7 / 10

HP EliteBook 8470p review

HP EliteBook 8470p review

Company

HP

Price

£1250

Strictly speaking, the HP EliteBook 8470p, which tips the price scales at £1,250, is a business-class laptop. But that classification doesn’t cover all of its capabilities. The EliteBook 8470p is a versatile all-round performer armed with enough firepower to double as a multimedia powerhouse and, to a lesser extent, a gaming rig.

Design

In a word, the EliteBook 8470p can be described as solid. Designed to withstand the rigours of business travel, its rugged design can handle its fair share of bumps and bruises, so you can stick it in a packed suitcase without any worries. Just make sure it’s a large suitcase, as the EliteBook’s magnesium alloy chassis measures 338 x 231 x 32mm (WxDxH), and the notebook weighs 2.4kg.

That isn’t to say that it’s an eyesore – far from it. The platinum finish on the chassis adds a touch of class to what could have otherwise been a drab, purely business affair. The same cannot be said of the underside, which is fashioned in a utilitarian, black plastic finish, and features a socket that can be readily attached to a docking station.

Although it’s not as sharp as the dazzling 1,920 x 1,080 HD screen seen in the comparably sized Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 which we recently reviewed, the EliteBook 8470p’s 14in 1,600 x 900 resolution display is nonetheless better than most other 14in screens on the market, many of which employ a 1,366 x 768 resolution.

Thanks to its higher resolution, text and images look crisp and sharp on the matte-finished screen. Movies also look terrific, which is handy as the EliteBook 8470p comes equipped with a built-in optical drive. The machine’s speakers won’t necessarily disturb your next-door neighbours at two in the morning, but they can nonetheless fill a medium-sized room with some decent sound.

The EliteBook 8470p’s raised tiled keyboard sports black matte-finish keys. The keyboard is well constructed, feeling appropriately sturdy without straying into the territory of excessive rigidity. All this makes for a pleasantly comfortable typing experience. The only fly in the ointment is the fact that the keyboard isn’t backlit. Although a white LED light above the display can be switched on to shine down onto the keyboard, this light is rather dim and doesn’t provide nearly enough illumination in a dark room.

The trackpad, meanwhile, is among the best we’ve ever used, with a smooth finish that allows your fingers to glide effortlessly as they scroll and pinch-zoom about. Two sets of right and left click buttons are present along the top and bottom edges of the trackpad, with the top pair designed to be used in conjunction with the pointing stick lodged in the middle of the keyboard.

There’s a judicious selection of ports here. In addition to headphone and microphone jacks and a DisplayPort input, the right side (pictured above) also features two USB 2.0 ports; one of these conveniently doubles as an eSATA port while the other has sleep and charge for powering other devices like smartphones or tablets.

The left side of the machine, meanwhile, is graced with a 4-pin FireWire 400 port, a card reader that supports SD and a range of Memory Stick formats, and two USB 3.0 ports (but neither sport the blue marking that typically distinguishes USB 3.0 ports from their slower USB 2.0 counterparts).

The rear of the system houses VGA and Ethernet ports, as well as an old-school dial-up modem port. As is often the case with business-class systems, the EliteBook 8470p does not feature an HDMI port. This isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw, though, since DisplayPort to HDMI adapters are fairly commonplace and ultimately yield the same results as an HDMI cable would by itself.

Performance

Given its robust 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7-3520M processor, we were hardly surprised by the fact that the EliteBook 8470p was a solid all-round performer in our benchmark tests. Although its PCMark 7 score of 2,395 points isn’t so impressive compared to other laptops in its class – and only slightly faster than its predecessor, the EliteBook 8460p, which hit 2,235 – the machine fared better in our multimedia tests.

The 8470p completed our Handbrake video encoding test in 1 minute and 28 seconds, which is pretty nippy, albeit it slower than the Lenovo Y580 which managed a time of 1 minute and 17 seconds. The laptop completed our Photoshop CS5 test in 3 minutes and 49 seconds, which is again an impressive result, fairly close to the Best Buy award winning Lenovo Y580’s 3 minutes and 25 seconds. The EliteBook didn’t fare quite so well when it came to Cinebench R11.5, with a score of 3.40 points.

The 8470p’s discrete 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7570M graphics card ensured this notebook produced fairly good results when it came to gaming, even though it isn’t designed to be a gaming rig. In 3DMark 06, it achieved a score of 7,255 points at medium detail settings and 1,024 x 768 resolution, and 5,488 points at its native 1600 x 900 resolution with 4x anti-aliasing. That’s considerably slower than the Y580, which hit 15,486 and 12,720 respectively – yet the EliteBook performed admirably when it came to frame rate benchmarks and real-world gaming.

The Radeon GPU managed to push past the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier at medium settings. In Crysis, it recorded an average of 62 fps in medium quality at 1,024 x 768 resolution, and 18 fps in high quality at its native resolution. In comparison, Lenovo’s Y580 managed 97 fps and 13 fps respectively. The EliteBook 8470p displayed a similar amount of finesse in Lost Planet 2, delivering 50 fps in medium quality at 1,024 x 768 resolution, and 31 fps under high quality at 1600 x 900. That’s certainly nippier than many notebooks in its class, and not far off the Y580’s performance (71 fps and 28 fps respectively).

The EliteBook 8470p’s removable 6-cell Lithium Ion battery is arguably its most glaring shortcoming, lasting a paltry 3 hours and 58 minutes when we ran our MobileMark 2007 battery rundown test. This battery performance fell behind many of its peers considerably, and even the Lenovo Y580, which is a bit weak on the battery front, managed 43 minutes more life.

For a system designed to be taken along on business trips, the EliteBook 8470p’s battery life is prohibitive. Sure, you can use it on an airplane, but if you don’t have access to a power outlet, it’s not going to last for a longer flight.

Verdict

The HP EliteBook 8470p is an impressive overall performer, so much so that it seems somewhat reductive to simply pigeonhole it as a business-class laptop. It’s armed with enough oomph to handle multimedia duties and some gaming, too.

Aside from its impressively engineered chassis and solid nature, however, it doesn’t offer much in terms of performance to distinguish it from lighter and less expensive systems, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Y580. Ultimately, HP’s offering is a good choice for anyone looking for a rugged road companion. For everyone else, though, the Best Buy award winning Lenovo Y580 is still the system to be checking out.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

HP EliteBook 8470p

Type 

 General Purpose, Business

Processor Name

 Intel Core i7-3520M

Operating System

 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional

Processor Speed

 2.9GHz

RAM

 4GB

Weight

 2.4kg

Screen Size

 14in

Screen Size Type

 Widescreen

Native Resolution

 1,600 x 900

Graphics Card

 AMD Radeon HD 7570M

Storage Capacity (as Tested)

 500GB

Rotation Speed

 7,200 rpm, SSD

Networking Options

 802.11n

Primary Optical Drive

 DVD SuperMulti

Wireless Display Capability (WiDi)

 No

WiMax

 No

Battery Type

 6-cell Lithium Ion

Pros

  • Sturdy build quality
  • Solid all-round performer
  • Can handle some gaming duties
  • Impressively crisp 14in display

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • A pretty hefty machine

Company

HP

Price

£1250

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