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HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: An interesting product, but not begging to go on anyone's shortlist

Tim Danton
3 Jan 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,200
inc VAT

The AMD version of the 745 has enough power and battery life for most needs, but there's no X factor

Pros 
Sleek design
Long battery life
Well-suited to office use
Cons 
Not great value
Disappointing display
Poor gaming performance
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Casting my mind back through 20 years of reviewing laptops, I can’t remember a single business laptop with an AMD processor inside. For HP to supply an EliteBook with a Ryzen chip is a landmark worth noting.

It’s using the AMD Ryzen Pro platform, which provides all the benefits of a Ryzen 7 processor along with a security co-processor that runs AMD’s GuardMI tech. This promises memory encryption, secure boot processes and support for TPM 2. AMD also guarantees image stability over 18 months and two-year availability for processors, so you can roll out a fleet over a period of many months.

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HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: Design and display

The 745 G5 is straight out of HP’s EliteBook playbook, but that’s no bad thing. A sleek magnesium alloy chassis sets the tone, with a sturdy lid that should help it survive life on go.

The screen is built for life indoors with strip lighting overhead. It only hit a maximum of 211cd/m2 in our tests, but anti-reflective coating and a solid contrast ratio of 1,322:1 meant I had no problems with readability.

Don’t expect pulsating colours: it covers only 59.5% of the sRGB gamut, while its average Delta E of 4.87 means colour accuracy is poor. But I don’t want to go overboard here: if you’re buying a laptop for general office use, you’ll have few complaints.

HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: Connectivity

There’s a corporate feel to the ports. The right-hand side includes a slot for a micro SIM, a 3.5mm audio jack, one USB-A 3.1 port, a full-size HDMI output, an expansion dock connector and a Gigabit Ethernet port. HP also has one eye on the future, with a powered USB-C port on the right.

By comparison, the left-hand side is unloved. Aside from a Kensington Lock slot and smart card reader, all you’ve got is a second USB-A 3.1 port. The rest of the space is dedicated to an air vent, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a noisy laptop. Yes, the fans whine when the APU is put under pressure, but in general it’s a quiet-running machine.

HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: Specifications and performance

I say APU because the processor and graphics chip come on the same package, in this case a Ryzen 7 2700U with Radeon Vega graphics. This may sound familiar if you’ve come across Lenovo's Yoga 530 and, predictably, the two machines performed similarly in our tests.

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It scored 79 overall in our media-creation benchmarks, while AS SSD read/write scores of 776MB/sec and 1,370MB/sec show that the 256GB PCIe SSD will never slow you down.

Despite the promise of Radeon Vega graphics, this isn’t a gaming machine. It could only score an average of 6.5fps in Metro: Last Light at 1080p, and even dropping down to 720p only increased this to 21.2fps. Even the Manhattan 3 test proved a challenge, with an on-screen result of 28.3fps some way short of ideal.

Arguably its best result came in our battery rundown test, where it lasted a solid 7hrs 50mins when looping video. There’s one caveat to this: HP’s aggressive power management meant we could only push the screen to around 100cd/m2 on battery, which is some way short of the 170cd/m2 we usually choose. The corollary is that, if you’re using the EliteBook on the road, you may find yourself wishing for a brighter image.

HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: Other features

HP gets the rest of the ergonomics right. The keyboard is lovely, with a firm action and well-proportioned keys. A fingerprint reader is tucked below the keyboard on the right and there’s a trackpoint for the diehards, although you’ll be missing out on the excellent trackpad. Even the speakers are decent for a business laptop, with plenty of volume to compensate for lacklustre bass.

HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: Price and verdict

So where does this leave the EliteBook 745? In a quandry. I’m disappointed by the screen’s brightness and can’t see any obvious selling point of AMD Ryzen Pro over the Intel vPro equivalent. So it will really come down to price.

Off the shelf, that doesn’t look fantastic: the best I could find was £1,000 exc VAT from box.co.uk for the official SKU I tested (3UP39EA). However, a Ryzen 5 version (3UP50EA) costs £699 exc VAT. I suspect deals can be had if you get in touch with your favoured reseller.

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While those prices include Windows 10 Pro and a three-year warranty, it’s still hard to call this model great value. The 745 G5 is an interesting product, due to AMD Ryzen Pro technology, but it’s not begging to go on anyone’s shortlist.

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