As someone who lives in the world of marketing, I often look at certain products and wonder why they don’t have more of a following. One such product is the EliteBook line of HP laptops. Designed to be used in the office or by the worker on the go, EliteBooks are some of the most well crafted and durable laptops on the market, and are second to none in terms of overall build quality. While people often base purchases on the “look” of a product, for me the main factor is knowing that my purchase is going to have a good life expectancy and therefore provide value for my hard earned dollar. I often run into people with significant laptop experience who have no idea about the EliteBook brand, which in my view is a total shame.
The unit I have the pleasure of reviewing today is the HP Elitebook 8470p. Based upon Intel’s new Ivy Bridge platform, the launch of these next generation laptops has been eagerly awaited by mobile computing enthusiasts. Promising increased performance and power efficiency, is Ivy Bridge everything we had hoped it would be? Well, let’s get down to business and see what we have in our hands!
Design, Keyboard and Touchpad
The 8470p continues to display the same design DNA as recent HP EliteBooks. In fact, if you have a previous generation HP 8460p, you likely would mistake the two laptops if you did not look closely. The keyboard has remained the same, island style key design which made its first appearance with the xx60 series EliteBooks. While fairly easy to type on, I still believe that the xx30 series Elitebook keyboards were some of the best. The only issue I had with this keyboard were the arrow keys, specifically the right and left arrows which often didn’t feel correct as they are smaller keys. Keyboard flex is absolutely non-existent, the same as previous models, no matter how hard you press down on the keys. One key missing ingredient, in my mind and I’m sure many others, continues to be the lack of a backlit keyboard. While all EliteBooks have a popout LED light at the top of the screen, it really does next to nothing to illuminate the keyboard. A backlit keyboard like HP introduced on several workstation version Elitebooks during the last generation would have been much appreciated here.
The EliteBook touchpad continues to have a wonderful, smooth glide to it, and was a pleasure to use. No friction was felt at any time. The size was also good, and I never felt like I was being limited by a small touchpad. The EliteBooks all have a small pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard, similar in style and function to the red nub incorporated into many ThinkPad’s. It was very usable and perhaps will even be preferred by some EliteBook users over the normal touchpad.
In terms of weight…well, the Elitebooks could all go on a diet. With the 6-cell battery installed, the 8470p came in at 2.435kg (5.37 lbs) on the scales. This is definitely not an Ultrabook. However, with all of the magnesium alloy and brushed metal used in this laptop, such heft is to be expected. If you are looking for something really light, generally speaking, the Elitebook line is not for you. These units are built like tanks.
The screen on this particular unit is a 14-inch LED backlit LCD, with 1366×768 resolution. Yes, the old 1366×768 resolution seen on many laptops continues with the 8470p. Hopefully screens with higher resolutions are optional later on with this model. Of course, being an EliteBook, the screen does not flex on the backside under any pressure, and both the hinge design and durability is commendable. No worries about the screen being easily damaged here!
A light is provided at the top of the screen to illuminate the keyboard
In terms of brightness, unfortunately I do not have precision instruments in my possession to measure it. However, the 8470p was somewhat brighter than my previous HP 2560p, with slightly better viewing angles as well. The screen also exhibited good overall uniformity in terms of brightness, with no blooming or dark areas experienced. As with every Elitebook, the screen is a matte finish, with no overt reflections to annoy you in brighter areas.
The ease with which you can upgrade the Elitebook will be much appreciated. Simply unlatch the two sliders that also hold the battery, and you can easily remove the complete underside plate of the machine. Easy access to upgradeable components such as the memory and hard drive can be seen in the pictures included in this review. Two slots were available for memory expansion, and removing the hard drive chassis was as simple as loosening one screw. Removal of the CD/DVD drive was also simple, via two screws, which then allowed the drive to slide out.
Here’s the bottom cover of the EliteBook 8470p:
And then the 8470p with the bottom cover removed:
There is nothing new to report in the area of battery life. The battery that came with this unit was the same as what had been previously available for the earlier 8460P, as well as several other HP laptops – a 6 cell CC06 series, rated for 5100 mAh. Using the Battery Eater Pro benchmarking tool the 8470p achieved 2 hours and 8 minutes on the classic test – which is basically a torture test and gives the minimum operation time of a battery. Using the Reader test, the battery life jumped to 8 hours and 59 minutes, that’s a very optimistic time that uses all power saving options available such as wi-fi off, screen brightness dimmed and any powered ports turned off. Realistically you’ll probably get somewhere in between those times, say 4 – 5 hours under normal usage.
The EliteBook 8470p speakers are of the typical laptop variety, there is no “Beats audio” here, the technology that HP seems to like to push on many of its other consumer-centric laptop lines. The speakers are functional, but you aren’t going to be bothering your neighbors with your loud music on the 8470p, that’s for sure. Music and movie audio was passable, and nothing to get excited about.
Heat was also not an issue. The laptop just never got warm during either regular use nor during the benchmarking phase of this review. During benchmarking there was some very faint warmth coming from the vents on the right hand side, that you could only notice by holding the palm of your hand against the chassis. The fan noise from the 8470p was non-existent or minimal even under load. Rarely was the fan heard, during any of the more extreme benchmarks that were run on it. Overall the Ivy Bridge architecture already seems to run nice and cool, which was nice to see.
Ports and Connectivity
In terms of connectivity, we find two USB 3.0 ports on the left hand side of the laptop, tagged with the new SuperSpeed ‘SS’ logo. Hidden right underneath those two USB ports is the card reader for SD, MMC, etc. Also on the left side are a firewire port and the power input. On the right hand side, there are separate inputs for headphones and a mic, an eSata port, another USB port which can be used to charge devices when the laptop is shut down, and a DisplayPort output. The backside reveals both a phone modem and Ethernet jack, as well as a VGA output. In terms of the wireless realm, Bluetooth was supplied by a Broadcom 2072 chip, and wireless via the Centrino Ultimate N 6300AGN. A standard 82579LM Gigabit chip provided Ethernet capability. Overall, a nice solid variety for the average business or consumer type user.
Left rear side: Phone modem, VGA monitor out, Ethernet
Left side ports: Power jack, FireWire port, Two USB 3.0 ports, media card reader
Right side: eSATA port / USB 2.0 port combo, USB 2.0 powered port, DisplayPort, headphone and microphone jack
Drivers, unit specs and benchmarks:
Initially I had some issues being able to acquire drivers, and several key components of the laptop were not recognized by Windows 7. Fortunately I managed to find most of the Intel drivers on HP’s website, where they were posted under the driver section for several new HP laptops. The video card driver for the HD 4000 was also available, with a bit of searching around with Google. During this testing, the only drivers missing were for the fingerprint scanner as well as the onscreen settings icons that HP uses in conjunction with several of the hard buttons on the laptop. Obviously not any hardware that would affect our benchmarking in any way. Most of the benchmarks that were run on the 8470p focus on the performance of the Ivy Bridge processor, as well as the new Intel HD 4000 video chip.
Key specs of test unit:
Platform: Intel Ivy Bridge – BIOS version 4.C7 (08/11/2011)
Processor: Unidentified Intel Core i7 Engineering Sample processor (idling at 1.7GHz, Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz)
Graphics: Video: Intel HD 4000, 2GB memory
System Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM (2 x 4GB)
Storage: Intel 320 80GB SSD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all updates to current date
First, here’s a screenshot from CPU-Z to confirm the internal processor specs of this laptop, notice the Intel Ivy Bridge technology is 22nm and the Max TDP is a low 35 W:
The graphics are confirmed as being the new Intel HD 4000 integrated GPU:
Windows Experience Index (WEI)
Although the Windows Experience Index isn’t a benchmark, it still offers a common way for users to compare scores across machines. It’s also interesting to see how Windows 7 reacts to the new Intel hardware:
The 6.4 Windows Index Score is impressive, the fact the Graphics score was rated at 6.4 is great. A typical score for Intel HD 3000 equipped laptops is 4.7, so Windows 7 is recognizing the graphics as being superior. Here is a table comparing some graphics scores for an Intel Sandy Bridge equipped HP Folio 13 Ultrabook we recently reviewed and the HP EliteBook 8470p with Ivy Bridge.
WEI Overall Score
WEI Graphics Score
WEI Gaming Graphics Score
HP EliteBook 8470p (Intel Core i7, Intel HD 4000, 4GB RAM)
The Windows Experience Index isn’t exactly a detailed analysis of a systems performance, so let’s take a look at some more robust benchmark tools.
The PCMark 7 suite from Futuremark is a popular benchmark for measuring overall system performance as well as some detailed component level performance. With our HP 8470p unit equipped with Intel Ivy Bridge and Intel HD 4000 graphics we achieved a score of 4,520 PCMarks.
Comparing this 4,520 score to other laptops we have reviewed proves the Ivy Bridge 8470p is a force to be reckoned with:
PCMark 7 Score
HP EliteBook 8470p (Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge 1.70GHz, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
HP Envy 17 (Core i7-2670QM 2.20GHz, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)
The Ivy Bridge Core i7 1.7GHz processor and Intel HD 4000 equipped HP 8470p outscored even the ThinkPad W520 workstation and HP dv7t Quad with dedicated graphics. We should note that the Intel 320 SSD in the test unit goes a long way in improving the overall score as well.
PCMark Vantage is actually an older version of the PCMark toolset, but it’s still worth a look as the ability to compare to a wider range of laptops is available due to the popularity and longevity of this older benchmark program.
Comparing the PCMark Vantage score of 14,659 the Ivy Bridge equipped HP EliteBook 8470p achieved is again an exercise in schooling past laptops on how things should be done:
PCMark Vantage Score
HP EliteBook (Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge 1.70GHz, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
HP Envy 17 Core i7-2670QM 2.20GHz, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)
One of the features Intel has claimed is much improved with the Ivy Bridge platform is the integrated graphics portion. The Intel HD 4000 will replace the current Intel HD 3000 as the integrated graphics solution, Intel is claiming 50% better performance for 3D related tasks. The 3DMark Vantage benchmark specifically tests 3D graphics performance and verifies the claims Intel is making – the improved performance of the Intel HD 4000 over its predecessor is impressive:
3DMark Vantage Score (Performance mode)
HP EliteBook (Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
HP Envy 17 Core i7-2670QM 2.20GHz, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)
The Intel HD 4000 equipped HP EliteBook 8470p handily outscored similar Intel HD 3000 equipped laptops, offering over a 1,000 point jump in score, and this is with early driver versions for the HD 4000 – things will only get better. Also notice that the Intel HD 4000 outscores the HP Pavilion dv6z with AMD 6620G integrated graphics that we reviewed. It seems the Intel HD 4000 will live up to Intel’s billing of it being at least 50% better. However, the higher scores of laptops equipped with high end dedicated graphics such as the AMD 7690 the ENVY 17 has demonstrates if you really want to do some serious gaming then you need a good dedicated graphics card.
PerformanceTest Version 7
Performance Test 7 is a benchmarking tool form PassMark software. Below is a screenshot of the scores the HP 8470p achieved:
For comparison, here is a screenshot of results for a ThinkPad X220 with Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB of RAM, 7200RPM hard drive and Intel HD 3000 graphics:
Below is a table of the above scores for comparison, it’s easy to see the advantage of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor and HD 4000 graphics over the current Sandy Bridge, the 3D graphics score improvement is particularly notable:
HP EliteBook 8470p (Intel Core i7, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM)
ThinkPad X220 (Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM)
Overall Computer Score
2D Graphics Mark
3D Graphics Mark
I realize that this review really needs to look at two different areas. How well does this laptop keep up with the Elitebook tradition, and more importantly, how good is Ivy Bridge?
Well, in terms of the EliteBook brand, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 8470p. All aspects of the laptop were a pleasure to work with, from the solid layout, to the nice keyboard, to the overall feel. No plastic casings here! I have always appreciated how solid the EliteBook line feels, and the 8470p does nothing to disappoint. We can always wish for a backlit keyboard though, and perhaps a bit less weight.
Working with Ivy Bridge was also a pleasure. As seen by the benchmarks, what we have here is a platform that runs very quickly, with low heat, and good battery life. Something to remember is that these are still early days regarding driver support for the Ivy Bridge platform, and key drivers such as for the Intel HD 4000 will most definitely continue to improve. We are already seeing some nice benchmark increases over the previous generation Intel HD 3000 so time will most likely improve those HD 4000 scores.
The quad core processor was wonderful to work with. Everything, and I mean everything, was just fast. Everyday activities didn’t even make the processor break a sweat, and benchmarking rarely made the cooling fan come on. The laptop was very silent overall which is a great thing when you are trying to work in a quieter environment.
Overall, I believe that Ivy Bridge is a winner and a nice forward step from Intel, and I would definitely recommend looking at the laptops based on this platform when they become available. The combination of speed, good thermals, and improved battery life is a triumvirate that is hard to beat. Combine those with the above average build quality of an Elitebook, and you have yourselves a winner.