The Envy lineup sits between the budget HP notebooks and the high-end Spectre ones… at least in terms of pricing. But with the updated Envy series, HP sets the bar pretty high for the mid-range and upper mid-range laptops with an excellent aluminum build that fits the higher-end spectrum of the market, solid input devices and portable chassis.
Starting at under $1 000, the notebook can easily go against Acer’s budget 14-inch notebooks and ASUS’ ZenBook UX310, although the latter packs considerably more horsepower, especially in the graphics department. Still, if design is one of your top priorities along with portability, the Envy 13 delivers in both aspects with its “Micro Edge” slim bezel design, chamfered edges and surprisingly good I/O setup for such a compact 13-inch device. So in reality, the Envy 13 has a lot to offer besides performance and relatively reasonable price tag.
The retail box contains all the usual user manuals, AC adapter and power cord.
Design and construction
With a totally revamped chassis, the Envy 13 appears with a more sharper – smooth in some places – and sophisticated look that resembles the higher-end Spectre series. It manages to stay under 1.3 kg (1.25 kg to be exact) and measuring just 14 mm in height. And it manages to do so with just one plastic element – the bottom piece. Everything else is made of aluminum.
Starting with the lid, we see HP’s new (and improved in our opinion) logo in the middle surrounded by anodized metal surface. Pressing the middle of the lid results in small deformation and the same occurs during our twisting attempts. We feel like it could have been slightly more rigid but it’s still a pass in our books. Coming from the previous generations, the Lifted hinge design makes an appearance here as well but now adds a more visual value to the whole design. The back of the lid has a big machined edge with the Envy logo and two small rubber feet that help with the lifting. Opening the lid lifts up the base just a tad but enough so you can feel it. Speaking of opening, the hinges feel a bit tight and both hands are needed when lifting up the screen. The bottom plastic plate, on the other hand, has just one big vent for extra airflow and two small grills to the sides for the loudspeakers.
The sharp and flat design makes its way to the sides as well and despite the 14 mm height, the Envy 13 surprises with quite a few connectors. On the left, you will see a standard USB 3.0 port, 3.5 mm audio jack, USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1 with DisplayPort support) and a microSD card reader. On the right, the device offers another USB-A 3.0 connector, USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1 again with DisplayPort support) and the DC charging port. The only downside of this I/O configuration would probably be the USB-C 3.1 connectors – you will most likely have to rely on USB dongles and hubs in order to take full advantage of them.
The interior is a mixed bag to some extent due to the slightly flexible keyboard and wrist rest area, regardless of the aluminum design. In any case, we have to give credit to the HP designers for making the most out of the limited interior space – the keyboard extends to the edges of the interior and features a standard layout with the addition of Home, Pg Up, Pg Dn, and End keys. The key travel is rather short but compensates with excellent tactile feedback and combined with relatively big and evenly-spaced keycaps, the typing experience is ideal. The clickpad’s dimensions are rather unusual although, not unseen for HP. With the rectangular shape, HP aims to optimize the working space across the 16:9 screen. And in terms of usability, it’s more than fine – responsive, accurate, relatively light mouse clicks and gliding surface that should suit you unless you have moist fingers.
Although at first sight the HP Envy 13 has premium looks and build quality, only the former is true. Don’t get us wrong, though. The Envy 13 is well-built but fits more into the mid-range category rather than the high end. At least in terms of design, the Envy 13 puts to shame most of its competitors, yet this is more of a subjective matter. Nevertheless, the device impresses with portable dimensions thanks to the thin screen bezels, lightweight, excellent input devices and broader than average I/O configuration.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
Like most ultrabooks out there, the HP Envy 13 doesn’t surprise with plenty of upgradability options but it does offer easy access to the internals. Removing the bottom piece will give you access to almost everything.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
The storage relies only on a single M.2 SSD slot, which is expected given the size of the notebook. The unit we’ve reviewed came with a 256GB Toshiba PCIe NVMe SSD.
|M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1||Toshiba 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
Unfortunately, memory isn’t upgradable so you are stuck with what you have. Make sure you choose the right configuration for you. The unit we’ve tested caem equipped with 8GB of LPDDR3-1866 MHz.
The Wi-Fi card is placed on the right side (with the notebook’s bottom facing upwards) and it’s Intel 7265NGW.
The battery is in its usual place under the wrist rest area and comes with a generous 53.6Wh charge.
Interestingly, the ultrabook is cooled by not one but two fans. The huge heat-dispersing plate and heatsink are right bestween the cooling fans.
The HP Envy 13 comes with a Full HD (1910×1080) IPS displayw with glossy finish, 166 ppi and 0.153 x 0.153 mm pixel pitch. The panel itself is manufactured by BOE with model number BOE070E. The screen can be considered as “Retina” from at least 53 cm.
Viewing angles are excellent.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness 279 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 279 cd/m2 as average across the surface with just 8% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is a bit colder than it should be – 7200K and gets closer to the optimal color temperature when going along the grayscale – 6900K. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (80% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. But in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for multimedia, web browsing and office work, a deviation of 2.49 in the lower left corner isn’t going to be an issue for most users. The contrast ratio is good – 960:1 before calibration and 840:1 after calibration.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of 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 in 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.
In this case, the panel covers 89% of the sRGB color gamut so colors will appear vibrant and punchy enough for the intended use.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
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.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 33 ms.
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.
Unfortunately, the display uses low-frequency (aggressive) PWM for regulating brightness so users with sensitive eyes will surely feel the fatigue. Nonetheless, you can avoid the screen flickering when you turn the brightness to maximum or by using our Health-Guard profile.
Blue light emissions
Installing of 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.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
The presented BOE display definitely isn’t the best one we’ve seen but it still offers good image quality thanks to the wide sRGB coverage and good contrast ratio. Unfortunately, the presence of aggressive PWM and relatively low maximum brightness, which combined with the glossy finish will obstruct normal outdoor usage, keep us from giving it a higher score.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for HP Envy 13 configurations with 13.3″ BOE BOE070E (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The sound quality is decent with small distortions in the low, mid and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
HP ENVY 13 (13-ab) technical specifications table
HP Envy 13 configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from HP’s official support page.
Battery life is definitely one of the key selling points of the HP Envy 13 and our tests are here to prove it. Scoring impressive runtimes on the web browsing and video playback test, the ultrabook appears to be one of the most enduring 13-inch notebooks we’ve tested. All thanks to the generous 53.6Wh unit and the energy-efficient Core i5-7200U processor.
Of course, all tests were run using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature switched on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
CPU – Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel’s Core i7-7200U is part of the 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs and it’s the direct successor of the Core i5-5200U (Broadwell) and Core i5-6200U (Skylake). It’s also based on the same architecture as the aforementioned chips with little differences that should bring a small performance increase and a bump in power consumption. However, the new CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz and its Turbo Boost frequency is 3.1 GHz opposed to the 2.3 – 2.8 GHz clocks on the previous Core i5-6200U.
Anyway, we still have the 2/4 core/thread count, 3MB last level cache, and a TDP of 15W, which includes the iGPU and the dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. Speaking of the former, the chip integrates the newer generation Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics chip clocked at 300 – 1000 MHz.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i5-7200u/
Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i5-7200U scored 6.079 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
GPU – Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel’s HD Graphics 620 integrated iGPU can be found in various ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors from the Kaby Lake generation. The GT2 version of the graphics chip uses 24 EUs (Execution Units) that can be clocked up to 1050 MHz and it has a base frequency of 300 MHz but the former can vary depending on the CPU. Since the iGPU doesn’t have a dedicated memory of its own – or eDRAM for that matter – it uses the available RAM on the system which is 2x 64-bit DDR3 or DDR4.
The TDP depends on the CPU model but it’s usually equipped with a SoC rated at 15W including the memory controller.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-620/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Of course, the stress tests that we perform don’t represent real-life usage scenarios because even the most demanding games don’t require 100% CPU and GPU load all the time. Still, these torture tests remain the most efficient way to assess the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system.
Wе started off with 100% CPU load for about an hour. At first, the system was able to utilize the full performance of the chip but wasn’t able to sustain the usual 3.1 GHz core clock and instead, remained stable at 2.7 GHz. No throttling occurred, though.
As expected, turning on the GPU stress test resulted in CPU throttling because it has to give enough headroom for the iGPU to perform.
HP’s Envy 13 brings a high-end design to the mid-range ultrabook segment but is this enough to sway you away from the generally more powerful competitors?
Of course, build quality is essential and some users won’t be happy with the flexible interior but we can’t miss the fact that the input devices are excellent. Working on the go is a delight thanks to the comfortable keyboard and responsive trackpad. Moreover, the extra long battery life along with the portability make up for a great working experience on the go.
And even if you are mostly working on your desk, the two USB-C 3.1 connectors with DisplayPort support will definitely come in handy. However, there’s one issue with the current configuration – the display’s glossy finish and rather suboptimal maximum brightness will get in the way when working outdoors. Still, the overall image quality is good thanks to the wide sRGB coverage and high contrast ratio but be careful when sitting in front of the screen for a long time because the panel uses aggressive PWM from 0 to 99% brightness.
So how does it stack against its competitors? Well, it fails to impress or really stand out from the crowd, although seemingly the HP Envy 13 is a good device. It’s just that it’s hard to recommend over the ASUS ZenBook UX310, the Lenovo Ideapad 720s or the Acer Aspire S 13, for example. All of them have better overall displays, build quality or just offer something unique that makes them stand out. Case in point the ZenBook Ux310 configurations with discrete GPUs.
- Lightweight and portable
- Unconventional, appealing and simplistic design
- Excellent input devices
- A good set of I/O including two USB-C 3.1 connectors supporting DisplayPort
- Decent IPS display with wide sRGB coverage and high contrast
- Long battery life
- Glossy finish and insufficient maximum brightness for comfortable work outdoors
- Build quality could be better (a bit too flexible)
- Display uses aggressive PWM from 0 to 99% brightness (our Health-Guard profile fixes that)