#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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  • Danvelopment - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Strategy AMD should adopt:

    90% of people don't notice a performance difference above 3000 Super CPU Points, Intel CPUs are usually 4000-8000 Super CPU points, our chips may only range from 3500-4500 Super CPU Points but regular users won't actually notice it, and at the same performance marks we're a hundred dollars cheaper. Make the sensible choice.

    Another way, we've done extensive testing to see what end users want and need, then we targeted those sectors, and where we matched Intel we made sure we were a hundred bucks cheaper on the same devices.

    "We don't hold the performance crown but the price/performance crown"
  • Marcelo Viana - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Dammit, the solution should be simple, but must come from AMD, since can't expect it from oem's and all of them offer let's say 2011 sockets as example, why amd do not develop a socket switch, so a small board with 2011 pins on the bottom and a circuit on this boad to give a whatever socket amd choose connections on top of it, in order to accept amd chips.
    But AMD must understand that the memory on their chips must be ddr4(Carrizo do), because the lazy OEMs whon't change memory sockets, as example.
    In this case the lazy ones have only to change the chip, and even better if any consumer have a old machine can upgrade to a chip that they choose. simple as that.
    Anyone that sales more creates the standard on the market, the others is that must follow.
    So who control the user experience? I think no one. everyone in the process just looking to explore the users in order to get money nothing more, but if i have to guess, problably the users. Because they are the one that really have the power to say "i won't buy it or that' or even better "until they give to me what i want" just my 2 cents.
  • farmergann - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Seems like you missed out on some highlights of the Y700. The memory is dual channel, the IPS screen has Freesync, and the sound is surprisingly awesome. Replaced the HDD with a Samsung 850 Pro and have thoroughly enjoyed it since.
  • bitech - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Lol have they never seen a 17" laptop before? The HP Pavilion has a 1600x900 because it's 17". 1600x900 is the minimum resolution on all 17" laptops, not 1366x768.
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    1600x900 is still a crappy resolution for such a large screen. I had a notebook with 15.5 inch 900p screen, and it was visibly grainy.
  • mosu - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Just few words: Sabotage and corruption at high level OEM decision level. Simple as that.
  • Arief Sujadmika - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    AMD just need a feature to turn off the chips if its detect single channel memory for Carrizo then the OEM will make dual channel memory for it...
  • thatthing - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    the y700 r9 385x is a bonaire gpu, amd has no 512sp chips mobile r9 series, http://www.amd.com/en-us/products/graphics/noteboo...
  • silverblue - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    Articles like these make me want to see how good the unrestricted Athlon X4 845 will be, however as it's probably defective Carrizo silicon, I wouldn't expect it to be massively frugal. I do wonder if there will be any Bristol Ridge Athlons; the top models are rated with a cTDP of 25-45W which is a decent improvement and would reduce/eliminate throttling. Overclocking may not help in terms of power but performance would be more consistent. You also get DDR4 which isn't as big a help for the Athlons but it would be interesting to see the difference.

    A review of the Dell Inspiron I3656-7800BLK would be a good marker, if only to show the maximum performance of the mobile chips.
  • Masospaghetti - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    Seems like the best configuration of a Carrizo machine would be a 35w TDP A12 with dual channel memory and integrated graphics (or discrete graphics with crossfire enabled).

    It's a shame that all of the machines available are severely compromised with either single channel memory, 15w TDP, lack of crossfire, or a combination of these. Seriously. The machines tested have terrible designs. Looks like AMD made a huge mistake providing a common configuration with Carrizo-L with the single channel memory.

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