There is just something cool about the Hewlett-Packard Pavilion. The edges are tapered, giving it a more compact look and the Bang & Olufsen logo denotes the powerful speakers within.
When you push the power button, the keyboard’s backlighting fires up and spreads to the palm rest area. It is very trendy indeed.
It is fairly light too. Weighing in at 2.3kg, you could say this model is in the middleweight division as far as gaming laptops go.
Graphics and content
Despite its position in the middleweight division, the Pavilion comes with an i5-6300HQ (2.3GHz) processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics card (4GB RAM), making it a heavy hitter in the graphics department.
The screen is 15.6in but it looks bigger thanks to the sleek and slim design. It has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution which is full HD. It also comes with a HDMI port for you to output to a bigger screen.
Another worthy mention is the TrueVision HD webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone. The camera is so sharp you could use it as a mirror to shave.
The integrated dual array digital microphone, on the other hand, allowed me to play Counter Strike: Global Offensive without a headset with microphone and my teammates could hardly tell the difference.
When running Far Cry Primal, the graphics card was able to handle the game with ease when the graphics setting was set at medium.
Once we cranked it up with shadowing and other details, the gameplay wasn’t as smooth anymore and even loading took longer.
This may suggest that the 4GB RAM on board may be adequate but not ideal. If you’re a stickler for intense performance and need all the video settings maxed out, you are better off looking for a higher end (but ultimately more expensive) gaming laptop.
Having said that, the Pavilion ran Global Offensive (2012) fantastically even on ultra-high graphics. Tom Clancy’s The Division, a rather demanding game, was also great to play on this model.
In terms of connectivity, the Pavilion has the minimum you would expect in terms of ports: two USB 3.0 slots, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI out and SD card reader.
HP may have wanted to add more but due to the optical drive and slim design, it looks like it ran out of space.
A case of battery
The battery life does leave something to be desired. With a full charge, we managed to get about 80 minutes of gaming and over 4.5 hours of browsing and downloading.
Then again batteries are the heaviest component in any laptop and opting for a longer life could have resulted in a heavier machine.
Most gamers would leave their laptops plugged in for the best performance but when using it away from a power outlet, it is frustrating because you have to be mindful of the battery.
For a laptop, the Pavilion has impressive built-in speakers – the B&O designed sound system runs across the length of the keyboard.
While playing Far Cry Primal I was surprised I could easily identify which direction the sounds in the jungle were coming from. Many would likely get separate speakers or a headset for optimum audio but it is nice to know it’s not necessary with this notebook.
Also, the B&O menu allows you to adjust the volume, microphone and even enable noise cancelling in one place.
HP certainly did not skimp on audio and that could be a key tipping point for many gamers, especially those on a budget.
One quirk about this model is the cooling fan. The bottom of the laptop is raised which results in a cooler base for the laptop while gaming. The downside is the extreme amount of heat that is funnelled out the right side of the Pavilion.
If you are right handed, you may have to give up putting cold drinks on the right side of the Pavilion as they will not stay cold for very long. In fact, anything you put on that side will get hot very quickly and this can be tedious.
Having said that, you almost never hear the fan during the first hour of play. HP has done well in terms of making the cooling system as silent as possible.
As previously mentioned, the keyboard is backlit and matches the design of the notebook. The only drawback is there is no brightness control – you can only turn it on or off.
With many gaming laptops the trackpad usually leaves something to be desired. In the manufacturer’s mind it is probably the least important feature given that it will be replaced by a gaming mouse.
The Pavilion’s trackpad is responsive and smooth, though the multi-touch feature took some practice to master.
If you are a student who also needs the laptop for classes and doing assignments, this is invaluable as desks are not always big enough to have a mouse on the side.
The GTX 950M graphics card and all the cool little features makes this a value-for-money gaming laptop.
The Pavilion has some high-end features but it has a relatively short battery life and has an exhaust vent that roasts anything on the right side.
All in all, it is a worthwhile gaming machine, especially for the price. However, we feel it’s a little hobbled by the processor and RAM.
In fact, if you have a little more money to spare, we suggest getting the higher-end unit with the Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor (2.6GHz) and 8GB RAM which goes for RM4,199.
Pros: Strong graphics card; fast i7 processor; good speakers; relatively cheap.
Cons: Short battery life; vents lots of heat on the right side.
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-6300HQ (2.3GHz)
MEMORY: 4GB RAM
DISPLAY: 15.6in (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M 4GB RAM
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, gigabit Ethernet
PORTS/SLOTS: HDMI, SD card reader, two USB 3.0, USB 2.0
BATTERY: 441wh Lithium-ion
OTHER FEATURES: HD Webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone, B&O dual speakers
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 384.5 x 261 x 25.2mm
RATING: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of HP Malaysia