HP Pavilion dv6z Select Edition Review (AMD Phenom II P920)
The HP Pavilion dv6z Select Edition series, powered by an AMD processor, is all about packing in high performance multimedia tasks without breaking the bank. This is the kind of laptop that can really be a desktop replacement. AMD provided us with one so that we could spend time with the system – and in particular its AMD Phenom II P920 Quad-Core processor and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 series graphics card and 4GB of Ram. The system also sports an HDMI 1.3b port for connecting it to an external TV. When I visited AMD’s Austin labs last month, AMD’s engineers showed us how the dv6 system could run multiple multimedia tasks all at at once – without slowing down – and while even being connected to an 1080p display. I was impressed, but a bit skeptical. So I decided to try to emulate what they showed me in their labs, back in my own living room.
The dv6 configuration we are using earned a Windows Experience Score of 5.9, Specifically in the area of Graphics it earned a 6.1, in the area of gaming graphics – a 6.1, and for Processor a 6.1 too. Meanwhile in 3DMark06, the system earned a healthy score of 6808 3D marks. That means that it’s not altogether a serious gaming rig, but that the system can handle gaming pretty damn well too.
Playing back HD content
HD videos playback on this system with aplomb, that includes 1080p files. But the system’s multimedia prowess goes further then that. You can playback HD files on the system while simultaneously performing other multimedia tasks like listening to music, and even editing or transcoding video. The system is able to handle all of these tasks at once thanks to its multiple cores – with each core taking managing different tasks so that the system isn’t overloaded. But perhaps its neatest “trick” is that you can connect the dv6 to an HDTV and playback HD video on a TV while leaving the laptop’s own display available for other tasks – or vice versa. The system is also able to utilize its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 graphics processor for intense tasks like transcoding video. In this way, AMD has designed the processor and and gpu to work together so that the system can perform multimedia intense tasks at the same time.
While I do use both Mac and PCs, until now I’ve stayed away from PCs when it came to tasks like video editing. This has been due to the fact that it never felt like my PC could handle the demands of video editing well while multitasking. Even when I’d be using a powerful system, it seemed like the PC was chugging along, especially when editing HD video. Is it so much to ask to want to listen to music while editing a video, or maybe watch an HD video on YouTube while instant messaging some friends too? I ran Cyberlink PowerDirector on the dv6 and the system handled video editing smoothly. That includes rendering too. Transcoding videos using Cyberlink Mediashow has also proven to be a painless experience.
Multitasking Like Hell
Just like how the folks at AMD showed off how they can attempt to tax the system, I went ahead and tried to see how much the system could handle at once. I connected the dv6 to my HDTV. On the HDTV I had a 720p file of Futurama playing. Meanwhile on the laptop display I edited some video using Cyberlink PowerDirector and then I transcoded. All the while I listened to some music in iTunes, and surfed the web – all without any noticeable slowdowns.
All in all, for a sub $799 system, the HP Pavilion dv6 powered by the AMD Phenom II P920 Quad-Core processor and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 series graphics card has impressed me. If you’re a multimedia driven user who likes to do lots of content creation and you’re looking for a well rounded system – this is it. The dv6z also sports a comfy keyboard, its chassis is good looking and durable, it has a generously sized trackpad, a reasonable body weight of 5.35lbs, and a much better speaker system than most of the sub $999 laptops out there nowadays. The inclusion of the HDMI out combined with the dv6′s ability to handle multiple multimedia task at once, makes the HP Pavilion dv6z Select Edition good enough to practically be a media center PC – since all you have to do is connect it to your TV. Any multimedia maven who gets one of these under the tree this year is sure to love you for the system’s multimedia prowess. The HP Pavilion dv6z with the configuration I tested is available for just $749.99 at HP.
The Good: Excellent performance when it comes to multimedia intensive tasks like HD video playback and video editing, great multitasking performance, HDMI 1.3b out for connecting to a TV, runs cool and quietly, large trackpad, great speakers, very durable design with comfortable keyboard, comes with HP’s QuickWeb instant on OS for quick access to the internet and email
The Bad: Battery life is just acceptable at an average of 3 hours of use when performing multimedia intensive tasks, 15.6″ display isn’t very vibrant and looks washed out at some angles, 1366×768 display resolution is on the low side
Please note, that in accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that AMD has covered my travel, accommodations and costs related to my visit to their Austin-based offices.