#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)
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ncsaephanh - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Can you guys do a podcast on this article? Would love to hear you guys discuss it and also answer questions/comments on the article.
  • ET - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Nice to see a Carrizo article finally, although it's rather disappointing, for example because only single channel was tested.

    You talked about solutions, here's how I see what AMD and publications like Anandtech need to do (I'm using Carrizo as an example, but it's a lesson for the future):

    AMD: When Carrizo is available in a laptop, send one to Anandtech. Immediately. If you have a prototype before that, send that. We want to learn about the chip as quickly as possible, not have to wait months looking for nuggets of information on the web.

    Anandtech: Benchmark the hell out of the laptop. If there's single channel with a dual channel option, show a comparative benchmark, but concentrate on dual. We're enthusiasts, we'll install a second DIMM to get better performance. For benchmarks, basic system performance and a plethora of games, and comparison to Intel, plus battery life. Deep dives are nice, but I'd rather have a quick overview of what the system is suitable for, and what kind of gaming it can achieve.

    AMD: Desktop first! I know that laptops are where the money is, but desktop is where the enthusiasts are, and if your chip is worth anything, fans and publications like Anandtech will pair it with the fastest memory, configure it with the best TDP, and see what it's really capable of. OEM limitations will not get in the way.

    AMD: Fans first! That's pretty much a repeat of the previous point, but AMD, you still have fans, and they are your best customers, not the OEM's or the clueless general public. If you make something that you think is good and you let your fans learn of it and get hold of it, they will tell you what they think and they will tell others. If you leave them in the dark, they will end up losing their enthusiasm.

    Anandtech: Follow up on AMD stuff. It may be hard to get the latest AMD chips if AMD isn't helping, but at least let us know you're on it. An occasional news item telling us that you've tried to get some laptops for testing or whatnot will tell us that you're on it, and hopefully shame AMD and the OEM's enough to get a move on.

    Personally, I would likely have bought a Carrizo system if there was one of similar size to my old Thinkpad X120e (which I still use, even if I'm not that happy with its speed). I might have bought a Carrizo for my HTPC if I could and I knew it provided decent enough performance.
  • sofocle10000 - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    I just signed in to state that Asus had nice business/multimedia notebooks (I used N60DP/N56DP and I actually use an N551ZU - all based on AMD), and although my actual N551ZU is only based on the top of the line Kaveri, it is an exceptional machine for normal use/light gaming...

    Customers play a big part in the AMD problem, but if there were more incentives (take my current N551ZU, which is a great notebook for ~750-850 $, and if configured with an SSD, you could hardly tell it apart most of the time from the Intel i5H/i7QH + GTX 950M variants), not only a great price, but a better build quality, display, sound system the the market average, some of them would actually pay more attention to the AMD.

    The OEM's should have a more defined bottom line for the AMD notebooks - were dual channel memory and a better display, a hybrid SSHD or a SSD are a must, especially for the models in the upper part of the price range 400-700 $...
  • dragosmp - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    @Ian - great article, really a good example of investigative journalism. I'm happy this kind of articles are being revived, but being a reader of Tom's I see where this may be coming from.

    As the "guy that says what laptop/phone to buy" to my family and friends I have to say your findings and conclusions speak to me very clearly - AMD has a system-problem, not so much a CPU-problem (though some may argue differently). AMD chips are fed into cheap looking/feeling PCs with far too many corners cut, but this is how under 700$ market looks like. Could AMD's OEMs sell a 600$ 13" PC to compete with the CoreM UX305? I think not, simply because AMD's CPUs (who consume more) need thicker chassis with stronger cooling and a beefier battery and that costs money - so there's less available for the UX; even if the OEM accepted lower margins on the AMD PC, or AMD to sell the CPU at bargain prices, that design compared to the UX305 would be thicker and likely noisier.

    If Zen is good, I could see it in a Mac as Apple has a history of doing good software. Or AMD should build their own surface line and set an example of what can be done.
  • Gunbuster - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    People buy the cheapest $300 laptop they can get or something premium. Who are they targeting with these mid-rangers?
  • farmergann - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Wife uses her Y700 for school and a few hours of photo editing every week. Exactly what she wanted. This article did a worthless job of representing the actual Y700 w/fx8800p you can pick up at Best Buy for $665-830. Everything is fantastic about it save for the TB HDD which I immediately replaced with a Samsung 850 Pro I had laying around.

    Somehow, this "investigative" nonsense missed the fact the U.S. Y700 has a superb little IPS screen with Freesync to go along with a surprisingly (truly) good sound system and -despite the author's claim- dual channel ram. Just for grins I've played BF3 and a few other games - none of which had issues. Great low/mid-range laptop with plenty of chops.
  • every1hasaids - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Nope, the US model is absolute garbage. They skimped on the VRMs and the laptop subsequently throttles in moderately intensive CPU tasks. Example, try running Cities: Skylines with a decent sized city and tell me that it doesn't stutter after about 20 seconds of play and every 5 seconds or so after that. The stutters which coincide with the CPU being utilized near 100% and the frequency dropping per resource monitor and Afterburner all the way down to 1.6ghz... Also I don't know what you're talking about with the Freesync capability, I could not get it to work after reading elsewhere that it may be possible.

    The main issue with a product like the Y700 is that the intel variant is only a couple hundred bucks more and you get a genuine quad core with HT, dual channel DDR4-2133 and comparable discreet graphics. Oh, and it has no trouble with voltage supply. Not to mention that the m.2 interface is PCI-E as opposed to SATA on the AMD model. It just doesn't make sense to purchase a far inferior product for only $200 less at the price point these models occupy.
  • farmergann - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    Cities: Skylines? LOL, that's about as rich as whining about Starcraft 2 performance on an FX Octacore - what were you expecting exactly? For people not looking to shove a laughably CPU bound title down a 35W laptop's throat, the FX8800p with user installed SSD is a far better choice, sorry guy.
  • Peichen - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Wow, that's wasting a lot of time and words reviewing a product no one will buy. AMD needs to exist to keep the cheap Intel stuff dirt cheap but I don't feel anyone should waste time reviewing AMD CPU products. 10 years of marketing hype and under-delivery means AMD is actually slower than ever compares with Intel.

    I bought 2 AMD CPU over the last 6/7 years and frankly I wish I spend more buying Intel because I wouldn't have to spend time and money as often upgrading the CPU.
  • Danvelopment - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    The way I see it, AMD needs to stop comparing themselves with themselves and needs to compare themselves with the competition. People don't understand the improvements if they aren't involved with the predecessor.

    They produce a reasonable product that performs at 60-80% of the competition at 50% of the price.

    Good designs are produced for the competition, that could fundamentally have their parts, and they're losing on the design front.

    And strangely, for similar products the AMD machines are the same cost, even though the difference is the chip (at halfish the price).

    Can they not work to develop an easier transition method for OEM's to produce this-or-that designs that allow end users to pick AMD or Intel during the selection process. Tier them like Dell does for the various Intel processors but have them consistently show up as the cheapest option $100 off a $500 laptop is a decent drop and if the chip and PCB is $150 cheaper to produce the OEM still wins).

    Differentiating the product creates too many variables people don't understand, and creates the issue above, CPU brand aversion on entire product stacks with no common ground.

    I'd say take a long, hard look at current machines, and develop a method of getting their chips into them as an option, without OEMs designing a product from the ground up.

    I'd certainly consider AMD if I could just select it as an option that knocks $100 off on the low cost tier laptop in my workplace.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now