Sub-notebook or ultraportable, the HP ProBook 5320m deserves recognition as a very tidy, long-lived and powerful compact business notebook computer

If you were to pigeonhole an ultraportable model as ‘laptop weighing under 1.8kg’, the HP ProBook 5320m would have to miss out. Which is a shame, as it’s barely a few grammes above this notional cutoff. In every other respect, it will be quite deserving of the ultraportable label.

Prices start at £750 for a Core i3 version of the HP ProBook 5320m with 2GB RAM and 320GB hard drive. We tested what seems to be the top-spec model.

Unlike the company’s heavy-hitting EliteBooks, such as the 8440p we recently reviewed, the HP ProBook 5320m is a lightweight for easily carrying around — yet thanks to a speedy Intel Core i5 processor here runninng at 2.4GHz, it’s still one quick laptop.

Sporting a 13.3in widescreen display, the HP ProBook 5320m is about 33cm across, 22cm deep and less than an inch thick.

Helping the pace is a fast 7200rpm 2.5in hard disk and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. In the lab, we saw a WorldBench 6 score of 107 points, a very nippy turn of speed for such a totable notebook.

And battery life of the HP ProBook 5320m is impressive too, thanks to an extended battery that lifts the back of the notebook slightly from the desk. We measured a little over six hours runtime (379 mins), running the MobileMark 2007 Productivity benchmark.

There’s no dedicated graphics card — there being little need in an executive’s portable PC, we’d argue — although the integrated Intel GMA HD can play games after a fashion providing you keep detail settings down.

In the FEAR game test at Maximum quality, it averaged 14fps. Wind down the detail to Medium and it’ll give very smooth action at 40fps here.

Move beyond raw specs and measured performance, though, and there’s still something less definably appealing about the HP ProBook 5320m.

These are the crucial attributes that miss the bullet points – the feel of quality from the Scrabble-tile keyboard that lets you type fast and furiously with fewer errors. Or the smooth and silent click buttons placed below a small but responsive trackpad.

Then there’s the screen, set into a metal lid, with superb anti-glare matt finish and well-judged 1366x768-pixel resolution. In a 13.3in panel, we find this gives finely detailed OS screen elements without forcing you to squint just to find Windows taskbar icons. And the 16:9 ratio accomodates high-definition video of the 1280x720 variety, without scaling down to fit.

The chassis feels tough, rigid and nicely finished, a tasteful two-tone combination of brushed metal in bronze colour, with gloss black plastics.

There are three USB 2.0 ports on the right, along with combination headphone and mic jack, plus an SD card slot.

To the left flank are DisplayPort and VGA video outputs, and gigabit ethernet. Absent from the list is any optical drive, integrated or otherwise.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

HP ProBook 5320m: Specs

  • 2.40GHz Intel Core i5-450M
  • 13.3in (1366 x 768) matt LCD display
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Intel GMA HD graphics
  • 500GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • DisplayPort, VGA
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • SD card slot
  • headphone/mic combo jack
  • webcam
  • integrated 3G modem
  • fingerprint reader
  • 62Wh removable Li-ion battery
  • 328 x 221 x 23mm
  • 1819g
  • 2.40GHz Intel Core i5-450M
  • 13.3in (1366 x 768) matt LCD display
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Intel GMA HD graphics
  • 500GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • DisplayPort, VGA
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • SD card slot
  • headphone/mic combo jack
  • webcam
  • integrated 3G modem
  • fingerprint reader
  • 62Wh removable Li-ion battery
  • 328 x 221 x 23mm
  • 1819g

OUR VERDICT

This is not a cheap 13in notebook, but it is one whose standards of build quality and internal components are a step above most consumer laptops. An admirable condensation of high performance, long battery life and upmarket construction lets the HP ProBook 5320m stand apart from the pack.

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