A bad screen is something you are just going to have to accept if you want to spend well under £500. But the 250 G5 does have great internals for the money, though, regardless of which precise model you choose.
With an Intel Core i3-5005U (dual-core, 2GHz) processor and 8GB of RAM, there are almost no creaky pauses as Windows 10 goes about its daily business. It’s refreshing to see such an affordable laptop whose general performance does not feel compromised, a legitimate budget machine that can handle genuine multi-tasking without becoming a chore to use. And as we mentioned at the top, you can pay a little extra and get a Core i5 version or even i7 that should see performance increase by a good chunk.
For the Core i3 version we tested, its PCMark 8 score of 2171 is much closer to that of a high-end laptop than the circa-1000 score you might see from some of the Celeron-based laptops that sit around the £200-250 mark.
As long as you’re not expecting a powerhouse PC, you should be very happy. We can’t overstate the difference between the performance of an Intel Core i3 with 8GB RAM and a Celeron with 2/4GB RAM.
The Core i3 here is a 5th-gen processor rather than a newer 6th- or 7th-gen one. But there are models of the 250 G5 that do have 6th-gen Skylake chips, and we recommend hunting down those models if you can handle the extra price. Also, a Skylake CPU would get you slightly better gaming performance.
At lowest settings, 720p resolution, Alien: Isolation is almost playable, reaching an average 18.6fps. Really cut the settings down to their bare bones and you can reach 24.5fps (average). Some might consider that acceptable, but this isn't meant to be a gaming laptop.
Our other standard gaming test, Thief, is a bust too. At Low settings you’ll get 12.8fps, which is really too low to be any fun. If you only have a few hundred pounds and want to do some gaming, buy a PS4 or Xbox One.
Although it may be tempting to save money and go for a model with a 1TB hard drive, this is much slower at juggling bits and pieces of data and makes Windows 10 noticeably less responsive.
This laptop isn’t designed for amazing battery life. The battery unit can be removed, though, held in place with a clip at the back of the underside. This is a very traditional design.
Battery life is on the higher-end of what you might expect for from a very conventional 15.6-inch laptops. It lasts for five hours when playing a 720p MP4 video, which is similar stamina to what you’d get while writing documents and doing the odd bit of browsing.
It’s not all-day stamina, but is respectable for a full-size machine.
Audio and other considerations
Finally, we come to sound quality. The HP 250 G4 has two speakers that sit on the underside of the laptop, and their output varies hugely on whether you use the Dolby DSP software or not. Without it, the output is weak and quiet. With it, the sound has a lot more mid-range power, and seems fuller.
However, it also involves a lot of compression, meaning the volume of parts of a music track seems to go up and down as the arrangement becomes busier or more sparse. It also sounds boxy, but the extra weight to the sound is all-but necessary.
There are no such positive notes for the webcam, though, which is VGA and produces a very soft-looking image. HP has bunged a camera in here expecting very few people to use it.
HP 250 G5: Specs
- 15.6in (1366 x 768) 100dpi TN LCD matt
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- 2GHz Intel Core i3-5005U dual core
- Intel HD Graphics
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- 802.11ac 1x1
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 2 USB 2.0 port
- 1 USB 3.0 port
- Ethernet port
- HDMI + VGA video outputs
- SDXC card slot
- Stereo speakers
- VGA webcam, single mic
- 3.5mm headset jack
- UK tiled keyboard
- 31Wh lithium-ion battery
- 384 x 254 x 24 mm
- 2.14 kg