A fantastic value gaming laptop
Gaming is not as cheap a hobby as say, the Japanese art of paper folding, commonly known as Origami. Keeping up with the latest technological upgrades is going to hurt your wallet substantially more than buying a pad of paper. But that’s not to say that gaming isn’t within the reach of the more thrifty amongst us – step up the HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook.
The configuration sent to us weighs in with an £800 price tag (around $1,140, AU$1,660) and is a far cry from last year’s Origin EON15-X, a beast of a machine but double the price. HP’s offering sports the newest Nvidia GTX 950M, which also features in the following machines:
- Asus N551JX-DM193H
- Asus GL552JX-CN182H
- MSI Prestige PX60 2QD-049UK
- MSI Prestige PX60 2QD-048UK Laptop
- MSI Gaming GP72 2QE(Leopard Pro)-061UK
- PC Specialist Cosmos II
- PC Specialist Cosmos ST17-950
- Gigabyte P15F v3
- PC Specialist Cosmos ST15-950
The HP Pavilion Gaming also features the new Skylake i7-6700HQ processor, the same as the fantastic Acer Predator 15 we reviewed not long ago, but it undercuts this Acer offering by £550 (around US$778). Admittedly the Pavilion sports only 8GB of RAM compared to the Acer’s 32GB, which has quite a knock-on effect in terms of performance, but for a gamer on a budget a £550 saving is quite something.
Like all good gaming laptops, the Pavilion is black. The keyboard glows Alien green with a font that echoes a classic 1980s sci-fi. Its keys are sturdy and responsive, and although the touchpad leaves a little to be desired, I’m assuming that most owners will plug in an external mouse for gaming purposes. There are a few design details I appreciate, such as the gradient of green honeycomb rising up from the base and the green feet on the bottom. The Pavilion Gaming’s matte black lid looks very neat when folded up.
Weight-wise, the Pavilion loads in at around a kilo lighter than the Predator. Size-wise the HP is nearly 4cm shorter in depth and 1cm thinner. It’s also nearly 200g lighter than the Gigabyte machine we mentioned and it’s pretty much the same size as it too. Overall, it’s lighter and in some cases smaller than its rivals.
The hinge is a little ugly owed to the fact that the screen is held on by two arms near the edge of the display. It’s very durable but not aesthetically pleasing. On each side there’s a USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 on the left side. Also on this side is a DVD writer, although these are becoming less and less useful over time. This will only really be of any use to gamers who buy their wares from gaming shops.
Intel’s sixth-generation i7-6700HQ Skylake processor features in the Pavilion Gaming notebook. It lies at the lower end of the chipmaker’s new set, the current top offering being the i7-6920HQ which runs at 2.9GHz compared to the i7-6700’s 2.6GHz. The processor is coupled with a GTX 950M, which was introduced to give Nvidia an upper mid-range offering in gaming notebooks.
Here is the HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook configuration:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz, up to 3.5GHz, 6MB cache, 4 cores)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 + Nvidia GeForce GTX
- 950M (4GB DDR3L dedicated)
- RAM: 8GB DDR3L SDRAM (1 x 8GB)
- Screen: 15.6-inch diagonal FHD IPS anti-glare WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
- Storage: 1TB 5400 rpm SATA
- Optical drive: SuperMulti DVD burner
- Ports: 1 x HDMI, 1 x headphone/microphone combo, 1 x
- USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x RJ-45, 1 x multi-format SD media card reader
- Connectivity: Ethernet LAN, 802.11ac (1 x 1) and
- Bluetooth 4.0 combo (Miracast compatible)
- Camera: HP TrueVision HD Webcam (front-facing) with
- integrated dual array digital microphone
- Weight: 2.32kg
- Size: 385 x 265 x 28.8mm (W x D x H)
One way HP has saved on costs is to include a standard 5400rpm SATA drive. This increases loading times but on the flip side it gives you a whole terabyte of data to use up. That said, most gaming laptops couple a terabyte SATA with some sort of SSD where the OS is stored to form a hybrid drive. Windows 10 was a little slower to load on the HP Pavilion than an SSD-equipped laptop, but it wasn’t that noticeable. Also unlike some SATA hard drives, this one is completely silent.
The Gaming Pavilion’s full HD screen is very clear and consistent, viewable from nearly all angles and with very good colour definition. A 15.6-inch screen might seem small to some, but I didn’t find it particularly restrictive. And there’s always an HDMI port if you want to throw the output onto a projector.
The standard HP parts are present, such as the Bang & Olufsen speakers – while they’ll never reach an ear-splitting volume they’re functional enough. There’s also the standard unpredictable touchpad. These components won’t blow your mind but they do the job.
The HP Pavilion Gaming is a fantastic value laptop that’s gaming-ready. The black-and-green colour scheme won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s very smartly done with a few likeable design flourishes.