HP EliteBook 2540p Review

The smallest business laptop HP offers, the EliteBook 2540p is light on the scales but heavy on performance and build quality.
The smallest business laptop HP offers, the EliteBook 2540p is light on the scales but heavy on performance and build quality.
The smallest business laptop HP offers, the EliteBook 2540p is light on the scales but heavy on performance and build quality.

Highs

  • Powerful selection of Core i5 and i7 CPUs
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Extremely effective anti-glare screen
  • Durable, comfortable keyboard and touchpad
  • Competitive weight and size
  • Optional optical drive, pointing nub

Lows

  • Well short of rated battery life
  • Ho-hum LCD display
  • Business-class price
  • No optional 3D graphics

hp elitebook 2540p reviewIntroduction

After wading through netbook after anemic netbook over the past two years, you could be forgiven for dismissing HP’s diminutive EliteBook 2540p as yet another underperforming compact notebook at first glance. But give it a closer look. This is no mere netbook. While its 12.1-inch screen makes it the smallest of HP’s EliteBook business notebooks, it lacks little of their workhorse character, making it an ideal travel mate for the productivity crowd.

Features

As the EliteBook designation suggests, HP’s 2540p caters to business users looking for serious computational horsepower packaged neatly into a road-ready design. To that end, you can order one with any of Intel’s latest high-end processors, up to 8GB of RAM, hard drives up to 500GB, and even an optical drive, which many competitors in this class have yanked in favor of ever-slimmer designs (Lenovo’s otherwise trusty ThinkPad X201 comes to mind).

Although HP offers a choice of standard-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 processors, buyers who want the optical drive will need to opt for the low-voltage i7, clocked at 2.1GHz. The same choice also confines users to only 1.8-inch hard drives, which cap out at 320GB.

Our review notebook came equipped with a 2.1GHz Core i7 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a standard six-cell battery, and a 250GB 5400RPM SATA II hard drive.

hp elitebook 2540p reviewDesign

Like the EliteBook 8440p we looked at back in April, the 2540p adopts a look somewhere between boardroom and livingroom – a working man’s laptop that’s not afraid to show some class. All the functional parts including the keyboard, base and bezel get a rubbery matte black dressing that makes them disappear, but brushed aluminum plates on the palm rest and lid supply a literal dose of cool (as in, chilly wrists in the winter cool).

All the controls have been built into a slender strip above the keyboard, which looks black when powered off but lights up with a number of touch-sensitive controls after being powered on, including shortcuts for e-mail and the Web, a Wi-Fi indicator, volume mute and adjust buttons, and a switch to turn the touchpad off. A pop-out LED in the top of the screen bezel lights up the keyboard, which can come in handy for late-night computing or just to keep typing when the lights go down for a presentation.

While it’s more common sense than engineering miracle, we have to give HP credit for the business card sleeve on the bottom of the 4540p. Sure, you could accomplish the same thing with packaging tape on any notebook, but this one lets you do it while maintaining some professional composure. Nobody wants to look like an overzealous mom in the boardroom.

Unfortunately, even the most basic six-cell battery protrudes from the back of the notebook, which ruins some of its sleekness. The only other nuisance seems to be a DVD-ROM eject button located right where you’ll reach to pick the notebook up by its sides, leading us to pop the tray out over and over again by accident.

hp elitebook 2540p reviewBuild Quality

A magnesium skeleton keeps the EliteBook’s little 12.1-inch frame stiff as a board, and all the moving parts share the same rigid sensibility. The lid swings open with the sturdy feel of a Jaguar door and clicks shut with the precision of jewelry box.

The sturdiness carries over to more than just feel, too. All of HP’s EliteBooks meet MIL-STD 810G specs for resistance to vibration, dust, humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures. They also come with DuraKeys, which basically ensures you can type out this nation’s entire federal tax codes before the letters will wear off the keys. A spill-resistant keyboard that actually drains out the bottom of the notebook in the event an errant elbow knocks your Kool-Aid cooler face-down into the computer. Like most business notebooks, the 2540p also uses accelerometers to detect falls and shut down your hard drive before impact, lessening the chances of scrambling it.

Portability

It may not be as impossibly slender as a netbook or Apple’s new MacBook Air, but the EliteBook 2540p comes surprisingly close to those comparatively performance-hobbled ultra-lights when it comes to portability. It weighs just 3.38 pounds in its base configuration, and measures 11 inches wide, 8.4 inches deep, and 1.1 inches tall. A standard sheet of paper nearly perfectly matches its footprint, which can be handy if it’s going to share a briefcase or backpack with documents.

Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Computing

Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 vs. Dell XPS 13

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 has some incredibly tiny display bezels, in an effort to jam a 14-inch notebook into a 13-inch chassis. That pits it against the Dell XPS 13, the icon of small clamshells.
Computing

Acer Swift 7 vs. Apple MacBook Air

The Acer Swift 7 accomplishes its goal of being the world's thinnest notebook, and it's well-built to boot. But is that enough to take on the Apple MacBook Air in terms of being the better to actually use?
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.
Computing

Apple MacBook Air vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The MacBook Air was updated with more contemporary components and a more modern design, but is that enough to compete with standouts like Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 detachable tablet?
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.
Computing

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Computing

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.
Gaming

The DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers ever, and you can use it with a PC

Sony's new DualShock 4 controller has become a fan favorite, and some people want to use it with a PC. Here's how to connect your DualShock 4 and start using it, either with an official adapter, or unofficial software.