Which lightweight laptop is best?
As technology evolves, the thin and light laptops that used to be terrible or non-existent have become extremely capable machines. Nowadays, we have some fantastic lightweight laptops on the market, and some of the best recent additions have been the HP Pavilion Aero and the EliteBook 840 Aero.
These laptops are definitely geared towards different audiences, with the Pavilion Aero being a mainstream consumer laptop, while the EliteBook 840 Aero is clearly aimed towards business users. Still, while they don’t exactly compete with each other, you may find yourself debating about which one to get. Both of them are powerful enough to handle most day-to-day tasks, but there are certainly reasons to prefer one over the other.
HP Pavilion Aero vs EliteBook 840 Aero: Specs
First off, let’s take a look at the full spec sheet for these two laptops. You’ll notice some differences right away, such as the Pavilion Aero using AMD processors while the EliteBook 840 Aero uses Intel CPUs.
|HP Pavilion Aero||HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8|
|Size (WxDxH)||11.72 x 8.23 x 0.67 in (297.69 x 209.04 x 17.02 mm)||12.71 x 8.46 x 0.7 in (322.83 x 214.88 x 17.78 mm)|
|Weight||Starting at <2.2 lb (<997.9 grams)||Starting at 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)|
|Starting price||Starting at $749.99||Starting at $2,040 (varies)|
Performance: AMD or Intel?
The first big choice you’re going to be making when choosing between these two laptops is the CPU. The HP Pavilion Aero comes with AMD’s Zen 3-based Ryzen CPUs, the Ryzen 5 5600U and Ryzen 7 5800U. The HP EliteBook 840 Aero gives you a few options for Intel CPUs from a Core i5-1135G7 to a Core i7-1185G7. This brings up some big performance differences right out of the gate.
““(…)multi-core performance is better on the AMD processors, and therefore, on the HP Pavilion Aero.””
Comparing CPU performance on GeekBench, single-core performance on the Intel CPUs is on par with the Ryzen equivalents. However, the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs here have six and eight cores respectively, while Intel maxes out at just four cores, even on the Core i7 models. This means multi-core performance is better on the AMD processors, and therefore, on the HP Pavilion Aero. Both laptops have integrated graphics, and you probably shouldn’t expect either one to be amazing for graphics-heavy tasks.
However, it has to be mentioned AMD laptops heavily throttle when you’re not plugged into an outlet. Some deep research has been done on this, and performance takes a big hit once you unplug an AMD laptop compared to an Intel one. This will depend on your Windows power settings, but you can see just how big that difference can be in the image below, courtesy of PC World. This specific image compares performance in photo editing software between the Intel Core i7-1185G7 and the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U on laptops with otherwise similar specs. Windows was set to the “best performance” power setting in this case.
Of course, this is so you get better battery life on AMD processors, so you kind of have to weigh the pros and cons there. You see AMD’s performance go even lower in battery saver settings, while Intel maintains more of its performance.
Where the HP EliteBook 840 Aero gets a clear advantage is RAM and storage, because it can be configured much higher — up to 64GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. That’s four times as much RAM as what the Pavilion Aero offers, and twice as much storage.
It’s also worth noting the HP EliteBook 840 Aero offers options for Intel vPro processors, which have additional security features for businesses. That’s a common theme in this comparison.
Display: The HP Pavilion Aero is taller
The display is another area where the HP Pavilion Aero is better, at least for general consumers. This is one of the few mainstream laptops you can buy with a display that has a 16:10 display, and the HP EliteBook 840 Aero doesn’t. That taller aspect ratio has been becoming more and more popular because it’s great for productivity. You have more space for text that way, so reading and writing are a bit more convenient.
But that’s not all. The base Pavilion Aero model has a 13.3 inch panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1200, but you can also upgrade to a 2560 x 1600 display. That makes this a super-sharp display, and with the higher pixel density, some UI elements can scale to be smaller and free up even more space.
However, the HP EliteBook 840 Aero has some tricks up its sleeve. For example, you can configure the display on the HP EliteBook to have a touchscreen, which you may find more intuitive. And for business users, the EliteBook 840 Aero also has the option for an HP Sure View privacy screen, which is a huge benefit if you work with sensitive information. This makes it so people around you can’t see your screen, so working in public isn’t an issue.
“(…)the EliteBook 840 Aero also has the option for an HP Sure View privacy screen, which is a huge benefit if you work with sensitive information.”
There’s also the matter of what’s surrounding this display. The HP Pavilion Aero doesn’t have an IR camera for Windows Hello, not even as an option. On the other hand, the EliteBook 840 Aero has an IR camera by default in every configuration. This makes unlocking your laptop much more convenient, though the Pavilion Aero does have a fingerprint reader (which is an optional add-on on the EliteBook 840 Aero). As for sound, both laptops have dual stereo speakers and a dual-array microphone for calls.
Design, ports, and connectivity
The HP EliteBook 840 Aero pulls off a big victory when it comes to overall versatility, though. It features two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and that alone gives you plenty of expansion options using a Thunderbolt dock. But HP went the extra mile and included plenty of ports so you don’t need a Thunderbolt dock — there’s HDMI, two USB Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and an optional SmartCard reader. With the HP Pavilion Aero, you have most of the same ports, except instead of two Thunderbolt ports (because it’s an AMD laptop), it only has one USB Type-C port with 10Gbps speeds.
The discrepancies continue for wireless connectivity. Both laptops support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as you’d expect, but the HP EliteBook 840 Aero also has the option for 4G LTE or 5G connectivity. For mobile workers, this is great as you don’t need to connect to insecure Wi-Fi networks while working away from home. It can also be configured with NFC and it has Tile integration so you can more easily find the laptop if you misplace it.
On the topic of design, we can also talk about the interior because not only is the HP EliteBook 840 Aero more configurable out of the box, you can also upgrade the RAM and storage later by yourself. HP clearly states customers can do this in its repair guide, while for the Pavilion Aero, all repairs are only recommended for authorized service providers. Also, the RAM is soldered on the Pavilion Aero, so you simply can’t upgrade it.
The Pavilion Aero’s saving grace is how it looks. This HP Pavilion Aero gives you four color options to choose from, including silver, white, warm gold, and rose gold/pink. Silver is the default, and the other colors cost $20 more, but they also add a backlit keyboard as standard. On the silver model, the backlight is optional, which is why it’s cheaper. The HP EliteBook 840 Aero only comes in silver, and that’s it. Though it’s worth noting it includes a backlit keyboard by default. It’s also worth noting the Pavilion Aero is lighter and smaller by every measurement, so it’s more portable.
Bottom line: The HP Pavilion Aero is good enough for most people
At this point, you may be thinking the HP EliteBook 840 Aero is vastly superior to the Pavilion Aero and, in many ways, it is. But you have to take a look at the price points for these laptops and consider what features you need. The EliteBook 840 has a lot of features and niceties that are most useful for business users. The RAM and storage are easily replaceable, you have the option for a privacy screen, cellular connectivity, an integrated IR camera, and very high RAM and storage configurations.
All of that increases the cost, and this is a machine that starts at over $2,000 outside of promotions. And that’s for a configuration with an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. For $749, the HP Pavilion Aero offers a similarly powerful processor and the same amount of RAM and storage, plus a taller display. Even if you upgrade all those components to their maximum specs, it still costs far less than the HP EliteBook 840 Aero.
““(…)you can get everything you need from the HP Pavilion Aero.””
With the HP EliteBook 840 Aero, you’re paying for the flexibility of the design, and the ability to easily upgrade some components. You also get legitimately useful features out of the gate, like the IR camera for Windows Hello. But at the end of the day, unless you need those big upgrades, privacy features, or easily replaceable components, you can get everything you need from the HP Pavilion Aero. The HP EliteBook 840 Aero is geared towards a very specific audience, and if you’re part of it, then the price is probably justified.
If you’ve made your choice between the two, you can buy either one of them using the links below. Otherwise, you can check out other great HP laptops that might be better suited for your needs.