The 255 G4 is a budget 15in laptop with a 2.2GHz quad-core AMD accelerated processing unit (APU), a processor that includes integrated graphics – like Intel’s Core series chips, only Radeon-branded and potentially more powerful than Intel HD Graphics counterparts. See also: 13 of the best budget laptops to buy right now
HP 255 G4 review: Price
The sweet spot for a good laptop with a tolerable display, quick components and respectable build quality is still around £500 or more. If that’s more than you’d rather pay, there are plenty of options below £300 such as this AMD-powered HP laptop for £269.99, supplied for review by Ebuyer. And since there’s £30 cashback (at the time of posting), it’s an even more affordable £239.99. The part code, which ensures you’re buying the configuration reviewed here, is P5T27ES#ABU.
If that’s too much, then there’s an even cheaper version with a 500GB hard drive and an even slower processor for £219.99. That’s with £10 off; the normal price is £229.99.
HP 255 G4 review: Build and features
All the basics for a working cut-price laptop are here – a 1366 x 768-pixel display with gross colour shift when viewed at any angle other than square-on, a serviceable if clackety low-profile tiled keyboard, and a relatively cooperative trackpad blended into the rough textured top deck. This has real click buttons, the safer option on basic devices where low-cost and buttonless touchpads usually spells trouble.
The case is all black, plastic and textured, with some flex should you hold it the wrong way. Unlike some laptops, there’s no easy way in to upgrade or replace internal components.
Helping keep the price down is the combined CPU/graphics chip from AMD, the A8-7410 with integrated Radeon 5 graphics. This is clocked at 2.2GHz and boasts an insignificant boost to 2.5GHz on demand, contrasting with Intel’s Turbo mode which unlocks more headroom beyond the baseline. An internal fan can be heard at all times, even when the laptop is simply idling.
Memory amounts to 4GB and storage sits on a sizeable but all-too ponderous Toshiba one-terabyte disk.
Classic accoutrements include a pop-out tray DVD±RW drive on the right side. USB ports total three, one of them USB 3.0 although not clearly identified so choose carefully if you need decent peripheral speed. Displays can be connected via VGA or HDMI ports on the left.
You also get basic 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus a wired network port – and increasingly rare sight these days. All the essentials and no frills, then.
HP 255 G4 review:Performance
AMD processors typically fall far behind Intel in raw performance and battery economy, and lab results for the HP 255 G4 confirmed that trend. This chip returned Geekbench results of 1391 and 4007 points in single- and multi-core tests. For reference, that’s lagging behind last year’s iPad that scores around 1815 and 4515 points respectively, the latter result fielded with fewer processor cores too.
The PCMark 8 Home test scored just 1863 points when aided by the Radeon graphics; and 1725 points propelled by the main CPU only. Asus’ more expensive X555LA-XX290H is a bit faster at 2028 points.
Despite the Radeon name, don’t expect much gaming fun here. If you reduce resolution below screen native to 1280 x 720 and use lowest detail, you could see average framerates of 28 fps playing Batman: Arkham City, maybe even 30 fps in Tomb Raider. Again, the Asus is marginally quicker, managing 30fps at 720p.
HP fits a tiny 31Wh detachable battery, enough to power the laptop a little over four hours in the streamed video test, albeit on an easier footing than other laptops since the dim display couldn’t even manage our ‘medium brightness’ reference 120 cd/m2 level. At its 96 cd/m2 brightest, the runtime was 4 hr 06 min – just over the 4 hours HP claims.
Our sample was bizarrely bundled with a power adaptor with detachable BS 546 5 A cable. Otherwise known as IEC Type D, this baby mains plug with round pins is still popular in parts of Africa. This may have been a one-off due to it being a sample, but UK users will need to find an appropriate ‘clover leaf’ cable to fit the charger if it’s standard issue.
The cheap PWM-controlled display measured at just 80:1 contrast ratio and could provide only 62 percent of sRGB colour, meaning milky washed-out images. And with average Delta E up at 9.5 the colours it could show drifted appreciably from specification. In its favour it, at least, had a matt anti-glare coat. This kind of screen quality is typical of budget laptops, so it’s not worse than its competition in this respect.