If you’re not familiar with HP Stream, here’s a quick recap: a small, well-branded Windows 8 budget laptop. There are several models available, with different screen sizes and processors. In this review, we’ll take a look at HP Stream 14-z010nr, a member of this new HP laptop family, featuring 14″ screen and AMD processor.
The important stuff
What differentiates this model from other HP Streams is the processor. This laptop comes with AMD A4-6400T, whereas other Streams would include Intel Celeron N2840. Both of them are rather new, mid-2014 releases. The AMD’s clockspeed is just 1.0GHz (1.6GHz turbo), peanuts compared to Celeron’s 2.2GHz (2.6GHz turbo). Cores in AMD are four, whereas Celeron has two. In professional benchmarks the AMD wins – despite the low clock speed per core. For everyday computing, both processors work fine, but the AMD A4-6400T version would probably be your pick if you wanted to get a boost in performance.
Like with other Streams, also HP Stream 14-z010nr features 2 GB DDR3L onboard memory. That can’t be upgraded, somebody with heavier requirements might not be happy with the installed two gigabytes. However, as with the processor, for a typical home user having just 2GB RAM works.
Some merchants claim these Streams have a solid-state drive. That’s not exactly true, the storage drives in these laptops is eMMC, an embedded MultiMediaCard, which is like a poor man’s version of a true SSD. The eMMC runs faster than conventional hard drives but slower than SSDs. The storage size is 32GB, on par with SSDs, and lots less than with hard drives. The eMMC is a happy medium, a component that’s cheap to manufacture, and thus somewhat logical choice for a small and affordable laptop like this one.
However, the storage size after Windows installation and recovery files is just around 10GB. That’s nothing these days, but you have wide array of options to overcome this: a memory card, external hard drive or 100GB cloud storage from Microsoft for two years.
Even though somebody might mistake it for a Chromebook, this laptop is not one. The operating system is a pre-installed Windows 8.1, the 64-bit version.
Display and graphics
HP Stream 14-z010nr differentiates from the other models also with the screen size. It’s a 14 inches glossy non-touch display with 1366×768 resolution. If you’re a home user, these things are probably fine for you, but I can hear power users whining because of a non-Full HD resolution.
The laptop integrates a Radeon R3 graphics chip. Its performance is comparable to lower-end Intel HD Graphics engines. Combined with other facts, like the reduced RAM amount, this laptop is not a gaming rig at all. The FPS would be unplayable, below 20, on most 2014 titles no matter what settings you used. That said, playing older games would be feasible, with titles like World of Warcraft and Minecraft reaching acceptable frames at least on low settings and resolutions.
HP Stream 14-z010nr contains three USB ports in total. One of them is luckily USB 3.0, located on left. Next to it lies an HDMI output, so one can connect the laptop to a monitor with HDMI-in (like a HDTV).
Networking consists of wireless options only. The laptop features 802.11b/g/n (1×1) WiFi adapter which also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
For video meetings you’ll find a HD webcam and digital microphone installed on the notebook.
These HP Streams don’t come with an optical drive. Using CDs and DVDs has to be done through an external drive. However, the laptop features a microSD card reader which can be used not only for data transferring, but also to increase local storage size.
What else to keep in mind?
The laptop weighs 3.86 pounds, the heaviest of the current HP Streams due to the larger screen size. Less than 4 pounds is still lightweight, carrying the laptop shouldn’t be a problem. The battery life is listed as 6.5 hours, although you’ll most likely get around 5 hours in reality. It’s indeed longer than with most bigger notebooks, but compared to, say, Chromebooks the battery life is not that good.
Some people commented the keyboard is solid and well-designed. I might add it’s a non-backlit one and has no dedicated numeric pad, leading to conveniently centered keyboard and trackpad.
The laptop has some programs pre-installed, a 30-day trial for McAfee anti-virus for example. MS Office isn’t available (except for trial version, which anybody can download from Microsoft’s website).
HP Stream 14-z010nr isn’t bad computer at all. It has, among other things, received a lot of positive feedback around the Internet. Its performance is adequate for everyday computing, but if you’re into games you must resort to older and simpler titles. The default storage size, after Windows and system files, is just 10GB which is definitely one of the laptop’s disadvantages. Another one, at least compared to other notebooks made with portability in mind, is battery life – many competitors offer more than 5-6 hours duration. As it is, this HP Stream is basically a Chromebook with Windows functionality. I do recommend it, although if you want even more portable laptop in the same price category, you might also want to go for a real Chromebook.