HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 full review

The HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 is a rare thing. It’s a business laptop that's also one of the most desirable of any style of laptop in the world.

It’s pretty, portable, has a great aluminium shell and fantastic battery life. The only problem is getting your CTO to agree to buy the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2, as it doesn’t come cheap.

Price-wise it’s similar to the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. That laptop is a sold alternative, although the HP has a touchscreen, hybrid form and a smart stylus.

HP EliteBook x360: Price

Like other premium business laptops, the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 is rather expensive. It starts at £1258 from HP direct, and that gets you the version with a Core i5 CPU, 256GB SSD and just 4GB RAM.

We’d struggle to recommend buying a laptop over £1000 without at least 8GB RAM. There are several other variants, though, with RRPs rising to almost £3000 for the model with a Core i7 vPro CPU and 512GB SSD.

The model we tested out is a higher-end Core i5 model with the vPro upgrade, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. It costs £2291 inc VAT, but isn't available from HP's website. Only non-vPro models can be bought online at the time of writing.

If you’re a consumer, rather than business buyer, it’s not a great deal. But you have to take into account the extra security features packed into these laptops. And that they come with both Windows 10 Pro and a three-year warranty.

HP EliteBook x360: Design

After taking the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 out of its packaging, we thought for a moment HP had sent us an Envy or Spectre laptop by mistake. The traditional image of a business laptop is chunky, robust and black or grey. This is completely different.

The HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 is a very slim, light and exceptionally well-made business laptop. Its lid, underside and inside are aluminium. We do find the underside has a slightly different feel, though, one we usually associate with an aluminium alloy with more magnesium.

HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review 

HP calls the EliteBook X360 1030 G2 the “world’s slimmest business convertible”, and while there are thinner consumer models its 15mm thickness and 1.29kg weight both impress. There’s even a good argument for its hybrid style, even if it’s often seen as frivolous.

We’ve certainly been in meetings where sales and marketing people have pulled up a presentation on a laptop. Putting the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 in the “tent” position and showing it this way looks less awkward than in its normal laptop pose.

 HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review

A 360-degree hinge hybrid also works well on flights, as long as you’re just looking to play a movie rather than do any work, that is. Like the most carefully designed laptops, you can simply lift open the lid with a finger without the base moving too.

Ports & Connections

The HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 has a very wide array of connections that mixes old and new. There are two full-size USBs, both USB 3.1 standard ports. There’s also a newer USB-C, which supports the extremely fast Thunderbolt 3 standard.

 HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review

This gives it several times the bandwidth of normal USB 3.0, making it a good fit for a desktop dock used to connect a whole host of peripherals.

There’s a full-size HDMI too, a microSD slot and, showing the business side, a SmartCard reader. Some versions of the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 also have a 4G slot, but in our model this is filled-in.

Like most business laptops, there’s also a Kensington lock port.

Some may prefer a full-size SD reader or Ethernet port, but the x360 otherwise caters for most needs.

Keyboard and touchpad

The laptop also has a few different ways to sign in. There’s an excellent (for a Windows laptop) recessed fingerprint scanner to the right of the keyboard and a Windows Hello camera.

HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review

This is more than just a webcam, using IR to assess your facial geometry no matter the lighting conditions. Both the scanner and camera methods work as well as we’ve seen in a laptop, You’ll often have to wait a second or two for the camera approach to kick in, or move your head a little, but it does work.

The x360 1030 G2 also has a much better-defined keyboard than most non-business slim-and-light laptops, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon.

HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review 

The Lenovo’s keyboard has a slightly deeper, more mellow action, but the x360 1030 G2’s has a very clear, crisp feel to it, like the crunch of celery. But without anything like the taste turn-off of celery.

 There’s a two-level keyboard backlight as well. This keyboard is a joy to work with.

The trackpad takes the same approach as the keyboard, with excellent definition to the pad’s click. Unlike the Envy 13 there’s no strange pre-click give to the pad.

HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review

Trackpads don’t get much meatier.

Its surface uses textured glass too, as you’d hope considering the price. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s surface is a lot softer, its glass treatment resulting in a silky feel, but this is still a world-class pad.

Screen

The screen panel is a little more conservative than some other elements of the design, once you get past the hybrid hinge.

You can put it at any angle, there’s a touchscreen, but this is otherwise a fairly conventional higher-end display.

HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review 

It’s a 13.3-inch IPS LCD screen with resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’s sharp but not MacBook Pro sharp. And while it has the image quality to satisfy most, this isn’t a screen geared at design and photography professionals.

For example, it covers 81.8 percent of the sRGB colour standard. That’s enough to make the screen look fairly colourful, but is well off the full coverage you get with wider gamut screens like the (high-end spec) Dell XPS 13’s or MacBook Pro’s. It covers just 62.7 percent of the cinema DCI P3 standard.

 HP Elitebook x360 1030 G2 review

Contrast is solid at 881:1, although once again it’s a good rather than truly great result.

Within the business laptop context, the only part that could really do with an upgrade is screen brightness. Maxed-out, the backlight reaches 283cd/m².

This is bright enough for offices and well-lit rooms, but other laptops are better for outdoors use. That said, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon only reaches 295cd/m², which is very similar brightness.

There are other options too. Some versions of the EliteBook X360 have a privacy display that isn’t visible from any substantial angle, and you can get a powered pressure sensitive stylus too.

HP sent us one of these and it’s very good. There’s a little give to the nib, the glide screen is fairly smooth and the pen can deliver 2048 pressure levels. It uses Wacom digitiser technology.

Performance

HP has used 7th generation Intel CPUs. You have a choice of Core i5 or Core i7 models, with and without vPro tech. The model on test has the Intel Core i5-7300U, which does have vPro.

Most vPro features are only really of interest to business users, as it allows for easier remote control of the machine, important for slotting into many IT security protocols. However, they also have a chunk more power too.

For example, in PCMark 8 it scores 3354, which is more like the performance we expect from a Core i7 than a Core i5.  In Geekbench 4 (multi-core) it scores 8343 points.

Again, this is almost the same as what we see from ‘normal’ Core i7 dual-core CPUs. While vPro is only worth considering for business users, it’s not the only benefit that comes with the hardware.

The EliteBook we tested also has 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD. While the SSD isn’t a super performer, with write speeds of 460MB/s and reads of 495MB/s, different versions of this laptop use different SSD technologies.

With i7-like performance in a Core i5 “pro” CPU, the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 is more-or-less ready for anything. It’s fast to come out of standby, as quick as any Windows 10 laptop for general productivity applications.

It, predictably, has no gaming focus at all. The HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 has the Intel HD 620 GPU built into the Core i5 CPU, and therefore can only handle older games, or less demanding recent ones when the visual settings are lowered.

Alien: Isolation runs at a playable 31fps at 720, Low graphics. But it drops to an unacceptably juddery 13.5fps at 1080p with the visual effects turned up.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided runs at just 14fps with the graphics settings at rock bottom and resolution at 720p. This drops to a dismal 3.4fps at 1080p, max graphics.

You’ll see similar results in any slim and light style laptop without dedicated graphics.

The x360 is virtually silent when dealing with light tasks. When it sustains, say, 40 percent CPU usage or more for a while you’ll start to hear the fans. Even when stressed the fan noise isn’t too loud or grating, though.

Battery life

This laptop also has fantastic battery life. It uses a 57Wh cell, one of the larger units seen in a 13in laptop, just pipped by the 60Wh battery of the Dell XPS 13.

Playing a 720p movie on loop at 120c/m² brightness, which is well over 60 percent in this laptop, the battery lasts a superb 15 and a half hours. Tasked with emails, documents and basic spreadsheet’ing, it will last a lot longer than a normal day’s work.

HP itself says the battery lasts for up to 16.5 hours, which seems perfectly feasible if the backlight is further dimmed.

The speakers are fairly good for a business laptop too. Reasonably loud and with forthright mids and treble, they can cut through some ambient noise. However, like most laptop speakers they do not have any significant bass.

Specs

HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2: Specs

  • 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080) 1080p 165ppi IPS LCD glossy
  • 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (3.1GHz boost) 2 cores, 4 threads
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Intel HD 620 graphics
  • 8GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac single-band 2x2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
  • 2x USB 3.1
  • HDMI
  • Kensington Security Slot
  • Smartcard reader
  • microSD card slot
  • Stereo speakers
  • HD webcam
  • Single mic
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard with numberpad
  • Two-button trackpad
  • 57Wh lithium-ion battery, removable
  • 317 x 218 x 15mm
  • 1280g
  • 3-year onsite warranty