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HP Envy 14 (2021) review

The ultraportable laptop that packs a punch

HP Envy 14 (2021)
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The HP Envy 14 (2021) excels in performance and packs a pretty 14-inch, 16:10 display along with a discrete Nvidia GPU, but it fell short in some areas.

For

  • Powerful performance and graphics
  • Sleek design
  • Relatively bright and colorful display
  • Decent battery life
  • Clicky keyboard

Against

  • Slow SSD
  • Speakers could be more well-rounded
  • Pricey

I can easily see the HP Envy 14 (2021) being the perfect laptop for many people. It has a powerful Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU packed into a sleek aluminum chassis. Not to mention the vivid 14-inch, 1080p 16:10 display and more than 9 hours of battery life.

However, $1,249 is a little pricey, especially when you’re getting only a Core i5 and a 256GB SSD. The SSD is a bit slow too, and the speakers can be abrasive. To top it all off, the pros I talked about earlier aren’t exactly perfect. The panel color and brightness stats are slightly below average, and so is the battery life, so there’s definitely room for improvement.

Despite that, the HP Envy 14 is one of the best laptops that you can buy if you’re looking for a sturdy 14-incher, and it certainly lands within the best video editing laptops range.

HP Envy 14 (2021) price and configuration options

HP Envy 14 (2021) specs

Price: $1,249
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1200
Battery: 9:51
Size: 12.3 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.3 pounds 

The HP Envy 14 I reviewed costs $1,249 and is exclusive to Amazon and Best Buy. It is outfitted with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU with 4GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1920 x 1200-pixel touchscreen display. That’s a little pricey for the components considering that I’ve seen proper gaming laptops that were more stacked within this price range.

You can save some money if you go with the $1,069, which drops the discrete GPU for an integrated Intel Iris Graphics chip and cuts the RAM down to 8GB. It also forgoes the touch screen panel. However, the $1,699 is similar to our model except it bumps the CPU to a Core i7-1165G7 and the SSD to 1TB, but it also doesn’t have the touchscreen.

If you’re looking for something less expensive, check out our best cheap laptops and best laptops under $500 pages.

HP Envy 14 (2021) design

HP’s premium and business laptops are basic in their design, but the HP Envy 14 is classy thanks to its silver aluminum chassis. However, HP could be doing a better job to stylize its Envys as it does with the Spectre line. Apart from the sandblasted aluminum and the glossy HP logo, the hood is rather plain.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The interior is split into two pieces. The bottom, where you'll find the palm rest and touchpad, is slightly raised, while the upper half includes the keyboard sandwiched in by a heating vent. There’s a fingerprint reader between the alt and arrow keys as well as a webcam kill switch between the power button and HP Command Center key. Meanwhile, the display features rather slim bezels on all sides, with a webcam on top. Pressing the kill switch activates a mechanical cover that blocks off the webcam.

At 3.3 pounds and 12.3 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches, the HP Envy 14 is rather slim and lightweight. However, it’s as thick as the Dell XPS 15 (2020) (4.5 pounds, 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches) and not as thin as the Porsche Design Acer Book RS (3.3 pounds, 12.5 x 8.2 x 0.6 inches) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (3 pounds, 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches). But remember, the HP Envy 14’s 14-inch competitors aren’t toting around a discrete GPU.

HP Envy 14 (2021) ports

Despite its size, the HP Envy 14 features a decent number of ports to satisfy most users, but not all of them.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the left side, there’s the headphone jack, one USB Type-A port, an HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 4 port, while the right side holds room for the power jack, one USB Type-A port and a microSD card slot.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you need some more ports, check out our best laptop docking stations and best USB Type-C hubs pages.

HP Envy 14 (2021) display

The HP Envy 14’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel, 16:10 display doesn’t perform above average for a premium laptop, but considering its price, it comes close enough to provide a vibrant, colorful picture.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

In the Happily trailer, the greenery that served as the backdrop for the rich people’s pool was bold and contrasted well against the crystal blue water. In the scene where the protagonists are in their kitchen, the low light created dark shadows around their clothing, which made it difficult to discern detail especially since the panel is glossy. However, the screen was sharp enough to discern each strand of hair spiking out of Joel McHale’s head.

Our colorimeter clocked the HP Envy 14’s display at 82.6% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is only a few points away from the 85.3% premium laptop average. It surpassed the Acer Book RS (78.4%) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (76%), but was left in the dust by the Dell XPS 15 (93.7%).

For a glossy panel, the HP Envy 14 has to be brighter than most, but at 362 nits, it fell short of the 389-nit category average and the Dell XPS 15 (434 nits). However, it was brighter than the Acer Book RS (356 nits) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (334 nits).

HP Envy 14 (2021) keyboard and touchpad

My fingers whimsically danced across the keyboard and each key delivered deep, clicky feedback. The keys are a blend between punchy and clicky, and don't make much noise when you press them.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I managed 73 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is below my 78-wpm average. I dropped off a few words because the keyboard is smaller and more compact than a full-sized keyboard that you'd find on a 15-inch or larger laptop.

While it isn't a 2-in-1 laptop, the HP Envy 14's touchscreen panel worked well as my finger grazed against it to create the drawing of a disappointed-looking house (yes, the house looked disappointed in me).

The 4.5 x 2.9-inch touchpad felt stickier than I anticipated, but the overall experience was smooth and it provided a satisfying pair of clickers. Windows 10 gestures, like three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling, worked well.

HP Envy 14 (2021) audio

The HP Envy 14’s bottom-firing speakers are loud, and while they decently present some instruments, others become muddled.

I listened to Raon Lee’s cover of “Hated by life itself,” and the opening piano was too bassy. I heard the noisy sound effect that happens when subwoofers get too heavy. The following percussion sounded crisp, but not very well-rounded. Meanwhile, the vocals were bold, but when the chorus kicked in, they overshadowed almost all of the instruments. Most of it just sounded like empty noise.

Like most HP laptops, this machine is packed with the Bang & Olufsen Audio Control app, which lets you choose from three audio presets (Music, Movie and Voice) and customize them. Within each preset, you can either customize the equalizer yourself or choose one of the 11 presets, like HP Optimized, Jazz or Rock. These radically changed the sound, but didn’t get me what I wanted.

HP Envy 14 (2021) performance

Buried beneath the aluminum, you'll find the HP Envy 14's Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor packed with 16GB of RAM. It bounced between 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p YouTube videos without flinching.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On our Geekbench 5.3 overall performance test, the HP Envy 14 scored 4,761, flying over the average premium laptop (3,890). However, the Acer Book RS’s Core i5-1135G7 (5,395), the Lenovo Yoga 9i’s Core i7-1185G7 (5,312) and the Dell XPS 15’s Core i7-10750H (6,179) all did much better.

The HP Envy 14 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in just 13 minutes and 20 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, which not only surpassed the category average (17:04), but also the Acer Book RS (14:09) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (14:24). However, the Envy was no match for the Dell XPS 15 (10:06).

HP’s 256GB SSD had a measly transfer rate of 305 megabytes per second, which is nearly half of the average premium laptop’s speed (570 MBps). It did win over the Dell XPS 15 (298 MBps), but it couldn’t keep pace with the Acer Book RS (434 MBps) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (692 MBps).

HP Envy 14 (2021) graphics

Unlike most of its 14-inch competitors, the HP Envy 14 is toting around an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM. At Ultra, 1080p settings, it managed to hit 23 frames per second of the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey benchmark, which is rather impressive. If you turn down the graphics a bit, the game will easily surpass the 30-fps playable threshold.

On the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm benchmark (Medium, 1080p), the HP Envy 14 managed 63 fps, surpassing the average premium laptop (28 fps) as well as the Dell XPS 15’s GTX 1650 Ti (48 fps), the Acer Book RS’ Intel Iris Xe (48 fps) and the Lenovo Yoga 9i’s Intel Iris Xe (25 fps).

The HP Envy 14 scored 26 fps on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Highest, 1080p), which fell just behind the Dell XPS 15 (29 fps) and is far from the category average (38 fps).

HP Envy 14 (2021) battery life

Battery life numbers have been steadily increasing, and we've seen some surprising numbers, even in gaming laptops. The HP Envy 14's performance isn't outstanding, but it's still commendable given its discrete GPU. 

It lasted 9 hours and 51 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which is just short of the 10:08 premium laptop average. While the Envy beat the Dell XPS 15 (8:01) and wasn't far off the average, it was left behind by the Acer Book RS (12:54) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (11:15).

HP Envy 14 (2021) webcam

As with most 720p webcams, the one on the HP Envy 14, to put it bluntly, sucks.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The test shot I took was so noisy that I could see RGB blotches all over the image. My blue sweater became a dark rainbow of gross colors. Meanwhile, the window behind me was completely blown out. The calendar to my right was also barely legible. As someone who loves playing D&D online, I wouldn’t trust this webcam to showcase the emotional range in my face. If you want a clear picture, check out our best webcams page.

HP Envy 14 (2021) heat

Despite the discrete GPU, the Envy 14 is rather cool under the hood. After streaming a video for 15 minutes, the underside hit 88 degrees Fahrenheit, which is safely below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 89 degrees and 81 degrees, respectively. The hottest this machine got was 92 degrees on the underside, opposite the Esc key.

HP Envy 14 (2021) software and warranty

One of the more useful apps in the HP Envy 14 is the HP Command Center, which lets you adjust the system cooling preferences and bandwidth prioritization. 

There are also a bunch of other apps like HP Audio Switch (manages input and output), HP Display Control (adjusts display color), HP Enhanced Lighting (a light ring software for photos), HP PC Hardware Diagnostics Windows (diagnoses issues with your components and system), HP Privacy Settings (say no to all), HP QuickDrop (it’s like AirDrop but from HP), HP Smart (connects to your printer), HP Support Assistant (important software and settings for a bunch of things) and HP System Event Utility (gives you system information). You could probably uninstall half of these.

Then there’s more bloatware from Windows 10, such as Hidden City, Hulu and Dolby Access.

The Envy 14 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how HP performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Bottom line

If I was currently shopping for a laptop, the HP Envy 14 (2021) would be on my mind. Between its powerful performance, sleek chassis, pretty 16:10 display and decently long battery life, it’s tough to say no to this machine. But as someone who knows a little too much about laptops, I’m picky. The $1,249 price tag is too expensive for those components, especially when the SSD is lagging behind the average and the speakers aren’t the best.

You can get better battery life from the Lenovo Yoga 9i and even more storage, but you would be paying a little extra and losing out on the discrete GPU.

The HP Envy 14 (2021) has room for improvement, but overall, it’s a great performance laptop wrapped up in a small package.

HP Envy 14 (2021) Specs

Size12.3 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches
Display14-inch, 1920 x 1200
CPUIntel Core i5-1135G7
Price$1,249
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Battery9:51
Weight3.3 pounds
Storage256GB SSD
RAM16GB
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