HP EliteBook 8570p Core i5 – 3rd Generation is no run-of-the-mill system designed for the masses. Rather, the system tries to appeal to the professional user and touts features such as a premium chassis, great display, long warranty, and powerful processing capabilities. We will determine how well this notebook meets the requirements of its intended target audience in our review.
Looking at the data sheet and the hardware specs one might conclude that the HP EliteBook 8570p is quite simply overpriced. After all: there are plenty of consumer notebooks that offer more bang for the buck and come with those buzzworthy features our (supposedly high-end) review system lacks. But those who have special requirements realize that this notebook offers a unique combination of features not found in many competing systems.
Examples of those features are ones typical for business, like docking capability, dedicated numeric keypad, display port, and trackpoint, as well as the seldom found (but still sought after) connection options like FireWire and eSATA. In addition, our review system vies for “professional” status with an integrated UMTS module for connectivity and a high-end display panel offering HD+ resolution. For processing power, the 8570p relies on an Intel Core i7-3520M CPU. 4 GB of RAM, a dedicated graphics card (AMD Radeon HD 7570M) and a 500 GB hard disk drive round out the rest of the hardware.
As configured, the notebook retails for about 1450 Euros (~$1864). Eligible students or teachers can purchase the notebook through education channels and pay about 150 Euros (~$193) less. Lesser-equipped versions of the notebook start at around 1100 Euros (~$1414).
The successor to the HP EliteBook 8560p utilizes the same chassis as the previous version. Our impression was very favorable when we reviewed it last year – and we see no reason to revise our opinion. We can confirm that this chassis is among the best in its class and deserves a top spot in our rankings. The materials are top-notch and hold up well, the chassis is very rigid and well designed, build quality is superb, and the only surfaces that have a little “give” to them when a lot of pressure is applied are the display lid and the area around the optical drive. The qualities are not surprising – the EliteBook 8570p is designed to meet the military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, dust, altitude, high temperature, and drop resistance (see specifics here). Parts fit accurately, the hinge holds the display in any position, the battery fits snugly, and the bottom of the chassis can be opened without any tools.
The high quality has a negative impact on portability, however: the notebook weighs in at a hefty 2.91 kilogram (6.42 pounds). Add in the power adapter (520 grams / 1.15 pounds), a bag, and a few accessories, and the weight is suddenly north of 4 kilograms (8.82 pounds). For additional information, please take a look at our review of the HP EliteBook 8560p.
The available connection options, as well as the ports and their position are almost identical to the predecessor. The only difference is the integrated UMTS module, which expands the functionality since it allows for mobile Internet connectivity. The position of the ports is not always perfect: the USB ports are too close together, and the VGA port is recessed too far into the housing and does not allow for the cable to be connected securely (no screw terminal).
When we hooked up an SSD in an external USB 3.0 enclosure to check the performance, we recorded transfer speeds of 171.5 MB/s. A LaCie d2 Quadra reached 121.7 MB/s via the eSata port, 32.4 MB/s via FireWire 400, and 30.8 MB/s when we connected using a USB 2.0 port. The card reader only supports SD and MMC – a bit behind the times, we think. Its speed (21.8 MB/s SDHC) is comparable to other readers, though. The quality of the analog VGA out is quite good – when we hooked up an external monitor in Full HD (Asus-PA238), the resulting picture was clear and flicker-free – we couldn’t detect a difference when we used the DisplayPort instead.
Basic features like Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, a webcam (720p), and WLAN 802.11n are of course a given in this class of notebook. Compared to its competitors, our review model has two modules that are not usually standard fare: the already mentioned UMTS module (HSPA+) and (a rarity nowadays) a built-in conventional modem. The latter is certainly not out of place: a business user might need to take advantage of the faxing capabilities.
Password manager, face recognition, drive encryption, fingerprint sensor, TPM (trusted platform module), smart card reader and corresponding software tools give the security-conscious user a plethora of options to protect his or her data from intruders.
Contrary to the (now commonplace) practice of manufacturers to not include any kind of system CDs or DVDs, HP still ships this EliteBook with Windows media in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. That’s not to be taken for granted – and certainly helpful if the notebook OS needs to be reinstalled. HP doesn’t really include anything else, but plenty of optional accessories are available for purchase: batteries, docking station, and bay adapter, to name a few. The Advanced Docking station (HP A7E38AA, around 200 Euros (~$257), 2 x DP + 2 x DVI) supports AMD’s Eyefinity technology and allows the user to drive up to five displays (including the notebook display panel) at the same time.
The screwless bottom cover is easy to remove and allows access to most of the internal components. The SIM slot is located behind the battery. One RAM slot is available for upgrades and allows the user to double the RAM quickly if so desired. The fan is easy to access and clean; replacing the hard drive just takes a few steps. Overall, system access is exemplary and very user-friendly.
The Bios has quite a few different settings to choose from: the user can turn ports on and off or chose the power-savings settings for the smart card reader and the express card slot. It’s a good idea to check if the SATA speed is set to 6 Gbit/s and that the “Fan always on” option is disabled. Even though the first option would mostly impact Solid State Drives (3 Gbit/s would be a bottleneck), the second setting makes sure that the fan remains quiet most of the time while the power adapter is plugged in. The hard drive noise is all that’s left then – more about it in the part of our review titled “emissions”.
HP warrants the EliteBooks for 3 years. Other options and extensions are available for purchase if so desired.
The keyboard, which features a separate numeric keypad, has mostly normal-sized keys (19 millimeter / 0.75 inches) and extends the whole width of the notebook. The up and down arrow keys are too small and too close together. The row of F-keys also could be a bit bigger. Aside from the labeling on the keys, which is slightly lacking in contrast, we can’t find any other flaws.
All commonly expected functions are part of the layout, and separate hardware buttons are located above the number block. The keys feature a very precise click-point and the sound they emit is unobtrusive. The chiclet keys feature medium travel and should, after a short acclimation period, please even those who type a lot. The keyboard is very well supported and does not flex. Only the (slightly larger) space bar emits a bit of a “clacking” sound. Like most notebooks in this class, the EliteBook features a spill-resistant keyboard with a drain on the bottom. Small amounts of fluid should therefore not cause any damage. Feature-wise, most everything one could want is included – except for a keyboard backlight, which was lacking on our review system and is also not mentioned in HP’s data sheet.
Taps are only registered well in the center, which reduces usability and gets quite annoying after a while. When we worked more towards the edges of the touchpad we had to repeatedly tap (2-3 times) to get a reaction. We checked the settings of the Synaptics driver but couldn’t improve this behavior. Too bad: the size, the surface, and the actual buttons themselves are all well executed. It could be that this was just an issue with our review system and not indicative of the whole series.
As an alternative to a regular mouse or the touchpad, the EliteBook also features a trackpoint (HP calls it “point stick”) with another set of buttons. This point stick is a very precise instrument and we got used to it very quickly. Those used to a ThinkPad might not be particularly pleased with the rubber nub, which is indented for the tip of the finger – but that’s easy enough to swap out.
HP offers three different display types for the 15.6-inch EliteBooks with the “p” at the end: HD (1366×768 pixels, HD+ (1600×900 pixels) which allows for greater viewing angles, and Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) – also with expanded viewing angles. The DreamColor display is only an option for workstations (which don’t offer the low-end display with HD resolution). All panels are non-glare and are therefore not very susceptible to reflections.
Our review model came equipped with the HD+ panel (117 dpi), which features the (for most users) best blend between icon / font size and screen coverage. When we checked the brightness levels (we use a grid of 9 points), we measured 236 cd/m² in the upper middle area and up to 265 cd/m² in the center. Average brightness is 249 cd/m² and brightness distribution is 89%.
Distribution of brightness
Maximum: 265 cd/m² Average: 249.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 265 cd/m²
Contrast: 631:1 (Black: 0.42 cd/m²)
The results we recorded are quite good and should allow the user to work outside in most, if not all conditions. The only limitation is the worst-case scenario of direct sunlight on a bright summer day – but it’s possible to continue working even then, as long as some care has been taken to adjust the display just right.
Thanks to the non-glare display, an ergonomically sound brightness setting of 140 to 160 cd/m² is usually sufficient while working indoors. The display reaches a brightness of 150 cd/m² at level 15 (out of 20 levels altogether). 1-10 are only usable in fairly dark environments; the last two steps see big jumps in brightness of about 20-30 cd/m².
The measured black point value of 0.42 cd/m² at maximum brightness leads to a very good contrast. The HD+ panel from manufacturer LG manages 631:1 – far above the average. Colors are vivid and blacks are very dark. Movies, photographs, graphics, and games have more visual impact than they would have on a standard display.
The LG panel is capable of reproducing 97% of the sRGB color space. Since the display gamut actually extends beyond sRGB (green/yellow and purple), the true coverage within sRGB is technically a little bit lower. Not that it matters: overall this panel is about as good as it gets for a White-LED display. Only displays using color LEDs (like the DreamColor display), are able to do even better. Compared to the panels we usually see (which cover about 60% of sRGB), the HP HD+ display is clearly superior.
Another attribute we look for in displays are ample viewing angles. Our review model allows for larger angles than a regular standard display, so the user can deviate from the ideal 90 degrees a bit more before the picture changes significantly. The vertical pane is a little more sensitive to changes than the horizontal – the display can’t quite reach the quality of an IPS panel. Inversions only happen when the display is tilted all the way back; when viewed from above, colors are never completely washed out.
Because of the mentioned qualities (coverage of the color spaces, even illumination, good contrast, good viewing angle stability, and many brightness levels), the display is very well suited for working with photographs and graphics.