#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
TDP 19W
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
DisplayPort
VGA
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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  • alexruiz - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Ian,
    What specific model of the Elitebook 745 G3 did you test?
    You listed the QHD screen (2560 x 1440 IPS) but you also wrote that it came in at just under $700. Is this correct? The one that you received for $700 included the QHD screen?
    Thanks
    Reply
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    The link on the page goes to the T3L35UT#ABA, which is a 1080p screen. I'm guessing the spreadsheet and/or pricing is incorrect somehow. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    I remember being told it was 700, though I may have misheard and perhaps they were speaking GBP. But AB is right, the larger screen is 1080p and more expensive.

    The HP website is surprising though - the UX on the website is crazy to find a product that isn't the latest and greatest. It is very difficult to find anything and you seem to pay a premium for speccing out a custom Elitebook. Trying to spec out the one I was given came to $1900 from a $1620 base, which clearly isn't right because the high end 'buy now' model was about $1120 with similar specifications.

    http://goo.gl/5spQls
    Reply
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    GBP certainly makes a lot more sense. The base USD$750 model on HP's site has an A8-8600B, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB HDD. If you want to find a Carrizo system with an "awful user experience" there it is.

    Custom-building an HP business system from their site is also expensive for no reason other than "because we said so." They really want you to buy the mass-manufactured SmartBuy models, although you may have better luck with a custom unit (read: "reasonable pricing") if you buy from a 3rd-party reseller.

    I would like to see some GPU benchmarks with a second stick of RAM added to the 745 G3 though. Single-channel memory gives integrated graphics the Tonya Harding treatment.
    Reply
  • Intel999 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    Another review of Carrizo in the HP 745 G3 showed a 30% improvement in gaming when the second stick of RAM was installed. It went from woefully behind Intel to just ahead of them after sufficient RAM was provided.

    It is remarkable that any OEM would damage their own reputation by putting out crap that is obviously intended to funnel sales to Intel.

    Imagine an OEM putting out a model, let's call it HP100, and offering it with identical specs with the only difference being a Carrizo CPU vs. an I5 from Intel. Few if any, would notice a difference in performance in the real world, not talking benchmarks.

    The OEM would have a $100 savings on the Carrizo version if not more. If they were to sell it for $50 less than the Intel version they would sell more and that extra $50 profit on the AMD machine would more than offset the "rebates" they are getting from Intel. So they could have a higher profit margin at a lower price point. Afterall, with all the Intel marketing you'd still have plenty of people opting for the Intel version with it's lower profit margin. Just not as many and overtime you could approach Intel and point out that you make more money off AMD machines and who knows, maybe for the first time in recent history the OEM would control how their company is run and Intel would say "I guess we can cut our price by $25" and then you would be making the same profit on both Intel and AMD machines since, of course, the OEM wouldn't pass that $25 to the customer.

    They could still offer junk machines at lower price points. Fill em up with Celerons or whatever they wanted attached to HDDs, 4GB of RAM, and crap screens.

    Surely, no OEM is still following the old Intel rebate plan that allowed Intel to determine the market share that the OEM is allowed to give AMD. Or, are they?

    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    I hate HP store with all my might, back in the day I got better experience donwloading from japanese p2p's not knowing japanese and just using a simple guide. Reply
  • keeepcool - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Please, just dont let Toshiba make laptops, just DON'T.
    Sorry for the word, but Toshiba is a shit brand that deserves to die. All their laptops have cooling solutions that are badly designed from the start, and the they cut all the corners and go for paper thin 4mm heatpipes on top of deformed and pitted 1.5mm cooper plates that make poor contact with the dies, the fans are thin, the thermal paste is worse than toothpaste, just stop allowing them to disgrace AMD name.
    HP is also guilty of this, after the disgrace that where the dv6 models almost no one in Portugal and a lot other countries ever want a laptop with AMD cpu or gpu, because DV6's are just know for being litteral toasters that crash and burned, yes part of that was due to lack of maintenance, but still, it left a very sour taste regard AMD/ATI equiped laptops.

    Today only people with low monetary margins will go for an AMD laptop, because they are the cheapest ones, and even then HP and Toshibas just manage to make toasters out of 7 and 15Watts TDP, its like they actually spend time engineering them to became so hot with so little TDP's...
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    50.27 Wh, 3 cell Li-Po design, rated to 10.25 hours. Out of a 3.3GHz AMD APU.

    You know, HP, somehow, I don't believe you.
    Reply
  • bluevaping - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Nice article. And I get the point of the article about OEM's and AMD. I mostly agree with Shadowmaster 625. But it would have been nice to see a dual channel memory test. The Elitebook supports it. Slap in the extra ram and test it. And try dual channel 1866 Ram too. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Shame the Lenovo doesn't support dual graphics - any reason why, or will this be updated in drivers? Especially as the integrated one has the same number of SPs as the dedicated, it could add a lot to the power equation. Reply

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