At a quick glance the HP Pavilion 15-p214dx laptop looks like great value. There’s a 5th generation Core i7 processor, 6GB RAM and 750GB hard drive in it. And the price isn’t bad at all. But often, devil is in the details. So let’s not make any conclusions yet, but rather take a closer look at this notebook below…
HP Pavilion 15-p214dx has a speedy and brand new processor: the Core i7-5500U was released just some months ago. The CPU features two cores and clock speed between 2.4GHz and 3.0GHz depending on turbo. Tech enthusiasts have already benchmarked it, and from what I can see, the processor offers ~10% better performance in comparison to its older brother, the i7-4500U. Generally, the i7 series is the flagship of Intel and excellent choice for power users. Just keep in mind this new 5th generation family is made of ultra-low voltage processors, so they can’t be compared to regular mobile Core i7s in performance. But there’s definitely enough power in the ULV ones too, and at least you’ll get a power efficient CPU.
The laptop comes with 6GB memory. That’s more than a basic 4GB notebook has, contributing to smooth user experience and better multitasking opportunities. You can, for example, keep tons of browser tabs open on this machine without problems. If you want more RAM, that’s possible too, the system supports up to 16GB DDR3L memory. Both two memory slots are probably taken though, so you’d have to remove them if you wanted to install more RAM.
The hard drive is 750GB big, so I don’t think many people will run into storage problems. To be honest, these days the raw storage is rarely the issue. Instead, what bugs most is the speed. This drive is a regular hard drive of 5400RPM rate, so great performance can’t be expected. Cutting corners is evident in this price category, so you must do it yourself if you want a faster drive. HP Pavilion 15-p214dx accepts a solid-state drive if you remove the HDD first, but DIY style requires some tech know-how for sure.
Graphics and screen
The display seems rather basic, offering a 15.6″ diagonal and cookie-cutter 1366×768 resolution. I know many bash these low resolution screens, but I don’t think they’re that bad. It’s about what you’re used to. If you’ve been using a 1366×768 laptop all your life, you’ll see no difference for worse in this screen. Of course if you’re coming from a Full HD environment, the low 1366×768 might not please you. So pick your poison. And bear in mind the display is not a touch screen. I don’t personally care, but some might.
There’s an integrated graphics engine in HP Pavilion 15-p214dx, so an avid player might or might not be disappointed – depending how much eye candy he wants to have. The Intel HD 5500 graphics unit is of course better than the infamous HD 4000, so many titles will run on this computer. Games like Battlefield 4 will give decent 30FPS, but low details and resolution are required. Upping the resolution would drop frames to 20 and below. However, those games that don’t require so much from the system are not an issue. That includes Sims 4, which would run with +30FPS on medium details and resolution.
Plugging in your peripherals should be effortless. HP Pavilion 15-p214dx features three USBs, of which two are USB 3.0. You can also connect your HD television or desktop display to the notebook’s HDMI output.
Networking options are basic. The laptop has 100Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 port and 802.11b/g/n WiFi adapter. So pretty much everything you need, although no fancy Gigabit Ethernet or A/C WiFi. There is no built-in Bluetooth, but a workaround is to use an USB dongle.
An optical drive is installed on the HP, an obvious bonus for many. SD card slot seems to be there too, allowing you to upload images and videos from digital cameras and such.
This machine should work for Skype video like any laptop, there’s an HD webcam for that.
Some other things to keep in mind?
If you’re a traveler, these 15.6″ laptops work so-so for you. HP Pavilion 15-p214dx seems to weigh 5 pounds which is similar to other 15 inches models. A 4-cell Li-ion battery is provided, it should work for at least three hours on a single charge.
The keyboard has no backlight – they very rarely do at this price point. Numeric keypad is however located on the right.
After you get this notebook, please remove the HP & 3rd party bloatware. That should speed up the system big time.
My initial opinion about HP Pavilion 15-p214dx stands. It is a solid laptop, especially for the money, because you will be getting a Core i7 processor that not many competitors offer for this price. RAM isn’t bad either, although to upgrade it or especially the hard drive you have to remove a lot of parts first. People have been using this thing for photo editing, so demanding programs like Photoshop also work without issues. The display however isn’t top notch, with 1366×768 resolution and TN panel’s limited viewing angles. But I don’t complain too much because the overall value is clearly above average. Thus, I can recommend this HP as a great everyday computer, be it for home, office or student use.