HP Elitebook 8570w28 Nov, 2012 By: Art Liddle
First Look Review: Midrange mobile workstation offers excellent CAD performance for a reasonable price.
In October 2011, we reviewed the top-of-the-line HP Elitebook 8760w, which proved at the time to be the fastest mobile computer Cadalyst Labs had ever tested. For this review, HP sent the 8570w, its new midrange offering in the Elitebook series. We set out to answer the obvious question: How does today's midrange system compare - in terms of price and performance - with last year's king of the hill?
At the heart of the HP Elitebook 8570w is Intel's third-generation Core i7-3720QM mobile processor (four cores, eight threads) running at a clock speed of 2.6 GHz and jumping to 3.6 GHz in turbo mode for single-core operations. The machine arrived loaded with the Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit operating system. The four memory slots were filled with 4-GB DIMMs, providing 16 GB of 1,600-MHz DDR3 memory. The maximum memory for this system is an astounding 32 GB, achieved by substituting 8-GB DIMMs.
The HP Elitebook 8570w proved to be a good value for CAD users on the go.
On the graphics side, the HP Elitebook 8570w sports a 15.6" LED-backlit antiglare display that supports one billion colors at a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. An AMD FirePro M4000 mobile GPU (with 1 GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory) powers the display. For the record, HP offers two other graphics card options for the HP Elitebook 8570w: the NVIDIA Quadro K1000M ($100 extra) and K2000M ($300 extra).
The HP Elitebook 8570w includes two internal drive bays. In our review system, the bays were outfitted with a Blu-ray ROM, SuperMulti DVD+/-RW optical drive (double-layer support) and a 750-GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive. You can substitute a 500-GB hard drive for the optical drive ($15 extra), providing a maximum of 1.25 TB of file storage.
When it comes to connectivity, the HP Elitebook 8570w leaves nothing out. It includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, one IEEE 1394a port, one Ethernet connector, one RJ-11 modem jack, and stereo microphone and stereo headphone jacks. External graphics options include a VGA port and a DisplayPort. Located at the bottom of the unit is a port for use with one of HP's wide selection of docking stations. The machine also supports Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth (4.0) connectivity.
Like all current HP professional workstation models, the Elitebook 8570w is certified by a variety of independent CAD software vendors (ISVs) - thoroughly evaluated and approved to support nearly every popular CAD-related application.
To gauge the performance of the HP Elitebook 8570w, we ran a pair of benchmark tests: our own Cadalyst c2012 with AutoCAD 2012, and SPECviewperf 11. For comparison purposes, we also ran an old test configuration, Cadalyst c2011 with AutoCAD 2011. We set the screen resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 and the color depth to 32-bit. We enabled hardware acceleration for AutoCAD and turned off vertical sync for the graphics card.
We began our testing with c2012 and AutoCAD 2012 using AutoCAD's default graphics driver, a configuration we also used to test several units for a roundup review published last summer, "Budget Workstations: Professional-Grade CAD Power for $2,000 or Less." Based on its c2012 total index score, the HP Elitebook 8570w was only 13% slower than the average speed for the three nonoverclocked desktop workstations in that roundup. The full set of benchmark scores were as follows: total index of 407, 3D graphics index of 762, 2D graphics index of 360, disk index of 230, and CPU index of 277.
The HP Elitebook 8570w's scores for the SPECviewperf 11 suite of tests, single sample mode only, were as follows: 19.36 for catia-03, 20.10 for ensight-04, 55.61 for lightwave-01, 55.96 for maya-03, 6.00 for proe-05, 43.19 for sw-02, 18.89 for tcvis-02, and 24.46 for snx-01. For the most part, these scores are comparable to the desktop scores.
To directly compare the HP Elitebook 8760w and the HP Elitebook 8570w, we also ran the Cadalyst c2011 benchmark with AutoCAD 2011 running its default driver. The benchmark scores from this configuration were as follows (with last year's 8760w scores shown in parentheses): total index of 407 (396), 3D graphics index of 794 (898), 2D graphics index of 357 (251), disk index of 210 (185), and CPU index of 267 (250). A little math shows us that the newer HP Elitebook 8570w is about 3% faster than the 8760w, based on the total index scores.
The HP Elitebook 8570w measures 15" x 10.13" x 1.44" and weighs 8.4 lbs (as configured). It has a full-sized, backlit keyboard that includes a dedicated numeric keypad, touchpad (with a dual set of buttons), and pointing stick. The display panel locks closed with a reassuring click, and the hybrid magnesium-aluminum metal case offers above-average protection, meeting the MIL-STD-810G military standards for environmental conditions. As with all HP computers (mobile and desktop), the Elitebook 8570w includes the company's assortment of powerful software tools; the HP SoftPaq Download Manager can help you manage software updates for all system components, and the HP Power Assistant lets you fine-tune power-management settings.
The HP Elitebook 8570w has a 200-watt, external power brick that measures 7.88" x 3.88" x 1". Our review unit had an 8-cell (75Wh) long-life lithium-ion battery, which includes a three-year warranty. We used the Battery Rundown Test from Cadalyst c2012 to measure how long the 8570w operates when disconnected from a power outlet. We ran the test four times and found the battery lasts an average of 122 minutes when running at full speed. As for recharging, we found the battery requires 105 minutes to return to 100% capacity. Of course, your times for both charging and discharging the battery may vary and, in general, battery performance decreases after repeated charge/discharge cycles.
The HP Elitebook 8570w carries HP's three-year standard parts and labor warranty, including Elite telephone support (available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year). As configured for this review, its list price is $2,786. Before we answer our initial question of how this year's system compares to last year's model, we must note a major difference between the two: the older HP Elitebook 8760w had a 17.3" display with DreamColor technology, while the newer one has a 15.6" standard panel. For our purposes, we will assume the difference is worth approximately $750, making last year's HP Elitebook 8760w's adjusted price $4,250. When we look at the price-to-performance ratio, we find a compelling story: The newer HP Elitebook 8570w offers about 50% more power per dollar. In summary, if you are looking for a midsized mobile computer for use with CAD software, the HP Elitebook 8570w offers good value. Highly Recommended.