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Face Off: HP EliteBook 820 G2 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad X250 vs. Dell Latitude 12 E7250

Let's get down to business. Dedicated business notebooks tend to last for years, so it's important to pick the one that best fits your needs. We compare the three currently popular 12.5-inch models to see which is worth your time.

Compared to Ultrabooks, business notebooks offer more options with a more professional look. At the same time, they also tend to be thicker, heavier, and sturdier to accommodate the extra hardware and to give a better sense of endurance. Smaller business notebooks are an excellent solution for those who find 15-inch models too daunting while still keeping most of the business-centric qualities and features.

For this Face Off, we'll compare the three top 12.5-inch business models from the three largest providers of business solutions. The EliteBook 820 G2, ThinkPad X250, and Latitude 12 E7250 are all relatively new, so these are currently some of the best subnotebooks that the big manufacturers have to offer as of 2015.

We encourage users to check out our dedicated review pages below for more data and detailed analyses of each of the three models. This comparison is by no means a replacement, but a condensed aid for those on the fence.

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Review

Dell Latitude 12 E7250 Review

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Case

In most cases, the build quality between a typical Ultrabook and a dedicated business notebook is like night and day. The three models here all meet MIL-SPEC standards and are all made of magnesium alloy. In the case of the ThinkPad X250 and Latitude E7250, these two are further reinforced with glass-fiber plastic and aluminum, respectively. Rigidity and stability are both excellent for all models, so any complaints in this section will simply be nitpicking between them.

First place in this category goes to the EliteBook 820 G2, which remains unchanged from the 820 G1 series. The notebook shows outstanding resistance to twists and depressions, even on normally weaker spots such as the outer lid and center of the keyboard. The large metal hinges keep wobbling to a minimum. The Dell is a very close second as its signature Tri-Metal case is almost as impressive; The palm rests and display will slightly warp with some force. Note that all models can be equipped with touchscreen options, though the HP and Dell also include Gorilla Glass 3.

The ThinkPad X250 comes in last place for its all-around weaker chassis. It's still quite sturdy, but the lid is not as stiff and the base can still be twisted. However, the Lenovo is lighter than both the HP and Dell by at least 100 grams and is ever so slightly smaller as well.

Winner: HP EliteBook 820 G2

310 mm / 12.2 inch 215 mm / 8.46 inch 21 mm / 0.827 inch 1.3 kg2.87 lbs310.5 mm / 12.2 inch 211 mm / 8.31 inch 19.4 mm / 0.764 inch 1.5 kg3.31 lbs306 mm / 12 inch 209 mm / 8.23 inch 20.3 mm / 0.799 inch 1.4 kg3.15 lbs

Connectivity

A good business notebook should be adaptable with plenty of options and ports, and all three do not disappoint in this regard. SIM slots are optional on all models with RJ-45 and proprietary docking ports for even more options. Instead, the key differentiating factors are the choice of video-out ports and internal storage options. The Dell includes no VGA-out, which is still a widely used legacy port in classrooms and conference rooms, so a dongle may be necessary.

The EliteBook comes out slightly ahead again as it is the only model with 3x storage solutions to support M.2, mSATA, and 2.5-inch SATA drives all in one chassis. It also has VGA-out and an additional USB 3.0 port compared to the Dell and Lenovo, respectively.

Winner: HP EliteBook 820 G2

Ports and Connections

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Dell Latitude 12 E7250
USB 3x USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 3x USB 3.0
Video-out DisplayPort, VGA-out Mini-DisplayPort, VGA-out Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI-out
Other SD reader, SmartCard reader, 3.5 mm headset, SIM slot, Gigabit LAN, Docking port, NFC, Kensington Lock SD reader, SmartCard reader, 3.5 mm combo headset, SIM slot, Gigabit LAN, Docking port, Kensington Lock SD reader, SmartCard reader, 3.5 mm combo headset, SIM slot, Gigabit LAN, Docking port, NFC, Kensington Lock
Storage Bays 1x M.2, 1x mSATA, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III 1x 2.5-inch SATA III, 1x M.2 2x mSATA

Display

Display options vary for each notebook, but all three can be equipped with up to 1080p IPS displays. In the case of our test models, the panels are all produced by LG Philips and offer relatively similar colors and contrast. Even color coverage is similar between the three panels at about 42 percent of the AdobeRGB standard.

The main difference here is backlight brightness and the display on the ThinkPad X250 can be brighter than both the HP and Dell. This makes a tangible difference when using the notebook outdoors compared to any slight advantages that the other notebooks may have in color accuracy or reproduction.

Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X250

Displays at a Glance

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Size 12.5-inch IPS 16:9 12.5-inch IPS 16:9 12.5-inch IPS 16:9
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Pixel Density 176 PPI 176 PPI 176 PPI
Panel ID LG Philips (unavailable ID) LG LP125WF2-SPB2 LG LGD0436 195C3 125W1
Panel Matte or Glossy Matte Matte or Glossy
Touchscreen Optional Optional Optional
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EALenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Screen
Brightness middle
300
397
360
Brightness
298
357
330
Brightness Distribution
83
81
81
Black Level *
0.33
0.44
0.53
Contrast
909
902
679
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.68
4.2
5.58
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.47
3.1
3.98
Gamma
2.4 92%
2.6 85%
2.21 100%
CCT
6310 103%
6246 104%
6192 105%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
41.6
42
42.2
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
64.9
65.5

* ... smaller is better

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Color Profile
HP EliteBook 820 G2 Color Profile
Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Color Profile
Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Color Profile
Dell Latitude 12 E7250 Color Profile
Dell Latitude 12 E7250 Color Profile

Input Devices

The HP keyboard loses this round as we find its feedback to be a bit softer than both the Dell and Lenovo. Meanwhile, we described the AccuType keyboard on the Lenovo as "pretty close to a perfect input device" as far as 12.5-inch notebooks go, and is a bit wider than the keyboard on the Dell as well. Nonetheless, the experience is rather cramped no matter the choice as this is an inherent drawback.

As for the touchpad experience, HP's EliteBook 820 offers the smallest surface area (8.5 x 4.6 cm) as it includes four dedicated mouse keys that take up valuable space. The touchpad on the E7250 is perhaps the most ergonomic with its long diagonal of 11.5 cm and is more rectangular than the touchpad on the X250, though the notebook lacks a trackpoint. Meanwhile, the X250 is the only model with both integrated and dedicated mouse keys.

Despite the many physical differences between the multi-touch touchpads, we found them all to be reliable and firm. It certainly comes down to user habits and preferences regarding trackpoints and mouse keys.

Winner: Keyboard -- Lenovo ThinkPad X250

              Touchpad -- Tie

HP EliteBook 820 G1
HP EliteBook 820 G1
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250

Performance

CPU Performance

The three manufacturers offer plenty of CPU options for their respective notebooks. For this section, we'll compare the hardware configurations that were shipped to us for review.

The ULV Broadwell cores in our HP, Dell, and Lenovo are very similar and perform almost identically according to synthetic benchmarks. The i7-5600U in our Lenovo edges out both the EliteBook and Latitude by about 5 to 10 percent, respectively, in single-core and multi-core CineBench tests. This is largely due to the higher clock rates of the i7-5600U as there are no other significant differences between them.

As a side note, the X250 is limited to one SODIMM slot and is thus single-channel only compared to its dual-channel competitors. For day-to-day use, performance differences are not tangible, though RAM expansion will be more limited.

More comparisons and technical information on the Core i7-5500U, i7-5600U, and i5-5300U can be found on our dedicated CPU pages.

Hardware at a Glance

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Dell Latitude 12 E7250
CPU 2.4 GHz Core i7-5500U 2.6 GHz Core i7-5600U 2.3 GHz Core i5-5300U
TDP 15 W 15 W 15 W
RAM 8 GB DDR3L-1600, 2x SODIMM 8 GB DDR3L-1600, 1x SODIMM 8 GB DDR3L-1600, 2x SODIMM
GPU Intel HD Graphics 5500 Intel HD Graphics 5500 Intel HD Graphics 5500
HP EliteBook 820 G1
HP EliteBook 820 G1
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
123 Points ∼56%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
130 Points ∼60%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
114 Points ∼52%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
287 Points ∼7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
301 Points ∼7%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
264 Points ∼6%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
1.41 Points ∼58%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
1.51 Points ∼62%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
1.33 Points ∼55%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
3.14 Points ∼7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
3.29 Points ∼7%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
2.94 Points ∼7%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
6494 Points ∼63%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
13673 Points ∼18%
wPrime 2.0x
1024m (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
534.255 s * ∼6%
32m (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
15.661 s * ∼3%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
631.613 Seconds * ∼3%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Physics (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
4720 Points ∼15%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
4750 Points ∼15%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
4256 Points ∼13%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
3317 Points ∼8%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
3269 Points ∼8%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
2961 Points ∼7%
PCMark 7
System Storage (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
5279 Points ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
5362 Points ∼75%
Computation (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
10900 Points ∼38%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
11440 Points ∼40%
Creativity (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
8223 Points ∼57%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
8744 Points ∼61%
Entertainment (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
3269 Points ∼31%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
3363 Points ∼31%
Productivity (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
4040 Points ∼37%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
4296 Points ∼39%
Lightweight (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
5085 Points ∼69%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
5500 Points ∼75%
Score (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
4414 Points ∼48%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
4609 Points ∼50%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
4662 Points ∼51%
PCMark 8
Storage Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
4853 Points ∼96%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
4133 Points ∼63%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
4345 Points ∼67%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
3306 Points ∼31%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
3458 Points ∼33%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
3052 Points ∼29%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
2987 Points ∼49%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
3148 Points ∼52%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
2772 Points ∼45%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
18.67 fps ∼0%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
16.23 fps ∼0%
Pass 1 (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
101.58 fps ∼38%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
82.56 fps ∼31%

* ... smaller is better

GPU Performance

The same integrated HD 5500 GPU powers all three models. Thus, the GPU performance gap between them is even narrower than any CPU differences. Lenovo consistently comes out ahead in synthetic graphics benchmarks by up to 5 percent. Of course, the hair-thin advantage is likely meaningless to the target audience and will barely make a difference when gaming.

More comparisons and technical information on the HD 5500 can be found on our dedicated GPU page.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
953 Points ∼2%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
973 Points ∼2%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
911 Points ∼2%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
658 Points ∼2%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
663 Points ∼2%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
642 Points ∼2%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
5514 Points ∼3%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
5544 Points ∼3%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
5246 Points ∼3%
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
19.22 fps ∼11%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
20.35 fps ∼12%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
16.83 fps ∼10%
Cinebench R15 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
25.44 fps ∼10%
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
25.25 fps ∼10%
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
22.61 fps ∼9%

Stress Test

To test system stability, we run both Prime95 and FurMark to simulate maximum stress. These unrealistic conditions do not represent daily workloads, but are instead meant to put both the CPU and GPU at 100 percent capacity. If the notebook remains stable, then you can be sure it can handle any other tasks without a major hardware failure.

As expected, the three notebooks throttle their respective CPUs due to either TDP limitations or hardware-imposed temperature control. Notably, the notebooks throttle to around the same 1.4 to 1.6 GHz range despite their differences in base clock rates.

HP's EliteBook 820 G2 comes out the clear winner with a low CPU temperature of just 66 C after a full hour of stress compared to ~80 C on the Dell and Lenovo. This is representative of a superior cooling system when all else are relatively equal.

Winner: HP EliteBook 820 G2

HP EliteBook 820 G2
HP EliteBook 820 G2
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Lenovo ThinkPad X250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
CPU and GPU Clock Rates Under Stress

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Rated GPU Core Clock (MHz) 300 - 950 300 - 950 300 - 950
Stable GPU Core Clock on FurMark (MHz) 750 - 800 750 - 800 750 - 800
Rated CPU Core Clock (GHz) 2.4 2.6 2.3
Stable CPU Core Clock on Prime95 (GHz) 1.4 - 1.5 1.6 1.5
Maximum CPU temperature 66 C 79 C 84 C

Emissions

System Noise & Temperature

The three notebooks remain silent at around 30 dB(A) when idling or under very low loads. When under very high loads, the HP and Lenovo are still surprisingly quiet at 34 to 35 dB(A) maximum. This is compared to 43 dB(A) on the Dell, which is a common maximum fan noise range for many Ultrabooks. The X250 has a handy fan control mode to allow for higher speeds, but we noticed no major performance advantages when enabled.

Both the Dell and HP show higher surface temperatures when under stress compared to the Lenovo. This may be because of the longer heat pipes in the two systems that distribute more heat to more areas of the notebook when taking our surface temperature measurements. Even so, the E7250 can get quite warm at over 55 C on the bottom rear of the notebook.

The slight edge goes to Lenovo for its lower surface temperature and fan noise compared to the EliteBook and Latitude.

Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X250

Average Fan Noise and Surface Temperature

HP EliteBook 820 G2 Lenovo ThinkPad X250 Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Fan Noise when idling 29 dB(A) 29 dB(A) 30 dB(A)
Fan Noise under high loads 35 dB(A) 34 dB(A) 43 dB(A)
Average surface temperature when idling 30.4 C 25.8 C 28.6 C
Average surface temperature under high loads 37.4 C 30.8 C 36.6 C

Battery Life

The manufacturers have opted for integrated Li-Ion polymer solutions for their respective models, so they can only be accessed after removing the maintenance panels. The E7250 can be configured with a lower capacity 39 Wh battery to reduce weight.

Lenovo has taken an interesting approach by equipping the X250 with both integrated and removable batteries. The small internal 24 Wh battery comes standard, but users can attach a secondary battery on the rear of the notebook up to 24 Wh, 48 Wh, or 72 Wh capacities for a combined total of up to 96 Wh. Runtimes will increase at the cost of a heavier notebook. Our particular unit is equipped with a 24 Wh secondary for a total of 48 Wh.

Runtimes are generally similar between the three models with the HP slightly ahead in most cases. Our WiFi v1.3 test is more demanding than our older WiFi test, so we cannot compare WiFi runtimes directly against the Dell. Nonetheless, we prefer the modular and more adaptable approach of the X250 for its battery hot swapping.

Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X250

HP Elitebook 820 G2-J8R58EA
46 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X250-20CLS06D00
48 (24 plus 24) Wh
Dell Latitude 12 E7250
52 Wh
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle
921
779
845
WiFi v1.3
338
298
Load
97
92
103
WiFi
325
446

Verdict

HP's EliteBook 820 is stronger and better fit for offices and conferences, while the ThinkPad X250 is lighter and brighter for outdoor use.
HP's EliteBook 820 is stronger and better fit for offices and conferences, while the ThinkPad X250 is lighter and brighter for outdoor use.

Once again, crowning a definitive winner is another tough call. Frequent outdoor users may prefer the Lenovo ThinkPad X250 for its lighter weight, brighter display, wider 180-degree hinges, and modular battery support. Case quality takes a small hit compared to the HP and Dell, but the benefits are varied nonetheless.

For a more standard office and conference solution, we prefer the EliteBook 820 G2 over the Dell and Lenovo. It's built tougher with just a few more connectivity options and runs quieter than the E7250. Surface temperatures are warmer than both models, but this should be less of an issue in an office setting. The triple storage bays will mean less reliance on external drives as well. No matter the choice, all three are long-lasting notebooks able to take a fair amount of punishment from daily use.

HP EliteBook 820 G2 as configured: $1399

Lenovo ThinkPad X250 as configured: $1549

Dell Latitude 12 E7250 as configured: $1779

See more quick comparisons in our Face Off series:

Dell XPS 15 vs. Apple MacBook Pro 15 vs. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501

Aorus X3 Plus vs. Gigabyte P34W vs. Razer Blade 14

Dell XPS 13 vs. Apple MacBook Pro 13 vs. Asus ZenBook UX305

HP EliteBook 820 G2Lenovo ThinkPad X250Dell Latitude 12 E7250

+ 1080p glossy or matte IPS screen

+ Very strong Magnesium chassis

+ Low fan noise

+ 2x SODIMM slots

+ Full-size DisplayPort and VGA

+ 3x storage bays

+ Optional NFC

+ 1080p matte IPS screen

+ Magnesium and glass-fiber reinforced plastic chassis

+ Brightest display backlight

+ 180-degree hinges

+ Low fan noise and surface temperatures

+ Mini DisplayPort and VGA

+ Smallest and lightest of the three

+ Both integrated and modular batteries

1080p glossy or matte IPS screen

+ Very strong "Tri-Metal" chassis

+ 2x SODIMM slot

+ Optional NFC

+ HDMI and Mini DisplayPort

+ 180-degree hinges

- Least brightest display

- Small touchpad

- Slightly softer keyboard feedback

- Weakest chassis of the three

- 1x SODIMM only

- No glossy or glass display options

- Only 2x USB 3.0 ports

- No NFC option

 - Highest fan noise under load

- No internal support for 2.5-inch drives

- Heaviest of the three

- Very warm CPU under high loads

- No trackpoint

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Face Off: HP EliteBook 820 G2 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad X250 vs. Dell Latitude 12 E7250
Allen Ngo, 2015-06-21 (Update: 2019-04-30)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.