HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 review: Thinner, lighter, but still shy of greatness

The new 7th Gen EliteBook x360 1040 brings many welcomed changes, but HP can still make it even better.

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Business laptops are different from consumer and prosumer models, but those lines have blurred over the last few years. The EliteBook line, specifically the 1000 series, is HP's range of premium enterprise-level Ultrabooks that compete with Dell's Latitude and Lenovo's famous ThinkPad line.

The HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is, as the name implies, the seventh generation of this 14-inch convertible PC. It supports inking, optional 4G LTE, multiple display configurations, and a bevy of enterprise-ready security software.

I've always been a fan of the EliteBook x360 1040, so being able to use the G7 with built in 4G LTE for the last month has been a blast. There's a lot to like here, but HP can also improve a few things for next year's G8 model. Still, if I had to take one laptop with me, the EliteBook x360 1040 would be at the top of my list due to its robustness.

Here are all the things the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is excellent at, and where HP can make it even nicer.

What you get

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 specs and features

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is a 14-inch premium convertible laptop. HP also offers a smaller 13-inch one (EliteBook x360 1030) and an 800-series that is better suited for non-executive level employees.

HP offers a vast array of configuration options, which is too long to list here. But there are preferences for Tile integration (device tracking), 4G LTE (5G is expected later), an NFC module, up to 2TB of storage, Wacom AES 2.0 Pen, and displays from matte full HD to Sure View Reflect with 1000 nits of brightness up to 4K UHD with touch.

Pricing begins higher due to it being aimed at enterprise and starts at $1,650, maxing out well over $3,100.

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7

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CategoryHP EliteBook x360 1040 G7
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
Display14-inch FHD IPS, 1000 nits, touch, Sure View privacy screen
14-inch UHD HDR400 IPS, 550 nits, touch
14-inch FHD IPS, 400 nits, touch
Processor10th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (U series) with optional vPro
Six cores
GraphicsIntegrated Intel Premium UHD graphics
Memory32GB LPDDR4-2933
StorageUp to 2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Camera720p HD + IR camera
SecurityFingerprint sensor
IR camera
HP Sure View Reflect (optional)
HP Security Suite
ConnectivityIntel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem
Intel XMM 7360 LTE-Advanced
Built-in Tile module
Ports2x USB 3.1 Type-C w/ Thunderbolt
2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (charging)
1x headphone/mic combo
1x HDMI 1.4
AudioAudio by Bang & Olufsen
Premium dual stereo speakers with discrete amplifiers
4 Multi Array microphone
Battery54Wh or 78.5Wh
Dimensions31.93 x 20.27 x 1.66 cm; 12.57 x 7.98 x 0.65 in
WeightStarting at 1.32 kg (2.9 lb)

For 2020, the G7 model does not make massive shifts in design and execution, instead bringing a multitude of incremental, but noteworthy changes, including:

  • Smaller display bezels on all four sides
  • Six percent smaller and two percent lighter than G6
  • New HP Presence Aware Time-of-Flight (TOF) ability
  • New AI Noise Reduction for microphones
  • Streamlined keyboard with HP Shutter, fingerprint reader, and top power button
  • Enhancements to Power Slider
  • Intel 10th Gen with vPro
  • Improved thermals with 17 percent thinner fan blades and new Fan Algorithm 2.0

For processors, HP offers an i5-10210U, i5-10310U, i7-10610U, i7-10710U, or i7-10810U. These are interesting processors, as they are 10th Gen but also 15-watt (up to 25W) six-core (12 threads) instead of the typical Ultrabook CPU with quad-core (8 threads).

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

HP's design language on the EliteBook series is very consistent. The all-silver chassis is resistant to staining from alcohol to lipstick and crayon while also being rugged, surviving drops and various damage tests from everyday usage. The silver also hides fingerprints, which is why I prefer it over black or blue laptops.

Ports are robust with two Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), full HDMI, Type-A on the right side, and another Type-A and SIM/Security slots on the left with a headphone jack. It's not a bad layout, but I would have preferred a Type-C on each side.

HP recently ditched the notched lid for an improved angled one. The modification means you can grab the cover from any point and open it one-handed. While not as fancy as HP's prosumer Spectre series, you can see some hints of gem-cut and angled designs and polished edges for some nice flair.

Overall, the EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is a handsome looking laptop that can also take some abuse.

It knows you are there

EliteBook x360 1040 G7 display and web camera

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

I am using a full HD, non-matte touch display (400 nits of brightness) for this review. That's at the acceptable/normal range for screen brightness, where it'll be good enough for most use cases and doesn't push boundaries. HP offers this display for one reason: battery life. Pushing higher brightness (or even resolution) takes a massive hit on the longevity of the laptop.

Of course, if you want 4K or something with Sure View Reflect (PDF (opens in new tab) for security with up to 1,000 nits of brightness, that's a possibility too.

The EliteBook x360 1040's display bezels jump from 83 percent screen-to-body-ratio in the G6 to 89 percent in the new G7, including a 21 percent thinner chin. It looks way better.

Color accuracy is terrific, considering this is one of the lower-tier options. In my measurements, sRGB was 99 percent, with AdobeRGB at 76 percent, and DCI-P3 at 78 percent. Those numbers are in line with other premium laptops for consumers and enterprises.

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Brightness at zero percent on the slider is 19.5 nits, and the display peaks at 416 nits, which is a tad higher than the rated 400 nits for this screen option. The contrast ratio peaks at 75 percent screen brightness (165 nits) with a 1710:1 ratio.

Overall, the full HD display is excellent. Viewing angles, color, contrast, and brightness are all satisfying to use, whether it is running an Excel file or watching a movie.

The camera falls in line with this laptop class with wide viewing angles, good microphones, and decent low-light performance. The new built-in AI support to filter out background noise works well for most situations. The camera is just 720P, but for meetings and video chat, it gets the job done.

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7 Camera

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Most excitingly, HP now ships this laptop with a time-of-flight (TOF) sensor near the camera. That sensor is used for HP Presence Aware, which is something that Dell is doing too. When enabled, the sensor detects your physical presence, keeps the screen on, and unlocks the computer. However, if you walk away, the computer "knows" you are not there and auto-locks the display, going into standby within a few seconds. When you return, the laptop again "knows" you are there and will power on the screen and use Windows Hello to log you into Windows, all completely hands-free. It's wild.

This laptop "knows" when you are in front of it or walk away.

The TOF sensor means the laptop does not need to use the camera for such a feature, which safeguards privacy (no one wants an always-on camera) and preserves battery life. HP Presence Aware even works when the camera is disabled via HP Sure Shutter (more on that below).

For the most part, HP Presence Aware worked exceptionally well. On rare occasions, it would dim and then lock the screen when I was reading, so it is not perfect, but these were anomalies and not the norm. You can, of course, disable the feature altogether.

A great keyboard

EliteBook x360 1040 G7 keyboard, trackpad, and audio

Hp Elitebook 1040 G7 Keyboard

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

While Lenovo garners many fans for its keyboards, I prefer HP's style, which is a bit stiffer, with square keys and a nice bounce back. The EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is not as fantastic as HP's Spectre series, but it is close. The keys have a very satisfying motion and a matte feel that lets your tips grip them with ease.

The keys are backlit, as expected, and contrast very well with the matte black design.

HP has made some welcomed changes to the keyboard layout for G7, too. For instance, there's no more side power button, which thankfully is finally going away on most laptops. Instead, the power button is found in the top row with a tiny white LED to find it easily. There is a fingerprint reader faux button as well, but it's a bit weird. Most times, a fingerprint reader that is amongst keys does not depress, yet this one does. There is no point to it, and HP doesn't do this on Spectre, so it's an odd design choice.

There is now a key for HP Sure Shutter. HP Sure Shutter is a trick whereby the webcam gets physically obscured by a discernible white cover to ensure privacy. No more tape over the lens as a single button press blocks the cam with a shutter behind the display glass. HP has been rolling this out across Spectre and EliteBook, and it's awesome.

There is also a button to mute the mic, again, for privacy. When both the mic and camera buttons are engaged, small orange LEDs let you know that they are enabled. In a world where people are rightly concerned with privacy, this is some creative innovation.