[In-Depth Comparison] HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) vs MSI Sword 15 – battle for the budget gamer

It’s no secret that the budget laptop market is the most competitive one, with manufacturers slimming down their profit margin as much as possible for the sake of capturing as much of the budget gamers’ loyalty as possible. However, budget gamers are only loyal to themselves, looking out for the best deals when it comes to performance, features, and quality. Today we have two of the more aggressively priced gaming laptops.

In the Green corner, we have the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000). It brings a decent design with a very underrated color scheme, along with Tiger Lake H35 CPUs and Ampere graphics. It also has options for displays with a higher refresh rate, which is very nice to see in the entry gaming laptop space.

In the Red corner sits the MSI Sword 15, which is part of the new weapons-themed laptop from MSI, with the GF66 Katana, Crosshair, and Pulse. Actually, the Sword 15 is very similar to the GF66 Katana in terms of design and construction, while sporting slightly different hardware. The laptop uses the Tiger Lake H45 platform, meaning that it should perform better given the higher core count and power output that it offers. For graphics, the laptops are pretty evenly matched, each coming with an RTX 3050 Ti, but more on that below.

Today we are presenting you with an in-depth comparison between the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) and the MSI Sword 15.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000): Full Specs / In-depth Review

MSI Sword 15: Full Specs / In-depth Review

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) configurations:

MSI Sword 15 configurations:

Contents


Design and construction

Both laptops are made of plastic and there’s simply no way around it. However, this doesn’t mean that they have to be cheap-feeling.

Still, HP still has a lot to work on in 2022, as the Pavilion Gaming 15 isn’t exactly top-notch when it comes to the build quality. The plastic is on the softer side and with no support on the inside, we’re left with a bendy base and lid. In terms of looks, though, this is an underrated laptop, with a matte black finish and glossy green accents on the lid. Its lid opens easily with one hand, but the shines are placed in the center of the base, which results in some instability. The laptop appears very aggressive, with a bulging lid and a rear end with X-shaped exhaust vents.

The MSI Sword 15 does much better in that regard, thanks to metal bracing on the inside and a rectangular structure on the inside, which makes the whole body sturdy. While there is still some flex from the base, it’s nothing to worry about. The Sword 15 relies on an underrated white and black color scheme as well. It really works well with the matte plastic and the more subtle approach to the design. The lid opens easily with one hand revealing slim bezels and smooth operation.

WeightHeight
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)2.23 kg (4.9 lbs)23.4 mm (0.92″)
MSI Sword 152.25 kg (5 lbs)24.9 mm (0.98″)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Keyboard and touchpad

The Pavilion Gaming 15 uses a full-sized keyboard with a NumPad and green keycaps. The Up and Down Arrows are half-sized, but most gamers use WASD anyways, which are highlighted by the way. The key travel isn’t the best and neither is the feedback, but the unit itself is comfortable for typing and gaming. The touchpad is covered in plastic as well, bringing smooth gliding and accurate tracking.

The Sword 15 also brings a NumPad, but it is significantly smaller and bundled with the rest of the keys. On the other hand, you get full-sized Arrow keys, which are somewhat separated from the rest. It has a blue backlight, which works really well with the white and black aesthetic. The keys have long travel, but the feedback is neither clicky nor soft, somewhere in the middle. The touchpad here is smaller but offers great smoothness, accuracy, and responsiveness.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Ports

I/O-wise, the Pavilion offers three USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) ports, a single USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 2), an HDMI 2.0 connector, an SD card reader, a 3.5 mm audio jack, and an Ethernet port.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)

The MSI device gets two USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) ports, one USB 2.0 port, a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, a 3.5 mm audio jack, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port.

MSI Sword 15


Disassembly, upgrade options

The HP device is easier to take apart, being held together by 7 Phillips-head screws. After removing the bottom panel, we can see two SODIMM RAM slots, one M.2 PCIe x4 drive, and a 2.5-inch SATA drive, which can be installed using three Phillips-head screws.

The MSI laptop uses 6 more Phillips-head screws, for a total of 13 screws. One of them is hidden behind a factory sticker, so you have to be really careful if you want your warranty to still stand. We have the same options with two SODIMM slots, an M.2 PCIe x4 slot, and space for a 2.5-inch SATA drive.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Spec sheet


Display quality

The Pavilion has three display options, with two Full HD IPS panels, one of which has a 144Hz refresh rate. There is also a 4K UHD display. We tested the Full HD version with a 60Hz refresh rate. In the case of the Sword 15, it only offers a 144Hz Full HD IPS panel. Both panels have a pixel density of 142 PPI, a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm, and a Retina distance of 60cm or 24 inches.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Both displays have comfortable viewing angles. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality. You can also see the difference in the colors and vibrance of the images.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

The display on the HP Pavilion has a max brightness is 285 nits in the middle of the screen and 273 nits average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 10%, along with a contrast ratio of 1260:1.

The max brightness of the MSI laptop is slightly lower at 261 nits in the middle of the screen and 254 nits as an average for the whole area, with a lower maximum deviation of only 3%. The contrast ratio is higher – 1310:1.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Color coverage

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows the color coverage of both the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) and the MSI Sword 15.

The Pavilion Gaming 15 kills it, covering 90% of the sRGB color gamut, while the Sword 15 sits at 52% of the sRGB gamut.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Color accuracy

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can check the results from the test of both laptops, with both the factory settings (left) and with our “Design and Gaming” profile applied (right).

Both laptops are affected by our profile in a good way, but they still don’t reach a dE value of <2.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)

MSI Sword 15


Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” methods from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

The MSI Sword 15 is the clear favorite with a Fall + Rise time of 24.4 ms.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Health Impact / PWM (Blue light)

PWM – Screen flickering

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

The Pavilion uses low-frequency PWM at all brightness levels except at the max. This will cause eye fatigue when used for longer periods of time. On the other hand, the Sword 15 uses no PWM across all brightness levels.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) 15.6″ BOE080D (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS: Buy our profiles

MSI Sword 15 15.6″ FHD IPS AUO B156HAN08.4 (AUOAF90): Buy our profiles

Sound

First of all, we have to define the speakers’ position. The Pavilion offers front-firing speakers, which are placed above the keyboard behind a grill with an interesting honeycomb pattern. On the other hand, the MSI Sword has a bottom-firing setup.

In terms of quality, the Pavilion’s speakers have an overall low volume, along with deviations across the entire frequency range. The Sword also has deviations, but only in the low tones. Generally, we prefer the setup on the Sword 15.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Battery

Both laptops have a very similar battery size, with 52.5Wh for the HP and 53.5Wh for the MSI. Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. In our battery test, the Pavilion lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes more in web browsing and 2 hours and 5 minutes more in video playback. The more power-efficient chip definitely can be felt here.

Brightness: 180 nits; HDR: Off
Time to Full Discharge: Higher is Better

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.


Performance

In terms of CPUs, the Pavilion Gaming 15 has two Tiger Lake H35 chips, with the Core i5-11300H and the Core i7-11370H. The Sword 15 has a single option, the Tiger Lake H45-based Core i7-11800H.

Graphics-wise, the HP device has the GTX 1650, RTX 3050 (60W), and RTX 3050 Ti (60W). On the other hand, the Sword 15 has only Ampere GPUs with the RTX 3050 (60W), RTX 3050 Ti (60W), RTX 3060 (85W), and RTX 3070 (85W).

CPU benchmarks

Here we tested the Core i7-11370H and the Core i7-11800H. The higher power output is shown at full display, as the i7-11800H scores 69% higher in 3D Rendering and is nearly 2 seconds quicker in Photoshop.

Results are from the Cinebench R23 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)

Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)


GPU benchmarks

Here we tested the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W) inside both laptops. The scores were very close, but the GPU inside the Sword 15 was a tad faster, scoring 1.6% and 3.4% higher in 3DMark Fire Strike and Unigine Superposition, respectively.


Gaming tests

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Metro ExodusFull HD, Low (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Extreme (Check settings)
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)100 fps (+23%)45 fps (+32%)21 fps (+31%)
MSI Sword 15 – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)81 fps34 fps16 fps

Borderlands 3Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Badass (Check settings)
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)89 fps (+24%)62 fps (+38%)46 fps (+35%)
MSI Sword 15 – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)72 fps45 fps34 fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)Full HD, Lowest (Check settings)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)124 fps82 fps72 fps
MSI Sword 15 – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)139 fps (+12%)85 fps (+4%)77 fps (+7%)

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon WildlandsFull HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)79 fps72 fps63 fps
MSI Sword 15 – GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (60W)86 fps (+9%)78 fps (+8%)67 fps (+6%)

Temperatures and comfort

Both laptops use a total of four heat pipes and two fans. On the HP side, you have two bigger heat pipes that are shared between them, with additional smaller ones for the voltage regulator and the graphics memory. On the MSI device, there are two dedicated heat pipes for the CPU and GPU. On both systems, the VRMs and GPU memory is thoroughly cooled.

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-11370H (35W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)4.09 GHz (B+24%) @ 94°C @ 63W4.01 GHz (B+22%) @ 91°C @ 61W3.55 GHz (B+8%) @ 79°C @ 44W
ASUS VivoBook Pro 16X OLED (N7600)4.01 GHz (B+22%) @ 95°C @ 61W3.81 GHz (B+15%) @ 95°C @ 53W3.80 GHz (B+15%) @ 95°C @ 49W
ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 UX5643.66 GHz (B+11%) @ 92°C @ 43W3.47 GHz (B+5%) @ 91°C @ 38W3.39 GHz (B+3%) @ 92°C @ 34W
Acer Predator Triton 300 SE (PT314-51s)3.97 GHz (B+20%) @ 95°C @ 64W4.03 GHz (B+22%) @ 97°C @ 63W3.87 GHz (B+17%) @ 93°C @ 50W
ASUS TUF Dash F15 (FX516)4.01 GHz (B+22%) @ 78°C @ 64W4.00 GHz (B+21%) @ 82°C @ 64W3.96 GHz (B+20%) @ 90°C @ 60W

The Core i7-11370H runs at a decently high boost speed, but in the later stages, you can see that it prioritizes temperatures over clock speeds, running at 3.55GHz @ 79°C.

Intel Core i7-11800H (45W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 minMax Fans
MSI Sword 153.16 GHz (B+37%) @ 94°C @ 60W3.01 GHz (B+31%) @ 95°C @ 56W2.98 GHz (B+30%) @ 95°C @ 54W
Dell XPS 15 95103.41 GHz (B+48%) @ 99°C @ 82W3.00 GHz (B+30%) @ 99°C @ 63W2.71 GHz (B+18%) @ 93°C @ 48W
Lenovo Legion 5i (17″ Intel, 2021)3.84 GHz (B+67%) @ 96°C @ 113W3.69 GHz (B+60%) @ 96°C @ 101W3.36 GHz (B+46%) @ 81°C @ 80W
Dell G15 55113.67 GHz (B+60%) @ 97°C @ 100W3.54 GHz (B+54%) @ 98°C @ 91W3.43 GHz (B+49%) @ 93°C @ 79W
Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH317-55)3.67 GHz (B+60%) @ 90°C @ 103W3.66 GHz (B+59%) @ 99°C @ 103W3.40 GHz (B+48%) @ 99°C @ 84W
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 GU6033.87 GHz (B+68%) @ 95°C @ 106W3.90 GHz (B+70%) @ 95°C @ 109W3.58 GHz (B+56%) @ 86°C @ 80W
MSI Creator Z16 (A11Ux)3.12 GHz (B+36%) @ 96°C @ 68W3.03 GHz (B+32%) @ 95°C @ 62W2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 95°C @ 53W2.90 GHz (B+26%) @ 95°C @ 59W
MSI GE76 Raider (2021)3.22 GHz (B+40%) @ 95°C @ 67W3.11 GHz (B+35%) @ 94°C @ 62W3.14 GHz (B+37%) @ 94°C @ 61W3.26 GHz (B+42%) @ 94°C @ 64W
ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) (Turbo Mode)3.98 GHz (B+73%) @ 86°C @ 102W3.88 GHz (B+69%) @ 95°C @ 100W3.44 GHz (B+50%) @ 87°C @ 77W
MSI Pulse GL763.16 GHz (B+37%) @ 95°C @ 65W3.00 GHz (B+30%) @ 95°C @ 59W2.87 GHz (B+25%) @ 95°C @ 55W
MSI Pulse GL662.94 GHz (B+28%) @ 94°C @ 58W2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W2.77 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W

The MSI Sword 15, along with the majority of other MSI laptops that feature the Core i7-11800H, duck below 3.00GHz in the later stages of our test.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 TiGPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min)GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)GPU frequency/ Core temp (Max fan)
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)1613 MHz @ 65°C @ 60W1576 MHz @ 73°C @ 60W
MSI Sword 151633 MHz @ 73°C @ 60W1605 MHz @ 79°C @ 60W1644 MHz @ 69°C @ 60W

Both GPUs are pretty evenly matched, but the MSI Sword’s unit heats up a bit more. However, it does also allow you to manually adjust the fan speeds.

Gaming comfort

The MSI Sword runs 3°C hotter in terms of keyboard temperatures, but you probably won’t feel the difference since the hotspot on both is around the 0-key and the P-keys, which aren’t used that often (at least for gaming).

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)
MSI Sword 15

Verdict

The laptops are definitely utilizing different philosophies when it comes to the way they’re made. HP probably wasn’t that confident in their cooling, leading to the utilization of the Core i7-11370H, which has a lower TDP. The laptop really should include higher-powered CPUs, as it quickly gets outperformed by its competitors, including the Sword 15.

Both laptops come with plastic designs, but the Sword 15 takes the cake with its increased durability, as it shows that MSI has put some thought into it, with the structure on the inside and the metal brackets. The MSI laptop also brings a better keyboard for gaming, with larger arrow keys. However, the Pavilion Gaming 15 has the more populated I/O, with one more USB Type-A port, and an SD card reader. Upgradeability is even on both.

Moving over to the display, the Pavilion gets a panel with 90% sRGB coverage and decent accuracy, however, it uses low-frequency PWM, which will tire out your eyes, unless you run the panel at its max brightness at all times. Despite carrying a front-firing speaker setup, it doesn’t have good audio, offering low volume and deviations. However, the laptop gets a much better battery life, while carrying the same-sized unit.

The MSI Sword 15 is the clear winner in terms of CPU performance, winning out in both benchmarks. The GPU performance is pretty even in both laptops, with the Pavilion managing to squeeze out more FPS in Metro: Exodus and Borderlands 3 while losing out in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Cooling-wise, the laptops’ GPUs are very evenly matched, in terms of clock speeds and temperatures.

All in all, if we have to pick a winner, strictly for gaming, we would go with Sword 15. It provides more performance and more options for higher-powered GPUs, along with a more durable design. We also really like the White + Black body with the blue backlight.


Why choose the HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)?

  • + Longer Battery life
  • + More populated I/O
  • + Display covers 90% of the sRGB color gamut, but uses PWM at all brightness levels


Why choose the MSI Sword 15?

  • + Options for more powerful GPUs
  • + More appealing and durable design
  • + More powerful CPU
  • + Better keyboard

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000): Full Specs / In-depth Review

MSI Sword 15: Full Specs / In-depth Review

All HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000) configurations:


All MSI Sword 15 configurations:

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