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It's a bit difficult to compare the two as they both could be ordered with the same processors and graphics and shared similar hardware.
HP still makes the Elitebook series today. It's hard to pin down the release date for these but based on the documentation
and reviews the time would be late 2009 for the 8540P and shortly later in 2010 for the 8540W.
The typical production run for any specific model of laptop is less than a year as new processors and
hardware are regularly introduced.
If you're looking at the purchase of either of these models, and their priced the same, I'd give the nod to the
8540W as it's a slightly higher end model with better graphics.
I've included the HP data sheets for each model below. These are very similar laptops.