Review HP ProBook 6360b (LY435EA) Notebook
Stylish & Affordable. HP promotes its ProBook B series with these words. In the following in-depth review, we test the smallest member of the ProBook B family, the 13 inch 6360b, to see what it has to offer.
The 6360b is the smallest addition to the HP B-series. Alongside its bigger siblings, the 6560b and the 6465b (15.6" and 14"), this laptop is aimed primarily at business users who, as HP puts it, wish to "work professionally on-the-go".
HP offers the 6360b in various configurations. The price for the laptop (depending on the configuration) ranges from 760 to 1100 Euros. The direct competition of this notebook would be other 13.3", or even 14" business notebooks, such as the Dell Latitude E6320, the bigger Lenovo Thinkpad T420, and if you are a Mac user, the luxurious Macbook Pro 13". We tested one of the more expensive configurations of the 6360b (the LY435EA - equipped with a Core i5-2450M processor).
Right out of the box, the small ProBook impresses us with its high quality look. The case is made of a sand-blasted aluminium surface (dark gray/anthracite) and has a nice shimmer in the light. A nice pro is that the surface of the case is matt. The thick base unit reminds us of the 15" and 17" ProBooks. The 13 inch 6360b weighs 2.1 kg and we held it with one hand to test its feel. At first it seemed a bit heavy for its size but compared to similarly built competitors, the 6360b lies comfortably in the hand. It was clear from this test that the 6360b was built on a torsion-resistant base. The case did not give way to pressure anywhere. The maintenance flap on the bottom of the laptop makes creaking noises when touched (for example, when we lifted the laptop).
Of course, the ProBook was never meant to be as slim or light as an Ultrabook. Instead, this laptop has been designed to house a wide variety of hardware components and ports securely.
The ProBook B-series is designed to accommodate the needs of business users and the 6360b fulfills its purpose magnificently. The test model offers a variety of useful ports: for example, the laptop holds a total of four USB 2.0 interfaces (one of which is a combo USB/eSATA interface). This helps reduce the disappointment of the missing USB-3.0 interface.
HP has provided the notebook with new and old interfaces so as to make the laptop compatible with as many devices as possible. This means that the laptop has both an analogue VGA interface as well as a future-oriented digital Displayport (both on the right side) for video output. These two interfaces allow users to connect both beamers and monitors (old and new) to the laptop. The only missing interface is HDMI, but as this port is usually needed for home entertainment systems, we believe that business users can live without it.
On the right side, the notebook also has a microphone jack, a headphone jack and a Firewire interface (IEEE 1394a). On the left side, an ExpressCard-/54 slot, a DVD+/RW multi-format burner and a Kensington lock can be found. The bottom of the device has a docking port interface which can be used to connect to a docking station. A docking station improves stationary use of the laptop by adding a multitude of interfaces.
The user can use either the standard RJ-45 (Intel Gigabit LAN) interface or the WLAN module (Broadcom 4313 802.11 b/g/n) to connect to home and office networks. Thanks to the in-built HP HSPA+ modem, the user can place a SIM card in the laptop (under the maintenance flap) and access the mobile broadband network. We really like the rare 56K-/telephone modem of the laptop, as this will ensure that the user can connect to the Internet even in countries with poor infrastructure. The laptop has Bluetooth 2.1, which means that headsets and smartphones can be connected to the PC without the need for wires. Every possible communication module has been built into this subnotebook - just great!
HP has equipped the 6360b with a "Kensington Lock" to protect the notebook from thieves. The fingerprint reader (planted in the right hand-rest) can be used to secure the laptop from unauthorized access. HP has also installed a TPM module in this notebook. In addition, the 6360b has "Enhanced Pre-Boot Security", which, in essence, is a Supervisor/BIOS password. This feature prevents unauthorized users from starting the OS on the laptop as it demands a password at the boot screen. HP has also provided a tool for the encoding of sensitive data.
The laptop is delivered with a quick start guide, the obligatory warranty papers and the small power adapter (weight: 410 g). As the 6360b is aimed at business users, buyers can add optional accessories from the HP store to their purchase. For example, docking stations (which range in price) can be bought for 150 US-$ (HP 90 W docking station) to 220 US-$ (HP 230 W docking station). These docking stations offer up to 6 additional USB ports, video output for up to three monitors and all the old interfaces not found nowadays on notebooks (a parallel port, a serial interface, PS2 mouse and keyboard, etc.).
Need more battery life? The HP store offers 9-cell batteries with a capacity of 100 Wh. This 9-cell battery offers double the battery life for roughly 170 US-$. Of course, the user can also buy another standard battery (our model) as backup for around 90 US-$. Another great option is the flat docking port battery with a capacity of 100 Wh and a price tag of 160 US-$. When this docking port battery is used along with the 9-cell battery, run times up to 24 hours are possible (according to HP).
HP has installed a big maintenance flap, which spans the bottom of the notebook. This flap allows users to quickly access the RAM and hard disk installed within the device. The SIM card slot is under this flap, and installing a SIM card will allow the user to surf with HSPA+ modem in a mobile network. The cooler fan and the cooling elements are also accessible. Maintenance of the ProBook 6360b is really easy, and the user will not even need a screwdriver to open the flap.
The laptop has a 12 month default warranty, which can be extended up to 5 years on-site service. If the user wishes to purchase the 3 year "Pickup & Return" service (which covers accidental damage), s/he will have to pay a premium of 229 Euros.
The keyboard of the test model left us with mixed feelings. The typing feel is crisp and the surface of the keyboard is suitable for long sessions of typing. However, the edges of the chiclet keys are sharp and force the user to type carefully. Users, who glide over the keyboard while typing, will experience this flaw tangibly.
The placement of the special Fn keys on the right side of the keyboard and the shrinking of the Enter key to half its original width are two more issues we find problematic. The Enter key was reduced in size to accommodate the Fn keys, but as these special keys are used less often than the Enter key, we would expect them to be placed elsewhere. This odd placement will lead to typing mistakes at the beginning. The keys make very little noise when pressed. After the user has become accustomed to the keyboard, s/he can start typing quite fast without making that many errors. We miss the back lighting of the keyboard and we can conclude that the keyboard experience will be subjective.
Not even the most experienced critiques in the world could pick out a flaw in this touchpad - quite the opposite! The touchpad makes navigating the laptop a joy. It is very precise and the surface is easy to glide over. The soft click buttons are not too spongy or too loud and yet they still give the user (both haptically and acoustically) a nice, light clicking experience. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures. This means that "swipes" can be used to scroll up and down websites, and the pinch gesture (as known from smartphones) allows the user to Pinch-to-Zoom In/Out.
The ProBook has a 13.3 inch matte panel, which is suitable for a business notebook. The screen is manufactured by Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) and at first glance looks average. The resolution of the panel is 1366 x 768 pixels, (a good fit for a notebook of these dimensions) and this allows the ProBook to display content with clarity. The colors can not be described as strong or intense, but overall the color pallet of the panel is well tuned, although the color temperature tends towards the cool end.
The technical details confirm our first impression: this is not a high-quality display. Despite that, the horizontal viewing angle stability is good and the maximum brightness of 166.4 cd/m² is sufficient for working indoors. However, outdoors in the daylight, the display content is hard to read.
The screen has a passable black value of 1.12 cd/m² and a weak contrast of 1:149. The color space displayed by the screen is restricted and the sRGB standard is not covered. For professional editing of pictures, an external monitor is a must. Users, looking for a laptop with a good display, will find a good match in the Macbook Pro 13", or the smaller Lenovo Thinkpad X220 with 12" IPS display. These models are well-equipped for outdoors use and have similar hardware specifications. However, the X220 lacks an internal DVD optical drive.
The test model lacks good viewing angle stability. Horizontally, deviations in the viewing angle result in very little change in the display content. However, the user should avoid any changes vertically, as this rapidly alters the content on the screen.
The HP ProBook 6360b is available in a variety of configurations and their individual performance ranges. The performance of the configuration we are testing is neither high-end nor low-end - it lies comfortably in the middle. The CPU installed in our test model is the Core i5-2450M, which performs well and makes the notebook experience fluid. However, in comparison to the other processors offered by HP for this laptop, the Core i5 2450M is only middle-class. We noticed that when the "power-saving mode" was active, the laptop would freeze momentarily. For example, after inputting a command (after a long period of inactivity), like scrolling, the test model would freeze for a moment and then resume the action. The storage needs of the user are taken care of by the 500 GB which operates at 7200 rpm. The hard disk is noisy but it delivers good performance. The notebook is also equipped with 4 GB of RAM and the Intel HD Graphics 3000 IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor). Although these hardware components are standard for notebooks, they still have enough power to tackle everyday tasks at the office or at home. Let us take a closer look at the performance of each hardware component.
The Core i5-2450M is based on the Sandy Bridge architecture. The CPU has Turbo Boost (Standard clock speed: 2.5 GHZ, Turbo on: 3.1 GHz) and the IGP on-board (Standard: 650 MHz, Turbo: 1.3 GHz). The processor also offers Hyperthreading (2 threads can be processed on the same core every cycle) which gives its multi-threading capability.
The ProBook performs well in the Cinebench benchmark. In fact, the processor scores well enough to place next to the faster Core i5-2520M.
The program performance of the 6360b is very good. Although this laptop is equipped with a standard hard disk, Windows and programs are loaded quite fast. However, the difference between a SSD and a HDD becomes obvious when the hard disk has to reload multiple small files (for example, refreshing thumbnails in a folder). The 4 GB of RAM is standard and can be found in any cheap notebook - thanks to the low RAM prices.
Still, the laptop scores well on the Windows Performance Index and PCMark benchmark. The 6360b places lower than its competition in the PCMark Vantage (the Thinkpad T420 is about 8% faster, the Dell E6320 about 6% faster). This is mainly thanks to the slightly faster processor which runs both laptops. In contrast, the Apple Macbook Pro 13" scores lower than all the other models: 19% lower than the 6360b. This is probably due to driver issues of the laptop with its faster Core i5-2620M and the slower hard disk. The latest PCMark 7 benchmark paints a similar picture; the main difference being that the Dell model increases its lead to 17% over the 6360b. These are all great values, but the problem is that this 17% gap is not noticeable in everyday use, as all the models place in the top quarter of the benchmark table. All the models in that class deliver sufficient performance.
The experience can be improved with a Solid State Drive (SSD). These drives reduce the boot time into Windows and also drastically reduce the load times of diverse programs. In addition, files open instantaneously and copying data is accelerated immensely. As the HP ProBook 6360b is very user-friendly and easy to maintain, the user could swap out the HDD for a SSD in the comfort of his/her own house.
|PCMark Vantage Result||7432 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||2289 points|
As mentioned above in the PC Mark benchmark, the hard disk of the 6360b determines whether it scores mediocre or great. Our test model uses a Toshiba HDD with a capacity of 500 GB running at 7200 rpm. HDTune confirms that this drive is special: the storage drives of both the Thinkpad T420 and the Latitude E6320 score lower (by 1-11%, depending on the test) than the hard disk in the small ProBook. CrystalDiskMark reveals that the hard disk has great read and write rates: the competition is beaten by 17-20%. The drive even aces the 4K read/write test which simulates the reading and writing of small files (for example, when starting the operating system or copying big folders). The 6360b takes a lead of around 20%. This is a good example of a manufacturer installing a great quality HDD to deliver good system performance. The only drawback is the noise emission of the HDD, as it is quite loud because it runs at 7200 rpm. However, more about that in the section "Emissions".
The CPU contains the HD Graphics 3000 IGP. This IGP (manufactured by Intel) allows the user to watch high quality videos (even HD, for example on Youtube) and perform everyday tasks, such as, surfing the web or working on a text document, with ease. In fact, the IGP has enough juice to support a little gaming. The buyer should not have high expectations of this tiny chip, but it can deliver smooth gaming at the lowest settings.
The HD Graphics 3000 scores 3351 points in 3DMark 06 (average among tested notebooks which use this IGP). However, once again we would like to point out that our test model is aimed at business users and not meant for gaming.
|3DMark 06 Standard||3351 points|
We ran a few games on the laptop to see how well it would perform. First up, the popular strategy game - Anno 2070. As expected, the thick business notebook placed alongside multiple other notebooks with the same IGP (30 fps - frames per second) at a resolution of 1024x768 pixels with low details. The gaming experience is quite fluid. The only noticeable difference was that in areas with a lot of details (on land with structures) the frame rate stayed at 30 fps whereas in empty parts of the map (ocean), the frame rate jumped above 50 fps. Running this game at the native resolution (1366x768 pixels) of the 6360b with medium details results in 12 fps in detailed sections of the map. At this point, the game runs so slow that only desperate gamers would choose to play it. We recommend deactivating Anti-Aliasing or lowering the details at this resolution so as to improve performance.
So, in conclusion, the HD Graphics 3000 IGP allows the user to run casual games at low details and low resolutions. However, gamer enthusiasts looking to run high detail games, such as, Battlefield 3, are recommended to look elsewhere, as the ProBook can not run such games - at any resolution/detail level.
|Anno 2070 (2011)||30.2||12.2||fps|
The 6360b is not quiet. Thankfully, there is a "Fan always on" option in the BIOS which can be deactivated. Still, the only time when the laptop is quiet, is a few moments after it starts up. The rest of the time the notebook is clearly audible (highest emission: hard disk - 34 dB), but as long as the laptop is not running really demanding programs, the cooler fan emissions remain tolerable. The noise emission at full load is around 40-43 dB and this can be annoying. Especially, when the user is trying to edit a vacation video or work with CAD software.
33.8 / 33.8 / 33.8 dB(A)
||37.9 / 43.9 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-300 (15 cm distance)
The surface temperature remains (on average) at a comfortable 29 °C- even after multiple hours of intensive use. The highest surface temperature we measured was in the region of the Enter key: 33.9 °C (bearable). The bottom of the laptop can heat up to 41.9 °Cnear the cooling vent next to the power outlet. The temperatures elsewhere lie at 26.6 °C and at body temperature. So the 6360b can be used on the lap without a problem. If the notebook remains idle or has low load, then the temperature on the surface remains at 26 °C and the bottom heatsup to29 °C. The notebook remains so cool thanks to the constantly running cooler fan.
This hunch is confirmed by the results of the stress test: HWiNFO64 shows that the CPU ran at 72 °C(at the start), and after one hour of intense testing the temperature had risen a mere8 °C to 80 °C. These are good values for a notebook and speaks volumes about the cooling capability of the system, especially since Intel has specified that the CPU operates at 100 °C.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 33.9 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 33.9 °C / 93 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 41.9 °C / 107 F, compared to the average of 36.3 °C / 97 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 28.6 °C / 83.5 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.2 °C / 82.8 F (-0.4 °C / -0.7 F).
The speaker quality is not premium as HP's "SRS Premium Sound" logo boasts. The notebook is equipped with standard speakers which have been given a fancy title. The audio output is exaggerated and distorted. The base is completely missing. That is understandable as many notebooks lack good bass. However, the speakers stress the high notes too much and the middles are weak when compared to the highs. The speaker output of this laptop reminds us of (good) smartphones. By far, these speakers do not live up to the title of "Premium Sound".
Of course, music playback is not what the 6360b is designed for. The laptop is made for video conferencing. The audio playback is fine for such a task. The recording quality of the stereo microphone (placed left and right of the webcam) is always comprehensible, although the recorded speech is slightly muffled. The webcam is very well-designed and delivers good picture quality even with bad lighting. The laptop freezes when capturing pictures at 720p, but otherwise it fulfills its purpose well.
The 6-cell battery (52 Wh) of our small ProBook 6360b delivers good runtimes. In the practical WLAN web surfing test, the 6360b lasted an impressive 5 hours and 20 minutes with standard brightness (150 cd/m² - maximum brightness level 1). This runtime leaves even the Folio 13 (a HP Ultrabook specially designed for battery life) behind in the dust.
The performance in battery mode is overall impressive. At rare occasions (after long periods of being idle), the 6360b freezes and needs a second to get started with scrolling or executing a mouse click. However, the rest of the time, the laptop runs fluidly and the 3D Mark 2006 benchmark (which we ran on the test model in battery mode) revealed that the GPU and CPU were running at the same speeds as when the laptop was connected to a power socket.
The competition uses 9-cell batteries with a capacity of up to 94 Wh. This allows them to deliver longer runtimes. However, the small ProBook delivers a great run time with its 52 Wh battery!
With the lowest brightness, WLAN off, and power saving mode on, the laptop lasted for 8 hours and 36 minutes in the BatteryEater Readers benchmark. This means that the user can comfortably read an Ebook for up to 8 hours with the installed hardware. With minimum load, the power consumption lies at around 7.5 W. This explains why the laptop can last so long. The Folio we mentioned above consumes only 2 watts less than our test model, even though it is equipped with energy-saving hardware components. The ProBook lasts 1 hour and 13 minutes when under high load (simulated with the BatteryEater Classic benchmark). As mentioned before in the section "Accessories", the runtime can be extended by purchasing larger capacity batteries or a flat docking battery.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0.1 Watt|
|Idle|| 7.5 / 8.7 / 9.9 Watt|
41.5 / 59.1 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
We admit: the 6360b is not extravagant. However, that may be a good thing as this test model belongs to the business class of HP's line-up. This class demands sturdiness, reliability, battery life and multiple interfaces. In addition, the model offers good system performance - a definite pro.
The dark display does not affect the overall rating of the model too much as the laptop is fine for indoors use. Buyers looking for a device for outdoors use should find a different laptop (tips on the "Purchase Consultation" page of our website). Buyers, who want a quieter notebook with a better keyboard and similar battery life, will be pleased with the Lenovo Thinkpad T420, or the more luxurious Dell Latitude E6320. Buyers who require a smaller laptop which is suited for outdoors use should look at the Thinkpad X220; however, this model lacks an internal DVD drive.
It all comes down to what the user needs. Of course, HP is stylish and price-conservative. So users who can live with the keyboard, noise emissions and the display, will find that the HP ProBook 6360b is a long-lasting laptop with a variety of nice features to offer. The deal is sweetened by the various optional warranty packets available for this model. On the other hand, the competition is fierce and not that much more expensive.
Is the ProBook 6360b "stylish and affordable"? Yes. We recommend that buyers take a good look at the competition as well, but this small, yet thick, business laptop will attract its own fans.