#1: The HP Elitebook 745 G2 (Kaveri, A10 PRO-7350B)

The Kaveri system chosen was selected as a pinnacle system – one of the best 19W Kaveri devices currently on sale. This is an A10 PRO-7350B system, which translates as a dual module/quad thread processor with a base frequency of 2.1 GHz and a turbo mode up to 3.3 GHz. The APU contains integrated ‘R6’ level graphics based on GCN 1.1, for 384 streaming processors at a frequency of 533 MHz. The 1600x900 TN display was certainly nothing to write home about, but unlike some other devices in this test it came with a 256GB SSD and is strangely enough the only device in our test with dual channel memory (2x4GB, DDR3-1600 C11). This memory aspect is one we’re going to revisit a fair bit as it explains a significant angle surrounding the binary decisions that AMD has to make in a platform.

HP Elitebook 745 G2 (Kaveri) Specifications
Size and Resolution 14-inch, 1600x900 TN
Processor AMD A10 PRO-7350B
Dual module, 4 threads
2.1 GHz Base Frequency
3.3 GHz Turbo Frequency
Graphics Integrated R6
384 Shader Cores
553 MHz maximum frequency
GCN 1.1
Memory 8 GB in Dual Channel Operation
2 x 4GB at DDR3L-1600 C11
2 SO-DIMM Slots
Storage 256GB SSD
Battery Size 50.27 Wh
3 cell Li-Po design, rated to 10.25 hours
WiFi Broadcom 802.11n 1x1
Optical Drive No
Dimensions 33.9 cm x 23.7 cm x 2.1 cm
Weight 1.7 kg
Webcam 1280x720
Other Features Gigabit Ethernet
4 x USB 3.0
Smart Card Reader
Operating System Windows 8.1
Website Link link

The Wi-Fi on hand in the G2 was a single stream Broadcom 802.11n solution, which is broadly disappointing. A remark I will probably make several times in this piece is that if I can get 2x2 802.11ac on a sub-$150 motherboard, why is it not in a laptop >$600? A positive on the battery life side is that the G2 had the biggest battery out of all the devices we tested, coming in at 50.274 Wh, although unfortunately our battery life test failed and we ran out of time to run another.

As for the device itself, the HP Elitebook line is typically focused on premium business customers, and comes in as one of the more stylish elements this field, relying on an aluminium clamshell and a polished design to set the tone. HP is one of AMD’s top tier partners for laptops, which is in itself somewhat surprising perhaps, but most of their business is in the professional line. This means features such as a VGA port and a fingerprint sensor come standard.

It certainly does not look out of place in any meeting room or on a flight. The bezel around the display is noticeable but not too large, with a 720p webcam at the top.

On the sides we get a total of four USB 3.0 ports, and a DisplayPort to compliment the VGA. To fit with some business use, the smart card reader is on the left, as well as the docking port on the right hand side between the circular power cable and the Ethernet port. The Ethernet port is interesting, given that in the ‘thin is best’ mantra for laptops an Ethernet port is quite bulky, so many devices eschew them all together and provide a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor. But instead we have an expanding Ethernet port which makes room for the RJ-45 connector. It saves having to remember another cable in the work bag.

Mouse movement comes from both a trackpad and a nub in the center of the keyboard, with each having a mix and match set of left and right mouse buttons. Personally, using the trackpad during testing was a nightmare as it was not particularly responsive, requiring exertion and exaggeration to get the cursor to move, meaning for most of the time a mouse was plugged in anyway. Technically this G2 sample is actually an old one from stock, perhaps suggesting it has been ‘lightly used’. This is shown by the front of the device.

Even a bad camera can’t hide some scratches. Then again, a number of business devices are held in pouches to save from scrapes, perhaps belying the ‘we kept this in a stack of other laptops that could scratch it’ mantra.

The keyboard was a little different to what I am used to, with odd half-height up and down arrows as well as having the home/end and page up/down keys on the right hand side. There are a couple of immediate second function keys, including the Wi-Fi and Mute buttons on the top right next to the speaker (and also right next to the delete key). The power button on the top left is near the escape key, and in a week I hit it at least twice by accident.

The full aluminium design of the clamshell bodes well for cooling, although there is only a single vent on the left hand side for an exhaust. Depending on the power of the fan, and corresponding heat soak, performance may be temperature affected in the long run.

HP Elitebook 745 G2 Specific Testing

With i1Display Pro colorimeter on hand (sorry, we didn’t have a spectrophotometer for more accurate color measurements), the G2 display running at 1600x900 with a TN panel came very low on our scoring. The high brightness was low (267 nits), and the low brightness was high (1.69 nits), giving an overall contrast ratio of 157. On the plus side, one could argue that the white point, at 6476K, was pretty good.

The color displacement in the calibrated display showed blue was way, way off what it should have been. Both red and green at low settings were also off target, with green having the best default line.

Here is the A10 PRO APU, showing the 19W TDP in the Bald Eagle platform. Kaveri and Carrizo are still both on 28nm, and it’s worth noting that these chips do not have any L3 cache but a super-associative 16-way L2 cache to reduce cache misses.

The G2 graphics are integrated into the APU, showing here the link to DDR3 memory at 25.6 GB/s (that’s dual channel, DDR3-1600 C11) for 384 streaming processors. This falls under the Spectre code name, and is DX12_0 compatible with the right OS and drivers.

Who Controls User Experience: AMD’s Carrizo Tested The Devices: #2 The HP Elitebook 745 G3 (Carrizo, PRO A12-8800B)
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  • Ian Cutress - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    It is. It was correct in the table :P fixed!
  • Intel999 - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    So what I had originally thought would be an advantage for Carrizo, the same motherboard for both Carizzo and Carizzo-L, turned out to screw AMD since OEMs refuse to provide any semblance of sufficient memory on the Carizzo non L chipsets.

    As for Zen, I can promise you that it will be a failure in laptop configurations if OEMs continue to reign it in with poor configurations such as single channel memory, HDDs and low quality screens.

    The only way to get a quality AMD system in this day and age is to go to a custom PC builder and give him the specs you require. Unfortunately, 90% of PC consumers wouldn't know what specs to give the builder and I'm sure Intel has coerced a lot of custom builders to push their CPUs through kickbacks.
  • reepca - Saturday, February 13, 2016 - link

    Could you name a custom PC builder that can build a laptop with Carrizo for me...? Or when you say "PC" do you mean "Desktop" (already gottaone)?
  • junky77 - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    My Y700 has 4GB of vRAM and GPU-Z show M385X

    Also, no talk about DX12?
  • Bateluer - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Any idea when we'll see the X4 845 arrive for desktops?
  • mrdude - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Amazing article, Ian! Took the better part of an hour to read it between chores and emails, but it was time well spent :)

    That said, I feel like one aspect regarding AMD's race-to-the-bottom has been ignored: AMD's own role in it. For decades, and with only a couple of notable exceptions, AMD has marketed itself as the cheaper alternative with 'good enough' performance. Well, unfortunately they've succeeded and this is the result. Carrizo processors on lagging nodes being sold, if only to decrease OEM investments, for dirt cheap and can only just compete with Intel's low end/mid-tier chips. If their engineers are proud of their efforts, then perhaps they need a reality check and take a look at those benchmarks. The APU is so lopsided and bandwidth starved that it should have never made it past the initial stages of design. (Why on earth are they selling 512SPs if they can't feed them? Is the company more worried about chewing up GloFo wafer commitments than designing a balanced design?)

    For AMD to command more volume, higher profit margins, and dictate minimum design/spec requirements, AMD also has to start making class-leading products. 'Good enough' should never be uttered within corporate offices else risk being fired. Unfortunately, mediocrity has been the staple of AMD's CPU side for as long as I can remember. CEOs and chief architects have come and gone, and things still haven't changed. After the X2 derivatives of the A64/K8 the company admitted defeat, if not outwardly than certainly tacitly.

    I'm not hopeful. Those days are long gone. It's been far too long since AMD has made something that has piqued my, or consumers', interest. They've got nothing but recent failures to point to. Unless Zen comes out and actually beats out Intel's comparable chips in cost, single-threaded, multi-threaded, and power consumption, every person within AMD should admit defeat. The goal is perfection, and personally it seems they still don't understand that.
  • wow&wow - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    "they still don't understand that."

    Because the paychecks are automatically deposited, no feeling about whether having paychecks or not since having them is a given : )
  • Lolimaster - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    AMD PLEASE, start selling mobiles devices under your brand.

    4 of 5 "design wins" shown here are complete sh*t, the Lenovo supposed to be at least decent got serious problems of throttling because they designed the cooling for a 15w TDP.

    You're screwing yourself AMD letting OEM's troll you time and time again.
  • wow&wow - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    A must read for AMD employees, particularly those who define, approve, or market products, tests needed for those : )
  • thatthing - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    my Lenovo y700 came with 8gb ram in two 4gb sticks. Sandra and cou z show duel channel. memory test is very similar to my desktop kaveri system with ddr1600. also my r9m385x has 4gb memory. amd's specs list it as 896 shader, which I would agree with as it performs like my 7790 in firestrike

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