The HP 12.5″ Elitebook x360 1020 G2 is the smaller sibling the HP 13.3” Elitebook x360 1030 G2. Both are amazing – I bought the 1030!
What is an Elitebook x360?
Elitebook x360 1020 G2 is a premium, enterprise quality, MIL-SPEC-810G, x360 hinge, 12.5” laptop that has consumer design queues and enterprise strengths.
In comparison to the previous G1 model, it uses the more powerful 7th generation Intel i5 or i7 ‘U’ series processors. The review model has a SureView (Privacy) super bright, 700 nits, LED backlit screen.
The HP website lists nine current Elitebook x360 models from $2,150 to $3,616.
Who is the Elitebook x360 for?
For the road warrior who needs portability, durability, privacy and likes a prestige product. Otherwise, buy an HP x360 Spectre – as good without MIL-SPEC.
Having used this for a week, I must ask if it is indeed the right screen size. Let’s face it the difference between 12.5” (29 x 20.38 x 1.39 cm x 1.13kg) and the 13.3” (31.69 x 21.85 x 1.49 cm x 1.28kg) is negligible.
I wondered if HP should not have tried to make a sub-1kg x360 with a 12” screen, but I guess that is where the 12.5” Elitebook x2 1012 detachable (Surface-like) tablet comes in.
Other products in the Elite range
You won’t find the Elite range at major retailers. They are sold via HP business dealers or online at HP. What you will find at retailers is HP’s consumer range including the Pavilion, Envy, and the upmarket Spectre range – great but not Mil-SPEC.
The Elitebook x360 1020 range uses the 7th generation Intel Core CPUs including
It is a premium product with high-end, natural silver finishes. Slightly polished edges and the fit and finish are top-drawer. It is very light at 1.13kg and thin at 13.5mm.
I am amazed that HP can still fit a full-sized HDMI Port and two Thunderbolt 3 ports on one side. The other side, apart from a power button and 3.5mm combo audio jack, is bereft of any other ports or micro-SD slots etc.
Business notebooks, however, may need Ethernet connections and full-size USB-A ports. You will need a dock, port extender or dongle if you want to expand the system to support dual external screens (4K supported), USB-A, micro-SD and Ethernet connections. More on ports later.
I have owned HP Elitebooks since 2010, and all of these are still going strong. There is something reassuring about the build quality and longevity. There is no cheap metalised plastic, no creaky hinges and no shortcuts. You buy MIL-SPEC reliability.
As I own the bigger 13.5” 1030 G2, this felt instantly familiar. Solid build, attention to detail, and even a removable bottom base plate for 100% access to all the parts. What that means is that an HP technician can come to your office/home and fix anything.
I have had some experience here and the model number, serial number and configuration are in its database so that the tech can bring parts.
An HP tech told me that if the parts are available (they keep parts for five years or more), repairs are usually within a working day of a call. There is also a good service network in regional areas.
A 360° hinge overcomes the limitations of traditional clamshell notebooks – open or shut. There are times you need tent style, presentation mode, flat or tablet mode and this does it all.
I travel a lot and tent mode is amazing as a video player on small aircraft seat-back tables. Tablet mode is great for reading.
Setup is typical Windows 10. A reminder that you can turn off all the ‘anti-privacy’ defaults without consequence.
What I do like is the HP Assistant that keeps HP firmware and software up to date. This is in addition to Windows 10 Update.
As this is an enterprise unit, you will likely have it configured by your SysAdmin. There is a full suite of tools including LANDesk support for that.
Screen – amazing brightness
It is a 12.5”, 1920 x 1080, 700 nits, 72% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB. That means it is far brighter than the MacBook Pro 13 and over twice the brightness of the Dell XPS 13.
It has largish top and bottom bezels and very narrow side bezels. Makes me wonder why they did not use 3:2 ratio screen like the Surface – it would have fitted the chassis.
SureView Privacy screen – press F2 and no one can see your data
Developed with 3M, it is a convenient way to hide data from prying eyes. It reduces viewability to about 70°.
You need to ramp up the brightness a little if you want to see pure whites and more vibrant colours. Still, this is not an issue with an ultrabright 700 nits screen (typical screens are 300-400 nits).
It effectively reduces the contrast and brightness by 50%. It uses more battery reducing run-time by about 24% (off) to 37% (on).
The Intel 7th generation Core i5-7300U, 2.8/3.9GHz is a good, 2-core, 4-thread notebook processor with low power draw. The newer 8th Generation is a 4-core and offers little more power or battery life.
Passmark is 5121, and the i7-7600U version is 5563.
The 8GB RAM (soldered onto the motherboard – not user upgradable) is fine for office use – heaps of capacity for Office 365, web browsing, video/audio playback etc.
Fan noise is negligible (<30db) under normal loads and up to 35dB under full-load. Temperatures rose to 42° on the back under full-load. The keyboard/trackpad remained at ambient room temperature.
Don’t get caught up in 7th generation CPU versus 8th etc. Processors are an evolution; not a revolution.
Graphics – not for gamers
Intel HD graphics 620 has a Passmark G3D of 928 – equivalent to an NVIDIA GeForce 930M. So, it is no powerhouse, but it supports H.265/HEVC hardware decoding for Netflix 4K video playback.
It has a full-sized HDMI 1.4a port and two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The idea is that you can use one USB-C for upstream data/power and the other for attaching to various devices via dongles etc.
We tested this with the Kensington 5200SDT Thunderbolt 3 dock that has GadgetGuy’s ‘Best for Windows’ approval. It performed flawlessly supporting one 4K screen via the inbuilt HDMI Port and one via the dock’s DisplayPort. We also tried it with a USB-A to 4K converter running off the dock.
We also tested a range of USB-C unpowered dongles and docks, and these worked well including those with an HDMI output.
Our only issue is that it would have been better to have one USB-C/Thunderbolt port on either side to allow for different orientations.
Interestingly the 1030 G2 has 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt, 2 x USB-A and 1 x HDMI and a Micro-SD reader. Hence it would be my choice!
The Elite full-size backlit, DuraKey, 16 x 16mm keyboard lives up to the Elite pedigree for speed, comfort and accuracy. But it is a little more cramped than the 1030 keyboard.
The throw is 1.2mm (1.5mm is ideal), and actuation is 80g (70g is ideal).
I averaged 80% of my typical speed/accuracy in tests and after a day’s use that had increased to 90%.
The oversized 100 x 60mm glass trackpad is Microsoft precision certified for up to four finger gestures. It is accurate and fast at 120 Hz refresh. The NFC contact sits in the upper right.
An Active Pen is an option. It uses Wacom technology and has 2,048 degrees of pressure sensitivity.
It is a 720p front camera – built for Skype and little else. The quality is commensurate with the resolution.
Some models have IR camera for face authentication with Windows Hello
Sound – loud but a little harsh
The cross-hatch speaker grill in front of the screen houses two speakers powered by separate left and right amplifiers. Underneath are two down-firing speakers. Marketing material says five speakers in total.
Volume was high at 82dB. Frequency response was 150Hz to 14,000kHz – respectable but not great. Bass recessed from 150Hz, mids boosted, and treble recessed giving it a Mid-centric sound signature.
The sound is a little harsh at the top and lacks any bass punch.
Bang & Olufsen pre-sets focus on different genres, but these do little apart from extending the bass and treble slightly.
Bluetooth 4.2 output to headphones/speakers and the 3.5mm audio output was a clean 20-20kHz.
The 13.5” 1030 G2 has 80dB volume, 100Hz-16,000kHz and has the same mid-centric sound signature. I use an external Bluetooth speaker or an HPz34C monitor to play music.
Dual array mics on the top bezel are perfect Skype.
It is a 4-cell, 49.28Wh Li-ion with a 65W USB charger. The battery is technician replaceable.
Office use – Word, Excel, Outlook and some web browsing expect around 8 hours.
A 1080P Video loop at 50% brightness with Wi-Fi off was 9.75 hours. I suspect if you played further with energy management it could reach 11 hours.
HP 65W charger takes 1.5 hours from 0-100%.
Belkin 45W quick charger took 2 hours.
5V/3A USB-C charger took 4 hours.
The HP charger supplies 5V/3A, 9V/3A, 10V/5A, 12V/5A, 15V/4.33A, 20V/3.25A using fast charging. You may find HP flashes up an error message when using a non-HP charger. As long as you have a minimum of 5V/3A, it will charge.
Using our D-Link AC3400 tri-band router the HP with Intel AC8265 chips achieved 866Mb/s maximum connection speeds at up to five metres and 730Mb/s at 10 metres. Upload speeds were between 450-500Mb/s.
It supports Wi-Di/Miracast. It also has NFC.
Security – enterprise strength
Windows Hello is fast and reliable. You can also have a pin and password.
HP has a full suite of security apps
DriveLock and Automatic DriveLock
Sure Start Gen3
TPM 2.0 Embedded Security Chip
Power-on Authentication (password)
Absolute Persistence Module
HP Client Security Gen3
It supports HP Management Integration Kit for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and LANDESK Management. There is a VPro processor option as well.
Warranty – outstanding
One 1-year standard parts and labour with 3-year (1-1-3) limited on-site warranty
Optional three-year, next business day, Care Pack (3-3-3) on-site warranty costs $275
GadgetGuy’s take – Elitebook x360 with Sure View privacy is for road warriors
Every piece of tech is a compromise from the ideal vision of its creators to the realities of budget, available technology, shipping on time, and market acceptance – else all products would be perfect.
Elitebook has surprisingly few compromises. This is a great looking, business grade notebook – good for several years of hard business use. Add to that HP Australia’s outstanding 3-year warranty and after sales service and it is the clear winner.
Rugged Mil-STD construction and enterprise quality build
Stunning looks, thin and light
Silent running – no fan noise on the i5
Love the keyboard and trackpad – among the best
x360 is the most useful form factor
Thunderbolt 3 port for charge and data – 40Mbps supporting multiple 4K screens and more.
Great enterprise-level security including Windows Hello optional fingerprint
SureView is great if you need it to protect sensitive data – otherwise, this is ideally suited to a 1080p panel.
Dedicated keys for Skype, Outlook etc.
You can easily remove the bottom panel to upgrade the SSD or replace the battery
Would have liked USB-A port and micro-SD slot – dongle land!
Would have liked a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port on either side
Average audio does not quite deliver what I expect of B&O tuning
HP’s 12.5″ Elitebook x360 1020 G2 is an enterprise notebook that must withstand the rigours of professional use. That costs more than consumer notebooks.
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
Features: 4 out of 5 – would have loved one full-sized USB-A as well
Value for money: 4 out of 5 – Not convinced I need SureView – the 1080p panel is all I need
Performance: 4 out of 5 – good all around
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 – Its Windows and x360
Design: 5 out of 5 – elegant, even has Applesque design cues
From $2,150 – $3,616
Specifications – HP Elitebook x360 1020 G2 model 2YG23PA#ABG as tested $2541
Intel i5-7300U dual-core, four threads, 2.6/3.5GHz
· i5-7200U/HD Graphics 620
· i5-7300U/HD Graphics 620
· i7-7500U/HD Graphics 620
· i7-7600U/HD Graphics 630 (for 4K screen)
The performance difference between i5 and i7 is negligible for office work, and battery life is longer with i5.
Integrated Intel HD graphics 620
Fine for business needs. Not for gamers
12.5” 1920 x 1080, IPS, SureView, 700 nits, 100% SRGB, backlit LED, touch. IPS screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
SureView protects data from prying eyes. It will reduce the battery life by 37% when used. If you don’t need SureView then
· 1920 x 1080, 400 nits, 100% sRGB
· 3840 x 2160 (4K), 400 nits, 134% sRGB
700 nits brightness is amazing. 100% sRGB claimed delivers good colour.
If you have a use for SureView, then HP is a natural choice.
Not supplied – option HP Active Pen
Support Wacom standard pen
256 GB PCIe M.2 PCI NVMe TLC SSD.
Up to 1TB available
Very fast and user upgradable.
8GB DDR3 – 1866
16GB on i7 model. Non-upgradable
Intel AC 8265 dual-band (2×2) MIMO
NFC, Wi-Di Miracast
866/450Mbps down/up in Wi-Fi tests.
2 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt and 65W/15 power upstream/downstream
You will need a dongle (USB-C) or Thunderbolt 3 Dock for expansion
5 x B&O tuned up-firing firing speakers
2 x ANC mics
3.5mm Headphone/microphone combo jackWindows Hello IR/RGB camera720p webcam
Quite loud at 82dB but a bit harsh
Camera and mic are Skype approved but need even office lighting for best results.
HP Elite Durakey Chiclet-style with backlight. 16 x 16mm, 1.2mm throw. 80g force.
111 x 65mm glass trackpad. Microsoft Precision certified – best you can get
Achieves about 90% of speed in a typing test. No flex when typing – great.
Glass trackpad covers the full-screen movement
Protects against BIOS attacks with HP Sure Start Gen3, blocks malicious websites with HP Sure-Click, and keeps visual hackers out with optional HP Sure View. Plus HP end-to-end device management software, TPM 2 and full Windows Hello security
Windows Hello is fast to load.
Really appreciate the power of Sure Start if you get malware.
Battery and charger
65 W Smart USB Type-C AC fast charger
Can use 15W to 45W USB-C chargers as well
29 x 20.38 x 1.39 cm x 1.13kg
Made from a single aluminium block and CNC milled – very strong.
Windows 10 Pro
I only need Home, but the added ability to join a domain is good. It also supports most Linux varieties – great for testing
One-year standard parts, labour and three-year on-site limited warranty (1-1-3)
Upgrade to 3-3-3 HP Care Pack for $275
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating2 Votes
12.5"Sure View screen for privacy
Thunderbolt 3 is great - would have loved one USB-A as well