HP ProBook 6540b review
Bulky and dour, but solid performance and battery life make it a reasonable office choice
Review Date: 19 Apr 2010
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £746 (£877 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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