Introducing the HP EliteBook 2170p

We recently reviewed Acer's Aspire V5-171, a notebook that proves that there's a life (and a market) after netbooks but before ultrabooks. The essential gap that's materialized has been between the fast decaying netbook market (its death spurred on by Intel's Atom coupled with the high price of Brazos), and the expensive ultrabook market. More than that, though the 11.6" form factor is basically as small as a notebook can get while still featuring a full-sized keyboard, it's a gap that's essentially been going underserved for roughly a year now.

Acer wasn't the only one to spy this gap and try to fill it. ASUS has a notebook in stores right now that sports either an Ivy Bridge i3 or a Sandy Bridge i3 and touchscreen for Windows 8, and HP has an offering in their enterprise line that we have on hand for review today: the EliteBook 2170p. These notebooks have all been released with very little fanfare, and that's a shame, because there's definitely a niche for them. But while the Acer offering turned out to be a remarkably good deal for cost-conscious consumers, did HP misstep with their unusually pricey EliteBook 2170p?

It's tough to really get out of the gate without mentioning what HP is charging for the EliteBook 2170p. Enterprise-class notebooks almost always have a premium attached to them (though HP serves budget businesses with ProBooks and Dell with Vostros), the cheapest the 2170p goes for is $999, and that's for an Ivy Bridge i3. This is business class, but the price tag is still squarely in ultrabook territory. It's entirely possible for HP to make up the gap with a top shelf design, so let's see what we have to work with.

HP EliteBook 2170p Notebook
Processor Intel Core i7-3667U
(2x2GHz + HTT, 3.2GHz Turbo, 22nm, 4MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel QM77
Memory 1x4GB Elpida DDR3-1600 (expandable to 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000 Graphics
(350-1150MHz, 16 EUs)
Display 11.6" LED Matte 16:9 1366x768
SEC3953
Hard Drive(s) Toshiba MK-5061GSYN 500GB 7200-RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 802.11a/b/g/n 2x2
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Combo mic/headphone jack
Battery 4-Cell, 30Wh
Front Side Speakers
Indicator lights
Right Side SD/MMC reader
Power switch
USB 3.0
Ethernet
VGA
Left Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
USB 3.0
Exhaust vent
SmartCard
DisplayPort
Combo headphone/mic jack
Back Side Battery
Operating System Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
Dimensions 11.5" x 7.56" x 1.04"
292mm x 192mm x 26.5mm
Weight 2.89 lbs (1.31 kg)
Extras 720p HD webcam
Flash reader (SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB 3.0
SmartCard
Optional WWAN
Fingerprint reader
Backlit keyboard
Warranty 3-year parts and labor
Pricing Starts at $999
As configured: $2,101

The price tag for our review unit is brutal, but if you're willing to drop down to a Core i5-3317U (and there's very little reason not to), you can shave about a grand off. HP also at least presently is offering a coupon code that chops a respectable 25% off of the purchase price, and from there you can get the EliteBook 2170p in the neighborhood of $700-$800, which is much more reasonable for a business class machine. As with the Acer Aspire V5 I reviewed recently, the ULV Intel Core i7 simply isn't worth it (the dual-core i7s in general frankly haven't been in some time anyhow).

As seems to have become traditional with HP's business-focused notebooks, the 2170p includes only one DIMM, running 4GB in a single slot. Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge both have pretty stellar memory controllers in the first place, so the CPU halves of the chips are seldom starved by single-channel operation, but the HD 4000 IGP does get hit a bit harder (which you'll see later on.)

It's not unusual to see a mechanical hard disk standard in an enterprise-class notebook where known reliable technologies are more important, though the lack of any kind of SSD caching does hurt, and the chassis does have at least the real estate for an mSATA SSD (though no port to house it).

Finally, connectivity is pretty stellar, with even SmartCard port on hand for business users, but the battery is a major sore spot. HP offers only a 4-cell, 30Wh battery or 6-cell, 48Wh battery as options. The 4-cell sits flush with the body; unfortunately we didn't have a 6-cell on hand to test with.

In and Around the HP EliteBook 2170p
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, December 02, 2012 - link

    Brazos netbooks go for a minimum of $400-$450. Brazos should be hitting the same market Atom did, but it's not, and it's encroaching on space occupied by systems with faster Intel chips. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, December 03, 2012 - link

    I agree that they can't compete against the price point of Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge based Intel chips. Remember those are sub 100 USD chips already. Or barely above 100 USD for low-end Ivy.

    Hondo, Jaguar core based Kabini or Samara will probably find it's way into some tablets and hybrid tablets, as it's not hard to compete against the price point of those devices though.

    AMD's problem is largely that there just isn't any good AMD builds from the OEM's too. For the business segment like this product is geared to there just isn't anything to compete with Intel's full blown vPro/iAMT management solution.

    On AMD there isn't even anything to compete with the Core i5 based Acer Aspire V5-171-6422 for 520 USD when it comes to 11.6" notebook. The 17W Trinity is also pretty weak overall. For the same money as they have appeared to be in the market you get Core i5, Ivy based stuff. Even if an AMD solution could hit the 450 mark Core i3's or Pentium/Celeron Intel stuff will be down to about 400.

    You end up having something like Samsung NP535U3C compete against a Intel based NP530U3C and the price point between them aren't just gonna matter.

    The 300 USD netbook market will just not exist. Except for 300 USD specially rebated notebooks.

    AMD needs to get new chips out to compete in this space, as is they also is beaten by last gen Intel chips in price/performance. They obviously need to design a chip that performs well in notebooks and not designed for 4P servers with almost 20MB cache per chip. You can add performance enhancing stuff with L3 cache or whatever but the base performance with minimal amount of cache needs to be good first, it's a general computing processor after all.
    Reply
  • batguiide - Sunday, December 09, 2012 - link

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  • john12345p - Monday, October 14, 2013 - link

    You also reviewed HP folio 9470m. Among these two HP 2170p and HP Folio 9470m, which one is ultimately the better one? These are the only two that the IT at work is offering, so need to choose one among the two. Which among these two is better? Which one is ultimately more preferable? Which one ultimately sucks less? :-) Reply
  • HP - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    I'm not a fan of the new Elitebook series. The previous Elitebook series was better especially in terms of durability and looks -- 6930p, 2540p for reference. The 21/25xx appear over-cooked. The readily accessible internals through the base turns me off slightly. Why should anyone need to get to the internals that quickly? There's not much more to do there once you've done the memory or disk upgrade, which will probably only be one or two times in the usage lifespan of the machine.
    The machine does indeed feel bulky, rather wide I should say because of the full blown, wide keyboard. Glad I wasn't the only one having misgivings about the new Elitebook series.
    Reply

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