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Lightweight and portable
Fast processor and SSD
Attractive IPS screen
A few bloatware apps
Mediocre graphical performance
The HP Pavilion 14-inch HD Notebook is a well-rounded budget laptop for school or business that’s capable of handling most tasks.
If you’re headed off to college or need to work on the go, and you have to have a laptop, but you’re on a budget, then you might very well consider the HP Pavilion 14-inch HD Notebook. Its portability, attractive display, and solid specs put it in competition with more expensive and premium devices. We put it to the test to see if it provided the quality and performance the average, cost-conscious consumer needs.
In terms of design, the HP Pavilion 14 is simple, yet elegant. The silver exterior is attractive, with a large, reflective HP logo. This construction reflects the device as a whole: competent and utilitarian, but not ugly or unpleasant to use. It is exactly what you would expect of a laptop geared towards students and businesses. Only the Bang and Olufsen branding, and perhaps the slightly unusual design of the power button serve to differentiate its appearance from other laptops.
In terms of size, the Pavilion 14 is quite portable though it’s not a super slim device, and its dimensions aren’t trying to break any records. It is simply very thin, quite light, and possesses a perfectly acceptable screen-to-bezel ratio. It will easily fit in any case or bag designed to fit a 14-inch device, making it an ideal size for a laptop you expect to carry around on a frequent basis.
The Pavilion 14 includes an excellent sound system from Bang and Olufson that produces audio that is not only impressively loud, but provides good quality throughout its volume range.
We wouldn’t say that the Pavilion 14 is particularly durable—it’s certainly not water- or impact-resistant, but the aluminum construction doesn’t feel overly flimsy or weak. We wouldn’t be concerned about its ability to stand up to years of use. The only part that might give some cause for concern is the hinge mechanism between the keyboard and the screen. It is elegantly contoured, and when unfolded pushes the laptop up for better ventilation and cooling. However, it also makes the laptop marginally less stable when unfolded. We never had any issues with it slipping, but it is not quite as rock-solid as other laptops we’ve tested.
Power is delivered via a port on the right-hand side of the device and the power cord is of adequate length. The one thing we didn’t like about the Pavilion 14 was its trackpad, which is somewhat unpleasant to use, giving us frequent misclicks. It will work in a pinch, but we would definitely recommend pairing this laptop with an external mouse. Thankfully, the backlit keyboard provides a very nice, tactile typing experience.
In terms of I/O, the laptop comes well equipped with both USB 3.1 and USB-C ports, an SD card slot, Ethernet port, HDMI, and 3.5mm jack. This makes it more versatile than much more expensive devices like MacBooks that sacrifice ports in order to shave off a few ounces.
Our experience setting up the Pavilion 14 was uneventful for the most part, and the laptop deviates only a little bit from the standard Windows setup process. We did encounter a boot error when initial powering on, but that was easily resolved by a restart, and the setup process proceeded without a hiccup afterward.
The only difference was the optional HP registration step which can be completed at a later time, or not at all depending on your preference. The unit we tested required extensive updates to the Windows 10 operating system, each requiring significant time and internet bandwidth to download and install.
The screen is one of the high points of the Pavilion 14. Don’t let the fact that it’s not 4k put you off; a 14-inch display at 1080p looks crisp and clear. The screen is an IPS panel, which means great viewing angles at the slight cost of responsiveness. However, this is only an issue in gaming, and this laptop is certainly not designed for that purpose in any case. Color reproduction is excellent for a laptop at this price point, and the screen has plenty of contrast with satisfyingly deep blacks.
We didn’t expect much in terms of performance, but the laptop didn’t do too badly in our benchmark testing. In the PCMark 10 benchmark, it scored an overall Work test score of 2,497. That should be good enough for basic day to day productivity, and even some light photo and video editing. Unfortunately, the i5-7200u processor is starting to show its age, a fact that will become increasingly apparent in the near future.
The bright, high definition display might be a little on the small side, but its quality is beyond question. The excellent keyboard is great for writing, even for long periods of time. We were able to accomplish light photo and video editing despite its lack of graphical processing power. The big problem for mobile computing is definitely the subpar trackpad. You’ll also want to use an external mouse whenever possible.
In the PCMark 10 benchmark, it scored an overall Work test score of 2,497. That should be good enough for basic day to day productivity, and even some light photo and video editing.
In GFXBench the Pavilion 14 averaged 86 fps in the tesselation test, which is very poor indeed, though not unexpected. However, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 should be enough for some light gaming and other basic graphics-oriented tasks. We were most impressed by how well the Pavilion 14 managed to keep operating temperatures low under heavy load. Even after long periods of gaming, running benchmarks, or streaming high definition video it never became uncomfortably warm.
Like everything else, battery life is on the average side. It’s adequate battery for the better part of a day, but it depends heavily on your usage. More intensive tasks will drain your battery faster, while simple word docs and web browsing will let you keep going for hours.
Considering its lackluster performance benchmarks, it should come as no surprise that the Pavilion 14 is no gaming PC. With no dedicated graphics card, you won’t be running most games at anything better than medium-low settings. However, for older and less graphically intensive games we found that this laptop offers adequate power for a moderately playable experience.
Gamers and others in need of serious graphical power will want to look elsewhere, but for students and the business person on the go, this laptop is an excellent option.
Where it really shines is with retro-style games that prioritize gameplay over graphics. While playing Downwell with its simple yet addictive gameplay loop, we found it to be fluid and enjoyable, and the excellent quality of the screen made the high contrast color scheme of the game really pop.
Dota 2 was playable at medium-low settings, managing to maintain a consistent framerate while not looking too rough and pixelated. The small screen does present some challenges for such a fast-paced, detail-oriented online experience though and we wouldn’t recommend trying to play anything more graphics-intensive,
Typically, laptops don’t provide much of a listening experience from their often inadequate speakers. However, the Pavilion 14 includes an excellent sound system from Bang and Olufson that produces audio that is not only impressively loud, but provides good quality throughout its volume range.
While listening to “Wolf Totem” by The Hu, we were impressed by how the speakers rendered the deep, throbbing low notes that characterize this Mongolian rock song, and by the clear, high notes of stringed instruments. We also enjoyed this audio quality while watching Stranger Things and playing DOTA 2. Of course, if you would rather listen through headphones there is a 3.5mm jack included, as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
We never had any reason to complain in terms of network speed. Testing with Ookla Speedtest showed that the laptop is able to take full advantage of both our wireless and wired Ethernet networks.
The webcam exists, and that’s about the best that can be said about it. Video is limited to 720p at 30 fps, and photos are limited to a mere 0.9-megapixels. That’s about standard for a laptop webcam, but not impressive. We found it to be adequate for making video calls or for capturing a quick profile picture, but it suffers from poor quality in low light conditions. On the plus side, there is face tracking for photos that performs surprisingly well, though HDR support that is not impressive at all.
The laptop runs Windows 10, and we were happy to see that HP has wisely abstained from including too much bloatware. You will have to deal with the annoyance of uninstalling Candy Crush and a few other pre-installed games, but that’s a pretty simple process.
HP also includes HP Jumpstart computer support software, as well as HP support assistant which also provides support tools, as well an interface through which you can manage updates and other HP devices. HP Orbit allows you to pair your mobile device, and HP Coolsense is a fan control system that adjusts the parameters of your cooling system based upon whether the laptop is stationary or not. We found this actually seems to do a remarkably good job of keeping the computer cool, even while playing games for extended periods of time.
Unfortunately, the i5-7200u processor is starting to show its age, a fact that will become increasingly apparent in the near future.
The only real bloatware, the inclusion of which is really unfortunate, is McAfee LiveSense, which was often responsible for interrupting us with annoying messages. We would rather choose our own security software, and we would not choose to install anything as notoriously bad as McAfee.
At its MSRP of $639 the Pavilion 14 is certainly not cheap, but it usually retails for much less. At the moment, it’s on sale for under $600 on Amazon. For such a light and capable laptop, it is competitively priced, but its value only becomes apparent when you consider its highly compact size, which invites comparisons to premium ultraportable laptops.
The latest Dell XPS 13 is a small, sleeker, and higher-end machine with a much higher price tag—roughly twice that of the Pavilion 14 for a similar configuration to the one we tested. On paper, the HP provides far better bang for your buck than the Dell, especially in terms of hard drive capacity where the HP has a 1TB hard drive in addition to its SSD, while the Dell only has an SSD. That said, the XPS 13 is thinner, lighter, is much better in terms of build quality, and has a far superior trackpad.
If budget, value, and hard drive space are a priority, then the HP will probably be your best bet. If a great trackpad and premium build quality are paramount, then Dell is the way to go.
A competent budget laptop.
The HP Pavilion 14-inch HD Notebook is in no way an ambitious laptop, however, it doesn’t need to be. This is a machine tailor-made for the needs of anyone who requires a capable laptop for work or school. It packs an excellent screen and reasonable specs into a remarkably lightweight and compact package. Gamers and others in need of serious graphical power will want to look elsewhere, but for students and the business person on the go, this laptop is an excellent option.
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