HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx is one of those mid-range notebooks with components that power users often value: a 5th generation processor and 6GB RAM. Terabyte hard drive provides a lot of space and 15.6″ display offers touch support. But are these things actually useful for you, and how is the price-performance ratio of this unit? These things will be discussed below in detail…
It’s nothing fancier than i3 processor running the system. But there’s one thing to keep in mind: it’s a 5th Generation model, so strong performance compared to any other i3 is expected. The chip in question Intel Core i3-5010U, running on two cores and 2.1GHz clock speed (no turbo). It’s indeed faster than previous generation i3 units, receiving over 3000 CPU Mark points while the older ones get 2500-2700. So I wouldn’t stay away from this computer just because it’s a “mainstream” i3, this processor can run pretty much anything be it web surfing or photo editing you’re about to do.
The system is equipped with 6GB memory. It eats the both memory slots (2GB and 4GB sticks), so you’ll have to remove one or two sticks in case you want to upgrade. Maximum memory would be 16GB, but going for that much doesn’t really make sense. On the other hand, if upgrading from 6GB to 8GB, the difference would be hardly noticeable. So staying with the default 6GB is the best idea if you ask me.
It’s a regular hard drive you’ll find in the storage section. The drive in question offers 1TB storage and 5400RPM spindle speed. The former is great, latter not so much, it’s always the balance between actual storage and performance that’s essential thing when deciding which drive is the best. This drive offers a lot of space at the expense of slow speed. If better overall performance is your thing, upgrade to solid-state drive would be required (which is entirely possible here).
Gaming in a nutshell
It’s easy to play games with HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx if you can do with less than fancy graphics. There’s no way a proper, dedicated graphics card would be available for this low price – instead, to keep the costs at bay, the graphics are handled by an integrated unit Intel HD 5500. It can do its job fine with “lackluster” games like Minecraft (high settings @ +50FPS), but with beefier titles you’d have to drop eye candy – example being GTA 5, which would get ~25FPS played on medium details and 1366×768.
Comments about the display
As the name suggests, HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx has a 15.6″ touch display. In addition to the touch support there are no prominent features in it – for example resolution is the basic 1366×768. The display won’t rotate more than the usual 180 degrees, tablet mode wouldn’t work here.
The connections of HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx don’t seem to differ from other mid-range laptops – which is not a surprise in any way. There are three USB ports at your disposal, one of those is USB 3.0. Also a regular HDMI output is available for external monitor. Connecting this thing to Internet happens with the 802.11n Wireless adapter. 100Mbps LAN (RJ-4) port is also there, although Bluetooth is not supported.
You’ll be able to read and burn discs with this system, there’s an internal DVD writer for that. Another way to upload data locally would be the SD card reader which is handy with digital cameras and such.
A front-facing VGA webcam is provided, it’s alright for video chatting but for YouTube filming I’d recommend a higher resolution camera.
Some other noteworthy things?
A good thing for on the go people, HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx doesn’t weight so much – just 4.7 pounds. Unfortunately, the 3-cell 31Whr won’t last too long, just the usual 3-4 hours under lighter workloads. The battery is a removable one, connecting to the back of the base.
Keyboard doesn’t feature backlit keys, but the standard numeric keypad is available.
I would say HP Touchsmart 15-ac121dx offers decent, or even good, value. It’s reasonably priced but in exchange houses strong components in the engine room, mainly the 6GB RAM (tad better than default 4GB) and 1024GB hard drive (very big but bit slow on the other hand). The i3 processor isn’t going to be a monster, but considering it’s a 5th Generation Broadwell chip there’s still a plenty of performance it can offer to a power user. Display is nothing more than a 1366×768 screen, however understandable for low price. All in all the HP should be a good pick if you don’t mind the screen and i3 processor.