Review HP EliteBook 6930p Notebook
HP still enjoys a good reputation with professional users and business customers. In order to still be able to score points in the high-quality segment in particular, the American manufacturer has established the EliteBook series, which still positions itself above the well known Compaq models when it comes to performance as well as robustness and case quality. We start off with the HP EliteBook 6930p as the first model to be reviewed by us, a compact 14-inch device with high-quality equipment. Read here what you can expect from the pro-laptop.
Currently HP differentiates between its categories of business laptops with three main groups. Whilst the well known HP Compaq range wins over the business middle-class with interesting interfaces for the price and performance, the ProBook series was established underneath it (cf. HP ProBook 4510s in our review), which stands out first and foremost through its particularly low-price models. The EliteBooks stand above them all, which sets standards for both case quality, equipment, and performance. Thereby the HP EliteBook 6930p at hand ranks among the compact all-rounders with a 14" display and thoroughly respectable equipment with many different configuration possibilities.
Aluminium is in - not only in the lifestyle products from Apple but also in the high-value business laptops, for example the EliteBooks from HP. Indeed HP makes do with furnishing the laptop with aluminium applications on the surfaces, which is different to the Californian designer. On the inside of the base unit as well as on the case hull a no less high quality magnesium alloy comes into play. When it comes to haptics the EliteBook 6930p already holds all the aces. The blank, brush-finished aluminium on the display lid and wrist rests feels very good, and gives off a cool business feeling.
When it comes to the deployed materials it also isn't surprising that the case comes off brilliantly with regard to stability. The device can randomly be seized and picked up from all corners and ends including from the display. At the same time distortions are rarely to be seen and crunching noises completely fail to appear. Even when you examine the laptop more carefully and look for possible manufacturing weaknesses, no weak points are noticeable. The clearance positions proved to be thoroughly consistent, and shaky components are looked for in vain – with one exception: the battery.
To our amazement this unbelievably sat loosely in the appropriate case recess. Especially on the side of the ejection mechanism the deployed battery can clearly move and can be pulled out of the case by up to two millimetres until the locking mechanism took hold. For a business laptop of this price range this is a rather inglorious slip-up.
Also the locking mechanism of the display wasn't really to our taste. Two appropriate spikes fixed to the top border of the display are met by two not particularly well designed openings in the areas where the wrists rest. In order to lock the device, strong direct pressure on the display is required. Also the background noise present comes across as not very elegant.
Apart from the obligatory docking port, the required interfaces for a business laptop are barely different from those of a multimedia laptop. The HP EliteBook 6930p shows this connection option also on its underside. The connection for a dockable additional battery on the underside, which is standard for the HP business laptops (apart from the ProBook!) is added. HP offers different battery solutions, which are fitted externally on the case, which can in parts significantly extend the battery life of the laptop. Indeed you'll find out more in the battery section.
Consequently you'll only find standard ports on the device. There are three USB interfaces, Firewire, a modem, and a LAN connector as well as an analogue VGA port on the rear of the laptop. Of course headphone and microphone ports belong to the standard equipment. Unfortunately a digital video interface is done without, for instance a display or HDMI port directly on the device. If you want to save the cost of a docking station yet you want to connect an external monitor to the laptop, there's just the built-in VGA connection. In the test at a resolution of 1920x1200 pixels on our 24-inch test display (Dell 2408 Wfp) this produced an acceptable and thoroughly fit for work picture. Indeed this cannot keep up with the quality of a digital video interface.
Regarding the positioning of the individual interfaces it should be noted that they are limited to the rear area of the right-hand side of the case as well as the middle area of the left lateral edge. For this reason there are slight advantages for right-handed people but also left-handed people should generally get on well with the EliteBook 6930p. Ports which are potentially permanently occupied for example the VGA output and the connection for the power supply are fitted on the rear of the device.
As for ex works integrated communications equipment there's Gigabit Ethernet from Intel (Intel 82567LM) and also a wireless LAN module also from Intel (Wireless WiFi Link 5300), with a data transfer speed of up to 450 Mbps. Also Bluetooth V2.0 belongs to the standard equipment of the 6930p.
Configuration with mobile broadband internet is dependent on the model. Depending on the provider and model variant you can add on a surcharge of around 50-100 Euro.
This is also true for the 2.0 megapixel webcam as well as an integrated SmartCard reader, whose availability is also dependant on the chosen model variant.
As it is a business device of the upper class, HP has equipped the EliteBook 6930p with a 3 year pick up service. Of course, additional upgrades (HP care pack) are possible with regard to the length of guarantee and scope of works, which last up to 5 years with the on-site service. With appropriate packages there is indeed a surcharge of several hundred Euros to reckon with.
Fortunately HP also transfers the concept of a high quality business laptop consequently in the keyboard. A unit with understandable arrangement and clear layout is put to use. All keys are of reasonable size and unpleasantly downsized keys are apparently consciously done without. In this respect the rather offset cursor keys as well as the offset function keys on the right of the double-spaced enter key turned out positively.
The typing feel is characterised through a keyboard that sits firmly in the case, which also barely gives way under increased pressure loads. The pressure resistance of the individual keys turn out to be well regulated subjectively and the length of stroke can be described as rather medium length to short. All in all the keyboard is excellently suited for writing texts, in our opinion. Also intensive writing exercises can be tackled without problems.
In terms of mobile mouse substitute the EliteBook 6930p gets a combination of touchpad and trackpoint or rather "dual pointing devices" as HP calls it. The touchpad fulfilled its service to our fullest satisfaction. It has pleasant surfaces at its disposal, it responds excellently and also both of the keys are operated without interference. However it wasn't quite so great for the trackpoint in the test. Its appropriate keys were similarly pleasant to operate, yet we felt that the rubber nipple of the trackpoint wasn't particularly ergonomical. The single prickly elevation of the trackpoint was rather unpleasant from longer work. In this respect as well as the responsiveness of the trackpoint, in our opinion, the Thinkpads from Lenovo still are slightly ahead. However in every case for smaller cursor adjustments, especially when writing texts, the trackpoint is well suited. Unlike the touchpad this allows the cursor to be steered without having to take the hands away from the keyboard.
A feature that was initially found in consumer multimedia notebooks is also now in business laptops: touch-sensitive additional keys. In the EliteBook 6930p you will find this in a reflective bar above the keyboard. Whilst individual functions, like the activation of the WLAN module or the opening of the HP Info Center was achieved with a soft touch, we have our problems with the volume control. The volume is increased or decreased through dragging the finger over a certain zone. However, in order to precisely reach the desired level in this way, either copious amounts of practise or a lot of patience are required.
In order to have an appropriate solution for each user to hand, HP also offers different display solutions. As a result the EliteBook 6930p is available with either a 14.1" WXGA panel with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, optionally as a conventional display or as a LED variant, as well as a higher resolution WXGA+ display (1440x900).
In the device that we tested there was the 0-8-15 WXGA display which is one of the low-price variants. Regarding the brightness measurement, the panel reached a maximum brightness of 208 cd/m² in the central display area. We could also observe a drop in brightness in the corner areas of the display, which indeed could barely be perceived with the bare eyes. Here the maximum brightness falls down to 151.9 cd/m², whereby the illumination of the deployed display (SEC4C42) falls to 73.0% and is definitely to be classified as below average.
Subjectively, the image produced unfortunately appears somewhat sallow and pale, which is perhaps attributed to the matte display surface. Particularly from skin tones the weakness of the colour production of the display stands out.
Jointly responsible for this lukewarm result is also the maximum presentable contrast. With a black value of 1.51 cd/m² this reaches a maximum contrast ratio of only 138:1, a similarly below average result.
Indeed an advantage of the reflection-free display is undisturbed working, even in unfavourable light conditions and outdoors. Disturbing reflections stay away and the image is always easily readable. It's only from intensive sun rays that the display comes to it performance limits, as the brightness isn't enough in this case in order to offer a good image contrast.
The viewing angle stability of the deployed panel is similarly to be considered only lukewarm. In the horizontal field the picture remains unaltered somewhat longer and above all without unpleasant reflections, in the vertical field indeed it leads to image alterations somewhat shortly. In mobile use of the laptop, you have to pay attention to the current optimal viewing angle, and the opening angle of the display in the given case should be adjusted.
HP is not willing to compromise in any of the core components. Depending on the deployed graphics solution the EliteBook 6930p either comes with an Intel PM45 or with a GM45 chipset. In connection HP names an entire range of processors that the 6930p can be equipped with: P8400/P8600/P8700/T9400/T9550/T9800 – all of the models of the current Intel Core 2 Duo "Penryn" CPU lineup. With the T9800 chip one of the currently strongest dual-core processors can be used (2.93 GHz, 6MB L2 cache, TDP 35W). For this reason the cooling system should also be extensively dimensioned, in order to allow a weaker performing CPU to have pleasant and permanently quiet use.
The models with discrete graphics cards (PM45 chipset) have a chip from AMD/ATI. The Mobility Radeon HD 3450 graphics card is designed as an entry-level graphics chip, which is found on the same level of the Quadro NVS 150M or respectively a Geforce 9300M GS from its competitor, Nvidia.
However you should not entrust the discrete graphics card with demands that are too high. In classic 3D applications, whether they are professional CAD animations or also less serious computer games, the graphics chip runs out of puff comparatively quickly. The graphics card offers support above all in decoding HD videos by means of the integrated Avivo video functions.
As long as you can do without this feature, you are probably also well served with the variant of the HP 6930p with the integrated Intel 4500M HD graphics. For this reason all popular standard functions in office are no problem and what's more you can profit from particularly energy efficient use. Our test system was also equipped with this graphics solution. Indeed a T9400 CPU was put to use, which at 2.53 GHz indeed belongs to the best performing of its class, with a TDP of 35W but it also does without a certain hunger for energy. Interestingly, especially from planned mobile use of the laptop, there are already chips of the Pxxx range from Intel. These make do with a TDP of 25W and for this reason preserve the battery as well as the cooling system of the device. As long as no out of the ordinary permanent pressure is expected, you should also find these processors to suffice.
In the PCMark 2005 benchmark test the HP EliteBook 6930p reaches a thoroughly good result with 5072 points and for this reason is positioned on the level of the Dell Latitude E6400 with comparable equipment.
Unfortunately as for main memory HP still puts DDR2 RAM to use. Our test system only makes do with 2GB, indeed composed of one 2GB module, so that a future upgrade presents no problem, as one RAM slot still remains free.
Dozens of different variants are also to be found when it comes to mass storage. HP names classic hard drives with a capacity of up to 250GB with a speed of 5400 rpm or respectively 7200 rpm as available data media. The 7200 rpm version should also make use of 3D-DriveGuard, which protects the hard drive from possible data loss in case of shocks. Indeed, on the absolute safe side you can get the 80GB solid state drive, which on the one hand is completely insusceptible to shocks, and on the other hand is soundless for good measure. Because of the comparatively short access times and the high read/write rates, the high-quality SSDs also have a very positive effect on system performance.
In our test system there was a traditional yet thoroughly well performing ST9160823AS hard drive from Seagate. With data transfer rates from up to 59.4 MB/sec and an access time of a comparatively speedy 14.8 milliseconds in the HDTune benchmark test the mass storage device showed an interesting price/performance ratio.
As the EliteBook 6930p isn't really a gaming laptop, this was beyond question. Indeed one or another office user could be tempted to relax with classics like World of Warcraft or Sims 3 after work is done.
We looked at both of these games somewhat closer. On minimum details (800x600) WoW ran at an average of 55.7 fps, and for this reason is adequately fluid. Raising the details to medium and the resolution to 1024x768 pixels pushed performance down to a barely playable 14.4 fps.
It was a similar case with Sims 3. At the lowest possible details and a resolution of 800x600 pixels Fraps provided an average frame rate of 41.2 fps. Sims 3 was therefore thoroughly playable. Medium graphics details and an increased resolution of 1024x768 pixels saw the frame rate fall to an average of 15.4 fps. With a minimum of 3 fps clear jerkiness was observed and the game was only laboriously playable.
With the alternatively available graphics solution from ATI the results can surely be clearly improved, and playability with maintainable graphics quality of the aforementioned games is possible.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||5039 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||2104 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||702 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||5072 points|
|PCMark Vantage Result||2429 points|
Quite in the style of an office laptop the HP EliteBook 6930p remained pleasantly quiet in the test from low office load (internet, writing texts,…). Only a quiet noise was to be heard, to which the deployed 7200 rpm hard drive contributed its part. At 33.5 dB(A) the laptop can be described as unproblematically quiet in any case.
Under specific load of the whole system (CPU&GPU) over a period of several hours, we had the fan spin at a maximum of 45.2 dB(A). From momentary performance bursts the laptop only reaches 38.2 dB(A) and for that reason is indeed audible but not disturbing.
33.5 / 33.5 / 0 dB(A)
||38.6 / dB(A)|
||38.2 / 45.2 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
The underside as well as the upper side of the device remained pleasantly temperate in the stress-test. The upper side of the device heated up on aggregate to a maximum of only 33.6 °C whilst the underside warmed up marginally stronger at up to 37.9 °C. Here the aluminium/magnesium case really scores points. The waste heat is evenly distributed and can be given off to the surroundings. Selective hotspots can therefore be avoided, and the laptop can be run without hesitation on the thighs.
The loudspeakers are built into the leading edge in the 6930p. For this reason they beam their sound directly in the direction of the user. The volume provided can be described as satisfactory. Also regarding tone the speakers can positively surprise. The overall true sound allows for playback of music titles. The offered 3.5mm headphone connection showed no abnormalities in the test.
As an owner of a business laptop you'll mostly profit from the versatile battery options. For the 6930p HP offers for example a 4-cell Li-ion battery, which indeed is only to be found in the models with Intel graphics, as well as a larger 6-cell battery with a capacity of 55 WH. Our test device also made use of this solution.
A speciality of HP are the available external additional batteries, which can be docked on the underside of the laptop and due to their higher capacity can in parts significantly increase the battery life.
With the integrated 6-cell battery our test version of the 6930p reached a maximum battery life of 353 minutes in the Batteryeater Readers Test (min. display brightness, WLAn+BT off, energy saving profile), therefore just short of six hours. Under load in the Batteryeater Classic Test the laptop only rushed through 78 minutes (max. display brightness, load, high performance profile, WLAN and BT on).
Our practical WLAN test also produced useful results, which certifies a battery life of 195 minutes for the 6930p in the configuration at hand (max. brightness, WLAN on, energy saving profile). In DVD playback (max. brightness, balanced profile) the observed 170 minutes should similarly suffice, in order to be able to watch a film of average length without problems.
|Off / Standby||0.2 / 0.3 Watt|
|Idle|| 9.2 / 13.5 / 17 Watt|
33.8 / 54.4 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max:
The EliteBook 6930p from HP has rightly earned its name. Regarding case quality the series is positioned quite highly, in fact. The deployed metal components don't just provide for first class haptics, they make the device extremely robust and therefore fit for intensive daily use.
The configuration of the laptop varies strongly and for this reason also strongly influences the price of the laptop. This currently ranges from around 900 Euro up to 1800 Euro and more. The available well-performing processors, optional UMTS or also the optional configuration with a dedicated graphics card and a SSD are responsible for these price differences. The main intended use indeed remains in the close office environment, 3D calculations are only realisable to a limited extent.
The agony of choice is also had when it comes to choosing the display of the laptop. Whether you choose the WXGA standard panel or the somewhat nicer high resolution WXGA+ display depends first and foremost on the desired image overview. The obtainable LED display, unfortunately only in the WXGA format, should at least improve the weaknesses of the tested display regarding contrast, illumination and colour production. Unwritten law for a business laptop: matte and therefore easy on the eyes display.
Also the system noise of the HP 6930p is great for our taste. In quiet surroundings still only a quiet noise is audible from the laptop. If you choose an SSD mass storage device, then the system noise in use should again be reduced. The surface temperatures of the laptop indeed constantly stay in the green in any case. The metal case sees to this, which distributes the waste heat in well regulated doses to the surroundings.
Office users with low demands in the CAD and 3D realms will find an absolutely solid tool in the HP Compaq 6930p, which also reasonably suits outdoor use, having an adequately bright and matte display as well as an acceptable battery life at its disposal. Through the optional additional batteries a complete day of work should be possible without problems.