HP Pavilion dv7 (7008TX)

We're slightly concerned about its Photoshop and iTunes scores, but the Pavilion dv7 still delivers a good experience.


7.5
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


For such a huge laptop, HP's done amazingly well in making the new Pavilion dv7 feel light and compact.

Connectivity

  • 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.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia


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.

Gaming performance

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Playable on:
HIGH
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
111 76 32
1920x1080, 4x AA, Detail level: High, PhysX off.
Metro 2033
Playable on:
VERY LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
88 33 9
1366x768, DirectX 9, 0x AA, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.
The Witcher 2
NOT
PLAYABLE
FPS
Max Avg Min
40 31 11
1366x768, low spec.
Skyrim
Playable on:
LOW
settings
FPS
Max Avg Min
59 39 31
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


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.

Conclusion

We're slightly concerned about its Photoshop and iTunes scores, but the Pavilion dv7 still delivers a good experience.



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