While most business customers have gravitated to smaller notebooks—those with 14-inch or smaller screens, typically weighing under 4 pounds—there continue to be those who want bigger displays, which can be easier on the eyes. This year’s version of HP’s EliteBook 865 (G9) offers a 16-inch display, a full-size keyboard complete with a separate number pad, and the latest AMD Ryzen 7 processor, which offers very good performance.
Measuring 0.76 by 14.1 by 9.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 4.22 pounds in my test configuration (5.16 pounds with the included 110-watt charger), the EliteBook is much larger than most of the executive notebooks I test, but quite reasonable for a 16-inch laptop. The machine, which is primarily aluminum with a magnesium cover, seems quite solid, and the silver color looks fine, though it’s not nearly as flashy as something like HP’s Elite Dragonfly.
Left side of the HP EliteBook 865 G9
(Credit: Molly Flores)
One thing about having a larger machine is that it has more room for ports. On the left side, you’ll find an HDMI port, a powered USB-A port, and two USB-C ports (which seem to work fine with Thunderbolt devices), as well as a smart card slot. On the right, there’s a mic/headphone jack, another USB-A port, a lock slot, and a space for a nano SIM card (if you have a 4G cellular-enabled model). That’s a good selection of ports, though I would find it more convenient if there was a USB-C port on each side, so you can charge more easily.
I’ve tried the machine with a number of USB-C and Thunderbolt docking stations, including HP’s newest Thunderbolt G4 dock, which supports HDMI, 2 Display Ports, and Thunderbolt displays and includes more enterprise management features including vPro support.
Right side of the HP EliteBook 865 G9
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The EliteBook 865 has a decent keyboard with a number pad, along with a large and responsive glass touchpad that’s notably bigger than the one on last year’s model. I thought the keyboard was good if not great, though I wish the power button was a bit more prominent—it’s sixth in from the right on the top (function key) row. It has a fingerprint reader located below the keyboard, and it also supports Windows Hello via the webcam.
The unit I used had a 1,920-by-1,200 display with the 16:10 ratio that has become more common this year, rated at 400 nits of brightness. Other options include a touch-screen version, and one with HP’s SureView privacy screen. Given the size, a higher-resolution screen option would have been nice, as you could have put in more detail on things like big spreadsheets, but HP doesn’t offer it. Still, the regular display I tested looked fine.
For videoconferencing, it offers a 5MP camera that seemed very similar to the Elite Dragonfly G3 I tested recently. I thought it looked quite good, and software controls in the included myHP app had options for appearance filtering, lighting adjustment, and an auto-framing feature. As usual, I didn’t use these much, but they all seemed to work. There’s a physical switch for a webcam cover. It has two front-facing mics, and two bottom side speakers with Bang & Olufsen sound. My test unit came with an Intel XMM 7560R+ 4G/LTE WWAN modem, but there’s no 5G option.
The version of the EliteBook 865 unit I tested had a Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U processor, which features eight CPU cores (with 16 threads), a base clock of 2.7GHz and maximum boost clock of 4.7GHz, and Radeon 680M graphics with 12 graphics cores at 2200MHz. The unit I had came with 16GB of memory and a 512GB Samsung SSD.
In my tests, it seemed quite comparable to the ThinkPad Z13 I tested recently, with the same processor. As such, the performance numbers I got ranged from very good to excellent, doing notably better than Intel-based machines on most multitasking and graphics tests. (But to be clear, if professional visualization is your primary concern, you’d be better off looking at a workstation-class machine with dedicated graphics.) Of course, basic tests like daily web browsing or word processing work great on all modern laptops.
For my more demanding tests, I saw some real differences with the Ryzen-based machines versus Core i7 ones. Converting a large video in Handbrake took 1 hour, 16 minutes on the EliteBook 865, the fastest time I’ve seen on a machine with integrated graphics. For comparison, this test took 1 hour, 31 minutes on the ThinkPad Z13 and 1 hour, 57 minutes on the Intel-based Elite Dragonfly G3. This shows a clear lead for the Ryzen-based machines.
On the other hand, running a large portfolio simulation in MatLab took 35 minutes, 50 seconds, much better than the 39 minutes, 59 seconds on the Elite Dragonfly, but not as good as the 34 minutes, 37 seconds on the ThinkPad Z13 or the even-better 33 minutes, 12 seconds on the Intel-based ThinkPad X1 Nano.
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And it took the EliteBook 47 minutes to execute a very large spreadsheet model, compared to 48 minutes for the Z13 and 36 minutes for the Elite Dragonfly. This is an area where the Intel machines consistently did better, and I speculate it’s because Excel doesn’t really take advantage of more than a couple of cores.
Battery life was terrific. My model, with a 76-watt-hour battery, got 17 hours and 42 minutes on PC Mark’s Modern Office battery test, the best I’ve yet seen. (Of course, it does have a bigger battery, which adds size and weight; HP offers models with a 51-watt-hour battery, which would naturally offer shorter battery life.)
Like most of the EliteBook line, the 865 comes with HP’s Wolf security, which includes a self-healing BIOS and a root of trust. It also comes with SureClick, a private browser that runs web pages inside isolated virtual machines to protect your machine from malware.
The unit I tested, with a Ryzen 7 6850U, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, a 76-watt-hour battery, and a WWAN module, has a list price of $2,189. As I write this, I can configure a similar model but without the WWAN option on HP.com for $1,376, with other models for less, including one with a Ryzen 5-6600U processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, 51-watt-hour battery, and no WWAN for $1,100. Those prices seem quite reasonable.
Overall, while the EliteBook 865 doesn’t stand out, it’s a solid notebook with a big screen, lots of nice extras (including that webcam and good security features); and strong performance in most applications. It’s a very capable 16-inch enterprise machine.
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