HP Pavilion 17 (2016) review – affordable, powerful, distant from its predecessor

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We continue examining the new HP portfolio and the next device down the line is the monstrous HP Pavilion 17 – an affordable and powerful 17-incher that can challenge other, more expensive 17-inch gaming solutions on the market, although it’s not marketed as a gaming laptop. The hardware, however, suggests otherwise so we can easily say that the new beefed-up Pavilion 17 is an excellent multimedia workstation. But that low cost comes at a price you know.

Unlike some more expensive rivals, the Pavilion 17 doesn’t excel in portability – it’s hefty, it’s thick and you may want to skip the part with carrying around the device. Also, the cooling system doesn’t seem to hold up during long periods of heavy workload or gaming, so keep that in mind as well. We can’t really complain all that much, though, since the price point of the product offers excellent price/performance ratio without missing some essentials like IPS display (with optional touch) and M.2 support. Here are our thoughts on the product.

You can find the notebook’s current price and configurations here:  Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Contents


Retail package

The testing unit we received was in a standard laptop package with the usual AC adapter, power cord and the notebook itself. We can only guess that the end unit will offer the usual user manuals as well.

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Design and construction

The notebook offers strict and slightly different design – different from its predecessor – but retains the general looks a Pavilion has. It’s generally sturdy and well-built with our only complaint being a little bit too hefty. The non-touch variant is generally on par with the competition but the touch-enabled model that we have weighs around 3.1 kg and that’s almost half a kilo more than some similarly priced products. Although, HP’s solution packs way more powerful hardware.


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Anyway, let’s start with the outer shell. The lid is covered in silver-colored matte plastic similar to the old Pavilion 17 but you can notice that the new hinges are almost completely hidden and aren’t showing as much as before. Speaking of which, the hinges seem to hold the heavy lid pretty well but don’t eliminate that annoying wobbling effect when using the touchscreen. In fact, the screen jiggles enough to obscure normal usage. It’s kind of expected given the form factor and the weight of the product. Still, the lid appears to be well-reinforced and if pressure is applied, the plated doesn’t bend as much. The LCD screen is kept safe at all times. But one thing about the screen, though, those bezels on the top and bottom are way too thick to our taste. Probably some design limitations require bigger lines but we doubt. And as far as the bottom of the base is concerned, it hasn’t gone through major changes and it’s largely the same as before – big grills for extra airflow and user-replaceable battery.


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The sides are considerably thicker than last year’s Pavilion 17. Measuring at 32 mm at its thickest point vs 27.1 mm on the 2015 model is a big jump in dimensions. Although, we have good port distribution at hand with two USB 3.0 ports on the left and one 3.5 mm audio jack. The right side holds the SD card slot, LAN, USB 2.0, HDMI and the DC charging port. At least another USB port on the right side would have been appreciated since this is a 17-inch laptop. A bigger number of connectivity options are usually one of the perks of owning a 17-incher.


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Opening the overly tightened hinges reveal a seemingly different interior but in fact, only the pattern makes it look completely different from the older generation. We definitely like the appearance, though. The smooth finish on top looks like brushed aluminum minus the smudges. Fingerprints don’t stick as easily and finish feels nice. The keyboard provides decent travel distance, although we’ve seen much better, with enough spacing and bright LED illumination. And as before, we aren’t a big fan of the touchpad design. The surface is somehow okay – with a little exception when your fingers are sticky or watery – but the mouse buttons feel a bit too stiff while the accuracy is erratic.


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We are generally satisfied with the overall build of the notebook as it provides rigid chassis without any irregularities, gaps or holes. Yes, it may fall behind some of its competitors in terms of mobility and materials – for instance, the N752VX, which is similarly priced – but given the performance/price ratio, the notebook holds up well when it comes to design and ergonomics. The only major complaint would be the stiff and sometimes inaccurate touchpad.

Disassembly, maintenance, internals and upgrade options

The general maintenance of this notebook is fairly easy and you can access the battery without the need of detaching the bottom piece. However, if you need to have a storage or RAM upgrade, you will have to go through some unscrewing. The good news is that it’s nothing like we’ve experienced with other HP models and the bottom piece comes off pretty easily. No hidden screws too, although you need to pop out the optical drive first.


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Storage upgrade options – 2.5-inch HDD, M.2 slot

The usual storage setup is at hand – 2.5-inch HDD and an M.2 SSD. The connector supports 2280 sticks with B&M or M-edge keys. Our unit came without an SSD but we tried out if the motherboard supports NVMe but no luck. Only SATA M.2 drives are supported.

Slot Unit Price
M.2 slot Free M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD slot
2.5-inch HDD Seagate 2TB @5400 rpm Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)


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Other components

The motherboard supports two RAM slots up to 32GB of DDR4-2133 memory but our unit came with only one 8GB DDR4-2133 Samsung chip.

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As we mentioned above, the battery is user-replaceable and it’s rated at 62Wh.


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The Wi-Fi module is placed near the fan. It’s Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265.

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Cooling system

Both chips, the CPU and GPU, rely on just two heat pipes leading to a large radiator sitting next to a big fan located at the back of the machine. We aren’t sure of its efficiency as the demanding hardware might prove too hot to handle during heavy workload.

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You can check our dedicated article regarding disassembly and upgrade here: http://laptopmedia.com/highlights/inside-hp-pavilion-17-2016-disassembly-internal-photos-and-upgrade-options/

Display quality

The notebook we are testing features a Full HD IPS panel with touch panel. It’s manufactured by Samsung with model number SDC3854 measuring 17.3 inches and packing a 1920 x 1080 resolution. So pixel pitch is 0.1995 x 0.1995 mm and the pixel density is 127 ppi. It can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from ad distance equal or greater than 69 cm.

You can see on the microscopic photo below the alignment of the pixels and also the anti-reflective surface beneath the glossy coating.

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We’ve recorded a maximum brightness of just 262 cd/m2 in the middle of the screen and 251 cd/m2 as average value across the surface. The maximum deviation at this point is 8%. The measured white point is a bit off – 8250K in the middle and 7990K average. Colors will appear a bit blue-ish and cold since the optimal color temperature is equal to 6500K.

On the contrary, the maximum color deviation dE2000 is just 2.3 in the upper left corner, which is a good result when you have in mind that values above 4.0 are unwanted.

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Color reproduction

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. Starting with 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 has been used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and 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 and the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s hard to be covered by today’s displays.

We got an excellent result with 95% sRGB coverage, which cam be seen in the image below – look for the yellow dotted line.

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Below you will see practically the same image but with color circles representing the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut before and after calibration.


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The new profile includes optimal D65 white point (6500K) and sRGB mode. We’ve measured 1000:1 native contrast ratio and 830:1 after calibration.

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We’ve also measured how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image. It’s essential when watching movies or playing games. The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings while the right one with our custom profile for gaming and multimedia. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis the luminance of the display. The display offers good visibility in dark areas of an image but it’s further improved by installing our profile.

We illustrate the first five levels of the gray (1%-5% white), right after black level, using the five boxes on the image below. Keep in mind that whether you can distinguish them or not strongly depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.

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Below you can see the results from the accuracy color checker with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. The results are before and after calibration and as you can see, after calibration the screen has excellent color reproduction.


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Gaming capabilities (Response time)

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 = 25 ms.

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PWM (Screen flickering)

We’ve recorded PWM only at extremely low levels of brightness – 25%, which is around 70 cd/m2. Usually, you will use the display at much higher levels so we consider the display user-friendly. Make sure you keep the brightness slider above 25%, though, as the backlight starts to pulsate aggressively at 200 Hz.

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Conclusion

The presented Samsung panel here has its pros and cons but the latter are somehow negligible. For instance, the display offers wide sRGB coverage, high contrast ratio, and decent gamma optimization out of the box. We are unhappy only with the native white point, which makes colors appear colder than they should and the maximum brightness, which might obstruct normal usage near a strong light source. If the notebook is used in normally-lit working environments, however, the lower maximum brightness won’t be an issue. And as for the white point, our profiles help fix that and also bring the average dE2000 from 4.8 down to 0.8! With our Office work / Web design profile, the notebook can be even used for color-sensitive work on the go. And let’s not forget the absence of PWM from 25% brightness and above making the display generally user-friendly.

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 Pavilion 17 (2016) configurations with 17.3″ Samsung SDC3854 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS touchscreen, which 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.

[edd_item edd_id_1=’65955′ edd_id_2=’65958′ edd_id_3=’65961′ edd_id_4=’65964′]

Sound

We didn’t notice any major or even minor distortions during music or video playback. The maximum allowed volume is sufficient.

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Specs sheet

The specs sheet may vary depending on your region.

CPU Intel Core i5-6300HQ (2.30 – 3.20 GHz, 6MB cache)
RAM 8GB (2x 8192MB) DDR4-2133
GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M (4GB GDDR5)
HDD/SSD 2TB HDD @5400 rpm
Display 17.3-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS touch panel, glossy
Optical Drive SuperMulti DVD burner
Connectivity Intel® 802.11ac (2×2) Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® 4.2 Combo
Other features
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • LAN port
  • 3.5 mm audio combo jack
  • keyboard LED backlight
  • Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers
Battery 6-cell, 62Wh
Thickness 32 mm (1.26″) touch version
Weight 3.110 kg (6.86 lbs) touch version


Software

The notebook came with pre-installed Windows 10 (64-bit) but if your’s didn’t and you want to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading the latest drivers from HP’s official support page.

Battery

Surprisingly, the HP Pavilion 17 did pretty well in our battery tests especially considering the power-draining Core i5-6300HQ and GTX 960M GPU along with the big 17.3-inch Full HD IPS touch panel. It seems that the 62Wh battery pack was enough to support the system for a good amount of minutes before dying. And, of course, our tests were performed in controlled conditions – Wi-Fi turned on, battery saver mode turned on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.

Web browsing

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

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Not a bad result at all – 343 minutes (5 hours and 43 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

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Almost identical result – 342 minutes (5 hours and 42 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using the built-in F1 2015 benchmark on loop for accurate real-life gaming representation.

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It’s quite unlikely that you will start a gaming session without being close to a power source, but it’s good to know that you can play for about two hours – 123 minutes (2 hours and 3 minutes).

CPU – Intel Core i5-6300HQ

csm_4th_Generation_Intel___CoreOE_i5_Processor_Badge_08_d673281aefIntel Core i5-6300HQ represents the Skylake family and it’s considered a high-performance chip with normal voltage and TDP of 45W. The Core i5-6300HQ has four cores ticking at 2.3GHz and can go up to 3.2 GHz for one active core, 3.0GHz for two active cores and 2.8 GHz for four active cores.

Although it’s a part of the Core i5 line, it’s just ~15% slower than Intel Core i7-4702MQ and it’s ~50% faster than Intel Core i5-4300M. This makes Core i5-6300HQ the perfect choice for gaming machines, where one would want to spend their budget on offerings with a more powerful GPU, but wouldn’t want to compromise too much in terms of computing performance.

Furthermore, the chip is manufactured using a 14nm FinFET process and integrates an Intel HD Graphics 530 GT2 GPU with 24 EU (Executable Units) clocked at 350 – 950 MHz. The memory controller supports up to 64GB of DDR3 or DDR4 RAM at 1600 or 2133 MHz, respectively. The CPU is suitable for heavy applications and gaming.

Take a look at our CPU rating system to see where the Core i5-6300HQ stands:
http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

The official Intel Core i5-6300HQ page can be found here:
http://ark.intel.com/products/88959


Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i5-6300HQ managed to get 8.805 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 – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M (4GB GDDR5)

geforce_gtx_960m_0The GeForce GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5) is located in the high-end graphics card niche, but is used mostly in budget gaming laptops. It is part of the Maxwell family of GPUs. It features 640 CUDA cores or simply – shading units, along with 32 ROPs and 53 texture units. It has 2GB of dedicated VRAM (GDDR5 in this case). The bandwidth of the memory is 80.2 GB/s and the bus is 128-bit wide.

The GTX 960M uses the same GM107 GPU core that we saw in last year’s 860M, but this one is mainly aimed at bumping the notebook’s battery life and adding some extra performance, but that’s not stressed as much. However, the GM107 is clocked a bit higher than last year’s model – 1097MHz of base clock and boost up to 1176MHz. It also supports a resolution of 2048×1536 through the VGA port and 3840×2160 with DisplayPort and HDMI.

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/nvidia-gtx-960m/


Gaming tests

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Tomb Raider (1080p, Low) Tomb Raider (1080p, Medium) Tomb Raider (1080p, Max)
154 fps 67 fps 32 fps

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F1 2015 (1080p, Low) F1 2015 (1080p, Medium) F1 2015 (1080p, Max)
57 fps 43 fps 31 fps

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Thief (1080p, Low) Thief (1080p, Medium) Thief (1080p, Max)
54 fps 46 fps 29 fps

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GTA 5 (1080p, Low) GTA 5 (1080p, Medium) GTA 5 (1080p, Max)
112 fps 40 fps 12 fps

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Low) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Medium) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Max)
76 fps 41 fps 32 fps

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (1080p, Low) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (1080p, Medium) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (1080p, Max)
124 fps 109 fps 94 fps

Temperatures

This two-staged stress test doesn’t represent real-life situations as the user most probably won’t reach 100% CPU and 100% GPU load for longer periods of time. However, it’s a good way to assess the overall effectiveness of the cooling design and see how the machine handles heavy workload in the long run.

We kick things off with 100% CPU load for an hour. The CPU was running at stable 64-68 °C while utilizing the full potential of all four cores ticking at 2.8 GHz. You can see the red line representing temperatures and the green one standing for CPU load in the graph below.

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After an hour, we switched on the GPU stress test as well. Temperatures of the silicon did rise to around 90 °C but we didn’t notice any thermal throttling of the CPU or the GPU. Both chips kept running at maximum clock speeds, although the GPU was running a bit too warm – 82 °C. And then again, the extreme nature of the test kind of justifies the GPU’s temperature.

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Unfortunately, the notebook’s cooling design wasn’t able to keep the interior cool because the hottest point was around the enter and arrow keys – 46.5 °C. We noticed this particular area to get hot even when gaming. The good news is that the rest of the interior, such as the wrist area, was running cool enough for comfortable use.

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Verdict

In some aspects, the new Pavilion 17 surpasses even more expensive gaming solutions on the market but in others, it’s hard to compete against multimedia machines like the Lenovo Ideapad 700 and ASUS’ N752VX. One thing is sure, though, it’s one of the finest 17-inch laptops we’ve tested so far solely because of the high-performance hardware and decent display quality fit into a budget-friendly package.

The overall design and build quality is a little clunky but still feels pretty refreshing compared to last year’s model. However, we didn’t notice any major inconsistencies, gaps or flaws. The only thing that we would really like to be changed in the next version is the inconsistent and stiff touchpad. And probably lower the weight and height of the chassis. Anything other than that is just fine for a 17-incher starting at around $700-800.

On the hardware front, as we already mentioned several times, we have a significant upgrade featuring Intel’s Core i5-6300HQ and GTX 960M GPU as the former can go up to Core i7-6700HQ. Gaming-capable hardware for a price considerably lower than the current 17-inch gaming solutions like the Lenovo Y700 (17-inch), Acer Aspire V17 Nitro Black Edition (VN7-792G) and ASUS ROG GL752VW. In fact, the Pavilion 17 – the Full HD version with touchscreen – offers better picture quality than the ASUS ROG GL752VW and better battery life than the Aspire V17. Two selling points worth considering for sure.

However, the cooling solution seems to fail in one aspect – keeping the heat away from the user’s hands. While the presented thermal design maintains low inner temperatures and stable performance during heavy workload, the center of the keyboard gets pretty warm and the user can feel some of the warmth.

You can find the notebook’s current price and configurations here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Pros

  • Excellent price/performance ratio
  • Supports M.2 SATA/PCIe NVMe SSDs
  • Good IPS panel with wide sRGB coverage and high contrast ratio
  • No PWM from 25 to 100% screen brightness
  • Excellent deltaE readings with Office/Design work profile installed
  • Good battery life


Cons

  • Screen not bright enough
  • A little bit too hefty
  • The center of the keyboard gets warm during heavy workload/gaming
  • Stiff touchpad

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felix
felix
6 years ago

Pleaaase I really need to know when the review of the 15′ model will be published. I need to buy a laptop soon and it seems great but I cant buy it without any screen review… Is it decent ?
Thank you. I really need to know…

Rossen Pandev
6 years ago
Reply to  felix

The review will be posted by the end of this week or at the beginning of next week. (: Will try my best.

Felix
Felix
6 years ago
Reply to  Rossen Pandev

Thanks a looooot for answering ! (Sorry for double posting I thought it didnt work the first time)

David
David
4 years ago
Reply to  felix

This laptop is a POS. Takes over 2 Windows to start even with 32 GB of RAM and a SSD. Worst purchase ever!

Felix
Felix
6 years ago

Hello, great review as always. Pleaaase I really need to know when the full review of the 15′ model will be published. I have to buy a laptop soon and this one looks great but I need to know if the display is decent ! I really need an answer, thank you.

Ahmed Osman
Ahmed Osman
6 years ago

Hi, many thanks for such detailed reviews you offer. I am really confused about taking a decision whether to get this notebook but with the core i7 variant or to buy lenove y700!! What do you think? I like the classic design of the hp more however i need a decent gaming device. Both have the same specs… i need an advice please

Mark
Mark
6 years ago

Hi,

I have bought Hp Pavilion 17 ab003ng version and it uses Chi Mei IPS panel, and clearly displays PWM flicker acorss all brightness levels (100% only flicker free).

Also, slight backlight bleed near the bottom and edges.

Was not satisfied with that panel. Seems that this samunsg one is much better.

Can you please review that model with chi mei panel also ?

Thanks,

Mark

bo
bo
5 years ago

Hi,

Is this a review of the HP 17-ab051sa i7 model? If not, could you please provide a link to correct review page.

Thanks,
jools

Luke
Luke
5 years ago

With the bios rev F.09 the SSD NVME PCI-Express work perfectly!

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