Performance and Benchmarks
System performance was excellent with its dual-core Intel Core i5 mobile processor and NVIDIA NVS 5100m dedicated graphics with 1GB of DDR3 memory. Users looking for even more power can upgrade to the 1.66GHz Core i7-720QM processor depending on how much mobile processing power they need. In our tests we found the dual-core2.4GHz i5-520M processor to be more than enough for the average daily tasks of browsing the web, decoding multiple 1080P videos at the same time, or just playing some of the latest video games. Our configuration included a 7200RPM hard drive to keep program access times and load times to a minimum. For even greater performance and durability two SSD options are offered with capacities including 160GB and 256GB.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
The HP EliteBook 8540p does a good job of handling the thermal output of its fast processor and graphics card, but compared to other notebooks we have reviewed it does run a bit loud. At a distance of 6-inches from the exhaust vent we measured the fan noise at upwards of 50dB during our stress test. Under normal daily activities fan noise isn’t as loud, roughly the same noise output as a whisper. Heat through the chassis is minimal even under stress thanks to the high fan output. This is very important since the metal cladding can sometimes act as a heatsink on some notebooks and transmit more heat into your legs or wrists.
With the 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA NVS 5100M graphics the EliteBook 8540p wasn’t exactly the best case scenario for extended battery life. In our battery tests with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Windows 7 set to the Balanced profile the system stayed on for 5 hours and 5 minutes. This is still plenty of time to get a movie or two in while traveling with a conservative backlight level, but if you are looking for impressive battery life figures you need to look towards notebooks with smaller screens and more conservative graphics options.
HP includes two new applications worth mentioning on the new EliteBook. One is a video conferencing package called SkyRoom and the other is the new power management suite called HP Power Assistant. SkyRoom gives users a way to communicate with video and audio to other SkyRoom users as well as share desktops to collaborate on projects even if you are across the country. Testing it out in the office we ran into a few problems if you were behind a network address translation (NAT), since SkyRoom really wanted each user to have a directly accessible external IP address. If you are behind your company’s firewall this could be a problem, but for most users on a 3G connection or at home there are ways to work around this.
HP Power Assistant helps users realize the impact of the notebook running in various power configurations. Not only do you get the standard power profiles, time remaining figures, and power usage in watts, but you can also have it graph out what that works out to in cost per day, week, and year. You input your local cost per kWh and it estimates the costs based on current power usage. Another cool feature is you can work out how much that translates into CO2 output to estimate your carbon footprint. This looks like a fantastic tool for IT managers who need to provide total system costs to company accountants … or for bosses who need to explain why it’s important for employees to shut down their computers at the end of the day.
The HP EliteBook 8540p really gives the competitors a run for the money. The design leans heavily towards the trendy side with a strong emphasis on excellent build quality. While I still have strong feelings for the ThinkPad brand I have to say the brushed metal finish is really something else. Gripping the notebook in your hands it feels like a solid block, having very little flex anywhere. Performance was great with a wide range of configuration options, including the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors with NVIDIA NVS 5100M dedicated graphics as well as optional SSDs. For the business professional always on the go the battery life is just over five hours which should give enough time for most tasks away from a power outlet, but if you expect to break 9-10 hours look for a smaller system. Overall you really have to look hard to find anything wrong with this notebook. The only area that I could see being improved is the price but that is wishful thinking especially when it comes to business notebooks.
- Excellent build quality
- Stylish design
- Above average display
- Not offered in all-black