Currently Tinkering: HP Pavilion dv7-6c20us Entertainment PC

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-01

HP has been making entertainment PC’s for a while now. The DV series is basically their all around laptop which generally fits the needs of the entire family. It’s not designed to be a top of the line gaming rig from what I understand. I recently got this HP Pavilion dv7-6c20us Entertainment PC a few weeks back. Let’s  see how it goes.

 

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-02

For about a month now, my brother sent me a new laptop. Yes, a laptop, not a netbook, the ones with a DVD drive. It’s those big ones that looks like you’re bringing your entire desktop PC. When I got the package, I didn’t expect the box to be really big, so it was a surprise to me to see it in person. Even without opening the box, what stood out for me was the Beats Audio logo. I’m not really a fan of the brand for the reason of it being expensive, but of course I wanted to try it out as soon as I can get it running. This laptop is powered by an AMD A8-3520M processor combined with an AMD 6620g internal video processor. 6gb shared ram, which 500mb is dedicated to the video card, 750Gb hard drive at 5200rpm. It’s preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. Other features is that it has 4 USB slots (2 of which I presume is USB 3.0), ethernet port, HDMI port, VGA port, MMC/SD card reader, TrueVision HD camera and a read and write DVD drive.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-03

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-04

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-05

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-06

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-07

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-08

Looking at it is very impressive. Generally it has a aluminum casing, which I suppose makes the system look impressive but at the same time, makes the system cool to the touch. The screen size is amazing, 17.3 inches. It looks big, but it’s a tad short in going to full HD. The maximum resolution of the screen is 1600×900. Just looking at the screen, you’d wonder why they didn’t go full HD since clearly, this screen screams at you like it can go 1080p. You get a full keyboard with this set, it has a numeric keypad which is convenient for documentation and gaming, instead of pressing fn+numlock just to activate the numeric keypad on my older netbook. There is another feature with finger print identification which is cool but I’ll get into that later. Note that the computer is very heavy, if you try to hold it with one hand, it’s like lifting weights. I suppose my problem with the package is that it didn’t have a bag of it’s own. This forced me to look and buy for a one.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-09

As I turn it on and setup the computer, I noticed that the function keys (f1, f2 to f12) don’t work the usual way. The primary function seems to be the laptop functionality like help shortcut, brightness, media controls, screen selection, volume control and wireless connection. To use any of the F keys, will require you to press fn first. I found it strange and initially, awkward at first, but after weeks of using, I don’t miss it at all. I noticed that I rarely use the F keys anyway. I like the added feature that some keys light up to indicate current function like the wireless connection, and the caps lock. Although I find it strange that there is no light indicator for Number Pad lock. Also, the hard drive reading indicator is at the right side of the case, which you won’t really see that much. It feels weird though because you have to look at the right side of the body before you see if the hard drive is reading or not. The touch pad has a light indicator too, but I felt that it was a bit useless, I turn it off as soon as the system turns on. If HP lit up the all they keys, then that would have been so much better.

I had to uninstall a lot of programs as we know a lot of the laptops being sold have a lot of crapware when you have a preloaded Windows installed. It was expected, but I liked that MS Office Starter 2010 (a fully functioning Word and Excel for free with advertisements on the lower right side) is already an option to install since I have no intention in buying an MS Office license sometime soon. Although I do use OpenOffice (for offline documents) and Google Docs (for online documents and backup) on a regular basis, I still like having MS Office Starter being loaded. I can’t tell when a client might send me a DOCX file, so this is a nice plus. Mostly I removed all the security software like Norton 360, since I just install Comodo Firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials (anti-virus) since both programs are free. I also installed Spybot – Search and Destroy (anti-spyware and anti-adware) for additional security.

A lot of game shortcuts from Wild Tangent Inc. are also installed, but note, these are just shortcuts. They are not the actual installed games. Once you click them, you’ll need an internet connection and it will install a demo. But the selections are a lot, which also includes Bejeweled 3, Torchlight and World of Warcraft. Although to get some proper gaming you have to look for somewhere else. In terms of gaming, the first thing I installed is Steam. As I wait for all my games to load up, I do something else.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-14

A lot of the programs I used work a lot better on this system, possibly because of the memory. Since I have 6gb ram instead of 2gb (which is on the desktop), the performance was obvious. The speed of programs loading up is impressive and because of it, it’s hard to go back to the old desktop. One thing my wife noticed though was when she was playing a Facebook game called CastleVille, that the overall performance a tad slower than the desktop (Intel Dual Core 2.6Ghz with Nvidia 9600GT, 2Gb memory and a 7200rpm hard drive). But it’s still better than the netbook version where she has to turn off all animations just to get it playable. I can’t compare it myself since I don’t play the game.

I tested putting in HD videos, and it loaded flawlessly, played wonderful and now I hear the Beats Audio speakers. I’m impressed. The sound is so much better than the standard set of speakers we get from laptops or netbooks. It’s loud enough for a small room and I just set the settings to midway, not even at full volume. Depending on your position, you can hear that there are 4 speakers and a subwoofer. There are 2 speakers in the front of the system and one big sound bar at the front, just below the monitor. The subwoofer is located under the case. I love the sound, it makes watching movies and listening to music much better. Although if I get the chance, I still hook up a proper speaker set since I don’t want to push the speakers to the limit. I don’t want to damage the speakers too early.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-16

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-11

Now, playing games, I don’t use the touch pad for gaming, so I bought the Leviathan Laser Gaming Mouse specifically for my everyday use. Using the touchpad is only optional to me because I don’t want to overuse any of the laptop’s parts, including the keyboard if possible. But when gaming, I was able to install Torchlight, Torchlight 2 Beta, Star Trek Online, DOTA 2, League of Legends, Minecraft, Dungeon Defenders and Wing Commander Saga (a free game mod which uses the FreeSpace 2 engine). Note that none of these games can really push the system to it’s limit, but almost all of them worked flawlessly too at high/maximum settings. I suppose only Star Trek Online was the only thing that slowed down the system when I’ve set every setting on high, but still playable. The 6620g is designed to be better than the majority of internal video cards, but is not designed to compete with stand alone cards which some Intel+Nvidia offers. But I hear that you can run Skyrim on medium settings and that still looks good. Although I hear that GuildWars 2 is having a few issues with AMD video cards, I just hope they resolve it before I get a copy of my own.

Here’s a sample of gameplay of Battlefield 3 using the same video processor, the 6620g. The A8 processor here in the video is a tad lower than I have on my system. This video is from Axayd.

 

I did try to make the system cry a bit, like using Futuremark’s 3DMark 2011 Benchmark. Of course, as expected, the 3DMark can really make any system slow down unless you buy all the new PC upgrades, water cool the system like you have your own cryogenic chamber and overclock your system. So, with a mid range system, I still got a decent P819 score. Scores change every time I start the benchmark, so it’s hard to tell an accurate number. Although the 3DMark 2011 benchmark is designed for DirectX11 and my Intel Dual Core 2.6Ghz with a Nvidia 9600GT videocard can only run DirectX10. Nonetheless, the overall performance is not bad.

Another thing I tested was the camera. Although it was difficult to actually test all it’s features since the preloaded software can only do so much if you don’t register. So I wasn’t able to test it to it’s full capability. The hardware specs say that it’s HD, but I can’t see it yet based on the image I got. What I got was a little grainy than I expected, but I’m sure that it’s better than the one installed on my netbook.

Another thing that impressed me is the temperature. HP has what they call HP CoolSense. The system adjusts the overall temperature to make sure your hands and lap don’t feel too hot. So you can actually use the computer on your lap just as it’s name is… “laptop”. The computer will feel comfortable on your lap and it won’t cause any burns as older laptops do. And your hands will rest comfortably on the laptop since it doesn’t generate too much heat. I like the comfortable feeling on this system overall.

The hard drive included is a 750gb 5600rpm. It’s rather slow than the usual 7200rpm that I’ve been used to. But it’s not all that bad. I suppose the purpose of this is that the system won’t heat up. 7200rpm hard drives do get hot after a while, so having a 5200rpm drive isn’t so bad. But I do suggest to regularly defrag the drive because if you don’t the 5200rpm drive can slow down especially if you have tons of data stored. If you want this hard drive to be fast and efficient, get used to defragging on a regular basis.

The finger print identification feature is a nice add on. At first I was a little intimidated by the feature because, heck, this is the first computer I’ve seen that has one. Anyway, I saw the video on the internet on how to use it and it seemed very easy. It tries to recognize some of your fingers, and this will be saved on your system. All passwords on several programs or websites are going to be stored on the fingerprint software. Note that the system won’t make you a special fingerprint password, it still stores your usual typewritten passwords. All it does is automatically logs in once you swipe your finger, which makes it easier to access. Now I only have to type it once and the system remembers it and once I swipe my finger, the fingerprint software automatically fills in all the details. It’s fascinating that no one else can login to my Windows profile until I swipe my finger. Now no one can see me type my passwords anymore. My wife tried logging in, she had no luck getting through it.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-10

Based on specs, the system is supposed to run at 1.6ghz with 4 processors. Although it also mentions that it can boost 1 processor up to 2.5ghz, although I can’t tell how that one works. Most things I read is that it should automatically boost up when needed, but for some reason it doesn’t function based on what I able to read in some reviews. Although, they say that overclocking the A8-3520M to actually run 2.5ghz is pretty easy enough, but that’s not something I’m willing to try. Someone even said that HP makes the the voltage high enough to overclock easily.

Another thing I really appreciate with the system is that the battery can hold up to 10 hours on one charge. I haven’t tested it to reach 10 hours but 7 hours was the best I could make on the first try. Note, this includes a lot of programs running at the same time and 3 hours of gaming. Considering what I was able to do in 7 hours, that’s pretty impressive for a large laptop. Most laptops I know runs to only 2-4 hours. Based on everything I’ve read, it seems that the power efficiency is based on the processor AMD made. Yeah, it won’t reach high benchmarks in comparison to Intel or Nvidia, but being able to use your computer unplugged for long hours is a major plus.

An additional thing I liked is that the battery has it’s own charge indicator. You don’t have to hook it up on your computer to see the charge status. If it’s unplugged, you can press a small button and light up 4 led lights which will indicate the amount of charge it has. This is a good thing to have before you travel.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-12

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-13

Overall, I’m very happy with the HP Pavilion dv7-6c20us. The performance overall is impressive for a laptop. Yeah, it’s not a gaming machine, but it can run for long hours which is what I need more than anything. I can work without depending on a small screen (in comparison to a netbook), everything loads up fast and efficient (better than my netbook and my desktop), power is almost or just as efficient as my netbook, it saves more power than my desktop and so far, it can play a lot of games that I look forward to which is mostly a bonus.

I did some research and I saw someone selling the same exact system at PhP45,980.00 or lower (that’s around US$1,000) locally. If you are interested in getting one, you might try contacting them.

2012-06-01-hppaviliondv7-15

I’ve happily setup my laptop at home to be connected to the old desktop monitor and keyboard/mouse. It makes it look like I’m using 2 computers at a time, but in reality, it’s just the laptop doing it’s thing (extended my screen to use a secondary monitor). Using 2 monitors makes work easier and faster. If I don’t need a lot of things to do, I switch everything on the desktop monitor and keyboard so that the laptop won’t wear and tear quickly. I only use the laptop’s screen and keyboard exclusively when I’m working on the field.

For now, the desktop has been retired, unplugged and not used. I might sell that one in a few weeks time.

Thank you to my brother who helped me get this one.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: