Design, Hardware, Software
Design and build
Remember the HP Pavilion Star Wars Edition? Well, this is pretty much that same Pavilion, except it’s been beefed up and minus the Star Wars styling. With the lid closed, it looks like a regular notebook sans any clues of its gaming underpinnings. Overall, it gets a matte black treatment on the exterior, and some green honeycomb detailing on the palm rest. The rubber feet on the bottom are also green.
The sides of keys are also green, giving you an 80s sci-fi feel. It doesn’t look bad at all. If you don’t like green, well, tough luck. It’s chunky, though not in the same class as an Alienware 15. It weighs 2.3kg, so you may not be lugging it around too much. Aesthetically, a no-nonsense, practical approach, if less purposeful than true blue gaming notebooks out there.
Under the hood is the 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ Skylake processor running at 2.6GHz (up to 3.5GHz) mated to 8GB of DDR3 RAM. The chip is coupled with a GeForce GTX 950M (4GB), an old workhorse which still powers some mid-range notebooks.
This isn’t a bad set-up, just don’t expect raw processing power nor meaty gaming muscle.
Disappointingly, it comes with a standard 1TB 5400rpm SATA drive. It would have been nice to at least have a hybrid drive if not a full-blown SSD. Yes I hear you, it’s a budget gaming notebook. But the penalty in app load times is noticeable and I’d advise for you to upgrade to a SSD if you decide to purchase this device.
The 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display isn’t the brightest, but the great thing is that it has a matte finish so it’s less reflective. The IPS panel gives good viewing angles although colours look undersaturated. It’s not too bad, just don’t expect it to pop like a Retina or QHD.
It gets a plethora of ports including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0, full-size HDMI, Ethernet and a SD card slot. Sadly, no USB Type-C like the current crop of notebooks out in the market.
Shockingly, there’s a tray-type SuperMulti DVD writer which may as well serve as my drink holder. I’m not sure what to do with this. I mean, it is 2016. But OK, if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to rip audio CDs or playback some DVDs from the 90s, this is perfect.
Speaking of audio, there’s Bang & Olufsen speakers built-in that aren’t remarkable, but get the job done.
Nothing unusual here, the HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook runs Windows 10 Home and comes bundled with some HP bloatware. You’ll love that they’ve thrown in a couple of benchmarks though–Heaven Benchmark and Valley Benchmark; as well as Dropbox where you get 25GB free for a year.