HP EliteBook 2540p review

HP's EliteBook 2540p ultraportable laptop has long battery life and lots of security features, but are these enough to justify its high price and last-generation processor? Tom Morgan finds out in our review.

IT Pro Verdict

The EliteBook 2540p is an extremely sturdy laptop with long battery life and excellent portability, but it struggles to compete with laptops that have longer battery life or use Intel’s latest processors. It's still a good choice if you’re looking for an ultra-portable with lots of security features right now, but bear in mind it will be superseded by newer Sandy Bridge models in the next six months.

HP's EliteBook business laptops are all built to last and the new 2540p is no exception; its tough magnesium-alloy casing can withstand far more than the usual knocks and bumps. Certified to military standards, it should be able to survive intense levels of dust, humidity, temperature and vibration so the 1.8kg ultra-portable will appeal to anyone looking for a durable machine that won't weigh them down.

An Intel Core i7 processor provides plenty of performance muscle, despite being a low-voltage model. The dual-core i7-640LM runs at 2.13GHz and can use Turbo Boost to increase up to 2.9GHz. Paired with 4GB of RAM and a 160GB solid state disk (SSD), it managed a stellar 46 overall in our multimedia benchmarks.

Certified to military standards, it should be able to survive intense levels of dust, humidity, temperature and vibration.

Although it can't match Intel's newer Sandy Bridge chips, the 2540p still has plenty of processing power; even when running several resource-intensive applications, the system always felt responsive. The underside of the laptop did become noticeably warmer than usual when churning through our benchmarks though.

The other benefit of using a low-voltage processor is superb battery life. Managing just over seven hours in our light-use test, the laptop should be able to last a full day's work on a single charge. Just like the outer chassis, the keyboard is well built and designed to withstand the elements. Each key has a reassuring amount of tactile feedback and very short travel times. Understandably for a 12in ultra-portable there's no room for a separate number pad, but the QWERTY keys are at least full-size. In spite of their slightly tighter-than-usual grouping, we were still able to type at full speed straight away. It isn't quite perfect; the function keys have shrunk to well under half size, which can make them difficult to hit without also pressing their neighbours, and the small Tab key also proved to be a minor irritation.