HP

Lenovo Thinkpad E560 vs HP ProBook 450 G3

 

After looking for a budget but decent business laptop in Australia, I came across these two devices and thought it’d be worthwhile to compare.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E series is Lenovo’s entry level laptop type for business. If you don’t need super thin and super tough, but still want something that is customisable to your needs, these are great as entry level devices. The E560 is the latest 15.6″ model in the E series with an Intel CPU.

On the other hand, the HP ProBook 450 G3 is part of HP’s ProBook series, which is their version of the budget business laptops. I couldn’t work out what the G3 stood for after some research, if you know please share! :) The 450 G3 is also a 15.6″ laptop, customisable to the specifications you choose.

20160815_173054 (Custom)Back to Back – E560 & 450 G3

After getting my hands on both laptops, there were a lot of similarities. I’ll run through some comparisons below. Specs have been sourced from the Lenovo and HP websites.

20160815_173019 (Custom)Side by Side – E560 & 450 G3

Weight and Dimensions

E560
37.7cm x 25.5cm x 2.38~2.71cm
Starting at 2.30 kg

450 G3
37.8 x 26.43 x 2.38 to 2.48 cm (front to rear) (non-touch);
37.8 x 26.46 x 2.55 to 2.65 cm (front to rear) (touch)
Starting at 2.07kg

The HP is a bit lighter to start with, but without a scale and comparing the two build I had, they felt very similar. The HP seemed to have more weight at the back while the Lenovo was more centered. Alternatively, the Lenovo is slightly smaller in length and width, but height varies from shorter to taller depending on the E560 config. To me, all of these aren’t deciding factors between the two.

Winner – Too close to call

CPU

The processor options between the two are identical for the Skylake 6th generation ‘i series’ of Intel CPUs. i3, i5 and i7 are all choosable with the same variant on both models. The HP also has a Pentium processor option, but this is very low end and I personally wouldn’t consider this.

Winner – Both

RAM

Again, both laptops can go up to 16GB of DDR RAM. Interestingly, the Lenovo is DDR3 1600Mhz while the HP is DDR4 2133Mhz. This might sound major, but the performance difference between the two is negligible when benchmarked. Not a deciding factor between the two here, even though it’s nicer to have a newer technology :)

Winner – HP slightly

Storage

450 G3

  • 500 GB SATA (7200 rpm)
  • 500 GB up to 2 TB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • 128 GB up to 256 GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
  • 500 GB SATA SSHD (5400 rpm)

E560

  • 500GB 7200 RPM HDD
  • 500GB 5400rpm Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) with 8GB NAND flash memory
  • 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
  • 192GB SSD (although I could find a 256GB SSD option)

Yet again, we’re seeing similar options. I wouldn’t go past SSD, but you do pay a small premium for that. For an entry level business laptop 128GB is probably enough too, but the 256GB is a nice bit of extra room. The HP has the newer M.2 SATA style SSD, but again there is very little difference in that versus the SATA SSD contained in the Lenovo.

Winner – HP slightly

Display

450 G3

  • 15.6″ diagonal HD anti-glare flat LED-backlit (1366 x 768)
  • 15.6″ diagonal full HD anti-glare slim LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
  • 15.6″ diagonal HD flat LED-backlit touch screen (1366 x 768)

E560

  • 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare, 220 nits
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, Anti-Glare, 250 nits

 

20160815_172738 (Custom)450 G3 & E560 displays

I couldn’t visibly tell a difference in quality between the two. The HP is the only one with a touch option, but you’ll pay for that benefit. If you need touch, then the 450 G3 is the only choice. Otherwise, I’d recommend either with a 1920 x 1080 resolution

Winner: Both, (HP if you need touchscreen)

Graphics

450 G3

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M340 (1 or 2 GB DDR3 dedicated, switchable)

E560

  • Onboard Intel HD
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 M370 2 GB GDDR5

 

As the Intel HD graphics is part of the CPU, those are again identical between the two models. If you need more grunt though, the E560 has the clear advantage of a better discreet graphics card. Many businesses may not care about this, but if you’re doing modeling or other GPU intensive tasks, this could matter

Winner: Both, (Lenovo if you need a dedicated GPU)

Ports

450 G3

  • 2 USB 3.0
  • 2 USB 2.0
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 headphone/microphone combo
  • 1 AC power
  • 1 RJ-45
  • 1 VGA
  • 1 multi-format digital media reader

E560

  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • Lenovo OneLink Docking Port
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Combo audio/microphone jack
  • Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Security keyhole

20160815_172940 (Custom)20160815_172925 (Custom)20160815_172909 (Custom)E560 on top of the 450 G3

Having lots of useful ports is important. The Lenovo has an extra USB 3 port at the cost of two USB 2.0 ports. Personally I’d rather the 3 x USB 3.0 but if you need a wired keyboard and mouse, then those would be better used on the HP’s two USB 2.0 ports, leaving two USB 3.0 free. The Lenovo having the Onelink Docking Port is good if you want a dock, otherwise on the HP you’d have to use one of the USB 3.0 ports for this.

Winner: Too close to call

Camera

450 G3

  • 720p HD webcam

E560

  • Integrated 720p HD Camera, with Dual MIC
  • 720p HD Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera

The quality of the two cameras are the same, but the Lenovo has an optional Intel RealSense 3D Camera. The model I had was set up this way, which gives you Windows Hello sign in – look at the camera for a second and you’re logged in without touching the laptop. This is one of those features that you won’t be bothered about until you have it, then you’ll be annoyed when you use another computer missing the feature!

Winner: Lenovo (if you want to pay extra for RealSense)

Keyboard and Trackpad

 

20160815_172837 (Custom)HP ProBook 450 G3 Keyboard and Trackpad

20160815_172844 (Custom)Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Keyboard and Trackpad

These are more of a personal preference, but to me the Lenovo keyboard and trackpad were a lot nicer than the HP’s. The trackpad itself feels of higher quality, as do the keys. The HP does have an optional backlit keyboard though, so if you’re doing a lot of typing in the dark, that may trump the quality and feel of the Lenovo. The lenovo also has a pointing stick, and full arrow keys which you can see in the photos above.

Winner: Lenovo

Wrap up

There were some other features I didn’t mention, such as both having a DVD drive – but this doesn’t help you choose between the two. The Lenovo is most customisable online where each option was a tickable addon, clearly showing the cost when purchasing. HP seemed to be more clunky, where I could only find a single model for sale that couldn’t be customised. Speaking to them online or contacting them may be a way to get the particular features you want.

Due to this, I couldn’t spec both up the way I’d want and give a price comparison. Here’s the optional specifications I’d pick which both models support, which should be best bang for buck:

Processor : Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 2.80GHz)
Operating System : Windows 10 Professional 64
Hard Drive : 256 GB Solid State Drive, SATA3 OPAL2.0 – Capable
Display : 15.6 FHD (1920×1080) IPS Non-Touch
Memory : 8GB PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3L (1 DIMM)
Graphics : Intel HD Onboard

Of course, the dedicated AMD GPU would be nice, and depending on price I’d add one on too.

If you haven’t guessed by now, there’s no clear winner. I’d be choosing on price primarily, and if it happened to be the same, the above information will hopefully help you pick one over the other, depending which little extras you want. Both are solid laptops, and with the right specifications neither would be a regrettable purchase.

 

I was also asked this on Twitter about the comparison of the two laptops:

 

 

My answer on this is the same, both would be a great fit and I’d choose on price. The laptop can be connected to your TV via HDMI, and a remote connected via USB dongle to control something like Kodi.

If you have any questions or comments, please write below!

HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 – Real World Usage

You may have read my previous blog post, covering an initial overview of the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8. I’m still very happy with the hardware as a whole, but had some issues in updating firmware using the Intelligent Provisioning OS. First, if you want to get the latest (at time of writing) version of Intelligent Provisioning 1.40, you can download a 921mb ISO of it it from here: hp.com

My home internet is rather slow, and I think this was the main issue with the firmware update process timing out. I decided to download an iso of all firmware for the server called HP Service Pack for ProLiant 2013.09.0 (B), which you can also download from here: hp.com – note you have to sign up for a hp account first, and the download is 2.9gb.

I was able to install Windows Server 2012 R2 using Intelligent Provisioning, which nicely installs all the required drivers without you having to think about it and that worked perfectly.

Getting the lid of the case off and on was very simple to do, just two thumb screws at the back lets you lift the entire sides and top off in one piece. You can access pretty much everything internally you need to at that stage due to the convenient design.

Next up, by default the server can take 4 x 3.5″ HDDS, and a 9.5mm CD/DVD drive. Luckily this means if you don’t need the CD/DVD drive, you can have an extra 2.5″ HDD as your OS install, leaving the other disks for your actual data. A good idea since you can use the remaining SATA port on the motherboard, but there’s no spare SATA power cable, as the CD/DVD drive uses the old style floppy disk power connector (as per the green arrow on the photo below). There’s a molex connection nearby (red arrow) so I pulled that through the gap, and added on a double adapter on the molex, then added a molex > sata adapter to finally get power to the extra hard drive.

WP_20130928_23_29_10_Pro

 

When I had a drive in the first bay, the server decided that was the preferred boot device. To fix that, I changed the boot order to use the second SATA controller first, as it seems the spare SATA port on the motherboard is connected to that. The first controller goes to the first two HDD bays, and they run at 6Gb/s, compared to the 3Gb/s of the 3rd and 4th bays plus the separate onboard SATA port. This is worth keeping in mind for what drives and data you plan to configure.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, there is a MicroSD slot on the motherboard as well as an internal USB port – neither are useful for a Windows OS unless you’re using Windows To Go. The MicroSD is a bootable device, but also it’s handy as a swap drive or pagefile. Other OS’s that support running off a USB such as ESXi can be used too.

The hard drive bays aren’t hot swappable (unless you buy a separate RAID card, put that into the single empty PCIe 2.0 slot, and connect the drive bay to that instead), but that’s not really a problem anyway. They are quite easy to use, so at least when you have to add or remove a hard drive, you won’t have any physical complications.

For the RAM, I first tried a few sticks of NON-ECC DDR3 sticks, but the server wasn’t happy with those (one was even HP branded). After putting in the first ECC stick I could find, it worked and was bumped up to 4GB. I’m not planning on running VM’s off this thing, so that’s plenty for me.

On the switch side of things, the HP PS1810-8G is a nice fit. Resting on top, it moved ever so slightly when pushed down on so I decided to put it below the server instead, and it is now rock solid. It’s fanless, so you won’t hear it. It can also be powered by PoE, which isn’t very useful in a small business environment, but would be useful if you had an upstream PoE switch – which in that case, you wouldn’t have this MicroServer on top or below it. Regardless, there’s no harm in it being there :) Either way, It runs at 7.2 W maximum, so it’s drawing even less power than many of the standard power saving  compact fluro bulbs.

hp switch

 

The web interface is plain but very useful with a decent amount of options.

Instead of running three separate network cables to the server, it is nice just to run one to the switch, then have three cables going up to both NIC ports and the iLO, which makes it much more self contained.

Over at GeekZone, Mauricio Freitas has also been playing with the HP server, and had a thread about it along with pictures. Worth having a look. I also found a thread at avforums.com which had more great info, and there seems to be a configuration consideration around trying to use the spare SATA port on board (used for the CD/DVD Drive) as a boot device when the HDD bays are fully populated. I agree with the fix of adding in a PCIe Sata controller, which will then let your extra hard drive be bootable. This in turn could allow you to attach an SSD to the 5th internal SATA port, and then with Windows Server 2012 R2’s tiering options you’d have a pretty decent HDD setup!

Pricing – there’s no RRP that I can find, but you’re looking around the $500 mark. Shop around of course.

So, it’s still a great bit of kit, but as with most things there’s a lot of considerations and adjustments to be made to make it fit exactly how you want – but that’s where the fun is.

HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 Overview

Hi,

Many of you would have heard of, if not used, one of HP’s ProLiant MicroServers. They are relatively cheap cubes of servery goodness, designed to do a much better job than just a standard desktop box. HP released a few months ago the Gen8 version which has a bunch of new features. Cosmetically I think it looks a lot nicer than the older models, and it’s also really simple and smooth to take apart. It’s also closer to being a proper cube than previous models, shorter and stockier.

WP_20130925_18_49_58_Pro

Why get this instead of a normal desktop? It’s low powered (150w), has two NICs onboard, Hot Swap hard drive bays (holding up to four drives, supporting 0/1/10 RAID), and an ILO 4 connector. For a small business, this means you’ll have your data on redundant drives, can double your throughput via the second NIC (NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 is awesome and easy) and if you can’t get to your server for some reason, the iLO 4 is HP’s Management Engine that will let you both monitor the server and connect to it, as long as you’ve got power and a network cable plugged into the ILO port. The iLO 4 interface has a lot of management options, and some interesting things like a 3d heat map!

temp

There’s even an Android and iOS App for iLO (screenshot from my Samsung Galaxy S3, using Remote Control) – just another cool little feature.

Ilo

I’m testing the Base Model rather than the Entry Model, detailed specs available here hp.com (check the Pre-configured Models)

  • Processor (1) Intel® Pentium® G2020T (2.5GHz/2-core/3MB/35W) Processor
  • Cache Memory 3MB (1 x 3MB) L3 cache
  • Memory 2GB (1 x 2GB) PC3-12800E DDR3 UDIMM
  • Network Controller HP Ethernet 1Gb 2-port 332i Adapter
  • Storage Controller HP Dynamic Smart Array B120i Controller
  • Hard Drive 500gb SATA2 (no hard drive standard, added on)
  • Internal Storage 4 LFF NHP SATA HDD cage; includes 4 LFF hard drive carriers
  • PCI-Express Slots 1 standard (1-Low Profile) PCIe 2.0
  • Power Supply 150W Non-Hot Plug, Non-Redundant Power Supply

Another nice features are a MicroSD slot on the motherboard – I’m still unsure if this can actually be used as a boot drive or not. Even if that’s not the case, next to the MicroSD slot is a USB port that you can plug a USB drive into for booting, seperate to your disks in RAID.  Then there’s HP Intelligent Provisioning which lets you stream your Firmware updates and  kick off OS installs, adding required drivers as part of the process hp.com – there’s a lot of other nice menu driven options in the Intelligent Provisioning system too (accessed by pressing F10 at startup) including diagnostic checks and modifying system settings.

One of the Operating Systems that this unit is designed to work well with, is Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials. For up to 25 users, there’s no other client access licenses required, but it must be the Active Directory Domain Controller. Officially supported Operating Systems are:

Microsoft Windows Server
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)

As an aside, I was speaking to a colleague about the new MicroServer as he is running two of the older models at home – overall he was very impressed between the two models and the extra features this one has – but it does come with a bigger price tag. It’s much more of a proper business server than a business class desktop.

There’s a lot to cover about this kit, so in another post I’ll delve deeper into items like RAID and the optional HP PS1810-8G Gigabit switch which fits snugly below or on top the HP MicroServer hp.com. If you have any questions or anything you’d like tested, please comment below and I’ll do my best to include that in the next post. I’ll also be looking at how I’ve chosen to set it up for myself, including getting the Firmware updates working via Intelligent Provisioning, which I think is failing due to my slow 512k upload speed, being shared with other things going on.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention – you can have your HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 match your mood! Changeable front plates can match your outfit if required :)

c03896598

I’m rather impressed with this server – it would be even better if it had RAID 5 on board, but it’s designed really well for ease of access. Some online discussions I found have been around noise concerns, but I found the unit I have to be rather quiet.

Note: Hardware was supplied by HP and ivyworldwide for this review

Update: I’ve also published an article on Real World Usage of this server https://www.adamfowlerit.com/2013/09/30/hp-proliant-microserver-gen8-real-world-usage/

HP Cloud Day – Part 2

13th April
I had to rush off to the airport and crashed out, back home in Adelaide now. It was a very interesting event, and was great to get the opportunity to talk to some key HP staff. I’ll summarise the whole event in a few days once I’ve absorbed it all.

3:30pm
Bit of a gap as this section was particularly technical around layers, zones, repositorys, pools, catalogues – you get the idea :)

3:00pm
Architecture Deep Dive for HP Cloud:
IT becomes the service broker, and also needs to choose where to put what. It should also be designed to be able to be moved from one environment to the next.
This requires a common foundation. There are three layers for an Integrated cloud platform to cover all IaaS, PaaS and SaaS (hmm most things seem to be in threes today) – Demand – User Interraction, Deliver – Service Orchestration and Supply – Resource Operation.

2:25pm
If someone uses your hosted severs for an attack, who is at fault? The provider or the consumer? I’m not sure this one was actually answered (please correct me if I’m wrong!) but regardless it’s a good question, and there are a lot of grey areas because laws never keep up with new technologies.
Consumer responsibility vs Provider responsibility in order: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. So if you want the least responsibility, SaaS is the way to go.

2:10pm
Cloud Security is about perspective. HP have a lot of considerations and understanding of this, read some cloudy stuff here:
http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-solutions/solution.html?compURI=1079449#tab=TAB2

2:00pm
Had a walkthrough of HP’s Comms Room Showcase Extravaganza, check my twitter feed @AdamFowler_IT for the pics (later because all forms of internet are now crawling here).

12:53pm
HP Networking – When you’ve got a single network switch that has 100’s of blades connected to it with 1000’s of VM’s, the MAC table is going to grow huge, and there are limits. HP manage the networking for your cloud to make sure these issues don’t occur… plus it’s their own switches and routers in use!
HP will support VMWare, Microsoft, Citrix and HP ux virtualisation technologies.

12:30pm EST
Welcome to part two, and I’ve now converted to local Sydney time to keep things confusing.

The building blocks that HP has to make your cloud: Private, Managed and Public all used converged infrastructure. The three key steps are: Standardize, Virtualise and finally Automate.

HP CloudSystem is 45% cheaper than Amazon EC2 as long as you buy enough. Based on 4 Chassis, 64 blades with 768 VM’s etc – that’s a rather decent deployment!

There are two stages to cloud; Step-by-step and fast track.

Step-by-step includes Standardize and consolidate, then Virtualise and automate.

Fast Track is then Self service infrastructure, self service applications with full lifecycle management and finally becoming a service broken in a hybrid environment.

The above is a bit deeper defining what I was talking about in Part 1. You’re smart, you’ll find where that is if you need to.

HP Cloud Day – Part 1

11:10am
I have just realised that the times are Adelaide times, not local :) Lunch time, so after that I’ll continue with Part 2.

10:44am
HP Enterprise Cloud Services: Global Availability, Communications & Collaboration, Enterprise and SaaS Applications. One of the bigger benefits is Testing as a Service which should dramatically decrease configuration and setup times. The big goal is to doing the right scale for the right cost. HP do end to end migrations.

10:33am
The current evolving state of hybrid delivery is a mix of traditional, private, managed and public. The future envisioned will be using common architecture, coverged management & security, open & standards based, develop once – run anywhere, and flexibility & portability. This is needed to reduce complexity of managing too many different evironments by too many different methods.

9:49am
HP Converged Cloud is built on OpenStack technology, and works on a hybrid delivery. Choice, Confidence and Consistency are the 3 main aspects of this. HP’s public Cloud services have now gone beta. The great challenge for clients is ‘how do I get started?’. Start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ (for those playing management buzzword bingo, that should help). Start with Dev/Test for the private cloud as there is little to no impact to end users. Then, in managed cloud there is the application transformation, including enabling the management of apps and servers in different ways. Most applications aren’t ready or aren’t designed for Cloud yet. Third is public cloud, which includes SaaS applications and Application Transformation.

9:31am
If you believe that services can be anywhere, the role of the IT Leader becomes ‘builder/broker’ which changes the competencies of IT. Moving from building to buying, when most IT staff were originally only trained in building. The IT Imperatives in a hybrid cloud delivery are:

– Build & consume right mix of services based on service requirements
– Leverage best of traditional IT, private, managed & public cloud
– Manage & secure hybrid environment to reap value & mitigate risk

9:18am
New technology access methods. The barrier to innovation has been lowered, particularly due to cloud technologies. Blogging back in the old days meant you had to build your own website from scratch, or use poor limiting services such as geocities (sorry to bring that one up). Bottom up adoption and CIO’s spending most of their time fighting fires are the more troublesome outcomes of this (in my opionion) but at the same time, a lot of people have some great ideas, but because the switch to turn it on is so easily accessible, people do it without proper thought or analysis of the business.

9:05am
Top level view of HP Cloud and the announcements from yesterday is what we’re about to discuss… many model changes around the world. A shift from West to East culture for business models. There is a higher demand for more agility and change, and working in an uncertain market and be flexible.

8:44am
Introductios from everyone involved, there are some key HP staff here and the general focus is private/public/hybrid cloud.

8:31am ACST
Hi,
I’ll be live blogging this tech day as much as possible here on AUTechHeads, as well as smaller comments on twitter at @AdamFowler_IT. You can also follow the hashtag #HPTechDay.

Make sure you refresh the page for the latest updates.

12th April 2012