HP ProBook 6540b (WH431PA) notebook
A well stocked, well priced HP business notebook
- Easy-to-use management features, plenty of connectivity, comfortable to use, 7200rpm hard drive, hard drive encryption
- Touchpad buttons stuck when pressed, low screen resolution
HP's ProBook 6540b is a well-priced business notebook with plenty of features. Its performance and battery life are more than adequate and the management software that comes with it is very easy to set up and use. The only problem with our review unit was its touchpad buttons, which stuck when we pressed them.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
HP's ProBook 6540b (WH431PA) is a business notebook through and through. It provides an adequate amount of speed, it's comfortable to work on, and it even ships with easy-to-use management features so that data can be encrypted and certain features can be locked down depending on who uses it. The best part is, it's not expensive.
HP ProBook 6540b design and ease of use
The HP ProBook 6540b (WH431PA) looks like a hulking beast with its large, 15.6in LCD screen and thick base. However, it's reasonably easy to handle because it's not overly heavy; it weighs in at around 2.6kg, which is definitely a manageable weight for a 15.6in unit. It feels sturdily built and it even has metal hinges that hold the screen perfectly in place.
The keyboard is full sized and comfortable to type on. The keys feel crisp when they're pressed, but the chassis emits an almost hollow sound when they are hit, which can get annoying. There aren't any keys in awkward positions, only the arrow keys are undersized, and the number pad is very useful. There are touch buttons above the keyboard that can be used to manipulate the volume, launch the calculator, disable the wireless radio, and launch HP's software setup utility as well as the default e-mail program.
The touchpad resides on a deep palm rest and it's a little 'sticky' — sometimes the pointer doesn't end up where you want it. It doesn't support gestures, but you can slide your finger along the right edge to scroll. The touchpad's left- and right-click buttons were awful during our tests; the right button in particular would stick when it was pressed, almost as it if it was broken. This may just be because our review unit had done the rounds, but it's worth noting as it's a problem that might occur down the line after a lot of use.
HP ProBook 6540b configuration and performance
An Intel Core i5-520M CPU gives the ProBook 6540b two physical cores and Hyper-Threading, which means it will be great for multitasking. However, the notebook's overall performance in our tests was slightly slower than we expected. It recorded times of 57sec and 1min 13sec in the Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests respectively. Consumer notebooks such as Samsung's R580, which runs the same CPU, are a little faster in these tests.
The ProBook 6540b runs Windows 7 32-bit, so it can only utilise a maximum of 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and this is how much HP has installed in this model. It also runs an integrated Intel HD graphics chip, which takes up about 1GB of that RAM. The upside is that it gives the 6540b more graphics grunt than usual for a business notebook (it recorded 2091 in 3DMark06) so high-resolution photos and graphics-heavy presentations can be viewed with ease. The screen has a native resolution of 1366x768 though, which is low for a 15.6in screen but typical for the price point of this system ($1499).
HP ProBook 6540b security and management
There's a big focus on security with the Probook 6540b. It comes with a TPM 1.2 chip to store credentials and HP's ProtectTools utility allows you to easily set up a Windows password, hard drive encryption and pre-boot security, which prompts you for your password or a finger swipe before you even get to Windows.
It's easy to enable the supplied security features.
Hardware encryption is based on McAfee Endpoint and requires a USB drive on which to store the encryption key. The hard drive encryption process took just over four hours during our evaluation. You can still use the laptop while the drive is being encrypted, but its reaction time when loading applications and moving windows around will be a lot slower than usual. An encrypted drive will make disk-intensive tasks slower, but HP has installed a 7200rpm, 250GB drive to minimise the hit. In our transfer tests, we recorded an average rate of 25.23 megabytes per second with encryption and 31.7MBps without encryption.
The fingerprint reader resides on the right side of the palm rest and it was reliable during our tests. However, if you use the number pad regularly your palm will brush it and the system will emit the equivalent of the Family Feud 'wrong answer' sound because it can't recognise what has just passed over it. Luckily, you can disable the sound. Nevertheless, we'd prefer it if the fingerprint reader was placed either above or below the touchpad.
In addition to logging on to the system, you can use the fingerprint reader in conjunction with the password manager. If you register the login details of your favourite Web sites, you can log in to them just by swiping your finger. The password manger will show up in the top-left corner of the browser window when you get to a site with a login field. If it's a site you're a member of, simply place the cursor in the login box and click the plus sign on the password manager icon to enter your details so that you can just swipe your finger every time you want to log in. If you come across a site that you don't have login details for, the password manager icon will be annoying unless you move it up out of the way.
Store passwords for your favourite sites and log on using the fingerprint reader.
HP ProBook 6540b battery, ports and slots
With a 55 Watt-hour, 6-cell battery installed in its spine, the ProBook 6540b has an adequate amount of life away from an outlet. In our test, in which switch off power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the ProBook lasted 2hr 13min. It's a pretty good result for a 15.6in notebook with a Core i5 CPU and you can get more life out of it if you dim the screen and enable a power management plan.
Along the sides of the ProBook 6540b you'll find four USB 2.0 ports (which is plenty), a mini-FireWire port, a full-size ExpressCard/54 slot, an SD card slot, a DVD burner, microphone and headphone ports, DisplayPort and a serial port. The power, VGA, Ethernet and modem ports are located on the back of the unit, which means those cables will be out of the way when you're working at your desk. You also get a webcam, Bluetooth and 802.11n (dual-band) Wi-Fi.
The HP ProBook 6540b is a fully stocked notebook for corporate users that's very enticing at $1499. It was a little slow in our tests, but since most business users won't use the notebook for encoding media and rendering graphics that won't be an issue. It's a fine machine for running office software and, most importantly, multitasking. We had some issues with its touchpad buttons not working properly, but we chalk that down to our review unit running up plenty of kilometres; overall the unit is very well built and has lots of useful connectivity.
Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Acer Aspire Vero review: An eco-friendly Windows 11 laptop
- 2 Windows 11 review: An unnecessary replacement for Windows 10
- 3 Sony WF-1000XM4 review: These noise-canceling earbuds have all-around appeal
- 4 Acer Swift X review: A rare ultraportable laptop with bite
- 5 Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station review: Good for venturing off the grid
Latest News Articles
- What Apple’s new M1 Max MacBook Pro means for the PC’s USB-C future
- Evaluating PC Performance Before You Buy? Here’s What You Need to Know
- Acer’s eco-friendly Vero lineup expands with new PCs for work and play
- Acer’s ConceptD creator laptops get glassless 3D, Ezel hinges, and 16:10
- Fresh Acer Chromebooks range from affordable to powerful
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- LG Gram 17 (2021) review: Super lightweight and primed for productivity
- Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition is a fashionista's dream
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 3060 Ti: Which GPU should you buy?
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies