Compared to some of the colourful and stylish budget laptops around, the HP 250 G5 is a plain-looking laptop with no fancy design features, and a style that positively wants to be ignored. See also: Best budget laptops
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It’s one of the cheapest laptops you’ll find to use an Intel Core-series processor, instantly solving many of the most serious day-to-day problems you’ll run into using a cheap computer. If your laptop fund is limited, you can’t argue with this bargain machine.
Price when reviewed
The 250 G5 is actually a range of laptops with various different specifications, and was previously called the 250 G4. You can save a bit if you go for the model with 4GB rather than 8GB of RAM, and a traditional hard drive rather than an SSD. It’s around £30 cheaper and has 1TB of storage.
There are also higher-spec versions including Core i7 processors if you’re willing to spend between £400 and £500.
That sort of spec is going to give you Windows performance comparable with a much more expensive laptop. It may not have it all, but this laptop offers plenty of pep for your pound.
Also see: Best Laptop Deals
Features and design
If you’re thinking this laptop looks quite familiar, that’s because it has been around for a long time. HP has retained the same design for a couple of years: it isn’t out to thrill – it’s a tool, a workhorse.
Note that unlike older versions of this laptop, the 250 G5 does not have a DVD drive.
None of this matters one jot if you’re simply after a basic laptop with good performance for little money.
Decked out in black and very dark grey, many will think it’s boring. But there are some little aesthetic gems. There’s an embossed pattern on the lid and a texture on the keyboard surround.
Both look good when they catch the light, but their biggest benefit is in putting a sensory layer between your fingers and the basic plastic that makes up the HP 250 G5’s shell.
You’d probably guess this was a cheaper laptop, but it doesn’t feel hugely cheap. No part of the laptop flexes much under finger pressure and the hinge feels very solid.
Treat it rough and the mechanical hard drive would probably fail before the shell becomes too damaged.
You won’t want to take it out too often anyway. This is not a hugely portable laptop. It weighs 2.14kg and the 15.6in frame just isn’t going to fit easily into a lot of bags. If you’re after something to use on-the-go, check out a 13.3-inch display laptop or smaller first.
This is the sort of laptop you can use as your main machine, not least because it has a good spread of connections for a cheaper model. There are three USB ports (1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), an SD card slot, and Ethernet port and both VGA and HDMI video outputs.
HP has clearly designed this machine knowing that some of you will want to plug in a monitor and keyboard/mouse.
Keyboard and trackpad
Typical of the practical style, the keyboard and trackpad are decent. The keyboard is a standard design, also fitting a number pad to the right side of the normal keys.
Key travel is a little shallow and feedback on the soft side, but it’s still clearly-defined and non-spongy. None of the G5’s keys have been radically shaved down or moved too silly positions either.
Like the build, the keyboard is not fancy, but solid. Like other laptops at this price, there’s no backlight.
At first glance the trackpad appears far more unusual. The pad isn’t separated from the keyboard surround. It’s part of it.
This is not the nicest surface for a trackpad, and is one of the few disappointments of this laptop. Something a bit smoother would give the machine a much less budget feel.
From a pure practical perspective, the trackpad is fine, though. Its buttons are separated out, sitting below the pad in a plastic bar. A nice little touch, the right button requires a much lighter press than the left one, a conscious nod to the fact you’re more likely to be pressing it with a digit other than your index finger.
Typical of an entry-level laptop, G5 has a basic screen. It’s 15.6 inches across and 1366 x768 pixel resolution. This is the sort of screen that has been used in laptops for well over a decade. It’s not very sharp.
Its colour is clearly undersaturated, making the display look a little anaemic. Our colorimeter tells us it hits just 55.2 percent of the sRGB gamut, which is poor but predictable given we’re looking at a pocket-money PC.
Horizontal viewing angles are passable, suffering from some loss of brightness, but it’s only the vertical angle that causes the contrast shift we associate with the TN LCD panel used here.
If you need more proof that this isn’t a laptop to get if you want to avoid having to buy a TV, its native contrast is just 200:1, which is pretty dismal.
However, when used in a lit room, all you will notice is that the colours are a bit weak. The screen looks its best when there’s a decent amount of ambient light, letting the reflection-busting matt finish show off what it can do.
Maximum brightness is pretty good, and the fact that the screen has a matt finish means you can use the laptop nearby a bright window or outdoors.