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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  • jonjonjonj - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    "Insert" (destroyer of worlds)

    i pop the insert key off of every keyboard i have ever owned and stick some folded up paper under it and pop it back on. no more word destroying for me! i also love how you slap the word business class on something and charge more for it. no wonder companies love serving enterprises.
  • arthur449 - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the laugh.

    There's nothing like typing a few sentences while glancing at documentation to the side and realizing that Insert has been happily gobbling up your words.

    This seems like a lot to pay for a laptop with good cooling.
  • kenyee - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    An HP Elite used to mean a nice high-res IPS screen, 4 memory slots, and a fast graphics chip :-P

    This is like a jewelry laptop...pretty to look at (not even that pretty w/o a hires screen) but not useful for regular work :-)
  • policeman0077 - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    fit a 1600*900 panel in it....
  • Penti - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    Maybe it's not that bad, it's an ultraportable with two damn SO-DIMM's! In a small formfactor, that's pretty sweet in of it self. I don't like the trend with like one soldered channel plus one DIMM. Ultrabooks aren't very good here.

    Costs a lot customized though. Good to see business/corporate geared things though. You can even have it (with Core i5-3427U at least) vPro enabled, and it has DisplayPort, docking ports etc. I guess you could always buy if using it as a personal computer for yourself at about 1000 USD and put in another RAM-stick and change out the HDD to an SSD and get a decent machine. How would this with 8GB SO-DIMM, 250GB SSD for 1300 compete against the ultrbooks?
  • XnoX - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    Also, what the review can't tell you is the actual price an enterprise would pay for these (usually around 60% of listed price).
  • Penti - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    Of course and it's about 1000 USD preconfigured with a 48Wh battery where this review model is only using a 30Wh battery (i.e. smaller than a Surface RT). Custom config for an large enterprise would obviously come down too. Simply because they want to win as a supplier. You already have a 25% rebate at HP to begin with with customized machines, so for an large corp the price isn't ridiculous and is less than 2000 with SSD, 8GB RAM and i7 cpu. A Dell or some other brand might be a better fit for many though.
  • PR0927 - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    I'm confused why this article doesn't say what's so obvious - that this laptop is an utter PoS and isn't worth the cost, by any means.

    Frankly the conclusion is WAY too kind.

    There is literally not a single good thing about this laptop compared to its competition. Price, screen, form factor, specs, battery life - you name it, it sucks. Hard.
  • ACSK - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    I deal with 100-1000s of notebooks on a monthly basis, and by far and away HP has the highest fail rate (has been that way since maybe 06 or 07?). I wouldn't buy this if it was netbook priced. Dell's notebook reliability is actually really good (do seem to have some power / battery issues on current models), and Lenovo's is also fairly good. But for ultra-compact notebooks, I'd recommend people look at Panasonic's J10. Fujitsu's T580 or Q702 are also pretty decent - I haven't had personal experience with them, but I've never seen high fail-rates with Fujitsu's in the past or currently.
  • Beenthere - Sunday, December 2, 2012 - link

    In the opening this line makes no sense at all:

    "...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), ..."

    When did Brazos become expensive? They are dirt cheap and sell by the MILLIONS as a result.

    Secondly why would ANYONE buy this review PC when they could have a Trinity 17w CPU powered 11" that would embarrass this Intel powered mini and it would cost hundreds less? The only people who would buy these types of over-priced, under performing laptops are people too lazy to educate themselves.

    There certainly is a market niche for 11" minis but they will be AMD powered if people do anything with them other than word processing.

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