HP Envy 6 review
Not without issues, but the cheaper price and Radeon-powered gaming performance make this a reasonable Ultrabook alternative
Review Date: 20 Sep 2012
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £415 (£498 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Intel’s thrown plenty of money at its Ultrabook brand and, while they’ve gained plenty of column inches, these super-thin laptops have remained resolutely high-end machines. HP’s latest laptop, the Envy 6, aims to bring Ultrabook luxury to the budget end of the market – and it does so by opting for one of AMD’s Trinity chips.
HP calls its AMD-powered Ultrabook rival a “Sleekbook” and, at first glance, there’s little difference between this £499 inc VAT machine and many of the Ultrabooks we’ve seen. The brushed-metal finish and red detailing lends the Envy a sense of style that’s up there with many more expensive Intel-powered rivals. Its 15.6in display means that it isn’t as svelte as many of its Ultrabook rivals, but it isn’t far off: at 20mm thick and just over 2kg in weight, this is as impressively honed as any £499 laptop we’ve seen.
Behind the scenes, it’s AMD’s Trinity platform that takes centre stage. AMD prefers to describe its processors as accelerated processing units, or APUs, and HP has used the A6-4455M – the lesser of two low-power APUs – in the Envy 6. The dual-core CPU architecture runs at 2.1GHz, and uses AMD’s Turbo Core to dynamically overclock to 2.6GHz. That sounds impressive, but the HP’s modest benchmark score of 0.37 is way behind the Intel-powered Ultrabooks – by comparison, Asus’ Zenbook UX31E scored 0.62.
As ever, though, it’s the graphics performance that buoys the AMD APU’s appeal. A Radeon HD 7500G core has been crammed into the A6-4455M, and the GPU contains 256 stream processors with stock and Turbo clocks of 327MHz and 424MHz.
We couldn’t get Crysis to run on the AMD chip, but the Radeon core proved its worth in Just Cause 2 and DiRT 3 when compared to the Intel HD Graphics 4000 core found in most Ultrabooks. In Just Cause 2 and DiRT 3’s Low quality tests the HP averaged 30fps; the Intel core scored 10fps and 17fps in the same benchmarks. It isn’t enough power to allow for high-end games but, crucially, the Radeon core here will play plenty of titles, albeit with reduced quality settings.
Processing power may not be the HP’s forte, but battery life is highly impressive for a 15.6in machine. In our light-use test the HP lasted for 7hrs 27mins before it ran out of juice, which isn’t far off the stamina we’ve seen from many Intel Ultrabooks.
I'm sorry I know it's been said before but 1366x768 on a 15 incher is a joke
By lt109 on 20 Sep 2012
It needs saying until it sinks in.
By tirons1 on 20 Sep 2012
15.6" is not what springs to mind when you mention the work sleek.
By kingct on 21 Sep 2012
AMD Processor Temperatures
What is the running temperature like on the new AMD processors?
I've had numerous AMD powered laptops in the recent past, and all have run so hot that they're unbearable if using on your lap.
More modern Intel Core i3/5/7 process run very cool in comparison.
Is the temperature of AMD processors better these days ?
By SteveSmith on 24 Sep 2012
I loved HP Envy 6 review and I hope that they can make one even better next time.
By Arnoldingstons on 25 Sep 2012
With lt109 and tirons1, why are they even offering 1366x768? HP needs to fire some more of the marketing guys, and less of the engineers.
The market is screaming for 1920x1080/1200, or at least 1600x900. Heck an 11" netbooked Trinity with these class of screens would spank ultrabooks.
I often find it nearly impossible to find screen resolutions on retail websites, or in store. It should be as clearly identified as the memory or hard-drive sizes.
By CptTitanic on 27 Sep 2012
1920x1080 on 2nd screen via HDMI
I bought one of these just before Christmas, discounted because it was Win7 (not Win8 – but who wants Win8 without a touchscreen?).
Some comments I have seen are IMAO unmeritoriously critical of the display resolution.
Maybe the commentators do not realize it can output 1920x1080 via HDMI on a 2nd screen. Or maybe they have a more critical eyesight than me, because I find the display perfectly fine for working or viewing photos/films (I have excellent eyesight and certainly don’t need glasses; ClearType probably helps, effectively increasing the horizontal resolution 3x).
The problem with the display I find is that it is only visible properly from straight on. Even the difference in position of your left and right eye can be enough to cause a headache if viewed at an angle.
But the acid test is what happens when you use it in bed to watch a film, fall asleep, then roll over the thing in the night subconsciously attempting to flatten it against a mattress. One day manufacturers will realize the need for laptops to open completely flat, but for now I can report that this one withstood 11 stone of bodyweight, with only the trim round the bottom-left of the screen now insisting it prefers the hinge.
It also comes bundled with a load of HP crapware which I’m gradually uninstalling as it generally seems useless, only serving to obstruct performance. The so-called ‘performance tuner’ locked up, and the HP recommended updates (there’s one for the video driver I’m told) appear to simply fail without reason.
The jury’s out on Beats Audio, but it looks like all I get is a graphic equalizer in exchange for a load of issues getting audio to play via HDMI. Am yet to discover if I can uninstall that without removing the audio driver as well… (or do any serious audio work, but even then, it’s hard to imagine what advantage this component might supposedly give).
Also, battery life is about 3 hours of general use, not the 8 hours quoted in promotional material.
Still, it performs very well, so I’m happy with my purchase.
4/5 stars, and good value at less than half the price of a comparable Apple product. If you can still get it with Win7, that is…
By JakeH on 2 May 2013
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