HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Above the fold
A quick but by no means minor update to the G5, this convertible laptop is one of the best in its class
New EliteBooks are coming thick and fast in 2019. It was only a few months ago that the HP EliteBook x360 830 G5 was released, but there's already a new version of HP's flipping convertible in the G6 model.
The surprisingly wide-ranging list of updates includes a choice of Intel Whisky Lake-U processors, Wi-Fi 6 support, a sliding privacy cover for the webcam and tweaks to HP's pre-installed security software. After a few days of testing, we can say that these are all welcome changes, but what really makes the EliteBook x360 830 G6 a great 2-in-1 is how well it nails the essentials.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Design
Take, for instance, build quality. This is about as solid and robust a convertible laptop as you're likely to find, outside of fully ruggedised models, with the EliteBook x360 830 G6's metal chassis providing good looks, a pleasant feel and a reassuring hardiness all at once. The 360-degree hinge is nice and firm, too - not so tight that it's a pain to spin the screen around, but not so loose that the display wobbles in the traditional notebook configuration.
It is denser than it looks, weighing a hardly featherlight 1.35kg, but it only measures 215x307x16.9mm, so it's still as portable as a 2-in-1 should be.
There's no shortage of extra tricks, either. There's a convenient magnetic clip for the bundled Active Pen G2 stylus (more on that later) on the right edge, and biometric sign-in tools come in fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello-compatible camera flavours. Both of these work quickly and reliably, though if you want to make use of the new privacy shutter, you'll need to remember to slide it open to log back in using your face.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Display
The 13.in, 1,920x1,080 touchscreen performs respectably as well. Brightness and contrast are standouts, at a peak 549.5cd/m2 and 2,310:1 respectively; the former, in particular, is excellent by business laptop standards.
Colour performance is more mixed, as sRGB coverage is merely decent at 89.7%, while a slight lack of accuracy is shown in the average delta-E of 2.94.
In the EliteBook x360 830 G6's defence, this won't be an issue unless you need to perform especially colour-sensitive work like photo editing. That said, there is a bigger, more universal annoyance in the anti-glare coating. It prevents reflections but the effect is laid on heavily, and looking at the display from any angle other than dead-centre can leave certain parts looking dark and shaded, particularly in the corners.
Funnily enough, you can narrow the viewing angles even further - intentionally - by pressing the Sure View button. If you're unfamiliar with this feature, it drops the brightness and alters the screen backlighting to make the display appear almost blacked-out when viewed at an angle - preventing snoopers from seeing any sensitive information you may be typing.
While we wish there were less of a darkening effect when Sure View is switched off, it is an elegant solution to the peeping problem, and could make you feel a lot more comfortable using the EliteBook x360 830 G6 on a crowded train or plane.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Keyboard, touchpad and stylus
As it was with another recent HP convertible, the EliteBook x360 1040 G5, the keyboard here is fantastic. Even without massively deep travel, the action is crisp, responsive and decisive, and both keycap sizing and spacing have been judged to near-perfection. There's a pleasantly clean, light blue backlight too, which has adjustable brightness levels and automatically switches off during idle periods to conserve battery.
The touchpad is great too. It's comfortably spacious - not always a given on 13.3in machines - and glass topping makes for smooth movements and gestures. Even the left- and right-clicks feel solid and substantial.
You also get the aforementioned HP Active Pen G2 stylus in the box. This is accurate, comfortable to hold and comes with two sets of replaceable nibs, so there's little to complain about regarding the stylus itself - but the screen coating can be a problem, again, if you want to use the EliteBook x360 830 G6 as a digital sketchpad. For scribbling notes it's fine, but when drawing pictures and diagrams, long drags on the coating can produce a grating squeaking sound.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Specs and performance
Your 1,199 will net you an Intel Core i5-8365U - a straight Whiskey Lake-U upgrade on the G5 model's Core i5-8265U - along with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
This spec scored a fairly formidable overall score of 80 in our 4K benchmarks; more than enough for everyday office tasks. In terms of the 2-in-1 competition, this result is two points higher than that of the HP Elite X2 1013 G3, and it beats the most recent Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga too. The EliteBook x360 1040 G5 model we tested scored 88, though this has a more potent Core i7-8650U, and is considerably more expensive as a result.
We'd therefore consider this a victory for the EliteBook x360 830 G6, and it's no slouch in the storage department either. There are faster SSDs, to be sure: this one recorded a sequential read speed of 1,273MB/sec and a sequential write speed of 717MB/sec, although these are still far ahead of any cheaper SATA-based drive.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Battery life
Longevity is perhaps the EliteBook x360 830 G6's greatest strength of all. Lasting 12hrs 13mins in our video loop benchmark, it kept going well over twice as long as the EliteBook X2 1013 G3, and outlasted the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 and even the outstanding Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 by several hours.
It's not the outright best 2-in-1 for battery life - that would be the almost unnervingly resilient HP Spectre Folio - but being able to survive more than 12 hours of continuous, full-screen video playback is still quite the achievement.
HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Ports and features
Unlike many convertibles, this one hasn't forgotten about the importance of full-size USB ports in a professional environment. The EliteBook x360 830 G6 handily serves up two USB 3.1 ports, one on each side, plus two Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB Type-C ports on the right edge. Weirdly, the power cable uses one of these for recharging, but there's also what looks like a dedicated, circular power connector further up the side.
Still, you'll always have at least one Type-C socket available, and this is joined by a full-size HDMI port, allowing for extra flexibility in outputting video. There's also a 3.5mm combined mic and headphone jack, plus a couple of bonus security features: a Kensington lock slot and a smart card reader. There's also an optional nano SIM slot, though this wasn't available on our review unit.
Charging cable mysteries aside, the EliteBook x360 830 G6 is well equipped for physical connectivity, and its wireless capabilities are fully up-to-date too: besides 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 support has also been added to the G6 model.
It also wouldn't be an EliteBook if HP hadn't loaded it with professionally-minded software. All the old favourites are here, including HP Client Security - which includes a variety of tools, like a password manager and the Sure Recover reimaging wizard - but the big new addition is Sure Sense.
This is HP's deep learning-powered anti-malware software, and it essentially works by feeding millions of clean and harmful files to an Nvidia supercomputer. This then develops an algorithm which can, according to HP, identify whether a file is dangerous or not with greater accuracy than anti-malware services that use basic machine learning for the same ends. The algorithm is deployed onto a physical agent chip, like the one within the EliteBook x360 830 G6.
If anything, we found Sure Sense a little too paranoid - it quarantined several files that we'd installed as part of our usual benchmark tests. Still, no IT manager in their right mind would solely use a brand new and largely untested anti-malware suite without a more established backup, and the advantage of deep learning is that the software is always improving. It will be interesting to check back in a few months and see whether Sure Sense can match or beat the likes of Kaspersky or a resurgent McAfee on reliability.
HP EliteBook x360 z830 G6 review: Verdict
Sure Sense might not be a killer app for the EliteBook x360 830 G6, but we're not sure it ever needed one. From its lovely keyboard to its lengthy battery life and extensive connectivity, HP has made a convertible that's wonderfully practical on the most fundamental levels. There are some niggles, like the anti-glare coating, but it's nothing you can't live with.
The absolute best 2-in-1 arguably remains the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, but the EliteBook x360 830 G6 is cheaper, more portable and has a much tighter focus on enterprise and security. It's worth the purchase, even with HP's unusually short product cycles.
HP EliteBook x360 z830 G6 specifications
|Processor||Quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8365U|
|Graphics adaptor||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Total storage||256GB SSD|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Pro|
|Parts and labour warranty||Three years RTB|
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