#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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  • chris471 - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    What do you do with all those split hares? Are they any good barbecued?
    ("Octane splits hares between the Kaveri ...")
  • Ian Cutress - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Lightly roasted for me :) Edited, thanks!
  • maglito - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Were you able to test 18Gbps HDMI? The ability to drive an external display with 2160p 4:2:2 @ 60Hz? I guess the lack of a 10bit accelerated video decoder almost makes the point moot for future 2160p content though....

    Otherwise, fantastic article!
  • MonkeyPaw - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Last time I shopped for a laptop (which was recently), I was considering an A10-based HP with a 1080p screen. The problem I saw was in reviews the battery life was really poor. It looked like HP put a small battery in it, making the thing only worthy as a DTR. I ended up going with a Lenovo with an i3. I guess part of the problem is that there are so many variants of laptops that finding a review of a specific model is impossible, and all you have to go on are things like Amazon or Best Buy ussr reviews, which can be extremely painful to read.
  • Lolimaster - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    HP sometimes release near "nice" AMD laptops but always cripples it with laughable battery capacities, same models intel inside dont get the nerfs.
  • euskalzabe - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    That was a wonderful article that I thoroughly enjoyed reading to start my Friday. Long story short, you perfectly define my laptop buying rationale with "SSD, dual channel memory, 8 hours+ light battery, under 2kg, Full HD IPS panel".

    That's why I bought an i5 UX305. I wanted an AMD machine because I plain like the company and would like them to succeed to bring more competition to Intel, but I found NOTHING even close to the specs you mentioned. The UX305 fit the description perfectly and cost me $750. It was an immediate purchase for me. If AMD managed the OEM relationship to create such a machine, it would be an insta-buy for me. Also, Zenbooks with Zen APUs oculd be a great marketing strategy :)
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    AMD is a company that shoots itself in the foot at every opportunity. I am truly perplexed. Their cat cores shouldnt even exist. But not only do those crippled parts exist, they crippled their premium parts by combining the two platforms! WHY? How could they not see that every notebook would be single channel? They wasted the entirety of their ATI purchase, as you can see with the Rocket League results vs Intel. This is a disgrace.

    AMD needs to realize that it IS AMD who controls the User experience. Look at the Mackbook Air. Look at the Surface Pro. Look at the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. All of these platforms have a set minimum level of performance. Sure they might be more expensive than a $300 atom clunker, but at least the user will not throw the thing out the window after pulling their hair out.

    AMD needs to put a floor under their products. 4 cores. 8GB of unified HBM. 512 cores GPU. This is the SoC that they need. Sure they can fuse off a core or whatever to harvest bad dies, but this is the minimum die they should be making. Ideally within 2 years they will move to a 4 core, 16GB HBM, and they will replace one stack of HBM with 128GB of HBF. They need to control the memory bandwidth of their SoC. Take away the ability of the OEMs to cripple performance. Use HBF to take away the ability for OEMs to cripple storage performance also. Do this, and every AMD system will be fast. And it will get design wins.
  • t.s - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    If you read the article: AMD not crippled their premium parts. It was OEM. If only OEM create mobos that have dual channel mems.
  • xthetenth - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    OEMs shaving pennies is as universal a phenomenon as gravity, and designs should be made as such.
  • t.s - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    hence the title, "who controls user experience" :)

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