HP PROBOOK 455 G2

£300 inc VAT • hp.com/uk

Tech Advisor - - GROUP TEST -

If you’re not a Win­dows fan but can’t af­ford the ex­tra ex­pense of an Ap­ple MacBook and its OS X op­er­at­ing sys­tem, you’ll be glad to hear that there is a third way – a lap­top with Linux pre­in­stalled. The ProBook 455 G2 is one of three HP lap­tops sold by eBuyer run­ning Ubuntu Linux in­stead of Win­dows. Here we re­view the high­est spec model, which comes with a 1.9GHz quad-core AMD pro­ces­sor, 1TB hard disk and 8GB of mem­ory.

Build and de­sign

From the bud­get end of HP’s busi­ness range, the ProBook is a sim­ple 15in lap­top, which comes with the kind of com­po­nents you would find on a sub-£500 ma­chine, in­clud­ing a low-grade TN dis­play, plas­tic case­work buffed up with gun­metal paint and sim­ple con­nec­tiv­ity.

A slot-load DVD RW drive pops out the right side be­yond two USB 2.0 ports. The left side trumps these with a pair of high-speed USB 3.0, along­side HDMI, VGA and gi­ga­bit eth­er­net ports.

Like most busi­ness lap­tops there’s de­cent ac­cess from the un­der­side to es­sen­tial up­grade ar­eas: two doors, one to ac­cess hard disk and mem­ory, the other for Wi-Fi card. A small 31Wh bat­tery can also be de­tached easily.

Screen qual­ity is the usual weak spot on bud­get lap­tops, and you won’t be sur­prised to hear that we had an is­sue with the 15.6in (100ppi) TN panel. The screen’s con­trast and colours leave im­ages look­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously dull and washed out.

Real but­tons be­low the multi-touch track­pad have smooth op­er­a­tion, while pointer pre­ci­sion is av­er­age for the price. Typ­ists may feel at home with its ser­vice­able key­board and num­ber­pad.

Build Fea­tures Per­for­mance

Value

Over­all

The real story here is that HP has opted for Ubuntu – a cer­ti­fied op­tion that should be free of in­com­pat­i­bil­i­ties be­tween hard and soft­ware. Ubuntu is of­ten seen as an al­ter­na­tive to OS X and Win­dows, an OS that in in­ter­face terms should be easy enough to get around. Find­ing the ap­pli­ca­tions you need can be chal­leng­ing, though. Of­fice pro­grams such as Word and Ex­cel can be sub­sti­tuted by Li­bre or Open­Office, and web brows­ing and email are easy with fa­mil­iar cross-plat­form util­i­ties. Games and en­ter­tain­ment come up short; look around and you will find ti­tles such as Half Life for Linux.

Ubuntu has some is­sues here – switch­able graph­ics and TPM se­cu­rity mod­ule are not sup­ported. The in­stalled ver­sion is dated too, an odd choice from 2012, de­spite this lap­top’s build af­ter the re­lease of up-to-date 14.04 LTS. You can, of course, up­grade your­self.

We couldn’t bench­mark with the usual Win­dows pro­grams, but the 28nm AMD chip is roughly com­pa­ra­ble to a four-year-old In­tel Core i5. Our usual bat­tery bench­mark also proved prob­lem­atic as the Wi-Fi per­for­mance was so ter­ri­ble, caus­ing con­stant crashes. One driver up­date later, the lap­top could run with wire­less but slowly, less than 10Mb/s, stut­ter­ing the video play­back.

AMD-pow­ered lap­tops don’t fare well in power ef­fi­ciency, but this Ubuntu lap­top proved even shorter lived than usual. Stream­ing over Wi-Fi our usual test video played for just one hour 24 min­utes. Re­peated with­out wire­less, it lasted three hours 13 min­utes. VER­DICT: It may be cheap but out of the box, the ProBook won’t suit many users. A newer Ubuntu or Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem may help, but it’s not one for the typ­i­cal un­tu­tored bud­get PC buyer.

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