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HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise - Review 2020


Like its corporate rival the Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise, the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise (starts at $999, $1,529 as tested) is unapologetically expensive. Indeed, our Core i7 configuration edges the Dell as the most costly Chromebook we’ve seen, as well as the fastest. It’s packed with premier features like sleek aluminum construction, a speedy solid-state drive instead of eMMC flash storage, and a 13.5-inch touch screen with a taller 3:2 instead of 16:9 aspect ratio for enhanced text and web viewing. Mind you, our Editors’ Choice-winning Acer Chromebook Spin 713 has all those things for $900 less. Nevertheless, IT chiefs with flush budgets who appreciate the manageability and easy deployment of Chrome OS Enterprise Upgrade—and HP’s offer of Parallels Desktop, letting the Elite c1030 seamlessly run Windows apps in a virtual machine—will want to take a good look at this one. 


A Squared-Off Silver Beauty 

The $999 base model of the Elite c1030 runs Chrome OS without the Enterprise Upgrade; it combines a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB of RAM, a 128GB NVMe SSD, and what HP calls a BrightView touch display. Our $1,529 review unit steps up to a quad-core, 1.8GHz (4.9GHz turbo) Core i7-10610U chip, double the memory and storage, and an anti-glare screen. For another $70 you can get one of HP’s Sure View Reflect privacy screens, which at the press of a key narrows the field of view to stop airline seatmates from snooping. (Less a concern in these days of social distancing and curtailed air travel, but an investment for the years to come.) All three screen options are rated at 400 nits of brightness; Core i5 models are available for in-between budgets.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise left angle

The system is a matte aluminum wedge with both Chromebook and HP’s four-slash logos on the lid. It measures 0.7 by 11.6 by 8.5 inches and weighs 2.87 pounds, making it slightly trimmer than the Acer Spin 713 (0.66 by 11.8 by 9.3 inches, 3.02 pounds). For comparison’s sake, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436, which has a 14-inch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, is 0.54 by 12.6 by 8.1 inches and a bit lighter at 2.6 pounds. 

Two screen hinges pivot all the way around, letting you prop up the Elite in tent or easel mode or fold it into a tablet as with other convertible laptops. There’s only a slight wobble when you tap the screen in laptop mode, and hardly any flex if you grasp the display corners or press the keyboard deck. The system has passed MIL-STD 810H tests against road hazards such as shock and vibration.

The screen bezels are thin—HP says the system’s 90.1% screen-to-body ratio is a Chromebook record—but the webcam is properly centered above instead of below the display. A fingerprint reader at the right of the palm rest lets you skip typing your password when you’ve locked the c1030 via the taskbar (or, depending on a People/Security option in the settings menu, opened the lid to wake it from sleep). 

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise tent mode

You’ll find a USB Type-C 3.1 port on either side of the device, so whichever one you’re not using for the AC adapter can accommodate a DisplayPort or HDMI external monitor dongle. (Sadly, you will need a dongle; the Elite c1030 doesn’t have an HDMI port as the Spin 713 does.) There are also a microSD card slot and a USB 3.1 Type-A port on the right edge, which is so narrow the latter has a drop-jaw design like some notebooks’ Ethernet jacks. The left edge holds an audio jack, a security-cable lockdown notch, the power button, a volume rocker, and a webcam kill switch.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise right portsHP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise left ports


Unparalleled Versatility 

Once you’ve enjoyed the roughly 20% extra vertical headroom of a 3:2 aspect ratio display, it’s hard to go back to a 16:9 laptop screen—productivity apps and especially web pages just look better. The HP’s 13.5-inch touch panel isn’t as sharp as the Acer’s (1,920 by 1,280 pixels versus 2,256 by 1,504), though both follow most Chromebooks in offering a variety of “looks like” scaled resolutions suiting your taste in big or small screen elements. But the screen is bright and attractive, with rich colors and good contrast. Text, images, and videos all looked crisp and handsome.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise right angle

The brightly backlit keyboard follows the usual Chromebook layout, with a search/launch key in place of Caps Lock and a few additions such as keyboard brightness joining the system controls in the top row. It has a snappy, pliant typing feel (and cursor arrow keys in the proper inverted T instead of the clumsy row of HP’s Windows laptops).

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise keyboard

The buttonless touchpad, meanwhile, glides and taps smoothly. It accepts two-finger swipes for scrolling and a two-finger tap for a right-click.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise touchpad

Sound from the bottom-mounted speakers is pretty good, not very loud but not fuzzy or tinny. Highs and midtones are clear and there’s a hint of bass, or at least more than you usually get from a laptop without subwoofer, and it’s easy to distinguish overlapping tracks. The 720p webcam is above average too, capturing well-lit images with good detail and color and minimal static. 


A Brief Visit to the Parallels Universe

The Elite c1030 meets the requirements (Core i5 or i7, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage) and HP is offering a free one-month trial of Corel’s $69.95-per-year Parallels Desktop for Chrome Enterprise. It’s strictly for IT departments using the Google Admin Console, not a consumer product like Parallels Desktop for the Mac. It lacks some of that platform’s features, such as the “coherence mode” that hides the Windows desktop and runs apps in individual windows. The Chrome Enterprise version shows the Windows desktop and any apps on it in a window (or full screen). But if your company depends on one or more in-house Windows programs or something missing from the online and Android versions of Microsoft Office, such as tables of contents in Word, or external references and data connections in Excel, it’s an impressively smooth solution.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise rear view

I spent some time playing with a trial account HP provided. Downloading and configuring the 11.6GB Windows 10 virtual machine took about 25 minutes using my wireless connection. (The Elite has Wi-Fi 6, but I have a Wi-Fi 5 router.) After that, Parallels Desktop launched and ran in a resizable window whether or not Wi-Fi was on. It hung once when I maximized the window, but there’s a reset option in the menu. 

Windows doesn’t see the Chromebook’s webcam and microphone, but otherwise the programs I tried ran without a hitch. In a nice and crucial touch, the clipboard works between environments; Documents, Pictures, and other folders in File Explorer appear in Chrome OS Files, which lets you share folders (including on USB drives, though you may need to restart) for use in Windows.

Obviously, if you use dozens of Windows apps, it makes more sense just to get a Windows laptop. But if you’re a Chrome Enterprise customer with one or two key ties to Windows, Parallels Desktop is the real deal.


Testing the Elite c1030: A New Chromebook Performance Champion 

Everyone knows that Chrome OS can deliver brisk performance on hardware that’s too modest for macOS or Windows—it’s fast with a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC flash storage. But with a Core i7, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD, it screams.

Launching apps, switching among scads of browser tabs, and paging through long PDFs are all instantaneous. When I matched the Elite c1030 against four relatively high-end Chromebook convertibles—the abovementioned Asus Flip C436, Acer Spin 713, and Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1, plus the HP Chromebook x360 14c—it handily won all our performance tests. 

The first objective benchmarks we use are Principled Technologies’ venerable CrXPRT (a suite of simulated Chrome OS productivity apps) and more recent WebXPRT 3 (a browser-based test of HTML and JavaScript throughput).

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise CrXPRTHP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise WebXPRT 3

The Core i5-powered Dell came close, but the Elite’s Core i7-10610U chip and ample memory propelled it to victory. 

JetStream 2 is another JavaScript-heavy performance test; it combines 64 JavaScript and WebAssembly benchmarks to measure a browser’s (in this case, the default Chrome’s) suitability for advanced web applications. 

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise JetStream 2

Ditto. The Core i3-based Asus is more than quick enough to satisfy most Chromebook customers, yet it’s a back-bencher here. 

We’ve recently added UL’s PCMark for Android Work 2.0 test to our Chromebook regimen. This test suite runs in a small smartphone-style window and mimics productivity operations ranging from text and image editing to data charting and video playback. 

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise PCMark for Android

Beginning to see a pattern? When you have enough horsepower to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine, you’re not going to balk at an Android app. 

Finally, to test a Chromebook’s battery life, we loop a locally stored video with screen brightness set at 50 percent, audio volume at 100 percent, and Wi-Fi disabled until the system quits. 

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise battery life

We’ve found the Elite c1030’s weakness, and it’s not much of a weakness: Its unplugged life is merely enough to get you through a full workday, not enough to match the stamina of the Dell, HP, and Acer models. 


A Splendid Corporate Choice 

At almost two and a half times the price of the Acer Spin 713, the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise is way out of reach for consumers seeking a peppy Chromebook convertible with a handsome 3:2 aspect ratio display. (Plus, Acer upstages HP by providing a sharper screen and an HDMI port.)

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise

But that’s not what the Elite c1030 is all about: As an enterprise fleet solution for companies craving the solid security and easy deployment of Chrome OS plus access to essential Windows apps, it’s sensational. IT managers could do a lot worse, and usually do.

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