HP EliteBook 2560p vs ProBook 5330m: Cousin against cousin

ProBook 5330m vs EliteBook 2560p

I’m not sure if anyone else noticed but the release of the HP EliteBook 2560p and ProBook 5330m notebooks has certainly intrigued me, since the latter now is dressed like an EliteBook (not sure if actual build quality is the same though) and the EliteBook 2560p has downshifted to a 16:9 aspect ratio display, has a reshuffled right side of the keyboard that kicks away some important dedicated keys and seems to have done away with the upgrade bay. Had these main changes not occurred, the reasons to pick the pricier EliteBook 2560p would have been almost brainless (‘taller’ display and ability to add a secondary storage drive), but with the current set-up by HP, the EliteBook 2560p and its supposedly lower-tier cousin, the ProBook 5330m are closer than ever. Let’s take an in-depth comparison between these two silver machines:

In favor of the EliteBook 2560p:

  • Smaller surface area/footprint
  • More battery options (3, 6 or 9 cell batteries available, ProBook 5330m only has a 4 cell default battery)
  • Smart Card reader and Express Card 34 slot
  • Built-in optical drive (None on the ProBook 5330m)
  • Slightly better Core i7 processor option (Options max out at 2.7 GHz Core i7-2620M on the EliteBook 2560p, versus 2.5 GHz Core i5-2520M on the ProBook 5330m)
  • Lighter weight (1.5 kg/3.4 pounds on the EliteBook 2560p versus 1.8kg/4.0 pounds on ProBook 5330m)
  • Physical lid latches (Those used to latchless lids on laptops like Apple’s MacBook Pros and HP’s consumer Pavilion/Mini notebook models may digress but a latch-equipped lid like the one on HP’s EliteBooks make things feel a lot tougher and allow the hinges to be designed to let the screen open all the way 180 degrees back)
  • More durable (maybe… well, HP doesn’t say anything about the ProBook being business rugged, but we wonder if it has the same construction as an EliteBook since they do mention the ProBook has a ‘anodized aluminum display enclosure and magnesium alloy bottom case’)

In favor of the ProBook 5330m

  • Larger display (13.3 inch on ProBook 5330m versus 12.5 inch on EliteBook 2560p)
  • Dedicated Home, End, Page Up and Page Down buttons on the keyboard
  • Slimmer profile (ProBook 5330m measures under an inch thin, EliteBook 2560p measures 1.1 inches)
  • Lower starting price ($800 for ProBook 5330m versus $1100 for EliteBook 2560p)

Features in common:

  • Intel HD3000 Integrated Graphics for standard voltage Intel Sandy Bridge mobile processors
    Both the EliteBook 2560p and ProBook 5330m will run games like Left4Dead 2 on native 1366 x 768 resolution at a mix of low/medium settings at around 30 frames per second
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports (one standard, one eSATA+USB combo and one ‘always on’ port)
  • Two-in-one combo headphone + microphone jack
  • VGA display output port (for connecting VGA cables, a must for business notebooks as long as VGA-using projectors prevail, and until they’re phased out with new cable technology)
  • HD webcam with 720p video
  • SD/SDHC card slot
  • Matte displays with 1366 x 768 resolution

It’s a tie:

  • HDMI on the ProBook 5330m versus DisplayPort on the EliteBook 2560p
    More devices such as TV, consumer displays (and usually upper tier enterprise displays) support HDMI but Display Port is more of ‘the’ business/corporate display port of choice. There’s a catch to this though: The EliteBook 2560p will have the upper hand if its Display Port supports daisy-chaining of multiple external monitors, but no word from HP on this so far.
  • Beats Audio on the ProBook 5330m versus SRS Premium Sound on EliteBook 2560p
    Two fancy-sounding brand names for marketing the notebook’s speakers (which would otherwise be brandless). The ProBook 5330m might have an upper hand here if it has dedicated, separate left and right speakers… the EliteBook 25xxp-series have traditionally had a single ‘central’ speaker placed directly under the touchpad area and audio quality has only started to sound good starting from last year’s 2540p.
  • Your mileage may vary warning: Backlit keyboard on ProBook 5330m versus HP Night Light on EliteBook 2560p
    The HP Night Light is more practical in cases when you want to read documents in the dark (like in an airplane or hotel room) without switching on a bunch of lights that would annoy people around you. But this depends on whether you do this often or at all, because that backlit keyboard surely looks stylish on the ProBook 5330m (if this comes as a surprise, hearing this from me, I must say the backlit keyboard seems to complement the Probook 5330m’s design very well, better than other notebooks)

A preconfigured ProBook 5330m on HP’s website with a maxed out 2.5 GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB memory and 500 GB hard disk comes in at $899, while a similarly equipped preconfigured EliteBook 2560p comes in at $1499! A big difference there. I can foresee it being a bit of a challenge trying to justify that difference in price for some buyers, since the three features in favor of the ProBook are quite appealing AND the fact it’s cheaper, while the EliteBook’s features over the ProBook are more like ‘nice to haves’ (unless you absolutely must have a top-notch mobile Core i7 processor). Of course, enterprise and big time buyers who order these laptops by the truckload might already know what they want and/or need the Smart Card reader of the EliteBook. Food for thought.

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  1. Indrek June 3, 2011 Reply

    One other thing in the EliteBook’s favour – it doesn’t have sunken hinges like the ProBook, allowing you to open the screen to 180 degrees, as well as to have ports on the backside on the laptop (the 2560p has VGA and two USB ports there). Also, it means you can use extended batteries that protrude from the back of the laptop (this is probably why the ProBook only has one battery option).

  2. Brad S | June 3, 2011 Reply

    You’re right, I love the ‘conventional’ hinges on notebooks, makes them easier to make them into ‘just keyboard’ when paired with an external display.
    I did mention this under “Physical lid latches” … “allow the hinges to be designed to let the screen open all the way 180 degrees back…”.

    In regards to the 5330m battery, I’m sure a downward protruding extended battery is possible, but it depends if HP will make one or not

  3. Indrek June 3, 2011 Reply

    Ah yes, I see now that you indeed mentioned the ability to fully open the screen. My bad, must’ve skipped over it before.

    A downward protruding battery is possible, yes, but it increases the thickness of the laptop, making it a bit less convenient to carry around. Although admittedly it does raise the laptop to a more comfortable typing angle.

    Another thing in the EliteBook’s favour sprang to mind – docking station. Unless I’m mistaken, the ProBook doesn’t have one while the EliteBook does. Some people might not use them, but personally I find a docking station invaluable and would find it hard to ever consider a laptop that doesn’t support one (and no, USB port replicators don’t count).

  4. Ytterbium June 4, 2011 Reply

    For me the battery options are really useful, I had all three battery’s on my 2530p.

    I don’t see having a DVD drive as a plus, I haven’t used a DVD for ages, I think we should move on.

    It’s dissapointing that the Probook isn’t lighter given they tend to have less metal.

    The audio out on my 8560p was really bad, I removed the HP drivers to get rid of the SRS and it much better, hopefully the beats would be better?

    Overall I’d say the 5330m would be a better choice for me, the extra battery option would be a bonus.

  5. StaticPlaya June 4, 2011 Reply

    Great article! I went with the probook in the end. It came down to the pros outlined esp. the price (£600). The beats audio and the backlit keyboard were also a plus. The only things that I found to be a disadvantage were the 4 cell battery and no built in optical drive. But I have to say I will be using this laptop for my masters at uni so I can cope with a 4 cell battery and I bought an external optical drive as the only time I use an optical drive is to install software from discs. Just got to wait until the 20th for it to be delivered.

  6. nando4 June 8, 2011 Reply

    Correction to your article. The 2560P doesn’t weigh 1.5kgs.
    HP’s quickspecs tell us it’s a hefty 1.92kgs with a 6-cell+optical drive.

    When compared to a Lenovo X220’s 1.45kgs, the 2560P’s extra 470grams is equivalent to carrying another 9-cell battery around with you.

    Here’s a weight comparison against some other popular machines:

    * 13″ Toshiba R830 = 1.4kgs with an optical drive.
    * 12″ Lenovo X220 = 1.45kgs . mSATA SSD option.
    * 12″ Lenovo E220s = 1.47kgs . mSATA SSD option.
    * 13″ Lenovo X1 = 1.69kgs . mSATA SSD option.
    * 12″ Samsung Series-4 = 1.70kgs
    * 12″ HP 2760P = 1.80kgs. AFFS 1280×800 LCD.
    * 14″ Lenovo T420s =1.83kgs . mSATA SSD option.
    * 12″ HP 2560P = 1.92kgs with an optical drive
    * 14″ HP DM4x = 2.04kgs

    Here’s how the weight has crept up over generations:

    * 12″ HP 2510P = 1.63kgs with 6-cell+optical drive
    * 12″ HP 2530P = 1.64kgs with 6-cell+optical drive
    * 12″ HP 2540P = 1.81kgs with 6-cell+optical drive
    * 12″ HP 2560P = 1.92kgs with 6-cell+optical drive

    I recommend HP aim to get their next 12″ ultraportable at or under the 2530P’s weight. 1.81/1.92kgs moves the 2540P/2560P into heavyweight category.

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