Skip to main content
January 23, 2013

HP 8770w Mobile Workstation: Portable Powerhouse

8770w with HDV Camera 600

If you are a photographer, videographer, or blogger that works on the go you’ve probably had to “make do” with equipment that’s really not optimal for post-production. At a recent LAN party event, I can recall working on a 1080p multi-cam video edit in my hotel room on a laptop with sub-1080p display resolution, and without USB 3.0. I was able to complete my video edit, but thought to myself: “there’s got to be a better way!”

Since then, I’ve read articles and watched videos that have demonstrated the HP 8770w 17” workstation laptop on-location editing 4K footage for movie productions and other film projects. I knew I needed to try out this PC to see how good the “mobile workstation” experience could be with Windows 8. I recently got my hands on an HP 8770w with AMD graphics, and have been using it for a variety of tasks. I’ll summarize my experiences in this post, and also give you an overview of the features included with the HP 8770w laptop.

The 17” HP 8770w laptop is a part of the HP mobile workstation lineup that also includes the 14” HP 8470w and 15.6” HP 8570w laptops.

Here are some quick specs for the HP 8770w I’m currently using:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3820 hyper-threaded quad core @ 2.70GHz
  • RAM: 16.0 GB
  • Storage: 120 GB SSD
  • Graphics: AMD FirePro M4000
  • Display: 17” DreamColor 1920×1080

Full specs and options for the HP 8770w can be found here.

I should note that this machine also supports some of the latest Windows 8 features such as UEFI secure boot, UEFI fast boot, and Windows 8 trackpad touch gestures.

Here’s a breakdown of the ports on the HP 8770w:

8770w left side ports 600

Left-side ports, from left: Ethernet, Full-size DisplayPort, eSATA, USB 3.0 (2), Firewire

8770w right side ports 600

Right-side ports, from left: headphones, microphone, USB 2.0 (2), VGA

The DVD writer shown on the right-side can be exchanged with a drive expansion bay so that you can run three 2.5” HDD or SSD devices in the HP 8770w total, two in traditional internal drive bays, and one in the optical expansion bay.

I have spent a while using the HP 8770w, and have found that it runs Windows 8 really well. It boots fast, and apps load crazy-fast because of SSD storage. There are two primary display setups that I’ve used the HP 8770w with: mobile (integrated display only) and desktop (integrated display + external display). For the desktop configuration, I’ve been using a Samsung Series 9 27” PLS display at WQHD resolution (2560×1440). With my Windows desktop extended, I have a lot more screen real estate when running UI-intensive programs like Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.

8770w Start Screen Multimon 600

A killer desktop configuration with the HP 8770w: integrated 17” full-HD DreamColor display and 27” Samsung Series 9 LPS WQHD display

I haven’t found the need for an external keyboard or mouse when using the HP 8770w. The integrated keyboard works well, and there’s two mouse options: a point stick, and a trackpad. Both pointing devices have a dedicated set of left/middle/right mouse buttons. I personally prefer trackpads, and I was pleased to find out that the palm rejection works well on the HP 8770w trackpad. The pointer stayed where it should! I used the setup pictured above to write this article, and it worked great.

Video Editing
I’ve used the HP 8770w with Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and I’ll have to say: in addition to being a great at-the-desk video editing PC, this would also be a killer hotel-room-video-editing PC! I could have really used this HP 8770w back at the LAN party, that’s for sure!

8770w PDXLAN project 600

Video Editing a multi-cam 30fps sequence in Premiere Pro CS6 on the HP 8770w – FRAPS indicating full 30fps preview playback

I ran two quick tests on the HP 8770w, first I opened that LAN Party project and tested the multi-cam playback performance (multiple 1080p H.264 files). This sequence played back smoothly in the program monitor at 50% magnification and 50% quality, a very useable configuration. I also opened a 4K RED project in Premiere Pro CS6 and found that I was able to get full 24fps playback of .R3D files at 25% magnification (still pretty big) and 1/4 quality. I could definitely edit 4K footage on the HP 8770w.

RED footage 8770w playback 600

Previewing a 24fps REDCODE RAW (.R3D) 4K clip in Premiere Pro CS6 – full 24fps preview validated with FRAPS

I’m really looking forward to using this HP 8770w on-the-road for video productions!

Photo Editing
With AMD FirePro M4000 graphics and a 17” DreamColor display, this HP 8770w is ideally suited for the serious professional photographer. I used the HP 8770w and Adobe Photoshop CS6 to edit quite a few photos, including all of the images for this blog post. Both the single-display setup and multi-display setup worked great.

You can see in the Photoshop CS6 performance settings dialog snapshot below that GPU acceleration is used with AMD FirePro M4000 graphics:

Photoshop CS6 Mercury Graphics Firepro m4000 crop

Final Notes
I’m just getting started with the HP 8770w, but am already comfortable with it since I quickly got used to the keyboard, trackpad, and controls. I like how the HP 8770w includes two USB 3.0 ports so that I can plug in a USB 3.0 card reader and USB 3.0 portable hard drive at the same. While a 17” laptop may be too large for some creative professionals, it’s just right for super-demanding mobile video and photo editing work where screen real estate is critical. If you need a smaller workstation laptop, check out the HP 8570w and HP 8470w.

There’s plenty more to talk about with the 8770w and Windows 8, so stay tuned here for more related content including UEFI fast boot, UEFI secure boot, trackpad touch gestures, and more demos!

Stay up to date, follow me on Twitter!