Notebookcheck

HP 250 G3 Notebook Review

Nino Ricchizzi (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 11/03/2014

It's got the basics. The HP 250 G3 is a 15.6-inch notebook currently priced at just 270 Euros (~$339). Did HP really just slim down their device where there was beef to spare, or did their frugal measures cross the line?

For the original German review, see here.

The HP 250 G3 steps on to the field as a notebook capable of performing simple office tasks for just 270 Euros (~$339). Its key hardware components consist of 2 GB of working memory, a 500 GB hard drive and an Intel Celeron N2830 with a clock speed of 2.16 GHz. It also comes with Windows 8.1 with Bing preinstalled. To position the 15.6-inch HP notebook relative to its competitors, we'll directly compare it with three devices in its price class. The Packard Bell EasyNote TF71BM comes outfitted with equivalent hardware, and is currently 20 Euros (~$25) cheaper than our HP device (~$314 total). At 260 Euros (~$326), the Acer Aspire E1-532 also costs slightly less, yet it boasts stronger Haswell architecture. In order to throw a non-Intel processor into the mix, we'll also compare our review device with the HP Compaq 15-h024sg.

Case & Connectivity

The HP 250 G3's case is constructed entirely of matte plastic. The raw surface doesn't show fingerprints and has good grippability. At a thickness of 2.8 cm (~1.1 inches) and a weight of 2.14 kg (~4.7 lbs), for having a 15.7-inch display, the device is very portable. Compared to the aforementioned competition, our device is 100-200 g (~0.22-0.44 lbs) lighter on average, but it is also 1-3 mm (~0.03-0.11 inches) thicker. The various pieces of the case join cleanly, but, unfortunately, the frame around the Ethernet port is rather sharp-edged, and the display lid yields easily to pressure. In terms of connections, the device offers three USB ports, though only one supports USB 3.0. Many other notebooks highlight their USB 3.0 ports in blue, but this HP device doesn't -- instead it simply houses the newer USB technology on its left side. With the exception of the power input and the Kensington lock, all the computer's connections are located towards the front. The advantage of this design is ease of accessibility; the disadvantage is that a tangle of devices and cables near the front of the notebook can get in the way, especially if you use a USB-based mouse.

Looking at the underside of the notebook, there is no maintenance hatch to be found. Only the battery can be removed without any tools. The Acer Aspire E1-532 proves that this kind of sealed construction isn't necessary for an inexpensive notebook.

The HP 250 G3 in review
The HP 250 G3 in review
Front: SD-card slot
Front: SD-card slot
Right: 2x USB 2.0, DVD drive
Right: 2x USB 2.0, DVD drive
Left: power socket, Kensington lock, 1x VGA output, 1x HDMI output, 1x Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, Combined audio jack
Left: power socket, Kensington lock, 1x VGA output, 1x HDMI output, 1x Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, Combined audio jack
Back view
Back view

Input Devices

Like most notebooks, our test device is outfitted with a chiclet keyboard. The keys are comparably flat and offer a very soft feel while typing. The positioning of the arrow keys takes a little getting used to, as the up and down arrows share one normal key space between the left and right arrows. A touchpad measuring 11.1 cm x 5.4 cm (~4.4 x 2.1 inches) with click keys below replaces the mouse. The pad generally executes multitouch commands, like scrolling on websites, very fluidly. All in all, both our notebook's input devices turned out well.

Display

The ergonomic, matte 15.6-inch TN display is a product of LG and has a resolution of up to 1366x768 pixels. The panel runs at an average brightness of 206 cd/m² in both AC power mode and battery mode. At 334:1, the contrast is exceptionally weak. Our test model's resulting black value is a high 0.67. HP's Compaq 15-h024sg proves that these things needn't be so -- with a contrast of 841:1 and black value of 0.24, it does considerably better here.

199
cd/m²
215
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
216
cd/m²
225
cd/m²
205
cd/m²
198
cd/m²
200
cd/m²
196
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 225 cd/m² Average: 206.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 225 cd/m²
Contrast: 336:1 (Black: 0.67 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 10.64 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 10.61 | - Ø
40% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 1.99

Our analysis of the display's color and grayscale reproduction reveals further weaknesses. Both scales reach average DeltaE values of over ten, and the grayscale is plagued by a visible blue cast. The TN panel's viewing-angle stability is also pitiful. In outdoor use, the device scores points for its matte display, but because of its low brightness, the screen content is only visible on cloudy days.

CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
Color space coverage sRGB
Color space coverage sRGB
Color space coverage Adobe RGB
Color space coverage Adobe RGB
The HP's screen allows for outdoor use on a cloudy day.
The HP's screen allows for outdoor use on a cloudy day.

Performance

The components HP chose for their inexpensive 270 Euros (~$339) notebook predestine the device for office and Internet use. If you're looking for more performance, the manufacturer also offers other hardware options for the 15.6-inch device. To upgrade the working memory size from 2 GB to 4 GB costs 50 Euros (~$62). Anyone who wants to add a higher-performance Intel Pentium N3530 (quad-core) will have to pony up a considerably larger sum (460 Euros; ~$577).

Processor

In order to keep their notebook in this low price range, HP installed an Intel Celeron N2830 dual-core processor. This CPU is usually found in smaller notebooks or netbooks and has a base clock frequency of 2160 MHz. In turbo mode, the CPU can clock at up to 2410 MHz. The Intel Celeron 2955U at work in the Acer Aspire E1-532 is based on Haswell architecture (rather than the HP device's Bay Trail architecture) and achieves considerably better results in our Cinebench test. However, with its AMD component, the HP Compaq 15-h024sg comes in far behind our Intel system here.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
0.43 Points ∼0%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
0.44 Points ∼0% +2%
HP Compaq 15-h024sg
0.23 Points ∼0% -47%
Acer Aspire E1-532
0.61 Points ∼0% +42%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
0.87 Points ∼0%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
0.82 Points ∼0% -6%
HP Compaq 15-h024sg
0.46 Points ∼0% -47%
Acer Aspire E1-532
1.14 Points ∼0% +31%

Legend

 
HP 250 G3 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
 
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
 
HP Compaq 15-h024sg AMD E1-2100, AMD Radeon HD 8210, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
 
Acer Aspire E1-532 Intel Celeron 2955U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
2394 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
3340 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
1783 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
5.95 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
0.87 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.43 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
5.12 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
69 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
39 Points
Help

System Performance

Our test device's reaction times are long. Subjectively, work seems to go more quickly on this machine than on the Acer Extensa 2509 we recently reviewed, although the Acer device managed to get better results in the PCMark 8 test.

PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
1226 Points ∼22%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
1231 Points ∼22% 0%
Acer Extensa 2509-C052
1328 Points ∼23% +8%

Legend

 
HP 250 G3 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
 
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
 
Acer Extensa 2509-C052 Intel Celeron N2930, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
1226 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
986 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
1300 points
Help

Storage Devices

HP installed a 5400 rpm magnetic hard drive in their notebook. At 500 GB, the storage space is reasonably ample. The Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500's results are in the normal range for this kind of model.

Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
Transfer Rate Minimum: 42.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 108.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 79.3 MB/s
Access Time:
Burst Rate:
CPU Usage: 18.4 %

Graphics Card

Our test notebook houses a Bay Trail version of Intel HD Graphics, directly integrated into the CPU. The Packard Bell EasyNote TF71BM is also outfitted with this GPU, whereas the rest of the competition diverges here: The Acer Aspire E1-532 boasts a Haswell version of the Intel HD Graphics, and the HP Compaq 15 has an AMD Radeon HD 8210 at its command. Both the Aspire and the Compaq offer considerably more performance in this area.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
223 Points ∼1%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
214 Points ∼1% -4%
HP Compaq 15-h024sg
369 Points ∼2% +65%
Acer Aspire E1-532
480 Points ∼2% +115%

Legend

 
HP 250 G3 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
 
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
 
HP Compaq 15-h024sg AMD E1-2100, AMD Radeon HD 8210, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
 
Acer Aspire E1-532 Intel Celeron 2955U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
3DMark 11 Performance
223 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
15722 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
1194 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Because the hardware's performance is so weak, it's better simply not to try to play new games on this system. Of course, some older games are surely playable at low graphics settings. The Acer Aspire E1-532 generates considerably more frames per second. Even so, the Acer device isn't capable of rendering games at more than minimum quality settings. If the user's list of musts includes the ability to run current games, a Geforce 840M is imperative -- even better would be a GTX 860M or above.

Tomb Raider - 1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
14.4 fps ∼2%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
14.4 fps ∼2% 0%
Acer Aspire E1-532
30.3 fps ∼5% +110%

Legend

 
HP 250 G3 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
 
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
 
HP Compaq 15-h024sg AMD E1-2100, AMD Radeon HD 8210, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
 
Acer Aspire E1-532 Intel Celeron 2955U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 14.47.5fps

Emissions

System Noise

Even though our test device -- thanks to its fanless construction -- should theoretically be very quiet, the hard drive generates an audible noise. The loud whirring of a hard drive accompanied by its sharp clicking sounds could interfere with work-flow for those who are sensitive to such disturbances.

Noise Level

Idle
0 / 0 / 0 dB(A)
HDD
34.1 dB(A)
DVD
37.2 / dB(A)
Load
0 / 0 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test with Furmark and Prime95
Stress test with Furmark and Prime95

Even without fans, the HP consistently remains cool in idle mode. The hottest spot (31.5 °C; 88.7 °F) is 2 °C or 3.6 °F hotter than the warmest areas on the competing devices, though these machines are outfitted with fans. Things get more interesting under load: At a maximum of 45.7 °C (114.26 °F), our HP notebook's highest temperature is considerably hotter than that of the competition. The Lenovo B50-30, which is also fanless, is more or less on par with our HP computer temperature-wise, but it remains somewhat cooler under load. Over the course of the stress test, our test device clocked at an average of 2223 MHz. Even after an hour under heavy load, the processor never dipped below its base clock frequency.

 26.2 °C27.7 °C25.1 °C 
 25.7 °C28.1 °C25 °C 
 25.1 °C26.6 °C27 °C 
Maximum: 28.1 °C
Average: 26.3 °C
25.3 °C30 °C27 °C
25.3 °C31.5 °C28.9 °C
28.7 °C27.8 °C27.8 °C
Maximum: 31.5 °C
Average: 28 °C
Power Supply (max.)  38.5 °C | Room Temperature 22.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

A notebook in this price class is unlikely to offer great audio quality, and the HP 250 G3 is no exception. Bass is practically non-existent, and songs have a constricted and compressed sound.    Music lovers are better off using headphones or plugging in external speakers. The volume is sufficient for the occasional film or YouTube clip.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The notebook's power consumption rate in idle mode approximates its expected energy use in normal, everyday use as well. At 6.2 W to 10 W, the HP machine isn't especially thirsty, but the HP Compaq 15-h024sg and the Acer Aspire E1-532 consume around 2 Watts less. We simulate extremely heavy use (i.e. load) by running Furmark and Prime95 simultaneously. Our test device proves to require a low 15.4 Watts here; the Acer Aspire E1-532, with its Haswell architecture, needs a much higher 26.5 W.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.05 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 6.2 / 8.6 / 10 Watt
Load midlight 13.7 / 15.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

According to the manufacturer, the 28.8 Wh battery should have enough steam in it to run the machine for up to six hours. Our WLAN test simulates surfing the Internet at a display brightness of 151 cd/m². With a balanced Windows profile, our HP computer cuts out after just 3 h and 29 min. The competition offers considerably longer battery life.

Battery Runtime - WiFi (sort by value)
HP 250 G3
209 min ∼8%
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1
429 min ∼16%
HP Compaq 15-h024sg
286 min ∼11%
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4
391 min ∼14%

Legend

 
HP 250 G3 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680
 
Packard Bell Easynote TF71BM-C8R1 Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
 
HP Compaq 15-h024sg AMD E1-2100, AMD Radeon HD 8210, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
 
Acer Extensa 2510-34Z4 Intel Core i3-4030U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing
3h 29min

Verdict

The HP 250 G3
The HP 250 G3

HP is asking for just 270 Euros (~$339) for their 15.6-inch notebook. The simple plastic case feels good in your hands, and the input devices are certainly cut out for office use and surfing the Internet. The keyboard feels good under your fingers, and the large multitouch pad reacts promptly and fluidly. In terms of the amount of noise the computer produces, its fanless construction does it credit and makes it possible to take this notebook into a quiet environment (ex. a library) without being a nuisance. However, the hard drive does generate sporadic, bothersome clicking sounds. Other cons include the computer's lack of performance and battery life. Compared to other devices, this notebook will need to be plugged into the wall after a fairly short period. The Packard Bell EasyNote TF71BM, for example, keeps chugging along for a whole 7 h. With its Haswell architecture, the Acer Aspire E1-532 offers better performance.

Considering its price, we'd call the HP 250 G3 a solid device. Even so, there are certainly good alternatives in this price range.

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The HP 250 G3. Test model courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de
The HP 250 G3. Test model courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de

Specifications

HP 250 G3
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Core: 720 MHz, igdumdim64 10.18.10.3408
Memory
2048 MB 
, DDR3L SDRAM 1/1 memory bank occupied
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, LG Philips LGD03D9, TN, glossy: no
Storage
Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545032A7E680, 320 GB 
, 5400 rpm, 8 MB cache
Soundcard
Intel Valleyview SoC - HD Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Combined audio port, Card Reader: SD
Networking
Realtek RTL8102/8103/8136 Family PCI-E FE NIC (10/100MBit), Ralink RT3290 802.11n Wireless Network Adapter (b/g/n), Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
HP DVDRAM GU90N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 28 x 378 x 259 ( = 1.1 x 14.88 x 10.2 in)
Battery
30 Wh Lithium-Ion, COMPAL PABAS0241231, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 6 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: VGA
Additional features
Speakers: Two speakers, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, CyberLink YouCam, CyberLink Media Suite 10, CyberLink Power2Go8, CyberLink PowerDVD 12, CyberLink LabelPrint, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
2.14 kg ( = 75.49 oz / 4.72 pounds), Power Supply: 294 g ( = 10.37 oz / 0.65 pounds)
Price
270 Euro

 

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Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Input devices
+Matte display
+Price
 

Cons

-Noisy hard drive
-Only 12-month warranty
-Contrast
-Battery life

Shortcut

What we like

The good input devices and the notebook's comfortable feel.

What we'd like to see

Longer battery life and a maintenance hatch.

What surprises us

That even at this low price, it's possible to get a full-blown notebook.

The competition

The competition includes the Packard Bell EasyNote TF71BM (which has equivalent hardware), the more powerful Acer Aspire E1-532, and the AMD-based HP Compaq 15-h024sg.

Rating

HP 250 G3 - 10/27/2014 v4(old)
Nino Ricchizzi

Chassis
71 / 98 → 72%
Keyboard
71%
Pointing Device
78%
Connectivity
61 / 81 → 75%
Weight
62 / 67 → 89%
Battery
79%
Display
71%
Games Performance
40 / 68 → 59%
Application Performance
34 / 92 → 37%
Temperature
89%
Noise
95%
Audio
30%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
63%
72%
Office - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > HP 250 G3 Notebook Review
Nino Ricchizzi, 2014-11- 3 (Update: 2014-11- 4)