HP EliteBook 8460p: Solid, Unassuming

HP's new EliteBook line looks much like models in the older EliteBook line, such as the we reviewed 15 months ago. Yes, the external skin offers a more pleasing brushed aluminum aesthetic, but it's still a little clunky looking. You could call it the gray flannel suit of laptop computing.

The latest EliteBook 8460p is the smallest model in the EliteBook lineup, with a 14-inch screen and a weight of about 5.5 pounds. The new model is equipped with one of the latest-generation Intel Core CPUs. Our review unit carried a 2.5GHz Core i5 2520M with a maximum turbo boost speed of 3.2GHz. HP's configuration also included 4GB of RAM, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, and a Radeon HD 6470M mobile GPU.

The Radeon HD 6470M is fully DirectX 11-compliant, but it's unlikely to give you much of a performance boost in current-generation DX11 games: Its 3DMark 2011 performance score is a modest 598. T play hardcore games, you'll have to dial down the resolution and detail settings substantially.

But the EliteBook 8460p is all about business, not play, and HP includes a robust package of software that caters to business users. HP ProtectTools, for example, gives end users and IT managers fine-grain control over security features, such as drive encryption and user login control. ProtectTools includes facial-recognition software that can work in concert with your Bluetooth-enabled phone to verify that the person logging in is really you.

HP Power Assistant is a reskinning of the Windows Power Management controls, but it isn't deeply buried and it's substantially more user-friendly than its predecessor. Like ProtectTools, Power Assistant supports remote management by IT system administrators, if the right HP management suite is running on the server.

The laptop's overall performance was about average for a system of its class, with a score of 124. Battery life is quite good, at well over 5 hours in the PCWorld Labs' battery life test.