- Review Date: 09/13/11
- Bottom line:
The HP ProBook 6465b is one of the first systems to feature AMD's newest Llano APUs. It has one of the most impressive feature sets in a small business laptop, yet its price won't use up an IT budget.
Fantastic screen resolution. Extensive feature set. Sturdy design. Great price. Features AMD's latest Llano APUs. Good integrated graphics power.
Pointing stick is stiff. Heavy.
The most appealing aspect of a small business laptop is that it includes most of the features of an enterprise system, yet costs much less. The HP ProBook 6465b ($730 direct) is one such example, where every standard feature is accounted for, and the price is too sweet for IT managers to pass up. As an added bonus, it's also one of the first laptops to feature AMD's newest A6 Fusion processors (codenamed "Llano"). Though it didn't perform as well as an Intel CPU-based SMB laptop like the Dell Vostro 3350 ($741 direct, 4 stars), the 6465b has enough in features to get IT managers interested.
Design plays a big part in any laptop's appeal. The 6465b takes a conservative approach with its charcoal black frame. It has an aluminum lid, like the Dell Vostro V131 ($799.99 direct, 4 stars) and HP ProBook 5330m ($899.99 direct, 3.5 stars), but lacks their livelier silver colors and slimmer profiles. Measuring 9.1 by 13.3 by 1.3 inches (HWD), the 6465b looks chunky compared with these two. But it's a tough laptop, the top and bottom don't give away when you press hard against them. At 5.3 pounds, it's a lot heavier than the 4.8-pound Dell Vostro 3350 ($741 direct, 4 stars) and 4-pound HP 5330M, although the 6465b ships with a bigger 14-inch screen (the other two have 13.3-inch displays).
Another way the 6465b distinguishes itself from other 14-inch business laptops is with the screen's 1,600-by-900 resolution, a rarity for its price point. Such high-resolution screens are usually reserved for enterprise-class laptops like the Dell Latitude E6420 ($1,788 direct, 4 stars) and HP 5330m. The screen is matte, too, a boon for those work in brightly-lit environments. The interior is covered with the same charcoal black aluminum found on the outside of the laptop and houses a responsive chiclet-style keyboard. The keyboard consists of flat-topped keys, as opposed to the slightly curved ones found in the Dell V131. Like an enterprise-class laptop, the 6465b has dual-pointing devices, which consist of a very stiff pointing stick (Lenovo makes a much better one), very roomy touchpad, and four large mouse buttons. The mouse buttons are incredibly soft and responsive.
HP made sure every feature was accounted for in the 6465b. There are the legacy features—like a DVD burner, modem jack, VGA, and FireWire port—for older peripherals. You won't find a DVD burner or FireWire port in the Dell V131 and HP 5330m. There is also a DisplayPort for connecting the latest business LCD monitors. There are three USB 2.0 ports, and one of them is a combo USB/eSATA port, which if used with an eSATA external hard drive, transfers data at speeds much faster than over USB 2.0. For most professionals, the internal 500GB drive offers enough space to store your data. The 6465b also made room for security features, such as a fingerprint reader, SmartCard reader, and a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Consumer-friendly features such as an HD webcam (which can shoot 720p video), media card reader (SD and MMC), and 802.11n Wi-Fi are also built-in.
Though it's a little late to the game, "Llano" Fusion APUs (accelerated processing units) are AMD's answer to Intel's current Core technology (i.e., Core i3, i5, i7). It's AMD's first system-on-chip design, with which the graphics component is built into the same die as the processor cores. In this case, the 1.6GHz AMD A6-3410MX APU has four processor cores (quad-core) and the AMD Radeon HD 6250G graphics chip on the same die. It has two more processor cores than the Intel Core i5s found in the Dell V131, HP 5330m, and Dell 3350, though that doesn't mean it performs better. With a score of 3 minutes 19 seconds in Handbrake and 2.04 in Cinebench R11.5 tests, the A6-3410MX APU in the 6465b performed as well as the 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M, seen in the Toshiba Satellite P755-S5215, which is part of Intel's lowest tiered Core processors. Photoshop CS5 tests, however, were somewhat disappointing, as the 6465b scored 9 minutes 5 seconds, which took twice as long as the Dell V131 (4:21) and HP 5330m (3:53). While it can still run Adobe Photoshop CS5, transcode a video, or encode a music file without slowing to a complete crawl, the , Dell 3350 and V131, and HP 5330m can breeze through these tasks faster.
AMD is slightly ahead of the curve in terms of graphics power, or at least further ahead than Intel. Keep in mind the A6-3410MX is an entry-level Fusion APU (there's the higher-tiered A8), yet the AMD Radeon 6250G—the graphics portion of the chip—got 28.5 frames per second (fps) in Crysis and 20.3 fps in Lost Planet 2 (20.3 fps) —two of the most demanding 3D games in the business— outscoring the Dell V131 (20.1 in Crysis; 10.3 fps in Lost Planet) and HP 5330m (20.1 fps in Lost Planet), both of which sports integrated Intel graphics. The 6465b isn't a gaming laptop by any stretch, but it's a better one than the Dell 3350 and HP 5330m.
The Llano chips also bring with them lower thermals, which means better battery life than AMD's previous chips. Indeed, the 6465b performed admirably in our battery test, draining its 55WH battery in 5 hours 2 minutes. It beat the HP 5330m (3:49) chiefly because it had a larger battery (the 5330m had a 41WH battery). Against the Dell V131 (8:27), which used a similar 65WH battery, the 6465b and AMD showed that they still have a long way to go in the area of energy efficiency.
A small business laptop shouldn't be measured by performance alone. In that regard, the HP ProBook 6465b has one of the most impressive feature sets I've seen in this category, yet its price can afford you a fleet of them without depleting your business's IT budget. As for AMD's Llano APUs, the A6-3410MX's performed ably in our benchmark tests, but not well enough to overtake the Editors' Choice Dell Vostro 3350, which runs a more powerful Intel Core i5 processor and is priced about the same.