HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K UHD)

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HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K UHD)

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MSRP
$999.00

  • Pros

    Light and compact body. Equipped with 4K display, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support.

  • Cons

    Requires dongles for many common ports. Screen drains battery faster than on competing systems.

  • Bottom Line

    A minimally designed ultraportable that's attractive to consumers as well as business users, the 4K HP EliteBook Folio G1 one-ups the Apple MacBook by including two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3.

By

Joel Santo Domingo

The 12.5-inch HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K UHD) (starting at $999, $1,755 as tested) is a business laptop that doesn't look like one. Instead of a boring black case, it sports a machined aluminum body, putting it in line with many consumer laptops. It follows in the footsteps of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, our top laptop pick for business, but its design rivals that of the sleek Apple MacBook. Add high-end features like a fanless Intel Core m7 processor and a 512GB SSD, and you have a system that's both good-looking and capable, though other business laptops offer better value.

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Design and Features
The EliteBook Folio is the very definition of thin and light, measuring 0.49 by 11.5 by 8.23 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.36 pounds. That's quite a bit smaller and slightly lighter than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (0.65 by 13.1 by 9.0 inches, 2.54 pounds). It's also thinner, but wider and deeper than the Apple MacBook (0.52 by 11.04 by 7.74 inches), though that system is about 6 ounces lighter. The system is designed to pass MIL-STD 801G tests (drop, dust, and vibration), but it's not rated to shrug off a measure of spilled liquid on the keyboard like the X1 Carbon.

One of strongest arguments against the MacBook is its single USB-C port. The EliteBook Folio G1 adds a second one, and both ports (located on the laptop's right edge) support Thunderbolt 3. Having two USB-C ports allows you to connect an external drive or USB-C-to-HDMI adapter (not included) while continuing to power the system with its charger. Yes, you'll need to buy an adapter for common ports like Ethernet, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, and HDMI, but at least you have the option of connectivity along with power, not either/or as on the MacBook. Also, if you purchase the HP Elite USB-C dock for $149, you can add DisplayPort, Ethernet, HDMI, and five USB 3.0 ports to the system externally. The only other physical port on the laptop is a headset jack on the left. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

The base version of the EliteBook Folio G1 has a 12.5-inch 1080p HD screen with a 1,920-by-1,080 resolution. The top-of-the-line model reviewed here has a 4K UHD (3,840-by-2,160 resolution) IPS touch screen. As on the X1 Carbon, the screen folds back 180 degrees, so you can lay the laptop flat on your work surface—an ideal configuration for small presentations. Visuals are bright and clear, with sharp text in the Microsoft Edge browser and Office, and lifelike colors and intricate detail visible in 4K videos. The QHD+ screen on the Dell XPS 13 Touch also looks good, but its 3,200-by-1,800 resolution is measurably lower than the EliteBook's. The XPS 13 has thinner bezels around the screen, but the thicker lines around the EliteBook's screen aren't too distracting. The 720p webcam comes with IR technology, so you can use Windows Hello to log in.

85px HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K UHD)

The EliteBook Folio G1 replaces the Fast-Forward, Rewind, and Play controls on the keyboard with keys for conferencing. These HP Collaboration keys' icons are shaped like phone handsets, and allow you to answer and stop Skype for Business sessions instantly, without having to manually open the utility. The backlit chiclet-style keyboard is easy on the fingers, with a satisfying key feel and more comfortable travel than you'll find on the MacBook. It is, however, slightly stiffer than the keyboard on the X1 Carbon, which we'd prefer to use for marathon typing sessions. The one-piece touchpad is responsive and has HP's usual mouse on/off switch built in, so you don't have to worry about extraneous palm inputs. Just double-tap the upper-left corner of the touchpad to activate the switch.

All EliteBook Folio G1 units come with 8GB of non-upgradable memory, and our review unit came with 512GB of SSD storage. There's very little preloaded software, as befits a business system; a few HP and Microsoft utilities are included, but you have hundreds of gigabytes of free space for your programs and files. The system comes with a one-year warranty. That's pretty standard for consumer laptops, but the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a three-year warranty.

HP EliteBook Folio G1 (4K UHD)

Performance
An Intel Core m7-6Y75 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 515 powers the EliteBook Folio G1. The laptop's score of 2,307 on on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test was about average. It certainly trounced the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 (1,464), which has the prior-generation Core M processor. And though it nearly matched the performance of the HP EliteBook 745 G3 (2,277), which has an AMD Pro A12 processor, it couldn't quite keep up with notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2,733), Lenovo ThinkPad T450s (2,937), and other systems with Core i5 processors.

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The EliteBook showed competitive results on the multimedia tests, completing our Photoshop test in 4 minutes, 39 seconds. Again, that's slower than systems with Core i5 and i7 processors, but ahead of the Apple MacBook and HP EliteBook 745 G3. The system was a bit slower than the competition on our Handbrake test, though 3:13 is still a decent time among this group. We'd wholeheartedly recommend the EliteBook Folio G1 for use in managing and proofing creative projects, but you'd want a laptop with a little more power if you're a designer creating art.

Battery life is good; the EliteBook lasted 7 hours, 39 minutes, in our rundown test. If you take some judicial breaks, that's enough for it to last all day. But the 4K screen does takes a toll, since the 1080p HD version of the EliteBook Folio lasted about 2 hours longer (9:36). Still, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and MacBook both lasted more than 10 hours, while the other business systems like the ThinkPad T450s, HP EliteBook Folio 1020, and EliteBook 745 G3 held on for 6 to 7 hours. You won't have to carry your AC adapter with you everywhere, but you will have to plug in at the end of the day.

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The HP EliteBook Folio G1 is certainly attractive if you can't bear to be seen in public with a utilitarian dark gray or black laptop. It has the matte aluminum body that your image craves, but also has the business features that your IT manager requires. The EliteBook has better USB-C connectivity than the Apple MacBook, and won't make you unplug your AC adapter to plug in a USB drive. That said, the 1080p base version costs $300 less, which will be a plus for the many business users who don't need a 4K screen; and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon costs $200 less, and has an attractive (albeit black) minimalist design, multiple traditional I/O connectors like HDMI and USB 3.0, a spill-resistant keyboard, longer battery life, and superior performance; plus, it weighs only a few ounces more. Therefore, the Lenovo remains our Editors' Choice for business laptops, but the HP EliteBook Folio G1, particularly the more affordable 1080p version, is worth considering if you're looking for one of the lightest and most attractive business laptops on the market.

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Joel Santo Domingo

By Joel Santo Domingo
Lead Analyst

Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology…
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