First look

HP skips Skylake for new AMD laptop chip

Unexpected A12 processor powers new business ultra-portable

In a surprise move, the soon-to-be spun-off HP Inc has launched a new ultra portable laptop powered by an AMD processor instead of an Intel chip.

The HP EliteBook 705 G3 comes with a 3.4GHz quad core AMD Pro A12 processor. According to Alex Cho, HP's Vice President and General Manager for Commercial PCs, the decision was made to use the A12 as Intel's new mobile Skylake chips 'aren't available yet'. The presence of AMD representatives at HP Inc's Mexico City launch event and the proliferation of Radeon graphics chips amongst all the computers on show suggests a deeper relationship, but Cho nonetheless hinted that Skylake-based EliteBook business laptops are in the works.

Although the EliteBook 705 G3 will come in 14in and 15.6in variants, HP Inc was clearly pushing the 12.5in version which weighs just 1.3kg and has a matte silver lid made out of magnesium. The rest of the laptop is made out of both aluminium and magnesium. The base of the pre-production unit we saw was impressively rigid, but the lid was far more flexy.

Built-in 4G will be available on some variants and HP claims mobile broadband reception hasn't been compromised. The material covering the antennae is apparently a polymer composite that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the magnesium chassis. Bang and Olufsen-branded speakers are apparently tuned just as much for clear audio during online conference calls as for music quality.

It's a micro SIM card slot, not the older full-sized variety

The large keyboard felt very comfortable to type on in our briefs hands-on. If you're a stick-in-the-mud who can't get on with touchpads, the 705 G3 has a touchstick too. The matte screen is stuck at 1366x768 pixels though.

While thin and light, the 705 G3 isn't short of ports with full-size DisplayPort, a pair of USB3 connectors, a smartcard slot, a VGA socket, Ethernet, a Kensington security slot and, most notably of all, a USB-C port. This isn't used for charging the battery though, but for connecting the growing number of USB-C equipped mobile devices without the use of adapters.

Tellingly, no mention was made of battery life. Short battery life, along with excess heat, has been the reason most laptop manufacturers have favoured Intel over AMD processors especially in thin and light ultraportables such as this one. How the A12-equipped 705 G3 fares in these crucial areas remains to be seen.

The 705 G3 should arrive in October. UK pricing hasn't been set yet, but Euro pricing will start from 599.

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