HP ProBook 6540b review

19 Apr 2010

Bulky and dour, but solid performance and battery life make it a reasonable office choice

Price when reviewed 
877
5

Next to the aesthetic excesses of its recent Envy range, HP's ProBook line is an altogether more sober affair. Aimed at the small-to-medium business market, the latest addition to the family, the ProBook 6540b, partners an Intel Core i5 processor with a host of business features.

First things first, don't expect any visual excitement for your £746 exc VAT. The HP ProBook 6540b treads the fine line between tailored smartness and bland anonymity, all the while proclaiming its business heritage from every black and silver square inch. Bland, corporate, functional, it makes no attempt to appear anything other than what it is: an office laptop.

HP ProBook 6540b

The keyboard and trackpad are just as practical. Despite the numeric keypad alongside, the layout is spacious and uncluttered, while the keys have deep travel and recover from each stroke with an eager spring.

The 6540b is a good 43mm thick and feels sturdily built; there's a slight flex in the base of the laptop but it's nothing to get overly concerned about. The chunky lid also feels capable of taking a knock or two, which bodes well for the TFT surviving a busy life both in and out of the office. Bear in mind, though, that its chunky figure and 2.72kg weight might prove frustrating for regular travellers.

Fret not, since HP's choice of Intel's Core i5 processor adds a good measure of portability to the 6540b. Wisely settling for the Intel HD graphics integrated onto the processor die, rather than the power-hungry ATI discrete graphics available on other models in the range, the HP's six-cell battery managed to power the 6540b to just over six hours of light usage.

That longevity needn't come at the expense of performance either. While the Core i5-430M's modest 2.26GHz frequency doesn't sound like it will set the world on fire, Intel's Turbo Boost technology strides into play, dynamically overclocking the two processor cores and eking out every ounce of performance. With 4GB of memory on tap, it's enough to score the 6540b a solid 1.51 in our application benchmarks.

Details

Price ex VAT £746
Price inc VAT £877
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 371 x 248 x 43mm (WDH)
Weight 2.720kg
Travelling weight 3.2kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-430M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM57 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk WDC WD3200BEKT-60V5T1
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive HP TS-L633N
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 1
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader yes
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 32min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 22min
Overall application benchmark score 1.51
Office application benchmark score 1.40
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.53
Encoding application benchmark score 1.37
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.75
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied HP ProtectTools