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Quick look at HP Pavilion 15 (2016) – enough to take on more expensive gaming machines

There’s one really good thing about major chip manufacturers releasing their new hardware – the price cuts on the previous generation CPUs and GPUs and thus leading to the release of exceptionally powerful notebooks with excellent price/performance ratio. HP seems to understand that very well and modified its mainstream Pavilion 15 and 17 notebooks to house NVIDIA’s upper mid-range GTX 960M and up to Core i7-6700HQ CPU.

You can see the available configurations here: http://amzn.to/2afsgcS

Design

Using the same design language as the 17-inch model, the Pavilion 15 is just a downsized version of the laptop with the already seen interesting pattern on the interior featuring smooth to touch matte plastic finish. The outer shell adopts the same metallic-looking finish with a wide range of color options for you to choose from. The colors look really punchy in person and surely spice up the looks.


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What we noticed, though, is that the lid bends a little too much but it’s a common occurrence in this price range. The hinges look pretty tight and don’t let the screen wobble as much, at least the unit we tested did pretty well keeping the screen in place. The sides adopt all the usual connectivity options while being relatively thin at 26 mm. Well, maybe not thin, but it’s in line with what the competition has to offer. Moreover, the chassis is relatively portable weighing just a little over 2.1 kg, which is also fine for a 15-inch form factor.


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We are left with the interior – identical to what we’ve seen on the 17-inch variant – adopting somehow shallow but responsive keyboard. The backlight is bright enough to notice it even in well-lit areas. And again, the stiff and not so accurate touchpad makes an appearance again. It seems HP hasn’t changed this part since the last generation and we really hope they do it for the next one.

Hardware

This year’s Pavilion 15 laptops offer rich customization options all the way from Core-U processors to Core-H chips paired with either integrated GPUs (Intel HD Graphics 520) or discrete ones. However, there’s a significant difference between the high-performance versions of the notebook and the mainstream variants. The configs adopting Intel’s powerful Skylake-H silicons have a slightly thicker body, they are a tad heavier – barely noticeable, though – and miss out on the optical drive in order to provide extra breathing room for better cooling capabilities. The cooling system is also revamped to meet the demands of the powerful discrete GPUs and high-TDP CPUs. The unit we are currently testing has a Core i3-6100H CPU but we were told by HP that the final units will only have Core i5-6300HQ and Core i7-6700HQ chips paired with either GeForce GTX 950M or 960M graphics cards. So, good gaming performance is expected. These models will also come with up to 16GB of DDR4-2133 SDRAM, up to 2TB of HDD storage and up to 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. This comes as a good surprise because the 17-inch variant, for instance, can work only with M.2 SATA SSDs. Screen options are limited to four options – Full HD (1920×1080) or Ultra HD (3840×2160) both of which screens can be touch-enabled and are IPS. Also, the battery is bigger on this variant sporting a 61.6Wh unit.

As for the mainstream version, it adopts all the current Skylake-U processors – Core i3-6100U, Core i5-6200U, and Core i7-6500U while the latter can be paired with a GeForce 940MX GPU instead of relying on the iGPU. The RAM slots are two again supporting up to 16GB of DDR4-2133 sticks and the storage options are limited to 2TB of HDD and up to 256GB of M.2 SATA SSD. No NVMe support here. Screen options include HD (1366×768) and Full HD (1920×1080) again with optional touchscreens on both resolutions but the HD configuration has an SVA panel, not IPS. It’s also important to mention that the mainstream Pavilion 15 holds a significantly smaller battery rated at 41Wh compared to the 61Wh unit as we listed above.

Specs sheet

The specs sheet may vary depending on your region.

CPUIntel Core i3-6100U, Core i5-6200U, Core i7-6500U / Intel Core i5-6300HQ, Core i7-6700HQ
RAMup to 16GB (2x 8192MB) DDR4-2133
GPUIntel HD Graphics 520 / NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3) / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M (2GB or 4GB DDR3) / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M (4GB GDDR5)
HDD/SSDup to 2TB of HDD + 256GB M.2 SATA SSD / up to 2TB of HDD + 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Display15.6-inch Full HD (1366×768) SVA panel / 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel / 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840×2160) IPS panel, glossy (all screens can be touch-enabled)
Optical DriveSuperMulti DVD burner (only on some configurations)
ConnectivityIntel® 802.11ac (1×1) 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
Battery2-cell, 41Wh / 3-cell 61.5Wh
Thickness22-26 mm (0.87-1.02)
Weight2.07-2.18 kg (4.55-4.81 lbs)