HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?

JT JT 15 December 2020
HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?

The HP Pavilion 15 gaming laptop is  available with AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs,   but due to high demand that one was out of stock.  Rather than skip it entirely, I thought it would   still be interesting to take a look at the Intel  model and see how well quad core processor stacks   up in late 2020, as 6 cores are pretty common  now even in lower end models thanks to AMD.

The laptop has a black and green colour scheme. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The lid is matte black with shiny green HP logo,   while the interior is black too with accented  green keys. It seems to be primarily plastic,   but the build quality feels decent for the  most part with no sharp corners or edges.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? There was some flex to the keyboard, but not  enough to be noticeable during regular use.   The lid was a bit more flexible,  owing to the center hinge design.

The Pavilion 15 weighs around 2.35kg  or 5.2lb with a hard drive installed,   or just under 3kg or 6.5lb with the 200w  power brick and cables for charging. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Given the specs and use of Max-Q  graphics, I expected a thinner laptop.   It’s not big or anything, but I’ve had full  power graphics in a smaller space before.

My Pavilion 15 has a 15.6” 1080p 144Hz screen,   no FreeSync or G-Sync and you cannot disable  optimus. There’s no Max-Q dynamic boost either. 

HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?

I’ve measured the screen's average  grey-to-grey response time at 7.9ms. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?When comparing against other gaming  laptops, it’s pretty similar to many   other 144Hz panels that I’ve tested, but a  little below the 6.9ms needed for transitions   to occur within the refresh window. I  can’t say I noticed ghosting though.

I’ve tested the screen with the  Spyder 5, and got 99% of sRGB,   70% of NTSC, 75% of AdobeRGB and 75% of  DCI-P3, so decent results for a gaming panel. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Brightness was decent too, easily above 300  nits at 100% with an 880:1 contrast ratio. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Backlight bleed was also good,   no problems with my unit but this  will vary between panels and laptops.

There’s a 720p camera above the screen in  the middle, no Windows Hello support though.

The keyboard has green accenting even with  the lighting off. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?The green lighting has   two levels of key brightness, and  all keys and secondary functions   are illuminated. At times the top row  of function keys felt a little small.

Typing was fine in terms of key presses,  however it felt a bit uncomfortable for   me as I think I’ve got larger hands.  The wrist rest area isn’t very long,   so it’s difficult for me to rest my palms while  typing, instead they end up resting on the edge.

The speakers are below this grill at the back  above the keyboard. I thought they sounded   pretty average for a laptop,  tinny without really any bass,   and the latencymon results weren’t looking great.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The power button is separate to the keyboard just  above it on the left, and it lights up green. The precision touchpad clicks  down anywhere and worked ok,   though it felt a little narrow due to the  aforementioned smaller space below the keyboard. Fingerprints and dirt aren’t too obvious on  the matte black interior, and they’re easy   enough to clean with a microfiber cloth.

On the left we’ve got HDMI 2.0 output, USB   3.2 Gen1 Type-A port, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.2  Gen2 Type-C port, and full sized SD card slot.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The right has a 3.5mm audio combo jack, two more  USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, and the power input. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?The Type-C port does not have Thunderbolt  and it cannot be used to charge the laptop.   It does however offer DisplayPort 1.4 output,   and both this and the HDMI port connect  directly to the Nvidia graphics. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?The back has a couple of air exhaust  vents towards the corners and subtle   Pavilion branding in the middle.  There’s nothing on the front,   not even an indent to help opening the lid, but  this didn’t cause me any problems when opening.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The bottom panel is clean with just air  intake vents towards the back above the fans.   Getting inside involves taking out 7  Phillips head screws, the three down   the front were shorter than the rest, and I  found the panel a bit challenging to remove. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Once inside we’ve got the battery down the front  along with the single M.2 storage slot to the   right of that, while the 2.5” drive bay is on  the left. The WiFi 5 card is just above that,   and there are two memory slots towards the middle.

Unfortunately the Pavilion 15 comes with  one stick of memory, so it’s single channel.   I did all my testing  with dual channel for best results.   It’s at least advertised as one stick on the  HP website, so it’s not misleading like some   other companies, but they could offer a nice  speed boost by instead using two 8gb sticks.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Their website listing isn’t all perfect though,   for some reason they just list GTX 1660 Ti  graphics without noting that it’s Max-Q,   and this has already led to at  least one disappointed customer.

The Pavilion 15 is powered by a 3-cell 52.5Wh  battery. I’ve tested it with keyboard lighting   off, background apps disabled and screen at  50% brightness. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?It lasted for about 5 hours   in the YouTube playback test, so not too bad  for the size of the battery compared to others.

Let’s check out thermals next. Undervolting is disabled and the software  doesn’t offer any performance modes,   so there’s not too much to test. Idle temperatures were cool in my  21 degree Celsuis ambient room. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?  Stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU  stress test with stress CPU only checked and   the Heaven GPU benchmark run at the same time,  while gaming was tested playing Watch Dogs 2. There was thermal throttling on the  CPU without using the cooling pad,   no thermal issues for the GPU though.

These are the clock speeds for the same tests. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?We see an improvement with the cooling pad in   use as it helps ease the thermal throttling.  There’s a bigger difference with and without   the cooling pad seen in the stress test,  which implies this test is causing heavier   throttling than my choice of game. 3.9GHz  was the best I could get in these tests,   not able to reach the full 4.2GHz  all core turbo boost of the 10300H.

The power limits of the processor are dynamic  based on cooling.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? For instance in the stress test,   PL1 was set to around 31 watts, though it would  change, then with the cooling pad PL1 was set to   41 watts, so it’s not static meaning performance  should improve the more you can improve cooling,   so better results with a thermal  paste change could be possible.

Here’s how CPU only performance looks in Cinebench  with the GPU now idle.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?This is the only time I’ve   had the 10300H for testing, and the multicore  score was actually a little below the 8th gen   i5 just ahead of it in my Lenovo Y530, granted the  single core with the 10th gen chip was 7% higher.

When idling the keyboard was a little below the  30 degree Celsius point that I typically see. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?  With the stress tests running it’s in the  high 40s in the center of the keyboard,   warm but not hot.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?

The fans sounded silent to me at idle. Even  with the stress tests running it was quieter   than many other gaming laptops that I’ve tested,  too bad there’s no way to manually boost the   fans higher should we want to given thermals  were a limitation to processor performance   under heavy CPU plus GPU workloads. This is  an option their higher tier Omen 15 offers,   so it seems the Pavilion misses out.

Now let’s check out how well  the Pavilion 15 performs in   games and see how it compares with other laptops.

I’ve tested Battlefield 5 in  campaign mode at ultra settings,   and the Pavilion is highlighted in red.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?  It’s doing well for 1660 Ti Max-Q graphics,   ahead of the other Max-Q laptops I’ve  tested like the Dell G3 or ASUS GA502.   It’s even beating the higher wattage  2060 Max-Q in the ASUS G15 just below it,   but as we saw in my recent video, the Zephyrus  is subject to thermal throttling in games.

These are the results from Far Cry 5 with  ultra settings in the built in benchmark.  HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The results are still good relative to  other options, something I wasn’t expecting   as this test typically depends more on  CPU power, but the quad core i5 seems to   be handling it well enough. That said, the  Pavilion 15 is now behind the 2060 Max-Q   in the G15 and G14 now, so those 8 core  Ryzen chips are likely what’s changed that.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested with  the games benchmark tool with the highest setting   preset. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?The position of the Pavilion 15 doesn’t  change here relative to the same other laptops,   and again it’s the best result I’ve had from a  1660 Ti Max-Q based gaming laptop. The throttling   G15 with higher tier GPU is now behind again,  and interestingly the Pavilion is beating the   full 80 watt 1660 Ti in the older ASUS FX505DU,  which I think goes to show the limits of the   older Ryzen 3000 series, as all the other 1660  Ti non max-q laptops are doing much better.

I’ve also tested the Pavilion 15  in 21 games at all setting levels,  you can check it out if you want more gaming benchmarks.

Just as a recap, the last time I compared  a quad core i5 to 6 core i7 in games there   was little difference when looking  at the average results over 15 games,  HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? and it still seems to be the case that 4 cores  holds up well enough today for gaming laptops,   though this could of course change in future  depending on the requirements of future titles.

Now for the benchmarking tools. I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export  one of my laptop review videos at 4K.   HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Lower times are better here, and despite  the lower overall specs the Pavilion 15   is still able to do well here due to the Intel  processor as this test benefits from quicksync. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget  systems benchmark, and this tests for more   things like live playback rather than just  export times. Higher scores are better now, and   the Pavilion isn’t doing as well this time, more  in line with what I’d expect from the hardware. HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?Adobe Photoshop is a bit different, this one  typically depends more on single core performance,   and the i5-10300H does still have a  4.5GHz single core turbo boost speed,   so this result isn’t too surprising.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? DaVinci Resolve is more GPU heavy, so the  score is fairly in line with where the 1660   Ti Max-Q would sit out of this selection of  laptops. So despite the quad core processor,   it’s scoring close to higher core count options.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests  out various professional 3D workloads.  

I’ve used Crystal disk mark to test storage.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?  The 256gb NVMe M.2 SSD was doing quite well.  HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020? The 1TB hard drive was doing how we’d  expect from spinning rust, and the SD   card slot wasn’t too bad.HP Pavilion 15 Review - 4 Core Laptops in Late 2020?The card clicks in  and sits most of the way into the machine.

Finally let’s discuss price. The exact same configuration   I’ve tested here is $1100 USD on the HP  website, but there are a few different   options available including AMD Ryzen. Honestly it doesn’t seem like great value when  you can pick up an 8 core Ryzen 7 4800H in the   Lenovo Legion 5. That has GTX 1660 Ti  graphics too, but they’re not Max-Q,   and it’s also $100 less. The Legion  also has FreeSync, better battery life,   and lower temperatures. Now to be fair, the  Ryzen Pavilion does seem to be priced a little   more competitively, but that’s been out of stock  for some time due to the popularity of Ryzen.

The Pavilion 15 does at least perform a bit better  than other 1660 Ti max-q laptops I’ve tested so   far, and at least in gaming it does still seem  that 4 cores gets the job done today, though with   even gaming laptops under $700 these days having 6  core processors, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if   future games start taking advantage of that. It’s also worth considering that my testing   was after a dual channel upgrade, for the $1100  price single channel memory is a bit of a tough   pill to swallow compared to alternatives.

I’d  want a nice sale before considering this one,   but let me know what you thought about it  down in the commentse.

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