#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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  • Gadgety - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    So AMD's marketing and distribution strategy is a failure. The way it's described it would seem consumers specifying their own PCs would be a away around the dominant logic determined by the existing channels. With today's production technology tailor made products on demand should be possible.

    The other thing I don't get, is why doesn't AMD release a desktop Carrizo 4K capable APU for the FM2+ platform? Do they want to help the motherboard manufacturers sell more motherboards once the new AM4 socket APU:s are out in 2017, or do they want to sell their own existing products?
  • JMC2000 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    I think it's more along the lines of having an installed base of AM4 boards before any Zen-based APUs roll out.

    It is possible that if the Athlon X4 845 sells well, AMD could release a full Carrizo part on FM2+.
  • AlB80 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    What is discrete graphic chip in Lenovo?
    512sp GCN1.2.... I suspect that this combination is unreal.
  • Jamesiii - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    I have actually ordered Dell's AMD A8-8600P. It is intended as a media machine with the selling points being the low power equating to quiet and the 4K capability. The one thing I did notice is that he does have the Single Channel DDR3L 1600MHz memory. There is no indication on if it unlocks the watts to 35, but I have my doubts given the choice of RAM.

    I will know more when I get it on Thursday and will update if anyone is still view this thread. But, at $380.00 it is not a bad choice for a media machine.
  • tygrus - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - link

    OBM (the brands) bid for designs by the ODM's based on the design cost and the expected volume. I high cost Intel design can be made profitable by the expectation of very high volumes. Even the most popular AMD design is expected to sell fewer than a low-volume Intel design. Business limitations and commercial forces bias the system towards Intel. Intel also have deeper pockets to sponsor/partner/subsidise designs to make them Intel exclusive. From manufactures to distributors to retail, Intel penalise (withdraw discounts/subsidies) anyone who lets AMD gain market share (many limited to <10%) and limit the use of the "best" designs for AMD (forced to sell only A4 & A6 instead of A8 or better, limit battery and other features so Intel always looks better). The "Intel brakes" applied to AMD limits their opportunities and potential earnings. This has limited the AMD R&D spending and forced AMD to stay behind in some aspects. It's amazing what AMD has done with 28nm but think of the advantage they could have had with 22nm and 14nm if successful achieved much earlier (no more than 9months after Intel).
  • every1hasaids - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    I owned (owned being the operative word there) a Y700 with the AMD Carrizo FX8800P and can attest to the fact that the cooling solution and probably several other pieces of that device reviewed in this article are not the same design as what is available on the market in the US. There is a known issue of Lenovo skimping on the VRMs on the AMD Y700 which results in heavy throttling taking place. I couldn't play any game for more than 15 minutes before heavy throttling would occur. The data gathered from the review sample in this article should not be associated with the available product on the market. There appears to also be an FX-8700P variant of the Y700 out there however I cannot find any documentation of the existence of this device on Lenovo's site. Needless to say that I returned that laptop due to the significant throttling problems. I wish this site of some other site could get their hands on one of the FX-8800P Y700 laptops available in the US and put it through testing to reveal the problems with the unit. I'm guessing that they intend on releasing a Carrizo-L version of that laptop with the same motherboard which is why the VRMs are not up to the task of the 35w Carrizo and the added consumption of the dedicated graphics chip.

    Why are there no units out there that can handle the 35w TDP Carrizo and a dedicated graphics card!?!?!?! It would be a great alternative to the Intel/Nvidia gaming notebook monopoly.

    I'm hoping Zen/Polaris will actually see some adoption from OEMs and maybe AMD could even get involved in assisting proper implementation of their products so that the negative stigma could get nullified.
  • Jamesiii - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    The FX-8700P would more properly be called an A10-8700P. It sounds like a bit of marketing if they are using the FX handle.

    On gaming sites people are suggesting you turn off AMD's Turbo Core when gaming to avoid the FPS jumping up and down and overclock the processors. Overclocking a laptop is dicey at best though.
  • Malih - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    maybe Microsoft should start making an AMD Surface laptop if they want good competition to drive PC Sales
  • Marcelo Viana - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    I just don't understand why in a comparison carrizo vs intel you didn't take out the intel chips memory in order to both have 1 channel memory, so do a benchmark for us in a same condition.
    The entire article show that intel offering has OEMs given what intel chips need, so the point in comparing carrizo vs intel is the chip itself not platform, since AMD has no platform at all.
  • Elensar286 - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    That's a large focus of this article, though. The whole point was an investigation in to the implementation of Carrizo APUs by the OEM. It's highlighting exactly how like you said, the OEM platform, is hindering the potential of Carrizo processors.

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