#1: The HP Elitebook 745 G2 (Kaveri, A10 PRO-7350B)

The Kaveri system chosen was selected as a pinnacle system – one of the best 19W Kaveri devices currently on sale. This is an A10 PRO-7350B system, which translates as a dual module/quad thread processor with a base frequency of 2.1 GHz and a turbo mode up to 3.3 GHz. The APU contains integrated ‘R6’ level graphics based on GCN 1.1, for 384 streaming processors at a frequency of 533 MHz. The 1600x900 TN display was certainly nothing to write home about, but unlike some other devices in this test it came with a 256GB SSD and is strangely enough the only device in our test with dual channel memory (2x4GB, DDR3-1600 C11). This memory aspect is one we’re going to revisit a fair bit as it explains a significant angle surrounding the binary decisions that AMD has to make in a platform.

HP Elitebook 745 G2 (Kaveri) Specifications
Size and Resolution 14-inch, 1600x900 TN
Processor AMD A10 PRO-7350B
Dual module, 4 threads
2.1 GHz Base Frequency
3.3 GHz Turbo Frequency
Graphics Integrated R6
384 Shader Cores
553 MHz maximum frequency
GCN 1.1
Memory 8 GB in Dual Channel Operation
2 x 4GB at DDR3L-1600 C11
2 SO-DIMM Slots
Storage 256GB SSD
Battery Size 50.27 Wh
3 cell Li-Po design, rated to 10.25 hours
WiFi Broadcom 802.11n 1x1
Optical Drive No
Dimensions 33.9 cm x 23.7 cm x 2.1 cm
Weight 1.7 kg
Webcam 1280x720
Other Features Gigabit Ethernet
4 x USB 3.0
Smart Card Reader
Operating System Windows 8.1
Website Link link

The Wi-Fi on hand in the G2 was a single stream Broadcom 802.11n solution, which is broadly disappointing. A remark I will probably make several times in this piece is that if I can get 2x2 802.11ac on a sub-$150 motherboard, why is it not in a laptop >$600? A positive on the battery life side is that the G2 had the biggest battery out of all the devices we tested, coming in at 50.274 Wh, although unfortunately our battery life test failed and we ran out of time to run another.

As for the device itself, the HP Elitebook line is typically focused on premium business customers, and comes in as one of the more stylish elements this field, relying on an aluminium clamshell and a polished design to set the tone. HP is one of AMD’s top tier partners for laptops, which is in itself somewhat surprising perhaps, but most of their business is in the professional line. This means features such as a VGA port and a fingerprint sensor come standard.

It certainly does not look out of place in any meeting room or on a flight. The bezel around the display is noticeable but not too large, with a 720p webcam at the top.

On the sides we get a total of four USB 3.0 ports, and a DisplayPort to compliment the VGA. To fit with some business use, the smart card reader is on the left, as well as the docking port on the right hand side between the circular power cable and the Ethernet port. The Ethernet port is interesting, given that in the ‘thin is best’ mantra for laptops an Ethernet port is quite bulky, so many devices eschew them all together and provide a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor. But instead we have an expanding Ethernet port which makes room for the RJ-45 connector. It saves having to remember another cable in the work bag.

Mouse movement comes from both a trackpad and a nub in the center of the keyboard, with each having a mix and match set of left and right mouse buttons. Personally, using the trackpad during testing was a nightmare as it was not particularly responsive, requiring exertion and exaggeration to get the cursor to move, meaning for most of the time a mouse was plugged in anyway. Technically this G2 sample is actually an old one from stock, perhaps suggesting it has been ‘lightly used’. This is shown by the front of the device.

Even a bad camera can’t hide some scratches. Then again, a number of business devices are held in pouches to save from scrapes, perhaps belying the ‘we kept this in a stack of other laptops that could scratch it’ mantra.

The keyboard was a little different to what I am used to, with odd half-height up and down arrows as well as having the home/end and page up/down keys on the right hand side. There are a couple of immediate second function keys, including the Wi-Fi and Mute buttons on the top right next to the speaker (and also right next to the delete key). The power button on the top left is near the escape key, and in a week I hit it at least twice by accident.

The full aluminium design of the clamshell bodes well for cooling, although there is only a single vent on the left hand side for an exhaust. Depending on the power of the fan, and corresponding heat soak, performance may be temperature affected in the long run.

HP Elitebook 745 G2 Specific Testing

With i1Display Pro colorimeter on hand (sorry, we didn’t have a spectrophotometer for more accurate color measurements), the G2 display running at 1600x900 with a TN panel came very low on our scoring. The high brightness was low (267 nits), and the low brightness was high (1.69 nits), giving an overall contrast ratio of 157. On the plus side, one could argue that the white point, at 6476K, was pretty good.

The color displacement in the calibrated display showed blue was way, way off what it should have been. Both red and green at low settings were also off target, with green having the best default line.

Here is the A10 PRO APU, showing the 19W TDP in the Bald Eagle platform. Kaveri and Carrizo are still both on 28nm, and it’s worth noting that these chips do not have any L3 cache but a super-associative 16-way L2 cache to reduce cache misses.

The G2 graphics are integrated into the APU, showing here the link to DDR3 memory at 25.6 GB/s (that’s dual channel, DDR3-1600 C11) for 384 streaming processors. This falls under the Spectre code name, and is DX12_0 compatible with the right OS and drivers.

Who Controls User Experience: AMD’s Carrizo Tested The Devices: #2 The HP Elitebook 745 G3 (Carrizo, PRO A12-8800B)
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  • basicmath - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    No it's really not, this laptop came from the factory with dual channel capability but that capability was not utilised because that would have shown the platform in a much better light, he even states that he checked the chips in the G2 to confirm that it was single channel. Upgrading the RAM on a laptop is a simple process that any end user can perform. The only discernible difference between the APU in the G2 & G3 is the number of GPU cores so why did he even bother testing the G3 without using dual channel configuration?
  • Intel999 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link


    I look forward to that R-series test as it will provide a sneak peek at how much DDR4 relieves the bottleneck on integrated graphics when Bristol Ridge comes out.

    That $70 Athlon X4 845 is intriguing as well.
  • AS118 - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    Good article (although to be fair, I mostly skimmed it), and I agree with the conclusions. AMD should try harder to make sure their high-end products are paired with good components. Single-channel ram, bad screens, and slow hard drives with an A10 or mobile FX defeats the purpose of having those higher end APU's.

    Plus, people will get a bad impression of AMD if a lot of them have poor trackpads, etc. I wish they'd make their own "signature" brand of laptops, and find someone to help make them a thing.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    Both clevo and MSI have treated AMD well before, Im sure either would love to have exclusive rights to the high end AMD notebook.

    That being said, I doubt AMD has the intelligence to pull it off. They seem to be run by monkeys 90% of the time.
  • Cryio - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    I'm really sorry for AMD. Kaveri and Carizzo on mobile, when configured to the proper ram, cooling and when using the highest performing part ... would've provided awesome performance, compared to Haswell and Broadwell. But no one bothered.

    Bristol Ridge will basically be Carizzo with DDR4 support and since it will be even better binned 28 nm CPUs, maybe we'll get even higher frequency out of Excavator. As for GCN 2.0 GPUs ... it will be interesting to see.

    I love my Surface Pro 4, even given the disaster that is Skylake drivers and Windows 10 horrible efficiency compared to W8.1. But MAN. I would've loved a proper Carrizo based Surface Pro/Book.
  • Gadgety - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - link

    A confirmation, with in depth detail. Nice write up.
  • Khenglish - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    I would have really liked to see some dual channel results, or at least pulling a memory stick from the Kaveri and Intel systems to get a fair comparison. AMD says Zen brings a 40% IPC improvement. It'd be great to have a baseline to see if that 40% improvement is enough. In the dual channel intel to single channel AMD comparisons it does not appear to be enough, but we don't know how big of a factor memory was.
  • Jon Irenicus - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    I want to buy an amd part for my next notebook but as was mentioned in the article, oems only choose bargain basement platforms to put the amd inside. The elitebook is the one exception, along with the lenovo if you don't mind the bulk.

    But the elitebooks are super overpriced for what you get. They need to release an hp spectre version of a notebook with a zen apu, a dell xps notebook variant with an apu. Ideally, the models that include a discreet gpu should allow the apu to work in tandem.

    In 2017 dx12 will be in full effect with games, and having two gpus working together by default could give a lot of amd equipped systems a larger edge, especially if the oversized ipc deficits between excavator and intel parts is minimized with zen.

    The future really does rest on Zen, amd needs to laser focus on performance per watt and ipc, and equip the 2017 apus with polaris gpu parts or vega or whatever the first iterations will be called. That has to be the minimum. Put those in nice chassis with solid battery life and that is all they need.
  • Intel999 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    In DX12 dual graphics will be automatic. Even an Intel Igpu combined with a discrete Nvidia or AMD GPU will "merge" the graphic capabilities in the laptop.

    Theoretically, an AMD APU combined with an AMD GPU might have an advantage as all graphics would be from the same underlying graphic architecture. Time will tell if this bares out.
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Note that it's only going to be as automatic as the game developer makes it, as devs will be responsible for implementing it. For the moment game devs are going to be the wildcard.

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