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Two laptops mean business: HP EliteBook 8460p vs. Lenovo ThinkPad L420

May 12, 2011 06:00 PM ET

Conclusions

After working and living with both these business notebooks, pushing them to the limit with benchmarks, using them for typical business tasks and several days of road work, I'm convinced that they have the right stuff to make it in the corporate world. Both have excellent manageability and security options, should be more than reliable enough for the business world, and do a reasonable job of dealing with the competing interests of performance and battery life.

Although their specs are very similar, the two machines couldn't feel more different. I like the brushed-aluminum look of the EliteBook, its admirable thinness and its superior performance. The ThinkPad is bulkier, plainer-looking and not as fast as the EliteBook, but it uses less power and has better battery life.

If you're looking for style and speed in a business-friendly notebook, the EliteBook is a solid choice. If, however, your main consideration is price, the ThinkPad is a better option.

How we tested

To see how these business notebooks compared, I used them every day for several weeks in my office and on the road. I read and wrote emails, worked through memos, researched new product ideas on the Web, updated a website, watched videos and used them to create and give presentations.

After measuring, weighing and examining every major aspect, I compared them to a mock-up of the typical airplane seat-back table tray to see if they fit; both did. While on the road, I connected each to a public Wi-Fi network and a mobile hot spot.

Then I tested the performance of each system. First I looked at overall performance with PassMark's PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark test. The software exercises the major components of the system, including processor, hard drive, 2D and 3D graphics, and memory; it then compiles the results into a single score that represents its performance potential. I ran the software three times and averaged the results.

Next, I measured each system's battery life. With a USB drive containing six HD videos connected to the system, I set Windows Media Player to shuffle through all the videos while PassMark's BatteryMon charted the battery's capacity. While the system was recharging and operating, I measured its power use with a Kill A Watt PS power meter.

I also ran Maxon's Cinebench 11.5 benchmarks for graphics and processor performance. The software renders several photorealistic 3D scenes that stress the processor and graphics card by manipulating up to a million polygons. It reports scores for each.

Finally, I set each system up with PassMark's BurnInTest, which runs the PerformanceTest benchmark in separate windows over and over again continuously, trying to find operational flaws. They each ran for one week.

PerformanceTest
PerformanceTest exercises the major components of the system, including processor, hard drive, 2D and 3D graphics, and memory; it then compiles the results into a single score that represents its performance potential. Larger numbers are better.
CineBench
Maxon's Cinebench 11.5 benchmarks for processor performance. The software renders several photorealistic 3D scenes that stress the processor and graphics card by manipulating up to a million polygons. Larger numbers are better.
CineBench
Maxon's Cinebench 11.5 also benchmarks for graphics performance. Larger numbers are better.
Battery
Battery life was checked by using PassMark's BatteryMon to chart the battery's capacity and recording the hours:minutes it lasted.

Brian Nadel is a frequent contributor to Computerworld and the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.

Correction

The Lenovo ThinkPad L420's PerformanceText score was 1267.0, not 1210.0 as originally stated. This makes it 9% slower than the HP EliteBook 8460p, not 12%. We apologize for the error, and have corrected the numbers.

Read more about Laptops in Computerworld's Laptops Topic Center.



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