HP EliteBook 745 G5 review: A solid AMD-powered laptop, but screen and battery life disappoint

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  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good
  • $1,301.34

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Good array of ports and connectors
  • Good security features

Cons

  • Display lacks brightness and is reflective
  • Disappointing battery life

Seeing an AMD Ryzen processor in a laptop is enough of a rarity to be noteworthy these days. That's what powers HP's EliteBook 745 G5, which is available in ten off-the-page configurations on HP's UK website. With a starting price of £839 (inc. VAT; £699.99 ex. VAT), a solid build and a 14-inch screen, the EliteBook 745 could do duty as a mid-range mobile workhorse. But does it deliver the goods?

If you need a robust laptop to withstand the rigours of business travel, the EliteBook 745 fits the bill. The metal chassis feels very solid, and I wasn't able to bend or bow the lid in my hands. The trade-off is the weight -- 1.48kg, which is hefty for a 14-inch laptop. The laptop's footprint of 326mm by 234mm is compact considering the screen size, although it's a little thick at 17.9 mm.

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HP's EliteBook 745 G5 has a 14-inch Full-HD screen and is powered by AMD's Ryzen 7 2700U processor with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and SSD storage up to 256GB. It's 17.9mm thick and weighs 1.48kg.

Images: HP Inc

Design-wise, the EliteBook 745 is workmanlike, rather than flashy. There's a notch below the wrist rest that makes it easier to lift the lid, while a taper towards the front of the laptop makes it seem a little thinner than it really is. Three minuscule LEDs on the left front indicate wi-fi, power and drive activity status. They are so small as to be useless during daylight hours, although they are noticeable in dim lighting conditions.

The screen does not rotate -- indeed, it doesn't even swivel far enough to lay flat on a desk. It goes back to about 145 degrees, which is fine for everyday working.

Security is an important feature of this notebook, which has a smart card reader on the left edge, as well as a fingerprint scanner and Windows Hello-compatible camera. My review sample was set up with Power-On Authentication -- a pre-Windows-launch security feature that requires a passcode or fingerprint. An optional sliding privacy cover for the camera can also be configured.

To help prevent others seeing any work being done in public places, the EliteBook 745 G5 can also be configured with HP Sure View. This feature wasn't in my review sample, but I did test it recently when reviewing the EliteBook 1040 G4. Sure View is invoked by a simple Fn key press, and does a very good job of reducing the screen's visibility on both the horizontal and vertical planes, so that people sitting next to you or standing nearby can't see the screen without leaning towards it.

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Unfortunately the screen is a weak point of the EliteBook 745. The entry-level model, which costs £839 (inc. VAT; £699.99 ex. VAT), lacks a touch screen. To get a touch screen you'll need to step up to the review sample I was sent, which costs £1,268 (inc. VAT; £1,056.67 ex. VAT). In both cases the screen resolution is Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), with no higher resolution available.

We can live with the resolution, but the 14-inch screen's combination of low brightness (220 cd/m²) and reflectiveness is troublesome. Working on battery power the default setting of 'darker' was only just usable. I didn't go brighter for my battery test (although I was sorely tempted to), and if I were using this laptop every day it would have to be on a brighter setting to overcome the problem of reflectiveness -- not to mention simply seeing what I was doing clearly. Indeed I would probably settle for the brightest setting, which would affect battery life (more below).

But that's not the end of it. Even at its brightest and on mains power, the screen still seems dull with lacklustre colours. This puts the EliteBook 745 out of the running if you're looking to do professional-grade graphics work. The Bang & Olufsen speakers deliver reasonable volume, but -- as so often on laptops -- bass tones are lacking.

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The keyboard provides a comfortable typing platform, although the pointing stick takes quite a chunk out of the G, H and (particularly) B keys.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The keyboard is well put together. The keys have a light but bouncy feel, and 'thunk' rather than click when pressed. Pressing a key down invokes the two-stage backlight, which can also be turned on and off via a Fn key. There are also keys dedicated to making calls (one start and one end) on the Fn key row.

A pointing stick between the G, H and B keys is responsive to use, but take a rather large bite out of the keys it eats into -- the B key suffers particularly. The loss of key area is rather more than Lenovo requires with its pointing sticks (for example, see my recent review of the ThinkPad E580). I found it easy to tap the stick while typing, and while I might well get used to the design and compensate for it, my touch typing slowed slightly during testing. There's a pair of physical buttons at the top of the touchpad for use with the stick, but no central scroll rocker such as Lenovo provides with this kind of setup.

HP uses the same AMD Ryzen 7 2700U processor across all ten of its off-the-page configurations of this laptop. This is a 2.2GHz quad-core processor capable of running at up to 3.8GHz in Max Boost mode, with a Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU. HP pairs this with 8GB or 4GB of RAM. Storage options run from 128GB to 256GB SSDs, with Windows 10 Pro installed across the range.

I found my 8GB RAM/256GB SSD review unit perfectly capable of coping with a mix of mainstream workloads, which included having more than 10 browser windows open at once, simultaneous music streaming, and writing into a web app.

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Ports on the right side of the EliteBook 745 G5, including a SIM card slot and a proprietary docking connector.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

HP provides a good range of ports and connectors on the EliteBook 745. The left edge houses a smart card reader and a USB 3.0 port; there's another USB 3.0 on the right edge, where you'll also find a 3.5mm audio jack, a full size HDMI port, a USB-C connector with Thunderbolt, an Ethernet port and a SIM card slot for the optional mobile broadband. There is also a docking connector on the right-hand side.

Battery life is disappointing. I mentioned earlier that on battery power the screen brightness is set to 'darker' automatically, and that if using this laptop on a daily basis I would have to use the 'brightest' setting.

Even with the 'darker' setting, the battery depleted from a full charge to 25 percent during a 6-hour period, during some of which the laptop was simply idling with the screen on. For about half this period I was using the web, writing into a web app and streaming audio or video. In real-world conditions I think users would struggle to get a day's work from a full charge.

According to HP, the 3-cell, 50Wh battery should last for up to 11.5 hours, but my testing suggests that this is optimistic, to say the least.

Conclusions

The HP EliteBook 745 G5 has some impressive features, including a solid build and a good array of ports. The keyboard is comfortable to use, although the cut-out for the pointing stick is oversized and makes typing with the G, H and B keys awkward. Unfortunately the screen is a big let-down, lacking in both brightness and in colour vibrancy. Also, based on my real-world testing, the battery is unlikely to support a full day's work.

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Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Processor / Chipset
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700U / 2.2 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3.8 GHz
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Cache 6 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Cache Memory
Installed Size 6 MB
Memory
RAM 8 GB (1 x 8 GB)
Max Supported Size 32 GB
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Speed 2400 MHz / PC4-19200 - 2400 MHz
Form Factor SO-DIMM 260-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Storage
Interface PCIe
RAM
Memory Speed 2400 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC4-19200
Configuration Features 1 x 8 GB
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Rated Memory Speed 2400 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology WLED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features 72% sRGB color gamut, Full HD ultra wide-viewing angle (UWVA) anti-glare
Type LED
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.56 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 10 - 90% (non-condensing)
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor AMD Radeon Vega
Sound Stereo speakers, 3 multi-array microphone
Features Bang & Olufsen Audio
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2
Capacity 256 GB
Hard Drive Features NVM Express (NVMe)
Input
Type ClickPad, keyboard
Features ClickPad with gesture support, multi-touch clickpad, spill-resistant
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
Wireless Controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Features dual stream (2x2)
Processor
CPU Type Ryzen 7 Pro
Processor Number 2700U
Manufacturer AMD
Clock Speed 2.2 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Battery
Capacity 50 Wh
Cells 3-cell
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 11 hour(s)
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 65 Watt
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces USB-C (charging)
USB 3.1 Gen 1 (charging)
Headphone/microphone combo jack
LAN
Dock
HDMI
USB 3.1 Gen 1
Header
Brand HP
Product Line HP EliteBook
Model 745 G5
Localization English
Country Kits Canada
Packaged Quantity 1
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.2, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, NFC
Wireless NIC Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Dockable Yes
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip, fingerprint reader
Features Automatic DriveLock, BIOS Update via Network, HP DriveLock, HP Fast Charge, HP Sure Start Gen 4, HP Wireless Wakeup, Master Boot Record Security, Power On Authentication, Pre-boot Authentication, Setup Password, power-on password
Compliant Standards A-Tick, BSMI, CCC, CSA, Common Criteria EAL4+, FCC, GOST, ICCP, KC, RoHS, UL, VCCI, WEEE, low halogen
Included Accessories power adapter
Manufacturer Selling Program HP Smart Buy
Theft/Intrusion Protection security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Security Slot Type Kensington security slot
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
Image Brightness 400 cd/m2
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.8 in
Depth 9.2 in
Height 0.7 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Keyboard
Keyboard Name HP Premium Collaboration Keyboard
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.28 lbs
Power
Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition
Type HP BIOS Config Utility, HP BIOSphere Gen4, HP Client Catalog, HP Client Security Suite Gen4, HP Drive Packs (free download), HP Hotkey Support, HP JetAdvantage, HP JumpStart, HP LAN-WLAN Protection, HP Manageability & Integration Kit Gen2 (free download), HP Noise Cancellation, HP Recovery Manager, HP Secure Erase, HP Support Assistant, HP System Software Manager, HP Velocity, HP ePrint
Video Output
Graphics Processor AMD Radeon Vega
Graphics Processor Series AMD Radeon Vega
Interfaces
USB-C Ports Qty 1
Comment charging
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 3 years
Shock & Vibration Tolerance
Shock Acceleration (Operating) 40 g
Shock Duration (Operating) 2 ms half-sine wave
Shock Acceleration (Non-operating) 240 g
Shock Duration (Non-operating) 2 ms half-sine wave
Vibration Acceleration (Operating) 1.043 g
Vibration Frequency Range (Operating) RMS (random)
Vibration Acceleration (Non-operating) 3.5 g
Vibration Frequency Range (Non-operating) RMS (random)

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Where To Buy

HP EliteBook 745 G5 - 14" - Ryzen 7 Pro 2700U - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD

Part Number: 4JB95UT#ABL