HP Pavilion 13-s120nr Review

October 2, 2015
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There are two major uses for HP Pavilion 13-s120nr: it can serve as a laptop and tablet. The processor is brand new Intel Core i3-6100U, rumored to be in the same class than some i5 chips from the 4th generation line. It sounds good, but let’s stop for a while and take a closer look at this notebook. Perhaps we will find something off-putting in this system…

What software can I run on it?

HP Pavilion 13-s120nr is certainly a cheap laptop, but there’s at least one exciting component inside: the Intel Core i3-6100U processor. Now, it’s just “mainline” i3 series, but one of the 6th Generation processors – the 6xxx prefix means exactly that. It is a dual-core model and the clock speed is moderate 2.3GHz, but it’s indeed said to be similar to older Core i5 processors. If that is true – I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t be – this new Core i3 is great for everyday computing, but also power users who want to ensure their programs with higher system requirements (Adobe Premiere or Lightroom for example) would run without big problems. That’s quite an achievement for this inexpensive laptop for sure.

The HP comes with 4GB system memory. It’s DDR3L-1600Mhz on-board type, and it’s not known yet if there are additional sockets to upgrade the RAM. The 500GB 5400RPM hard drive connects to a SATA interface, and being a no-frills notebook this HP features no mSATA slots. That would affect those wanting to upgrade the storage drive, SSD can only be put in after removing the hard drive.

Does it also work well with games?

HP Pavilion 13-s120nr doesn’t have dedicated graphics card, but there’s a new processor-integrated unit bearing the name Intel HD 520. Early benchmark tests indicate it’s pretty much the same, or even tad slower, than Intel HD 5500 so keeping full eye candy isn’t going to happen if you’re into new games. For example, you could expect 20-25 FPS playing GTA 5 on low-medium settings and 720p resolution. Another example, Counter-Strike: Go would most likely get over 60 FPS with similar settings.

Any comments about the screen?

The screen diagonal in this model is 13.3″, resolution is just the basic 1366×768. However the panel type is IPS, you could expect decent colors and viewing angles here. It’s of course also touch sensible, and because the screen turns 360 degrees you’ll be able to use this thing in tablet mode as well. The display won’t physically detach from the keyboard part, they’re always connected like in a typical laptop.

What peripherals does it accept?

It’s easy to plug in a couple of devices to HP Pavilion 13-s120nr. It has two USB 3.0 ports and one slower USB 2.0. Also the HDMI-out can be used, you can hook up a monitor (like HDTV) to that.

Connecting to networks and your home router/modem should work well, the notebook features a Wireless adapter supporting the newer 802.11AC standard. Bluetooth 4.0 is available as well. The built-in RJ-45 port is good for connecting this laptop to Internet with wire.

DVD drive is obviously something laptop this small doesn’t have. But you can always use external optical drive. Don’t forget there’s also a media card reader at your disposal.

The computer is equipped with a HD-level webcam, it’s good for video Skyping or even recording a video or two.

Are there other noteworthy things?

HP Pavilion 13-s120nr is meant for traveling, it weighs a mere 3.77 pounds and thickness is 0.89 inches. The 3-cell 48WHr battery isn’t however a beast, you’ll probably get 4-5 hours before you need a recharge.

Operating system is Windows 10. Keyboard is sadly not a backlit one, and because of the compact size there’s no numpad on the right hand side either.

Summing it up

HP Pavilion 13-s120nr is not a bad computer at all. Especially the i3-6100U processor offers a lot considering the price, although 4GB RAM and 500GB HDD are unexciting yet sufficient for day-to-day use. Gaming won’t be too comfortable because there’s only integrated (= slow) graphics card backing you up, but the 360 degree screen indeed makes this thing a real multi-use device. If that’s what you’re looking for and gaming is not your favorite thing to do, I think you’d be getting great bang for your buck by choosing this HP.

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