Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HP EliteBook 8460p

Boxy Business Notebook. A vivid, high-quality display? The Elitebooks constitute the best that HP has to offer in terms of business laptops. Can the 2011 series maintain this good reputation or even improve it?

The EliteBook is for HP what the ThinkPad T-series is for Lenovo. Above and beyond "Essentials" and "ProBooks", we find the premium segment of business laptops with the highest-quality craftsmanship and newest technology. And as far as the technical specs go, the EliteBook 8460p here is quite appealing with its Core i7-2620M CPU and on-board HD 6470M graphics card as well as its high-resolution display (14", 1600x900).

But is the EliteBook quite as pristine in its performance as its sleek matte aluminum finish makes it out to be? Not quite. A few shortcomings keep this premium-grade business laptop from achieving a rating of "Very Good".

Specifications HP EliteBook 8460p
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2620M 2.7 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel QM67
  • Memory : 4096 MB, 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM 2xSODIMM
  • Graphics adapter : AMD Radeon HD 6470M - 1024 MB, Core: 750 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, Catalyst 8.821.1.0
  • Display : 14.0 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, AntiGlare, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Hitachi HTS723232A7A364, 320GB 7200rpm
  • Soundcard : IDT 92HD81B1X @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 1 Express Card 54mm, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, RJ-11 Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: line-out, microphone jack, Card Reader: SD, MMC, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader, port for second battery
  • Networking : Intel 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (abgn), 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : HP CDDVDW TS-L633R
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 31.8 x 338 x 231.3
  • Weight : 2.442 kg Power Supply: 0.353 kg
  • Battery : 55 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6 cells, 10.8V
  • Price : 1412 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 720p HD, Roxio My DVD 2010 SE, HP 3D DriveGuard, 36 Months Warranty.
We were first acquainted with the Intel Core i7-2620M CPU (2x2.7 GHz) in our review of the Apple Macbook Pro 13 inch (2011-02 MC724LL/A). The processor is the fastest of the dual-core Sandy Bridge CPUs first released in early 2011. The CPU offers all the special functions of the Sandy Bridge architecture including Hyper-Threading for more efficient use of multiple cores and Turbo Boost 2.0 for automatic overclocking (3.4 GHz). See the Specs List for the Intel Core i7-2620M for more details.

The AMD Radeon HD 6470M (1,024 MB DDR3) is the dedicated graphics card here. This CPU/GPU duo has 4 GB DDR3 at its disposal (1 x 4,096 MB). The package would, of course, be incomplete without the 320 GB hard drive from Hitachi (7200 RPM).

The Cinebench R11.5 CPU test (Multi, 64 Bit) awards our processor a high 3.1 points. This is a great deal higher than the previous generation i7-620M (2.5; HP 8540w) managed to earn. The Dell Latitude E6520 i7/FHD and Dell Vostro 3550—equipped wit the same CPU—achieved the same score. Only smaller laptops can't manage such high scores on account of their cooling systems, that is, they can't make optimal use of Dynamic Frequency (Turbo 2.0): Apple Macbook Pro 13 inch 2011-02 MC724LL/A (2.6 points) and Dell Vostro 3350 (3.0 points).

Instead of choosing a Core i7, the wise investment would be an SSD (in place of HDD). The workflow speed you experience as well as overall score in PCMark Vantage would then jump even higher. This system performance benchmark awards the EliteBook 7,734 points. The Schenker XMG A501 equipped with the same 2620M CPU and a GeForce GT 540M GPU, managed to squeeze out an astounding 14,153 points. Compared to other laptops with the same hardware configuration, the 8460p ranks in just below the Dell Vostro 3350 (8,354) and the Latitude E6520 i7/FHD (8,548).

The new system benchmark PCMark 7 gave 1,994 points to our EliteBook. This is virtually the same score as the Dell Vostro 3350 (2620M) achieved, even though it has a more powerful HD 6630M GPU. The popular 2630QM quad-core CPU barely results in a higher 2,157 points (Fujitsu Lifebook NH751, 2630QM, GeForce GT525M).

The Radeon HD 6470M (1024MB) is a small DirectX-11 GPU marketed as a starter graphics card by AMD. The GPU indeed runs at 750/900 MHz (core/memory) exactly as AMD states. The GPU doesn't limit itself just to games, rather it's quite useful in other applications, utilizing 160 stream processors via DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, DirectCompute 11 or OpenCL for its calculations (Magix & CyberLink products). For details, see the specs sheet of the HD 6470M.

The gaming performance is not exactly first-rate. 3,674 points in 3DMarks06 speak to entry-level gaming capability, a good deal below the 4,988 points earned by the HP Elitebook 8560p-LQ589AW or the 4,839 points the Dell Vostro 3350 (2410M) managed, both equipped with the same GPU. We performed still more tests like 3DMark11 (P595), Heaven 2.1 (5.7 fps) and 3DMarkVantage (P1665). The scores of similar laptops also come out considerably higher here: P634 (Vostro 3350, same hardware), 7.2 fps (Vostro 3350; 2410M) and P2339 (Vostro 3350, same hardware). In short, the graphics performance of our EliteBook 8460p ranks in worse than similar devices (GPU). The culprit here is throttling of the GPU (core: 400 instead of 750 MHz) and CPU. Find more details in the "Temperature" section.

The fast-spinning hard drive (320GB, 7200 RPM) brings about some high data transfer rates. The HDD score in PCMark Vantage comes to 4,022 points, a good average for a 7200RPM HDD. In the HD Tune benchmark (76 MB/s read) and Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 (88 MB/s read), the hard drive shows a good performance. Those interested in fast access only have one way to go, choosing the (128 GB) SSD configuration (LG746EA). The HDD activity LED is located along the front edge of the base unit and is hard to notice since it's so small.

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