Notebookcheck

Review HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET Subnotebook

Till Schönborn (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/17/2014

Small laptop big in business. The HP EliteBook 820 G1 wants to reel in well-heeled business customers with high portability and business qualities. A Core i7 processor, SSD and mobile wireless modem drive up the price of the 12-inch laptop to far beyond 1500 Euros (~$2090) - too steep or is what it has to offer appropriate? Test Update: 07/2014: Optional HD IPS screen and Intel i7 4510U CPU.

For the original German review, see here.

On the go business people usually have very clear requirements on their wish-laptop: It must be reliable and secure, and sufficiently fast for the used applications. However, special focus is also placed on weight and battery runtime - particularly when the laptop is taken along on extended business trips.

Compact, 12-inch laptops are made just for this purpose as they try to master the balancing act between maximum portability and high (remaining) user value. The EliteBook 820 G1 plays this role at HP. The entry-level model features a Core i5 processor alongside 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB HDD for approximately 1000 Euros (~$1394). Configurations of considerably higher performance are also available. A steep 1700 Euros (~$2370) are demanded for our review sample that sports a Core i7-4600U, 8 GB of RAM, a 180 GB SSD storage, and a mobile wireless module - a lot of money for such a small laptop. At least all models include a 3-year warranty, a matte screen with 1366x768 pixels and the free choice between Windows 7 or 8 (both Professional).

As so often, HP faces strong contenders from Dell and Lenovo in the form of the Latitude E7240 and the ThinkPad X240. The price of all three is very close, which will likely make it an exciting battle for the crown of this category.

EliteBook 820 G1 (H5G05ET) EliteBook 820 G1 (F1R80AW) EliteBook 820 G1 (H5G14ET)
Core i5-4200U Core i5-4300U Core i7-4600U
4 GB RAM 4 GB RAM 8 GB RAM
500 GB (HDD) 180 GB (SSD) 180 GB (SSD)
HD Graphics 4400 HD Graphics 4400 HD Graphics 4400
12.5", 1366 x 768 pixels 12.5", 1.366 x 768 pixels 12.5", 1366 x 768 pixels
no WWAN no WWAN UMTS/HSPA+
from 1000 Euros from 1600 Euros from 1700 Euros

Case

Highly rigid magnesium casing
Highly rigid magnesium casing
Protective rubber lip
Protective rubber lip

HP introduced a new design line with the EliteBook 800 range. It relies on curved shapes and restrained colors, primarily black and silver. This dress looks just as good on the 820 G1 as on the recently tested 850 G1. The matte surfaces also prove to be resistant and insensitive to smudging. HP even promises that the laptop has successfully been tested according to the MIL-STD-810 US military standard.

The EliteBook is almost completely made of magnesium, which is supposed to make an approximately 30 percent lower weight possible compared with the precursor. Nevertheless, our review sample weighs over 1.5 kilograms (~3.3 pounds), which is also due to the lush configuration. In any case, the chassis provides outstanding performance in terms of rigidity and stability, and even defies the strongest pressure completely unimpressed. The screen, rimmed by a protective rubber lip, can also be warped by only a few millimeters using high force. Both massive metal hinges limit any wobbling of the lid to a minimum, and are yet so smooth running that only one hand is needed for opening.

Like the bigger sister model, the 820 G1's meticulous build is impressive. We did not discover any sharp edges or irregular material transitions; the manufacturer should only rectify the slight play between the display bezel and screen.

Connectivity

In the course of redesigning the case, HP crossed out several outdated interfaces, such as the ExpressCard slot and the obsolete 56k modem. Besides that, all interfaces have been moved to both casing's sides. The user now has three USB 3.0 ports, two display sockets (VGA and DisplayPort), a headset jack, and Gbit LAN available. Buying the approximately 170 Euros (~$237) "UltraSlim DockingStation" might be worth considering should that not be enough. It is connected to the laptop's side, and supplies additional USB and monitor ports.

Overall, the interface positioning can be called good. However, we again have to reproach the very difficult to reach card reader. Instead of placing it below the USB ports, HP could have simply used an empty space on the laptop's front.

Front: No interfaces
Front: No interfaces
Left: Kensington lock, VGA, USB 3.0, SmartCard reader
Left: Kensington lock, VGA, USB 3.0, SmartCard reader
Rear: No interfaces
Rear: No interfaces
Right: Headset jack, DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, Gbit LAN, docking station slot, power socket
Right: Headset jack, DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, Gbit LAN, docking station slot, power socket
0.9 megapixel webcam with middling picture quality
0.9 megapixel webcam with middling picture quality

Communication

The manufacturer installs different Wi-Fi modules depending on the configuration; in our case, it is Intel's Dual-Band Wireless-N 7260. Although this mid-range model does not feature the latest ac standard, it supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, and consequently also transmits in the less frequented 5 GHz band. Transmission rates of up to 300 Mbps can be reached owing to dual-stream technology (2x2), providing an appropriate router is on the other side. The EliteBook proved to have an above average range, and excellent connection stability even in difficult reception conditions in our practical test (o2 Box 4421, max. 150 Mbps).

In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, our review sample also sports a mobile broadband modem (HP hs 3110), which enables the user to browse via UMTS/HSPA+ on the go. Inserting a corresponding SIM card was a bit inconvenient because it has to be inserted in a slot under the battery.

The same 0.9 megapixel webcam including the array microphone as found in the EliteBook 850 G1 is available for video conferencing. The picture and sound quality are acceptable for communication purposes, but the primary camera of every low-priced smartphone provides much better results.

Security

Protecting the laptop against (physical) theft is not the only security issue for laptops, but in particular protecting the stored data. HP therefore relies on extensive hardware and software technologies, which include a specially protected BIOS, and an optional file and drive encryption. Physically, the EliteBook can be protected against theft with a Kensington lock, but it can also be located and/or remote locked (Computrace and Intel Anti-Theft) in real emergencies. Naturally, a fingerprint scanner should not be omitted, which is a convenient alternative, or a supplement for normal passwords.

Accessories

Driver and Windows DVDs are included
Driver and Windows DVDs are included

Since Windows 8 is not widely accepted in the professional field, HP installs the older Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) ex-factory, but includes the installation and driver DVDs for both operating systems. Apart from that, the accessories are only comprised of the usual leaflets, a matching 45-Watt power supply, and various programs, such as PowerDVD 12 and a PDF reader.

Maintenance

A practical slide mechanism secures the 820 G1's base plate, and thus allows maintenance without tools. Since both memory banks and the 2.5-inch slot (7 mm height) of our review sample are furnished, only the empty M.2 slot (NGFF 2242) is left for potential upgrading. Naturally, the installed components can be replaced. Except for the soldered CPU, virtually the entire hardware can be exchanged in a few steps. Only removing and cleaning the processor's fan would involve disassembling the device even further.

Warranty

HP includes a 3-year warranty on the laptop and the battery, which can be upgraded via so-called "Care Packs". Buyers who are satisfied with a basic pick-up and return service can upgrade (U7868E) to a total of 4 years for approximately 130 Euros (~$180); a 5-year warranty, including accidental damage and on-site service (UL786E, UM236E) quickly surpasses 500 Euros (~$700).

Input Devices

Keyboard

The EliteBook 820 G1 largely adopts the chiclet keyboard of the bigger 850 G1, but sacrifices one row of function keys (Scroll, Pos1, End, etc.) for space reasons. Otherwise, important similarities such as splash water protection and a two level backlight are still available, and the character keys' size of 14 x 14 millimeters has not been altered.

We published an in-depth report about the keyboard's typing feel and pressure point in a former review, to which we would like to refer to here. Nevertheless, there are minor differences. The yielding keyboard center that we criticized in the 15-inch model is virtually non-existent in the 820 G1. Subjectively, the keyboard provides a much crisper feedback, and thus achieves an even better rating.

Touchpad and TrackPoint

Unlike Lenovo's laptop, HP does not integrate the mouse keys directly in the touchpad. Although the input field is relatively small for this reason (85 x 46 millimeters; ~3.3 x 1.8 inches), the higher user comfort more than compensates that. Good gliding properties and the high accuracy almost make the pad a full-blown mouse replacement. The various multi-touch gestures with up to three fingers also facilitate routine use.

An alternative is the so-called Pointstick that we closely examined before. Apart from the omitted scroll button, it also does an excellent job. All four mouse buttons - the TrackPoint and mouse pad have dedicated buttons - thrill with a firm, yet barely audible stroke that strongly underlines the generally high quality level.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad and TrackPoint
Touchpad and TrackPoint

Display

One of the biggest shortcomings of the old EliteBook 2560p was the extremely mediocre screen that did not deliver satisfying performance in any of the tests. Has the manufacturer recognized and eliminated this problem?

Nothing has changed in resolution. 1366x768 pixels (125 dpi) are more or less acceptable in a 12.5-inch screen. However, the 820 G1 cannot compete with either the ThinkPad X240 or Latitude E7240, which have an optional Full HD screen. Consequently, users who deal with complex programs or large Excel spreadsheets will quickly find the limits of the small desktop surface.

In return, slight improvements are seen in the screen's maximum brightness, which has been increased from 165 to 211 cd/m². For comparison: We ascertained exactly the same rate in the (non-touch) E7240, although our review sample does not come close to the optional premium screens from Lenovo or Dell, which cost extra. At least the screen does not display distracting flickering or bleeding, and the luminosity is distributed evenly over the entire screen.

203
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
196
cd/m²
220
cd/m²
229
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
219
cd/m²
225
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 229 cd/m²
Average: 210.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 227 cd/m²
Black: 0.63 cd/m²
Contrast: 363:1

HP opted for a basic TN screen from AU Optronics with the model name AUO206C for its EliteBook. It unfortunately cannot render a truly saturated black (0.63 cd/m² at maximum brightness), which results in a modest contrast ratio of just 363:1. However, this point is not as significant for a business device as it would be for a multimedia laptop. The image quality is definitely sufficient for office tasks.

A marginal note about the screen's color reproduction, which will be of interest primarily for photographers and graphic designers. A color space coverage of only 54 percent in the sRGB standard disqualifies the 820 G1 for many professional applications. Besides that, the screen exhibits extreme color and grayscale shifts. While they at least can be partially rectified via calibration, the visible bluish cast remains even in the ideal image settings.

820 G1 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
820 G1 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
820 G1 vs. sRGB (t)
820 G1 vs. sRGB (t)
820 G1 vs. Latitude E7240 (t)
820 G1 vs. Latitude E7240 (t)
Color accuracy (non-calibrated)
Color accuracy (non-calibrated)
Color saturation (non-calibrated)
Color saturation (non-calibrated)
Grayscale (non-calibrated)
Grayscale (non-calibrated)
Color accuracy (calibrated)
Color accuracy (calibrated)
Color saturation (calibrated)
Color saturation (calibrated)
Grayscale (calibrated)
Grayscale (calibrated)

Despite its screen's matte surface, the EliteBook is not without limitations for outdoor use. Although the screen's maximum brightness is also achieved in battery mode, the rate of roughly 200 cd/m² is simply too low to defy bright sunlight. The manufacturer should most certainly make improvements here. A slight surcharge will unlikely make a difference considering the very high base price.

Outdoors (sunny conditions)
Viewing angles: HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET
Viewing angles: HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET

Typical for a TN, the screen proves to be very viewing angle dependent, and only supplies a true image from a straight-on view. The slightest movements, particularly up and down, cause an intense brightness loss and color deviations. The optional "HD Premium UWVA screen" promises better performance, although it is likely only a high-quality IPS screen. Unfortunately, only the "HD SVA screen" that we tested is on the market until now. The user can alternatively use an external monitor that renders a sharp and flicker-free image even via VGA (tested with up to 1920x1080 pixels).

Update July 2014 - IPS HD screen:

Elitebook 820 G1 IPS HD vs. AdobeRGB98
Elitebook 820 G1 IPS HD vs. AdobeRGB98

A version of HP's Elitebook 820 with a higher-quality IPS screen has now found its way into our tests. The device incorporates a screen from LG Philips (LGD0404) and like the base configuration, offers the same resolution of 1366x768 pixels on a screen diagonal of 12.5 inches (125 ppi). The available desktop thus remains the same, but the screen's rates have been improved considerably.

For example, the average brightness of very good 355 cd/m² is well beyond the base TN screen with approximately 210 cd/m². The maximum contrast has also been improved, and is now good 703:1 (cf. 363:1 in the TN screen).

366
cd/m²
377
cd/m²
380
cd/m²
362
cd/m²
385
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
331
cd/m²
317
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 385 cd/m²
Average: 355.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 82 %
Center on Battery: 384 cd/m²
Black: 0.548 cd/m²
Contrast: 703:1

How does that look in relation to the contenders? The following comparison chart shows the three rivals, Elitebook 820, Thinkpad X240, and Latitude E7240 all with an HD screen. The clearly better rates of both IPS solutions in the Elitebook and Thinkpad, which are vastly superior to the HD models regarding brightness, contrast, and color reproduction, quickly becomes evident. Dell and Lenovo however still have another ace up their sleeve: Both the Thinkpad X240 and the Latitude E7240 are optionally available with a higher resolution Full HD IPS screen.

HP EliteBook 820 G1
TN HD
HP EliteBook 820 G1
IPS HD
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
IPS HD
Dell Latitude E7240
TN HD
Screen
Brightness Center229385
68%
361
58%
211
-8%
Black Level *0.630.548
13%
0.507
20%
0.631
-0%
Contrast363703
94%
712
96%
334
-8%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *10.755.99
44%
3.78
65%
8.45
21%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *11.725.7
51%
3.34
72%
9.03
23%
Gamma *2.622.052.582.58
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)3740.63
10%
41
11%
39
5%

* ... smaller is better

Although the deviations of the reproduced colors and grayscale of the IPS model is significantly better in state of delivery than the TN version, ideal conditions can first be achieved via calibration using a spectrophotometer (icc file in the above visualization available). The color space coverage of approximately 40% of AdobeRGB is not much better than that of the TN version. This issue is however only important for a handful of graphic/print experts.

Grayscale 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Grayscale 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Colorchecker 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Colorchecker 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Saturation 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Saturation 820 G1 IPS HD (uncalibrated)
Grayscale 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)
Grayscale 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)
Colorchecker 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)
Colorchecker 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)
Saturation 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)
Sattigung 820 G1 IPS HD (calibrated)

Performance

Maximum Turbo clock: 3.3 GHz
Maximum Turbo clock: 3.3 GHz

The limited cooling capacity of the small 12-inch chassis requires the use of energy-efficient ULV processors that are based on Intel's latest Haswell architecture, and which the contenders also use. Depending on the configuration, HP installs various Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs; our premium model even sports the Core i7-4600U. Its base speed of 2.1 GHz can be increased up to 3.3 GHz via Turbo Boost (2 cores: 2.9 GHz). Additionally, Hyperthreading improves the multi-threading performance. Intel builds the chip in a 22-nanometer process, and it is specified with a TDP of only 15 Watts (including the chipset).

Since it does not sport a dedicated solution from AMD or Nvidia, the integrated HD Graphics 4400 takes care of all graphic tasks. The medium, also called "GT2", expansion stage of the Haswell GPU features 20 execution units (EUs) with a clock of 200 up to 1100 MHz.

A swift dual-channel connection to the main memory is necessary so that the graphics unit can max out its full performance. This prerequisite is given in the form of two 4 GB DDR3L-1600 modules, which gives the 820 G1 an advantage over the ThinkPad X240 that only sports one memory slot. We were also pleased with the large 180 GB SSD - but more about that below.

System information: HP EliteBook 820 G1

Processor

No Turbo in battery mode
No Turbo in battery mode

The low TDP of, specifically, the faster Haswell generation ULV models, prevents maintaining the maximum Turbo Boost constant for a long time - even with optimal cooling. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Core i7-4600U gradually reduces it initial clock of 2.9 GHz to approximately 2.6 GHz in Cinebench R11.5. The frequency varies between 3.0 and 3.3 GHz when one core is loaded, and is at the upper end of our expectations.

The good Turbo utilization allows the EliteBook to gain a slight edge on the ThinkPad with the same CPU. The secret star is, however, the Core i5-4300U in the Latitude E7240. In practical use, its clock is not much lower than that of the i7-4600U, particularly during full load, begging the question, is the i7 worth its surcharge.

Regrettably, HP has again decided to limit the performance artificially in battery mode. The clock drops to the base speed of 2.1 GHz without the power supply, which leads to a performance loss of 20 to 35 percent.

Update July 2014 - Intel i7 4510U CPU

In addition to the screen, our updated configuration also sports a new CPU. Apart from a marginally lower clock bandwidth (2.0 - 3.1 GHz vs. 2.1 - 3.3 GHz), Intel's i7 4510U does not involve any significant modification compared with the i7 4600U in the original test setup. We even ascertained a slight advantage for the new 4510U chip in Cinebench R11.5 single-thread test, while the version featuring the i7 4600U keeps the lead in the multi-thread test. Overall, the chip is just behind the i7 4600U and just before the i5 4300U.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 820 G1
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
2.83 Points ∼16%
Dell Latitude E7240
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
2.49 Points ∼14% -12%
Dell Latitude E7240 Touch
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Samsung SSD SM841 128GB
2.77 Points ∼16% -2%
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
2.66 Points ∼15% -6%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 820 G1
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
1.43 Points ∼77%
Dell Latitude E7240
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
1.15 Points ∼62% -20%
Dell Latitude E7240 Touch
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Samsung SSD SM841 128GB
1.29 Points ∼70% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
1.43 Points ∼77% 0%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6061 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
11617 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
7102 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4282
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
9018
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6960
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
19.79 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.83 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.43 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
125 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
261 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
18.22 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Help

Storage Devices

AS-SSD benchmark
AS-SSD benchmark

The Intel SSD Pro 1500 is a sister model of the familiar Intel SSD 530 Series from the consumer range, and it additionally supports business features like vPro. The hardware of both drives is identical: Intel uses the somewhat older SF-2281 SandForce Controller alongside its own firmware and MLC-NAND built in 20 nm. A five-year manufacturer warranty promises good reliability, and explains the relatively high price.

Although the SSD Pro 1500 does not achieve the absolute top performance, the contenders do not really have much of a lead. Compared with the Samsung SSD 840 in the ThinkPad X240, the Intel model lags behind only slightly in read speeds (in particular 4K-64), but the ascertained differences are not noticed in everyday use.

Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
Transfer Rate Minimum: 257.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 436.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 365.2 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 184.3 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

System Performance

According to the system performance benchmarks of the PCMark series, the EliteBook 820 G1 is currently one of the swiftest devices of its category. However, we could not yet test the Latitude E7240 in a comparable Core i7 configuration. Like in the CPU tests, the ThinkPad falls behind a bit despite its identical processor, which is due to its limited Turbo Boost.

There should only be a few situations that exhaust the laptop's performance reserves in practical use. Owing to the SSD, the operating system and applications load without significant waiting times, and the processor also easily copes with demanding software and multitasking. Anyway, a noticeable performance boost would only be achieved by means of a quad-core CPU, which is hardly feasible in this form factor.

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 820 G1
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
5196 Points ∼78%
Dell Latitude E7240
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
4529 Points ∼68% -13%
Dell Latitude E7240 Touch
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Samsung SSD SM841 128GB
4567 Points ∼69% -12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
4388 Points ∼66% -16%
PC Mark
PCMark 75196 points
PCMark 8 Home v23624 points
PCMark 8 Creative v23045 points
PCMark 8 Work v25363 points
Help

Graphics Card

Quick Sync in action
Quick Sync in action

As mentioned earlier, the swift memory interface considerably increases the graphics performance of the HD Graphics 4400 depending on the benchmark. While the synthetic 3DMark 11 benchmark only displays low increases of around 15 percent, the frame rate gains roughly 30 percent and more in other cases. These increases are welcome in view of the generally low performance level that is far remote from a dedicated GeForce 710M. We did not ascertain a performance difference between AC and battery mode.

However, the HD 4400 has enough reserves for basic 3D applications and multimedia purposes, and it supports many up-to-date features. Besides OpenCL support, the fast Quick Sync Transcoder is particularly interesting. While the CPU converts an H.264 video (Big Buck Bunny 1080p, CyberLink MediaEspresso) for the iPhone 5 in exactly 8 minutes, the same task is completed after just 61 seconds using Quick Sync.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 820 G1
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
824 Points ∼5%
Dell Latitude E7240 Touch
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Samsung SSD SM841 128GB
730 Points ∼5% -11%
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
HD Graphics 4400, 4600U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
701 Points ∼4% -15%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2013-06 1.7 GHz 256 GB
HD Graphics 5000, 4650U, Apple SSD SD0256F
1072 Points ∼7% +30%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
5852 points
3DMark Vantage3999 points
3DMark 11937 points
3DMark Ice Storm41559 points
3DMark Cloud Gate4636 points
3DMark Fire Strike592 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Dota 2
Dota 2

The 820 G1 can smoothly render most current 3D games in low to medium graphic settings, with the exception of a few very demanding games like the newest Need for Speed sequel. However, visual enhancements or even additional anti-aliasing are usually not possible, which seems bearable for a laptop of this category.

low med.high ultra
Anno 2070 (2011) 6128.417.2fps
Diablo III (2012) 56.736.229.7fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 49.424.314.3fps
Dota 2 (2013) 65.535.114.9fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 35.826.720.1fps

Emissions

System Noise

Although the fan is completely inactive only when absolutely idle, the EliteBook is a quiet and unobtrusive companion. The noise level ranges around 31 dB(A) in the lowest speeds, which are active when, for example, browsing or in MS Office applications. Consequently, the device is almost inaudible even in quiet surroundings, especially since using an SSD eliminates any potential noise from a storage device.

The noise increases quite fast up to almost 36 dB(A) in full load, and remains stable at this level. The constant and not unduly high-pitched noise from the small fan is not distracting even over a longer period. This is a good result considering the high performance and the small casing.

Noise Level

Idle 29.6 / 30.7 / 31.3 dB(A)
Load 35.7 / 35.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft SL 320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test
Prime95
Prime95

The low noise development is only one side of the coin – the temperatures also have stayed within limits. The 820 G1 masters this balancing act perfectly, and barely surpasses 40 °C (104 °F) even during full load. Except for one measuring zone, all rates remain clearly below this temperature so that the laptop can be used on the thighs without hesitation.

The casing's inner temperatures are just as uncritical. Our stress test, consisting of Prime95 and FurMark, drive the CPU to approximately 65 °C (149 °F); the manufacturer specifies a maximum of 100 °C (212 °F), which will unlikely come close to being reached even in warm summer months. The CPU's throttling to 1.2 GHz can be explained with the TDP's limit of 15 Watts. The graphics unit claims the majority of that, and its clock rate settles to 850 MHz.

An interesting side note: The second memory module causes the uncore area's consumption to increase by a good 0.5 Watts. When removed, the CPU and GPU can achieve an almost 100 MHz higher clock rate.

 26.7 °C27.1 °C26.9 °C 
 26.3 °C27.6 °C26.4 °C 
 26 °C25.7 °C26.2 °C 
Maximum: 27.6 °C
Average: 26.5 °C
27.3 °C28.8 °C27.8 °C
26.6 °C26.6 °C27 °C
26.2 °C26 °C26.3 °C
Maximum: 28.8 °C
Average: 27 °C
Power Supply (max.)  27.8 °C | Room Temperature 23.1 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

Both speakers located above the keyboard disappoint with their high-pitched and weak sound that completely lacks bass. The high maximum volume that is quickly accompanied by distortions is one of the speakers' few advantages. Connecting an external sound system thus seems recommendable. The low-noise jack or an external USB solution can be used for this purpose.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The EliteBook is satisfied with 3.2 to 7.5 Watts when idling, and is on par with both the Latitude E7240 (3.7 to 6.6 Watts) and the ThinkPad X240 (3.9 to 7.3 Watts). Therefore, the 820 G1's considerably darker screen apparently does not offer any significant advantages in consumption.

Due to the aforementioned throttling, we measured the maximum consumption of 34.4 Watts using 3DMark 06 rather than in the usual stress test (26.8 Watts). In view of these low rates, the capacity of the included 45-Watt power supply, which is the same model as for the larger 850 G1, is quite sufficient.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 3.2 / 5.2 / 7.5 Watt
Load 34.3 / 26.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Although the battery now integrated into the casing has been extremely slimmed down compared with the precursor, its 46 Wh should make quite solid runtimes possible owing to the energy-efficient hardware.

In fact, runtimes ranging from 2 hours in Battery Eaters Classic test (high-performance, maximum brightness, wireless modules on) and 13.5 hours in the Reader's test (energy-saving mode, minimum brightness, wireless modules off) are very impressive. A practical runtime of approximately 6 hours is realistic, as our Wi-Fi and H.264 assessments using an adapted screen brightness (~150 cd/m²) show. Overall, the EliteBook places itself exactly between the Latitude E7240 and ThinkPad X240, which both have an identically sized battery.

HP also offers a smaller battery with only 26 Wh in some regions. Its runtimes should decrease proportionately.

Reader's test
Reader's test
Wi-Fi test
Wi-Fi test
H.264 test
H.264 test
Classic test
Classic test
Charging
Charging
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
13h 33min
WiFi Surfing
6h 32min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 27min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 04min

Verdict

HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET
HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET

Home run: HP has created a compelling subnotebook with the EliteBook 820 G1. It comprehensively meets the requirements placed on a portable, professional office device.

We especially liked the generally high quality standard that ranges from the casing over the input devices up to small details, such as the well-conceived maintenance cover. All these properties are also found in the comparatively affordable base model though. The appeal of our premium configuration is primarily found in the superior memory equipment, and the additional UMTS modem. Consequently, users who want to use the device mainly in the office can easily save a few hundred Euros. The lower-priced examples of this series should also offer long battery runtimes and low emissions.

So far, so good - if it were not for the screen. Its extreme viewing angle dependency, poor color reproduction, and middling brightness let us ask whether this is necessary in a laptop from this price range. Lenovo and Dell both offer optional Full HD displays with an IPS screen - why not HP? The EliteBook's spec sheets list an alternative "premium" screen that only has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels, but which is not installed in any regional model.

How the potential buyer sees this drawback is ultimately something everyone has to decide for themselves. Nevertheless, the EliteBook 820 G1 made an overall outstanding impression on us, and thus qualifies itself as a serious contender for both the Latitude E7240 and ThinkPad X240.

Update 07/2014: The alternative IPS screen is now available in Germany. We tested a version of the Elitebook 820 G1 (model number: J2A93AV, configured in HP's online shop), and ascertained significant improvements in brightness, color reproduction, and viewing angle stability in contrast to the base screen.

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In Review: HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET
In Review: HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET

Specifications

HP EliteBook 820 G1

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
:: Memory
8192 MB, 2x 4 GB DDR3L-1600, 2 slots
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4400, Core: 200 - 1100 MHz, 9.18.10.3272
:: Display
12.5 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, AUO206C, TN screen, LED backlight, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H, 180 GB , 115 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
3 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: headset jack (3.5 millimeter), Card Reader: SD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader,
:: Networking
Intel I218-LM Gigabit (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth, HP hs3110 HSPA+ mobile broadband module (UMTS/HSPA+/GPS)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 21 x 310 x 215
:: Weight
1.523 kg Power Supply: 0.195 kg
:: Battery
46 Wh Lithium-Ion, 3950 mAh
:: Price
1700 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64 Bit) + Windows 8 Pro (64 Bit)
:: Additional features
Webcam: 0.9 MP, Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 45 watt PSU, Windows 7/8 DVDs, driver DVD, quick start guide, HP Client Security, Drive Encryption, Recovery Manager, Absolute Data Protect, Theft Recovery (Computrace), 36 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
14 and 15-inch laptops are often too big...
14 and 15-inch laptops are often too big...
...when a portable companion is wanted for everyday business.
...when a portable companion is wanted for everyday business.
The solution: A 12-inch device, such as HP's EliteBook 820 G1.
The solution: A 12-inch device, such as HP's EliteBook 820 G1.
The 2.1 centimeter thick (~0.8 inches),...
The 2.1 centimeter thick (~0.8 inches),...
...and heavy, 1.5 kilogram (~3.3 lbs) subnotebook...
...and heavy, 1.5 kilogram (~3.3 lbs) subnotebook...
...fits in every bag.
...fits in every bag.
For a price beyond 1000 Euros (~$1394)...
For a price beyond 1000 Euros (~$1394)...
...the buyer gets a compelling product in terms of quality.
...the buyer gets a compelling product in terms of quality.
HP also has alternative, larger models in its product line...
HP also has alternative, larger models in its product line...
...like the EliteBook 850 G1.
...like the EliteBook 850 G1.
While there's no major difference in height and equipment,...
While there's no major difference in height and equipment,...
...the comparison of screens is clear.
...the comparison of screens is clear.
The 850 G1 was designed more for desktop use.
The 850 G1 was designed more for desktop use.
It not only features three USB 3.0 ports,...
It not only features three USB 3.0 ports,...
...but also a DisplayPort,
...but also a DisplayPort,
...and a VGA out.
...and a VGA out.
A docking station can be connected on the side.
A docking station can be connected on the side.
Above the keyboard,...
Above the keyboard,...
...illuminated by white LEDS,...
...illuminated by white LEDS,...
...we find two special keys for the speakers and wireless connections.
...we find two special keys for the speakers and wireless connections.
The small speakers lack bass.
The small speakers lack bass.
Both the touchpad...
Both the touchpad...
...and the TrackPoint work accurately and responsively.
...and the TrackPoint work accurately and responsively.
The SD reader and fingerprint scanner indicate the business designation.
The SD reader and fingerprint scanner indicate the business designation.
No tools are needed..
No tools are needed..
...for opening the underside.
...for opening the underside.
In addition to the the 2.5-inch drive...
In addition to the the 2.5-inch drive...
...another SSD can be inserted via the M.2 slot.
...another SSD can be inserted via the M.2 slot.
Both RAM banks are furnished with 4 GB each.
Both RAM banks are furnished with 4 GB each.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi module does not support 802.11 ac.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi module does not support 802.11 ac.
The WWAN adapter only transmits in UMTS/HSPA+ networks.
The WWAN adapter only transmits in UMTS/HSPA+ networks.
To insert the SIM card,...
To insert the SIM card,...
...the battery has to be removed first.
...the battery has to be removed first.
One sole fan successfully manages heat dissipation.
One sole fan successfully manages heat dissipation.
A 45-Watt power supply covers the energy requirement.
A 45-Watt power supply covers the energy requirement.

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Pro

+Excellent casing quality
+Premium input devices
+UMTS/HSPA+ module
+Easy maintenance
+High application performance
+Low noise and temperature development
+Long battery runtime
 

Cons

-Viewing angle dependent and moderately bright screen
-No CPU Turbo in battery mode
-Weak speakers
-High price level

Shortcut

What we like

High standard, portable, upgradable in many ways: HP has done an (almost) perfect job with its EliteBook 820 G1. Of course, the steep price might deter some potential buyers, but quality has its price even among the contenders.

What we'd like to see

Once again, the screen ruins the otherwise outstanding overall impression. At least a stronger backlight should be standard in this price range - and we wouldn't mind an optional IPS screen with a Full HD resolution either.

What surprises us

It is baffling to what extent the energy-efficiency could be increased compared with the Ivy Bridge base precursor. Owing to the new Haswell platform, a 46 Wh battery is enough for great runtimes.

The competition

The EliteBook 820 G1's main contenders are Dell's Latitude E7240 and Lenovo's ThinkPad X240. If bigger is no problem, members of the 13-inch category would come in question, such as Toshiba's Portégé Z30 or Fujitsu's Lifebook E743.

Rating

HP EliteBook 820 G1
04/17/2014 v4
Till Schönborn

Chassis
94 / 98 → 96%
Keyboard
90%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
78 / 95 → 82%
Weight
69 / 78 → 79%
Battery
88%
Display
75%
Games Performance
62 / 85 → 73%
Application Performance
84%
Temperature
84 / 91 → 92%
Noise
92%
Audio
50 / 91 → 55%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
77%
84%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review HP EliteBook 820 G1-H5G14ET Subnotebook
Author: Till Schönborn, 2014-03-17 (Update: 2014-07- 8)