For such a huge laptop, HP's done amazingly well in making the new Pavilion dv7 feel light and compact.
- USB 3.0: 4
- Optical: Blu-ray/DVD±RW
- Video: VGA, HDMI
- Ethernet: gigabit
- Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11n
- Audio: 2.1 IDT HD audio
It's nowhere near as thin as the MacBook Pro 17 (may it rest in peace), but it's still definitely a workable form factor.
HP's industrial design on this one is a winner, combining a subtle black, brushed-aluminium finish with perforated black surfaces and silver trims. There is a red Beats logo, but it's played down.
While it's gotten to the point where we've started expecting backlit keyboards in all laptops, the Pavilion dv7 defies trends here. Typing was generally good, although we found that the spacebar often didn't register, and the squashed vertical arrow keys will likely irritate some people.
The Synaptics touch pad is certainly passable, although the driver lacks the simultaneous double- and triple-finger tapping gestures found in other models. In another departure from current trends, there are physical, separate buttons here, rather than a full click pad, which is something that we appreciate greatly.
Ports are as one might expect on a laptop of this size: four USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, VGA, HDMI, an SD card reader and gigabit Ethernet. The latter has an incredibly annoying flap over it that, once released, can be quite the challenge to put back into place. There's no reason for it to exist; it simply serves to be annoying.
The 17.3-inch, 1080p screen uses a TN panel, but it still looks great, with vertical viewing angles not providing too much of a problem. Horizontal viewing angles are passable, but, if you're trying to show a client something, there is a visible darkening of the screen as you move off to one side.
As far as audio is concerned, you'll want Beats Audio turned on; the speaker is anaemic without it. On the default music profile, you'll need to bring treble down a bit, as it produces incredibly harsh high tones. Once this is done, audio is a notch above standard offerings. During one of our test tracks (Karnivool's "All I Know"), we did find that some tones hit resonant frequency of the chassis, causing vibrations until the volume was dropped to around 75 per cent.
Most frustrating is how HP has set up Nvidia's drivers: with next to no options showing, and only limited 3D settings changeable. You can't even replace it with a proper version from Nvidia's site, as the graphics maker is dragging its heels on posting a GeForce 6xx series compatible driver.
Handbrake encoding (in seconds)
HP Pavilion dv7 7008TX (Core i7 3610QM, 8GB RAM, 2x 1000GB HDD, GeForce GT 650M)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
While Handbrake and the multimedia test roughly work out where they should, curiously, the iTunes and Photoshop tests come behind the curve — despite a bit of prodding, we're not quite sure why this would be the case, but repeated testing yielded the same result.
|Batman: Arkham Asylum|
|1920x1080, 4x AA, Detail level: High, PhysX off.|
|1366x768, DirectX 9, 0x AA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.|
|The Witcher 2|
|1366x768, low spec.|
|1680x1050, low detail|
It seems that the jump between 1600x900 on Alienware's m14x and 1680x1050 is a taxing one for the GT 650M. While it could be down to driver-specific issues (as Nvidia hasn't released a generic driver for its mobile 6xx series yet), for now, both Metro and Skyrim struggle more on the dv7 than they do on the m14x. Batman lets us crank up the resolution by sacrificing a little detail, and Witcher 2 remains unattainable at this price point.
Battery life (time)
- Heavy battery test
- Light battery test
- 5h 1m
- HP Envy 15 (Core i7 2760QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Radeon HD 7690M)
- 4h 26m
- HP Pavilion dv7 7008TX (Core i7 3610QM, 8GB RAM, 2x 1000GB HDD, GeForce GT 650M)
- 3h 50m
- Asus N56V (Core i7 3610QM, 8GB RAM, 750GB HDD, GeForce 630M)
- 3h 30m
- Alienware m14x (Core i7 3720QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB, GeForce GT 650M)
- 2h 4m
- Toshiba Satellite P750/0EM (Core i7 2670QM, 8GB RAM, 750GB, GeForce GT 540M)
- 1h 50m
- Asus G75VW (Core i7 3610QM, 16GB RAM, 2x 1TB HDD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M 3GB)
- 1h 44m
- Toshiba Qosmio X870 (Core i7 3610QM, 16GB RAM, 750GB + 1TB HDD, GeForce GTX 670M 3GB)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Of late, HP's laptops have been returning excellent battery life, and the Pavilion dv7 is no different. Despite the huge screen, it manages to outrank smaller laptops.
We're slightly concerned about its Photoshop and iTunes scores, but the Pavilion dv7 still delivers a good experience.