursor control.
Speaker grilles on both top and bottom help the EliteBook 830 G5 produce robust sound that easily fills a room, though I noticed a bit of echo when I cranked the volume all the way up. Highs are clear, and lows are surprisingly good for a laptop without a subwoofer—the drums in our rock MP3s really popped.
Both the webcam above the display and the fingerprint reader below the keyboard support Windows Hello for logins with no password needed. The camera captures average-brightness, fairly detailed images; it more than suffices for videoconferences, helped by what HP calls a “world-facing” noise-cancelling microphone (one of three) in the lid.
The Windows 10 Pro Start menu is cluttered with links to casual games such as Candy Crush Saga, Hidden City, and Dragon Mania Legends, odd juxtapositions for a business machine. HP’s own preloaded software is more businesslike, including PhoneWise for PC/smartphone integration and WorkWise to let Android phone owners lock and unlock their laptops simply by walking away and returning.
HP backs the EliteBook with a three-year warranty. (On-site service costs extra.)
Plenty of Performance
The EliteBook 830 G5 posted a superb score of 3,539 points in our PCMark 8 office productivity benchmark, tying the Spectre 13 and edging the XPS 13. It was a little off the pace in our Cinebench CPU measurement and Handbrake video-editing exercise, but its quad-core CPU still handily beat the dual-core, seventh-generation chip in the Dell Latitude 7380.
Neither the EliteBook 830 G5 nor any of its integrated-graphics competitors is suitable for playing the latest games, of course. As their results in our Heaven and Valley game simulations show, they’re strictly for casual or browser-based titles…
By contrast, the EliteBook did very well in our video-rundown battery-life benchmark, lasting through almost 12 hours of video playback.
A Little Lighter and Brighter, Please
Overall, this HP is a thoroughly competitive business notebook with a few attention-getting and IT-pleasing features, notably its collaboration keys and fast charging. If our test unit had had the 400-nit non-touch screen instead of the dim 220-nit display, it would have easily rated four stars; were it a few ounces lighter, it might have challenged the Dell XPS 13 for Editors’ Choice. Even as is, it’s worth considering for your company’s next fleet deployment.