HP ProBook 450 G5 review – getting better and better
HP’s ProBook lineup has always offered one of the best value budget business notebooks and with the latest generation ProBook 450 G5, the OEM wants to set the bar even higher. Sporting the latest generation of Intel Core CPUs but paired with the same GeForce 930MX GPU, which is only useful for light graphically-demanding tasks and multimedia anyway. In addition, the totally revamped chassis now aligns more with today’s modern appearance and more importantly, it’s smaller in size although, not much weight has been dropped.
And despite having only TN panels as an option, the device impresses in all other key areas that are rarely overlooked by the business buyers. In any case, we still want to have strict answers about the display’s quality, presumably improved battery life and performance compared to the previous generation. And at the end, we would like to know if the ProBook 450 G5 was able to set the bar higher or just blend with the rest of the market for now. We investigate in our thorough review below.
The notebook comes in a standard box containing the usual user manuals, AC adapter, power cord and DVD with drivers.
Design and construction
As you’ve already figured it out by yourselves judging by the photos, the new ProBook 450 G5 has gone through major cosmetic changes while keeping the clean and simplistic approach to the design. Plastic, of course, is the main order of the day but the interior still features brushed aluminum and luckily, the overall quality of the build has remained the same. The weight has gone up by merely 60 grams while the height of the device has been reduced down to 20 mm compared to the 24 mm from last year.
Even though the base feels solid, the lid’s back remains somewhat bouncy and susceptible to flexing and twisting. It’s made of slightly roughened plastic imitating anodized aluminum but nothing close to the real thing, of course. The hinge, on the other hand, is perfectly balanced – opening the machine with one hand is easy thanks to the smooth linear travel and successfully keeps the lid firmly in place when opened. As for the bottom, it’s made of the same plastic material, offers two vent openings for cool air intake while the big service lids provide access to almost all of the internals but more on that later.
Thankfully, the decrease in height hasn’t reflected badly on the I/O in any way. In fact, the VGA connector is still here and once again we wonder who is still using this out-dated standard in late 2017. Anyway, right next to the VGA, you will see a pair of USB 3.0 ports, full-sized HDMI, DC charging port, USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1) and an RJ-45 port for wired connection when needed. On the left, you can see the main heat dispersing grill, another USB 2.0 connector, 3.5 mm audio jack and an SD card reader. Although this is a more than satisfactory I/O, the port distribution is rather suboptimal – all of the commonly used connectors are on the right and it might become a bit overcrowded with cables in sometimes.
With the aesthetically pleasing design changes to the interior, there are is one practical issue – the dark gray color of the interior makes the fingerprints and smudges quite visible while the metallic color in the previous two generations didn’t have that problem. Regardless, the brushed aluminum sheet feels pretty robust and we couldn’t find exceptionally weak spots – the slight bending that may occur here and there shouldn’t be of anyone’s concern. The keyboard remains practically the same with some small visual changes to the edges. The key travel is more than satisfactory, the slightly concaved keycaps aid for a more comfortable typing experience and the tactile feedback make it ideal for typing. Also, the layout is pretty standard so users will get used to it pretty fast. Another major change in the current generation is the touchpad – now instead of separate mouse buttons, the touchpad becomes a clickpad. We were worried for a second there since budget laptops’ clickpads tend to be wobbly, stiff and unresponsive. However, this one is none of them. We found it to be pretty stable, responsive and offering light mouse clicks. And while we are on the interior, we would like to point out the new utterly awkward fingerprint reader placement. It has now been moved to the upper left corner of the keyboard right above the ESC key where it’s almost impossible to run your finger through the scanner without pressing the ESC button.
To sum things up, the ProBook 450 G5 holds up to its legacy delivering good build quality, updated and more compact chassis, excellent input devices and a broad range of I/O. Our only complaint is the fingerprint magnet surface of the interior and the fingerprint reader location, yet they shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most users.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
If you have to upgrade the usual stuff like RAM and storage, a full disassembly isn’t required. The notebook has two big service lids giving you access to all of that. Still, if you need to open the machine for further maintenance or battery change, you are in for a lot of hassle.
After you remove all of the screws on the bottom, you have to take out the keyboard too and take care of the screws under it as well.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
Of course, the notebook comes with a standard 2.5-inch drive and an M.2 SSD.
|M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1||Free||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
|2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot||1TB Seagate HDD||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The motherboard supports two RAM chip slots each going up to 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory but our unit had only 8GB of RAM. The chips can be accessed via the big service lid.
|Slot 1||SK Hynix 8GB DDR4-2400||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
|Slot 2||Free||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The Wi-Fi adapter is located under the service lid and it’s Intel 8265NGW.
The battery is rated at 48Wh and can be accessed only by a full disassembly.
The version of the notebook we’ve tested comes with a Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display manufactured by CHI MEI (CMN15D3) and offers 142 ppi, 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” from at least 60 cm.
Viewing angles are excellent.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness 279 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 256 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 18% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is almost optimal – 6320K and goes up closer to the standard 6500K when going along the grayscale. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (74% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for office work, web browsing, multimedia and office work, a deviation of 4.89 is still high but will remain unnoticable for most users. The contrast ratio is high – 1420:1 before calibration and 1280:1 after calibration.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The display covers just 52% of the sRGB color gamut, which means that half of the web-based and HDTV colors are missing.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 30 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
We detected PWM from 0 to 99% brightness and the frequency of the emitted light is too low (1 kHz). It’s considered to be aggressive so we strongly recommend using our Health-Guard profile or use it at maximum brightness all the time.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
It’s a good thing that HP was able to include an IPS panel in some of its configuration given the price tag but the crisp image comes at a price. The panel used here lacks almost half of the sRGB color gamut, has relatively low maximum brightness and uses aggressive PWM from 0 to 99% brightness. While the first two can be overlooked given the price, the latter will be a signal for a plenty of users to steer clear from this configuration.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for HP ProBook 450 G5 configurations with 15.6″ CHI MEI CMND3 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount
The sound quality is pretty good without any noticeable distortions in the mid, low and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
HP ProBook 450 G5 technical specifications table
HP ProBook 450 G5 configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from HP’s official support page.
Even though the battery capacity isn’t exactly mind-blowing (just 48Wh), the runtimes appeared to be quite long. Battery life compared to the previous two generations has increased substantially.
Of course, all tests were run using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature switched on.
CPU – Intel Core i7-8550U
The Intel Core i7-8550U is part of the new 8th Generation Kaby Lake Refresh and it’s a direct successor to the Intel Core i7-7500U from the Kaby Lake generation and the Intel Core i7-6500U from the 6th Skylake generation. With the latest alteration to the ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors, Intel doubles the core count from 2 to 4 and retaining the so-called Hyper-Threading technology, keeping the same 14nm manufacturing process and feature the same 15W TDP.
However, due to the core count change, the base frequency of the Core i7-8550U is lowered to only 1.8 GHz while Turbo Boost frequencies remain pretty high – somewhere between 3.7 – 4.0 GHz. This ensures considerably higher multi-core and single-core performance during short workloads before going back to more bearable frequencies considering the 15W TDP but most of the other specs and features remain the same.
The chip also incorporates a newer Intel Gen 9.5 integrated graphics called Intel UHD Graphics 620. The support for Google’s VP9 codec and H.265/HEVC Main 10 is still the most notable feature of the iGPU. Intel claims that the new UHD 620 chips improve the overall power consumption compared to the previous one.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-8550u/
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 930MX (2GB DDR3)
The NVIDIA GeForce 930MX chip is based on the same 28nm process as the whole Maxwell family and uses the GM108 chip as the previous GeForce 930M GPU. However, some alterations have allowed for the GeForce 930MX to perform better than its predecessor.
Now the 930MX GPU supports GDDR5 memory, although not every OEM will use it and the most commonly found versions are with DDR3 VRAM. Furthermore, the GeForce 930MX is clocked higher (1019 – 1176 MHz) and this alone will bring the performance closer to the GeForce 940M. But most of the specs remain the same – 384 CUDA cores, 24 TMUs, 16 ROPs and 64-bit memory interface.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-930mx-2gb-ddr3/
|CS:GO||HD 768p, Low (Check settings)||HD 768p, Medium (Check settings)||HD 768p, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||172 fps||87 fps||63 fps|
|Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)||HD, Low (Check settings)||HD, Medium (Check settings)||HD, Very High (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||60 fps||24 fps||12 fps|
Of course, the stress tests don’t represent real-life usage because even the most demanding games don’t require 100% CPU and GPU load at the same time for such long periods of time. However, it’s still the best way to assess the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system.
We started off with 100% CPU load for about an hour. The Core i7-8550U hit around 3.5 GHz just for a fraction of a second before stabilizing around 2.6 – 2.9 GHz. We’ve noticed that the chip stayed there for a while before residing at 2.4 GHz for good.
When we started the GPU stress test as well, we saw a significant rise in the CPU temps but just for a short while. After that, the Core i7-8550U started going back and forth between 1.7 and 1.8 GHz, which is right on the borderline of the base frequency. The GPU, on the other hand, ran at 73 degrees Celsius – just within the normal range – while utilizing the full Boost clock speeds – 1020 MHz.
Temperatures on the surface remained cool although, the center of the keyboard felt a bit warm. Still, it will not cause any discomfort at any point.
As always, the HP ProBook remains as one of the best budget business solutions on the market and the latest alteration of the lineup is a worthy successor to the previous generations. It has also improved in a number of areas such as the screen, build quality, portability and battery life.
Even though the user experience on the ProBook has remained pretty much the same over the years, there were still some issues that needed to be fixed and the ProBook 450 G5 was able to address most of them. The input devices will serve you well on the go, the battery is big enough to keep things running for quite some time and the discrete GPU will be more than enough for your daily tasks, multimedia and some graphically-intensive work.
Another great plus is the added IPS display but this comes with its drawbacks as well – limited sRGB coverage, low maximum brightness and low-frequency (aggressive) PWM. While the color-deficient and dim nature of the screen is somewhat understandable given the price point, the latter can be hardly overlooked especially by users with sensitive eyes. Would we still recommend it, though? Definitely yes, as long as you can get around the PWM issue.
- Decent build quality
- Good input devices
- IPS display with good viewing angles and high contrast
- Long battery life
- The display uses aggressive PWM from 0 to 99% brightness (our Health-Guard profile fixes that)