The California based manufacturer, HP, released a model focused solely on one very large group of users. For nearly a month we waited for its arrival from a galaxy far far away so that we could enjoy the magnificent design and software features, as well as to test the capabilities and performance of its hardware. Well, the wait is now over and we’re ready to share our impressions and test results about everything you may want or need to know about HP Pavilion Star Wars edition. The machine has been receiving a lot of attention ever since its official announcement earlier this year. Its release was meant to coincide with this year’s new Star Wars movie, as well as the Star Wars: Battlefront game, which is already on the market.
HP Pavilion Star Wars has a unique design, which will most likely appeal to all the fans of the Saga. One could say that the machine is a “must-have” for the hardcore Star Wars fan. Were we to remove the Star Wars-themed design language of the notebook, we would be left with a typical device from the Pavilion series. This lineup offers mostly mid-range laptops with great build quality, specs at decent prices, perhaps not capable of running most games at everything set to high, but certainly sufficient for medium.
You can check the current price and availability of HP Star Wars at the following link: Amazon.com.
Inside the relatively large container you’ll find two smaller boxes. One of them houses the actual device, while the other contains the AC adapter, charging cable and battery. In our case the charger is rated at 65 Wh. The smaller box looks great, as it has Darth Vader on it. It is held closed by a magnet at the bottom and opens in a fashion reminiscent of a coffin. Luckily for us, the Sith seem to have taken away Darth Vader’s remains after Anakin’s second (and final) go at being up in flames. Upon closing it we noticed an iconic piece of dialog – among the last conversations between a certain father and son from Episode VI – “You don’t know the power of the Dark side”. Well we’re about to learn about it in this article.
Design and construction
When we first took out the notebook we encountered the design of its lid. It seems as if HP have repeatedly put its durability to the test (the hard way). The lid appears to be in really bad shape in its top right and bottom left corners, which look as though they’ve sustained quite a beating. Luckily, this is just part of the appearance of the machine. At the center of the lid we see HP’s logo, which is glossy and easy to spot. We also see the character who was both a Sith and a Jedi in Episode VI of the epic Star Wars saga – Darth Vader.
Underneath his image we see a couple of characters, which appear to be there only to complement the overall design of the machine. However, this isn’t the case at all – every little detail has a secret meaning. With the help of The Force we were able to do some decoding, but we’re only going to share half of its meaning and leave the rest up to you, so that you might have some training in the ways of the force of your own. Half of the “hidden” message translates into Empire, and we hope to see the complete translation in the comment section. Anyway, back to the design – thanks to the matte coating, you won’t be leaving too many nasty fingerprints and smudges upon the “damaged” gray surface. We could perhaps also note, that even if you accidentally drop or scratch the laptop, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem due to its appearance. That is not to say we advise you to try it!
To open the notebook we first had to remove the Styrofoam. That’s when we noticed that it was shaped in an unusual way, also containing some special meaning. Its appearance is identical to that of Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced Fighter (the one that Vader was in when Luke destroyed the first Death Star). Since we have a soft spot for our favorite “villain”, we decided to give him one last ride on his ship (Image №4).
As we opened the notebook for the first time we noticed that the hinges were a somewhat overly tightened, meaning you will have some issues lifting the lid up with one hand. The silver lining to that cloud being that the display won’t grow wobbly even after a long period of time. Moving on to the interior we see heavy traces of damage, just like the ones on the lid. We should also note that there are a couple of Dark Side-themed tidbits on the interior surface. Above the keyboard, we see the Power button and speakers, powered by B&O Play. However, there’s one interesting detail located to the right of them that cannot go unnoticed.
We’re referring to a certain symbol, which marks the beginning of a great clash between the forces of good and evil. It is the symbol of the Galactic Empire – a huge turning point in the Star Wars saga. Its start was given by the Emperor, or Darth Sidious, as he was known back then.
The speech that marks the beginning of the coup was given during a meeting of the Galactic Senate in, perhaps, one of the most epic scenes of Episode III. “In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society!”. These words mark the end of the democratic republic and a close to the thousands of years through which the Jedi have maintained peace in the Galaxy.
Underneath all of the aforementioned components, we find the keyboard, which looks just as stunning as the rest of the notebook. The keys are spaced evenly and far enough from each other so you don’t accidentally press more than one. The font used for the key caps is also very impressive. The red keyboard LED backlight complements the aggressive, Dark Side of The Force themed design, and if you don’t enjoy it – you can easily turn it off via the F5 key.
Moving on from the keyboard to the touchpad. The latter is positioned slightly to the left below the keyboard. It is easily distinguished and makes a big impression due to the interesting pattern it has on it (Star Wars-related, of course). Taking a trip down memory lane again, to the scene where Luke uses The Force to destroy the Empire’s most powerful weapon, capable of annihilating entire planets with a single hit. Technically speaking, the touchpad is relatively slow when used with one finger, or in other words – in order to select a couple of files it will take you some time to drag the cursor over all of them. However, operating with two or more fingers on it is easy and responsive. The touchpad detects mouse clicks very accurately.
To the left of the touchpad, we see an image of the Death Star. Its laser is located a couple of centimeters from the touchpad, which creates the illusion of an indicator showing us whether the touchpad is on or off. This made us think – why haven’t they placed an actual red LED light preparing to shoot a laser there? It would have made the design even better.
On the bottom right side of the interior we notice the same coded message as the one on the hinge. There’s also an Imperial Stormtrooper on the background of the Imperial flag. Moving up to the display we see the 15-inch IPS screen and above it is the Web camera, positioned in the middle.
Let’s take a look at the sides of the machine and all the ports located there. Starting off with the left one we immediately notice the interesting position of the optical drive and its button, which is located toward the bottom part of the notebook – pretty uncomfortable in our opinion. We can get past this, however, since data transfer is mostly done via flash drives in our days, so it won’t get in your way too often. Right next to the optical drive we see two USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0. There’s a memory card slot located beneath the USB ports and an Ethernet LAN port at the end.
The cooling vent is located on the right, and so are the the audio jack, secondary USB 3.0 port, HDMI port and the Kensington Lock.
Display and sound
HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 has a Full HD display with IPS panel and matte finish. The size of the screen is 15.6 inches (39.62 cm) with resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 16:9 aspect ratio. The pixel density is 141 ppi and pixel pitch is 0.18 x 0.18 mm. The screen can be considered “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal to or greater than 61 cm.
HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 offer comfortable viewing angles, as you can see in the image below.
We were able to register 296 cd/m2 maximum brightness with 10% maximum deviation. The average color temperature at maximum brightness is 6300K – pretty close to the optimal 6500K.
To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction into the sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts. The CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram represents the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye, thus giving you a better perception of color gamut coverage and color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB), used by millions of people in HDTV and on the Web. As for Adobe RGB, it is used to work with professional cameras and monitors when preparing print. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone, and so reproducing them accurately is key in a quality display.
You can see in the yellow triangle below that the HP Star Wars Special Edition’s screen covers only 58% of the sRGB color gamut.
The graph below is the same but also includes results – the colored circles represent the reference colors, the white circles being the result. You can see the main and additional colors with 100% and 50% saturation inside the sRGB gamut.
The tone response curve basically aligns perfectly with the optimal one – 2.20.
We calibrated the display at 140 cd/m2 brightness and 6500K color temperature.
We used X-Rite i1Display Pro for hardware calibration.
We tested the display using 24 commonly used sample colors like skin tones, grass, blue sky, orange etc. After profiling, the display had an average DeltaE 2000 deviation of only 0.82, while the contrast was 1090:1 before calibration and 1090:1 after.
And here’s another batch of colors that we tested.
HP Star Wars Special Edition’s display doesn’t use PWM.
The display of HP Star Wars Special Edition has high resolution and accurate colors, as indicated by Color Checker. Viewing angles are good, and so is the contrast ratio, but the sRGB color gamut coverage is low. The display is eye-friendly, as it doesn’t use PWM across all brightness levels. The screen is suitable for watching videos, Internet browsing, gaming and various business tasks (aside from graphic design).
If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.
|HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
|Dell Inspiron 17 (5749) 17.3-inch, Chi Mei 29JPY-173HGE, 1920 x 1080 pixels||127.34||-9.82%|
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
|Acer Aspire V15 (V3-574G) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF4-SPL1, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.
|HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||296|
|Dell Inspiron 17 (5749) 17.3-inch, Chi Mei 29JPY-173HGE, 1920 x 1080 pixels||254||-14.19%|
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||263||-11.15%|
|Acer Aspire V15 (V3-574G) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF4-SPL1, 1920 x 1080 pixels||240||-18.92%|
Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).
|HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||0.82|
|Dell Inspiron 17 (5749) 17.3-inch, Chi Mei 29JPY-173HGE, 1920 x 1080 pixels||1.81||+120.73%|
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||5.84||+612.2%|
|Acer Aspire V15 (V3-574G) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF4-SPL1, 1920 x 1080 pixels||0.90||+9.76%|
The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).
|HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||-|
|Dell Inspiron 17 (5749) 17.3-inch, Chi Mei 29JPY-173HGE, 1920 x 1080 pixels||94||-|
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||91||-|
|Acer Aspire V15 (V3-574G) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WF4-SPL1, 1920 x 1080 pixels||64||-|
|Optical drive||DVD burner|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/100 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth|
|Weight||2244 grams (battery included)|
HP Star Wars Special Edition 15 configurations
We usually don’t focus too much on this section; rather, we just share the version of the OS we used for the review and give links to the official drivers for the machine. However, today we’re going to take a deeper look into the software capabilities of the model, since it has a lot of special functions, apps and additional features.
Perhaps the most interesting app is the Command Center. It provides a rich list of modes and settings with which you can customize your machine. Lets first start off with the Themes section. As you’ve probably guessed by its name, it allows you to choose between various desktop wallpapers selected from various epic Star Wars moments. Each theme packs a couple of images and you can always remove the ones you don’t enjoy.
Second in the Command Center is a Gallery. It houses four different categories. The first one is “Behind the scenes”, which contains various moments from the filming of the movies, as well as 3D model photos of all the ships from the Saga. The second one is “Collections” – similarly to the first one, it contains a variety of photos of different parts of the Saga, as well as some beautiful posters. The third and fourth sections are Art oriented. There’s a large variety of drawings and sketches of various characters such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett. There are also a lot of comic book covers – a really, really big library, containing all the memorable and not so memorable moments of the movies.
To reach the third and fourth options, you’ll have to go back to Themes. Up next is the Sounds menu. You’re presented with the option of choosing among 10 unique sound themes. You can preview all the sound effect before choosing the one you like. This is done by pressing the button below the name of the sound theme. We tried out the R2-D2 one and it was amazing – it creates a fun and chill environment, easy and pleasant to work in.
The last section is called “Screensavers” and it packs the least features. It presents you with three options. We found the second one to be the most entertaining, as it provides selected scenes from the encounters between Anakin and Obi-Wan and Darth Vader vs Obi-Wan. Right next to those is an option that turns your Recycle Bin icon into a Death Star.
Star Wars Trailers
We were very pleased to see the Star Wars Trailer folder, which holds the trailers from all the Star Wars movies, instead of just the two for this year’s episode. This is a quick and easy way to get hyped about a new Star Wars marathon, every year or so.
Star Wars Library and Comic
These are the last two software additions to the notebook. The first one, Library, provides a couple of PDF files in the form of books. You’re also able to view the content like a comic book. The beginning, of course, is from 1977 and tells the tale of Episode IV of the Saga – A New Hope. The creator is the famous Stan Lee, who was able to recreate parts of the Star Wars series with the help of his Marvel team.
The battery we found resting in the “coffin” seemed relatively thin at first glance. A closer look revealed it is a 4-cell 41Wh unit. As usual, we put the machine through our battery tests in order to see just how durable the battery is. Our tests consist of Wi-Fi Web browsing, video playback, and 3D gaming. We run all our tests under the same conditions – 120cd/m2 brightness, turned on Wi-Fi and power saver mode. So let’s dive straight in the tests.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script to automatically browse through over 70 websites.
As we already mentioned, the battery isn’t one of the biggest we’ve seen, resulting in only 4 hours and 10 minutes.
For every test of this kind, we use the same video in HD.
The result here is slightly better – 4 hours and 15 minutes.
For accurate simulation we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on a loop with graphic settings set to minimum.
As expected, the battery couldn’t even last an hour and a half- only 81 minutes.
Intel Core i5-6200U is a 6th generation dual-core CPU. It is manufactured using 14 nm FinFET process, meaning it’s port of the Ultra-Low Voltage lineup. The CPU is clocked at 2.3GHz, but thanks to the Turbo Boost technology it can automatically increase its clock speeds up to 2.8GHz for a single core and 2.7GHz when two cores are functioning. It is designed using Intel’s Skyalake architecture, allowing it to have similar performance to Intel Core i7-5500U, which is part of the Broadwell lineup. The CPU boasts four logical cores and 3MB level 3 cache. It consumes 15W of energy and can operate at a maximum temperature of 100 degrees Celsius.
The SoC also integrates Intel HD Graphics 520. Its performance is similar to that of NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 820 GPU. The GPU can be clocked at up to 1000MHz. The SoC supports the Dual-Channel DDR3L-1600/DDR4-2133 Memory Controller, HyperThreading, AVX, AVX2, Quick Sync, Virtualization and AES-NI technologies.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core-i5-6200U managed 5.470 million moves per second. By comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, 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.
The GeForce 940M is a direct successor to last year’s 840M and it’s placed in the mid-range. It is commonly used as a multimedia GPU and for light gaming. It’s very similar to its predecessor, GeForce 840M, but it’s slightly higher clocked. GeForce 940M is Maxwell-based and uses GM108 chip.
NVIDIA GeForce 940M is built through a 28nm manufacturing process and has 384 shader units, 24 TMUs and 8 ROPs (64-bit interface). It can be found with 2GB or 4GB DDR3 memory.
940M’s TDP is 33 watts and is mostly used in mainstream laptops. It supports GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, PhysX, CUDA and GeForce Experience.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
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)
|Tomb Raider (HD, Low)||Tomb Raider (HD, Medium)||Tomb Raider (HD, Max)|
|60 fps||32 fps||16 fps|
|F1 2015 (HD, Low)||F1 2015 (HD, Medium)||F1 2015 (HD, Max)|
|38 fps||29 fps||21 fps|
|Thief (HD, Low)||Thief (HD, Medium)||Thief (HD, Max)|
|32||25 fps||15 fps|
|GTA 5 (HD)||GTA 5 (HD, Medium)||GTA 5 (HD, Max)|
Temperatures and comfort
Although this two-staged test doesn’t represent real-life usage, it’s a good way of assessing the overall stability of the system and its cooling capabilities.
As per usual, we start off with 100% load of the CPU. Upon starting the test, the temperatures of the CPU rose up to 60°C, but luckily they remained that way for the full duration (30 minutes) of our test. The other thing we were glad to see was the operational frequency of the CPU – 2.7GHz through the whole test, which is the maximum frequency of Intel Core i5-6200U with two active cores.
Thirty minutes in we activated the GPU torture test as well, and temperatures rose by 10°C. To be honest, we expected that indicator to be higher and for the CPU to start to throttle, but none of this happened. The CPU continued operating at the maximum frequency throughout the complete course of the GPU and CPU stress tests. The same goes for the GPU, which didn’t have any trouble operating at its maximum frequency even at a temperature of 63°C.
After an hour of torture, we decided to stop the test and run a 15-minute benchmark on the graphics without stopping the CPU test to see how it fares. The temperatures of the GPU rose up to 70°C and its result from the benchmark is 835.
After the benchmark was done we continued torturing the CPU and GPU with 100% load to see if that will affect the external temperatures of the machine. Luckily, the hottest point of HP Pavilion Star Wars was only 41°C and it would seem that the cooling system did its job flawlessly. We did have one strange moment with it, though – after the test was done and temperatures were measured, we heard a whisper saying: “You underestimate my power”.
HP’s notebook will remain in our memories a long time for a couple of reasons. The first one, of course, being its design. The appearance of the machine is not only unique, but also tells the tale of one of the most beloved Sagas – Star Wars. We should also note that the design isn’t the only thing being Star Wars themed about the device – its software is, too. The notebook packs a couple of unique software additions, which will most certainly entertain you for a long time. The aggressive design language and bright red keyboard LED backlight definitely catch the eye. The screen of the machine is user-friendly and will not cause eye fatigue due to the lack of PWM across all brightness levels. Viewing angles are comfortable thanks to the IPS panel, while the Intel Core i5-6200U CPU and GeForce GT 940M GPU will support almost any kind of entertainment. Also, you’ll be able to fully enjoy using the notebook, since its outer temperatures after heavy load are nowhere near high enough to affect you in negatively.
Even though the quality of the display is great, it covers the sRGB color gamut very poorly and isn’t suited for tasks which require accurate color reproduction, such as graphic design. Basically, HP Star Wars is a great offering in its price range, even though it doesn’t boast the most powerful hardware.
You can check the current price and availability of HP Star Wars at the following link: Amazon.com.
- Unique design and special software
- The display doesn’t use PWM
- Bright keyboard LED backlight
- IPS panel
- The cooling system does its job nicely
- The design of the notebook provides great camouflage for scratches
- Poor sRGB color gamut coverage
- Some sound distortions in the mid and high tones