HP Elitebook 860 G9 hands-on

It doesn’t all have to be ultra-slim, small or thin. People who are less interested in technology usually also know what they want. “Not too small”, it often sounds. “And with a numeric keypad. And a good battery.” Can HP deliver such a device with the Elitebook 860 G9?

For the test we started with a pre-production model of the laptop. Benchmark results are therefore subject to change.

The HP Elitebook 860 G9 is not an ultrabook. The device has a 16-inch screen (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) and weighs 1.8 kg on our scales. This hefty rascal is not a workstation either. We can call 8 GB of RAM average at most, a discrete graphics card is missing and the Intel Core i5-1245U excels in balance, not horsepower. This Elitebook is not aimed at extremes. With the device, HP aims at the contemporary office worker, not averse to hybrid work, but especially a fan of a practical device.

Sometimes larger is also allowed

There are plenty of people who like to ignore the portability of a 12-inch device for the extra readability of a larger screen. The same for the numeric keypad, which takes up space but is oh so convenient for those who work with numbers a lot. Add to that a multitude of ports and a good battery, and you have the dream laptop of many employees. That extra weight is not such a big problem in that context. After all, not everyone drags their device along in their backpack on the bike or bus for an hour.

A larger size and weight, there must be something in return. Despite the larger screen, we count on a hefty battery with such a device, but this Elitebook immediately disappoints a bit. The battery is not bad, but if you want to get through a whole working day without a socket, you still have to take it easy.

In the context of this device, that’s not a disaster, as mobile use is clearly not the priority, but we expected a little more. Recharging isn’t that fast either.

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After all, the hardware is not very demanding. Don’t get us wrong: the Intel Core i5-1245U is a top choice. The processor is more than powerful enough for typical office work, even performing close to the level of a Core i7 in a more thermally constrained environment. This laptop will not earn a crown in the benchmarks, but good enough is really good enough in this case.

In the graph above, the Dell XPS 15 has an Intel Core i7-11800H on board. It clearly stands out. The other two devices do with an Intel Core i5-1135G7, which is a generation older and therefore performs slightly less.

No work station

Graphically, you should not expect too much. HP goes here for the integrated graphics capabilities of the Intel chip. They are a lot better than before, but if you want to play games in your spare time, you need a discrete graphics card. We also recommend other devices for 3D animation or CAD design, a little photo editing is possible. For video editing, we quickly run into the limit of the 8 GB of RAM.

Intel is making progress with its integrated graphics capabilities, as you can see above. The Dell XPS 15 has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 3050 Ti on board with 32 GB of RAM. That in itself is not a very strong card, but you can clearly see how great the impact of the firmer specifications is.

Classic design

Inside the HP Elitebook 860 G9 the heart of a balanced workforce clearly beats. The laptop does what it should, but don’t expect excessive power outages. On to the outside then.

There, HP uses a rather classic design that at first sight may be several years old. That fits the approach of this laptop, where familiarity and ease of use are above a flashy exterior. However, HP has not forgotten how to finish devices. This is evidenced by the gently rounded edges, for example.

Top touchpad and numeric keypad

The touchpad is one of the best we’ve already used. It’s big, responsive, and gives really nice click feedback. In our opinion, the resistance is perfect.

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The keyboard is good but not exceptional, with buttons that are unobtrusively pleasant to type on. The numeric keypad steals the show here. That has now become a rarity, so HP’s choice to add it here alone gives this Elitebook a right to exist.

That could be clearer

The screen has 1,920 x 1,200 pixels and has thin bezels. The adjusted screen ratio (16:10) ensures that HP gets the 16-inch display in an overall compact chassis, although you cannot immediately call this laptop small or portable, as mentioned. HP is also aiming for office workers with the display, which we notice in the color quality of the screen of our test device. After all, that is not very colorfast, although that may be due to our test model. The limited maximum brightness of 284 cd/m² means that working under direct sunlight is not optimal.

HP provides the necessary connections for this laptop. You’ll find two USB Type-C/Thunderbolt ports, a USB A connector, HDMI and a smart card slot on the left side, with an additional USB A connector, a 3.5mm jack and space for a SIM card. card on the right. We don’t miss anything in that offer.

In terms of software, HP makes some strange choices with the Elitebook 860 G9. For example, the HP DisplayCenter software allows you to quickly flip your screen upside down or distribute application windows across the screen. The first function is very niche, the second is also standard in Windows 11.

The My HP software also doesn’t offer much added value except for some tips. The HP Support Assistant allows you to investigate the status of your device and check the warranty. HP would do well to rethink its software offerings and bundle all useful functions into one central app.

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The laptop does have a unique function: behind the F12 button is a unique programmable key to which you can assign a specific action. That’s a small but nice detail. In that series of keys you will also find the power button, with a fingerprint sensor that lives separately on the numeric keypad. Why is the on/off button so hidden, and the sensor is not immediately incorporated?

Specific target audience

The HP Elitebook 860 G9 is not a laptop for laptop enthusiasts. The device is too bulky for that, the battery is too average and the performance is just too limited due to the RAM memory. That is not a disaster, because HP is aiming for a different audience with this device. This laptop is perfect for the employee who is just not interested in technology. You will not find a device that is closer to laptops from 2010 in terms of ease of use. A large screen and a numeric keypad are the clear attractions.

Furthermore, HP puts the Elitebook 860 G9 in a contemporary chassis, robustness guaranteed through MIL testing including. This laptop is not sexy but it is functional. Bells and whistles are not necessary for such a device, although we wish HP had thought a little better about some details. In our opinion, the result is a good laptop that costs 1,211 euros excluding VAT. costs just a little too much.

Configuration tested: HP Elitebook 860 G9 – Intel Core i5-1245U, Intel UHD Graphics, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 16 inch matte IPS screen (1,920 x 1,200), Windows 11 Pro – 1,211 euros excl. VAT.

.pro’s

  • Fantastic touchpad
  • Numeric keypad
  • Smartcard
  • Build quality

.against’s

  • Very average battery
  • Strange software choices
  • Limited screen brightness

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