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HP Pavilion dm3 review

HP Pavilion dm3


Beautiful build combines with stunning good looks in a budget laptop of rare pedigree

Review Date: 1 Mar 2010

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £451 (£530 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

HP's Envy laptops are objects of great beauty, but at more than £1,000 apiece they're out of reach for most people. If you're feeling a bit short, though, there's no need to settle for an ugly duckling. HP's Pavilion dm3 pulls of the same trick, but for much less cash.

The aluminium lid immediately draws attention to itself, and tilting it back sees the swish, metallic theme continue inside, with the brushed finish pooling around the square keys of a Scrabble-tile keyboard. It looks simply gorgeous and the amazing thing is that at a price of £451 exc VAT, you could buy three of HP's Pavilion dm3s for the price of just one Envy 13.

The good points don't stop at its striking looks or surprising affordability. The keyboard, for one, is excellent. Each key has a positive action at the end of each stroke and the wide channels between each key keep typos to a minimum. Even the trackpad is free from issues, the dainty button at its top edge allowing you to disable it for longer stretches of typing.

The price you pay for such a pretty face and competent ergonomics is a slightly cut down core specification. Instead of an Intel processor, HP has chosen AMD.

And here it comes in the shape of AMD's Vision platform. An Athlon Neo X2 dual-core processor takes pride of place, with an ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset sitting alongside. Performance is no better than Intel's equivalent CULV (consumer ultra-low voltage) processors.

HP Pavilion dm3

It scored just 0.7 in our benchmarks, despite its nippy-sounding 1.6GHz clock speed. But the ATI graphics chipset strides out in front of its Intel counterpart, proving capable of decoding HD video and 3D gaming duties. Our Crysis test left the HD3200 struggling to an average score of 15fps at just 1,024 x 768 resolution and low detail, so the emphasis is strongly upon light gaming.

The glossy 13.3in display, meanwhile, has a 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution, and image quality raises it substantially above the average. Vibrant colours and good contrast made the most of our test photographs, and our HD movie clips positively leapt from the screen.

The big problem with going down the AMD route is that it seriously lags behind its CULV counterparts when it comes to battery life. The Pavilion dm3 struggled to an unimpressive 4hrs 37mins in our light-use battery life test, and under heavy load that figure dropped further to 1hr 43mins.

Another negative is that, at 1.9kg, the dm3 is slightly porky compared to many CULV laptops. Combined with the below-average battery life, that means the HP isn't the most accomplished road warrior.

It's difficult to get too upset at the dm3's deficiencies considering the price, however, and HP's generous specification will be more than enough to please many. For example, the dm3's slim-line form might omit an optical drive, but there's a compact USB-powered DVD writer included in the box. HP's generosity continues elsewhere too: the 320GB hard disk is a nippy 7,200rpm model, and both 802.11n and Bluetooth wireless networking are present.

There's no doubt the Pavilion dm3's battery life could be better, but at this price it just isn't enough to dent the HP Pavilion dm3's appeal. Its great looks, good build and sheer panache make it a fantastic all-round ultraportable.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments


Hi Chris,
I don't know if you have made a purchase yet, but I thought you might like this article. Reasuring if you have purchased, encouraging if not.

By Briantea on 4 Mar 2010

HP DM3 is worth considering

I purchased the DM3 because on paper it ticked all of the boxes. It has proved to be an astute purchase. It is slim, attractive, the keyboard is peerless and it is fast for web browsing HD video playback.

Before purchasing I was worried about the heat generated by the Athlon Neo x2 processor and the trackpad.

The bottom left of the base does heat up but it isn't uncomfortable. The trackpad is the main bugbear. You really have to play around with the settings to find the correct sensitivity. It supports gestures but the trackpad is too small to properly utilise them.

However, these small grievances in no way detract from a good deal. You smile from time to time when you think about what you get for such a small price.

The DM3 is a rare example of a fair deal for the consumer.

By dyagetme1 on 4 Mar 2010

Hp Support

But this Hp Pavilion dm3 has tremendous battery life and the bad is no optical drive,some config can be expensive and touchpad should be improved. For details visit

By miagale on 14 Jul 2010

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