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
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
Left Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
USB 3.0
Exhaust vent
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
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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  • DiscoWade - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    It does have one thing going for it: no Windows 8. (Before you start: My hatred for Windows 8 comes from actually using Windows 8.)
  • sigmatau - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    So you don't know how to use Windows 8? Got it.
  • greenbackz - Sunday, December 2, 2012 - link


    I hated a little bit on win8 when I didn't know how to do much. but not that I've learnt a few tricks here n there.. I'm liking it a lot more than previous windows OS' and definitely much better than OSX.
  • tayb - Monday, December 3, 2012 - link

    You meant to say that your hatred for Windows 8 comes from your inability to learn how to use Windows 8.
  • ShieTar - Monday, December 3, 2012 - link

    Generally speaking, any OS that still needs to be learned is a horrible failure these days. Time spent using the OS instead of your software is already wasted time, but time spent learning how to even use the OS is just inacceptable. GUIs were kind of invented to reduce the need for OS manuals, not as a pretty way of hiding functionality away.
  • afkrotch - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - link

    The problem is when you start adding in more and more functionality. There is no need to constantly display these things in front of your face. So they created a search function. Then they made the search function faster and faster. Win 8, takes no time to search.
  • ajp_anton - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    I was so hoping this would be the resolution, despite the odd numbers, or even a small typo of the resolution...

    Also I doubt this computer is 265mm thick =).
  • SodaAnt - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    Here's the thing about business laptops. I can accept that some of them are thicker, I have a dell precision m4600, and I accept that its think because it has very good internals, cooling, battery, and upgradability. However, this laptop seems to have none of those things, except maybe good cooling, which isn't really that needed with a ULV chip.

    Finally, I don't get why they put the i7 in there. To me, it would make much more sense to even put a 512GB SSD in there, which would lead to a much faster laptop overall.
  • Voldenuit - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    What's preventing the use of a mSATA SSD in the WWAN slot? Is it just that the mounting screw is for half-length cards, or is the slot incompatible with SSDs?
  • arthur449 - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    HP normally employs a whitelist on their UEFI/BIOS for mSATA/mPCIe slots, which means that even if you found an mSATA SSD that fit in the tiny space, it wouldn't work because the UEFI BIOS wasn't explicitly told to allow that particular device.

    There are ways around that, but it's a stressful process potentially ending in either a bricked laptop, one with curious intermittent problems, or one that works exactly like it should've in the first place.

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