It seems like we’ve been dealing with this pandemic for years, and with our shift in behavior has come a shift in what we want and need in a laptop. Intel-based laptops are in short supply, and they are likely to remain so until the demand from those now working and studying from home is met. However, there are alternatives in the market using other processors that may fit your home needs better than what you might have otherwise bought.
One such offering is the HP EliteBook 845 G7, an AMD-based laptop, and it isn’t like most AMD laptops you’ve ever seen. Let’s talk about laptops and this new HP 845 G7 this week.
Putting aside AMD history
We’ve all seen AMD laptops over the years, and with a few exceptions (like the Ferrari Laptop from a few years back), they weren’t anything to write home about. They were inexpensive, but that was because at the time, AMD wasn’t competitive with Intel even in the mid-range, let alone high-end segments. That changed last year when AMD showcased several processors and mobile GPUs with a performance advantage, partially due to their graphics capability, which allowed them to perform as peers to Intel Laptops.
Intel still generally had better battery life, and you don’t get performance for free, but with most of us working from home, suddenly--for many of us--performance trumps battery life. That makes AMD-based laptops uniquely interesting while we are all wondering if we will ever see an office that isn’t in our home again.
Built for the Office Navigator
HP builds for personas, and this laptop is built for the Office Navigator. The Office Navigator is someone who needs a lot of flexibility both in applications and office spaces. They create presentations, work on spreadsheets and often have significant performance needs, but they still need to be portable. These massive collaborators may report to several teams and often work on secure projects to protect their hardware at a business level.
This persona leads to an exciting balance of performance, size and weight, battery life and design that the 845 G7 uniquely addresses. Like most of HP’s new notebooks, it has an impressive screen body ratio of 85%; the case comprises brushed aluminum addressing the design component. It weighs in at under 3 pounds, so it isn’t heavy by any stretch of the imagination.
One important feature is that it can be wiped down with alcohol wipes without damaging the finish. With nearly 16 hours of maximum battery life (think watching videos), you should carry the relatively small power brick with you unless you want the extra security (making it easy to work anyplace in your home you want). It has decent speakers, though I’ve found that headphones lead to happier family life.
Now to its performance advantage with PC Mark 10. This is arguably the best measure of performance for a product used for work; a similarly configured Intel product will get a score of around 3,031 (HP Elitebook 840 G7). This notebook running the Ryzen 7 Pro processor turned in a whopping 4,637, which isn’t that far off my relatively new Threadripper workstation that turned in a score of 6,173. For 3D Mark Time Spy, the similar Intel product turns in a score of 495, while this notebook blows that score out of the water with 1,237.
Finally, with Geek bench pro, the Intel Notebook turns in a not-too-shabby 3,031 while this notebook hits it out of the park with 4,673. It does run around 5 degrees warmer than the Intel product at 105 degrees, but I doubt you’ll notice it, and during the winter at home, you may appreciate the little extra heat.
Finally, it has a fast charge (50% power in 30 minutes), a Windows Hello camera and HP’s market-leading security suite (Sure Start, Sure Recover, Sure Run, Sure Click, Sure Sense and a privacy camera). The configuration I tested had a 400-nit screen, the Ryzen 7 Pro processor, 16GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage and a three-year warranty for $1,419 (note the link above takes you to a slightly more expensive $1,499 configuration with a 512 GB SSD). One thing though, it doesn’t have a touch screen, which, if you are as tired as I am with fingerprinted screens, often isn’t a bad thing.
With most of us working from home, I argue that performance is now more critical than weight or battery life. I also know that you generally have to choose two out of three for performance, weight and battery life. This laptop hits 3 out of 3, but it does come with a higher-than-normal price point to get there.
Still, if you need this performance for your job and you can afford it, I haven’t found a better balance of performance, battery life and weight in any other notebook yet. Currently (at least right now), these notebooks aren’t constrained, and then maybe the most essential feature of all: You can buy it (but be aware the less-expensive $999 version of this laptop has already sold out, so your window is closing).
Good hunting, and please stay safe out there.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to eWEEK and Pund-IT.