When style meets entry-level components with a value-targeted price tag, you'll get something like the HP Pavilion Power 15t. Priced at $1,139 (starting at $879), the laptop delivers elegant good looks, impressive battery life (for a gaming notebook) and solid performance by way of its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU and Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor. However, the laptop's potential greatness is stymied by a display that's too dim and dull, a weak audio system and a slow solid-state drive. For these reasons, the Pavilion Power 15t isn't one of the best gaming laptops.
Even though the Power 15t has green accents, I rode a wave of lust, not envy. The black brushed-aluminum chassis is positively lovely, especially the lid, which has a glossy Elphaba-green HP logo in the center. The rear of the lid gently curves over the hinge, with "Pavilion" spelled out in that lovely green. It's positively stately and, dare I say, elegant?
But there's one misstep: the pair of lime-green plastic darts flanking the type. It's an unnecessary addition that takes away from all the goodwill the company worked so hard to build. I was peeved to discover that one of the darts had fallen off sometime during the review, which speaks to subpar construction. However, I had to admit that the laptop looked better without it.
Opening the laptop revealed a black brushed-aluminum deck, with lovely splashes of green on the speaker, keyboard and touchpad. I really wish the HP logo inset on the bottom of the 15.6-inch display were green, to keep things consistent, especially when the power button -- located on the top left, between the speaker and the keyboard -- glows a cheery green.
The notebook has a nice selection of ports, including a USB 3.0 port, a USB Type-C port, HDMI, a 3-in-1 card reader, Gigabyte Ethernet and a power port on the right side. A quick glance along the left reveals an additional two USB 3.0 ports, a headset jack and a secure lock slot.
At 5.4 pounds, the 14.9 x 9.9 x 1-inch Power 15t's dimensions are on a par with the competition, including the Asus ROG Strix GL503 (5.6 pounds, 15.1 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches) and the Origin PC Eon15-S (5.2 pounds, 14.9 x 10.5 x 1 inches). The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (15.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches) is a tad heavier, at 5.9 pounds.
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I wish the display were as pretty as the notebook's exterior. Unfortunately, the 15.6-inch touch screen is dim and dull, which isn't ideal for a gaming laptop. Lara Croft's normally dark chestnut hair lacked its normal luster in Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the lush, verdant-green fields of the hidden valley were pale and lackluster. Still, I could see every smudge on Lara's face as well as individual blades of grass.
Covering just 68 percent of the sRGB color gamut, the Power 15t's screen is well below the 101-percent category average. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming did only slightly better, at 70 percent, while the Asus ROG Strix GL503 and the Origin Eon15-S delivered 113 and 118, percent, respectively.
When we measured for brightness, the Power 15t's panel averaged 173 nits, which is below the 247-nit average. The Inspiron 15, Eon15-S and GL503 were much brighter, with scores of 233, 276 and 297 nits, respectively.
The 10-finger capacitive touch screen is quick and responsive, keeping pace with my rapid doodling.
The Power 15t's pair of speakers isn't very powerful. Even at maximum volume, the Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers struggled to fill my bedroom with audio. And once my radiator kicked in, it was hard to hear the finer details, forcing me to switch over to a pair of headphones. When I listened to Prince's "Partyman," the guitars, bass and percussion were crystal clear, even though the volume was more of a small soiree than a party.
The lack of volume also affected my gaming; the gunfire was muted in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, as were the normally booming explosions. Even worse, I couldn't really hear the footsteps of incoming hostiles, allowing them to get the drop on me more often than I'd like.
The laptop comes with Bang & Olufsen's audio software, which offers three presets: Music, Movies and Voice. The Movies setting gave me a little boost of volume but not much, which meant that those finer audio details were lost.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I'm not thrilled that I can't enhance the Power 15t's keyboard with some RGB lighting, but I have to admit that the green-lined keys look like little sparkling emeralds when lit.
Looks aside, the island-style keyboard is comfortable to type on, even though the feedback is a little mushy due to the 1.4 millimeters of key travel (1.5 mm is our minimum). The 72 grams of actuation force (60 grams is our minimum) helps to balance things out, but not enough to let me match my 65-word-per-minute average typing rate on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. My rate fell to 60 wpm, but my 1 percent error rate remained the same.
I love the extra-long, 4.5 x 2.3-inch touchpad with its green chrome lining. My gangly fingers had plenty of room to navigate and perform three-finger swipes and two-finger scrolls. Despite the touchpad's size, gestures were near-instantaneous and accurate.
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Gaming and Graphics
The Power 15t is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. It's on the low end of Nvidia's 10-Series Pascal GPUs but can still deliver solid gaming performance on more modest settings.
When we ran the budget version of our Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (high settings at 1080p with SMAA anti-aliasing), the Power 15t matched the mainstream average of 41 frames per second. That puts it on a par with the 44 fps from the Asus ROG Strix GL503, which has its own GTX 1050, while the Origin Eon15-S with its GTX 1050 Ti GPU obtained 51 fps.
During the Hitman benchmark, the laptop notched 50 fps, which is below the 61-fps average. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 and its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU delivered 55 fps.
Outfitted with a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor and 12GB of RAM, the Power 15t is an able multitasker. I watched an episode of The Punisher with 18 other tabs open in Google Chrome, some of which were streaming game matches from Twitch while running a full-system scan with Windows Defender, and I didn't see any lag.
The Power 15t also did well on our synthetic benchmarks such as Geekbench 4, which tests overall performance. The laptop notched 11,214, topping the 10,962 mainstream average and the Dell Inspiron 15 7000's (i5-7300HQ CPU) 10,535. The Origin PC Eon15-S (i5-7300HQ) and the Asus ROG Strix GL503 (i7-7700HQ) delivered higher marks of 12,208 and 12,435, respectively.
On our productivity test, the Power 15t matched 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 35, beating the 4:15 average and the Inspiron 15 and Eon15-S, which each clocked in with 3:38. However, it wasn't enough to catch the GL503's time of 3:20.
When we ran our file-transfer test, the Power 15t's 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive fell way short of the mark, with a transfer rate of 68.8 megabytes per second. That's well below the 251.8-MBps category average but still better than the GL503's (1TB, 5,400-rpm HDD) 32.2 MBps. Armed with SSDs, the Eon15-S and Inspiron 15 obtained 318.1 MBps and 339 MBps respectively.
Gaming laptops typically suffer from short battery life, but that's not the case with the Power 15t. The notebook lasted 6 hours and 27 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi.
That's slightly below the 6:32 mainstream average but still better than the runtimes from the Origin PC Eon15-S (4:47) and the Asus ROG Strix GL503 (3:32). That's good but not enough to top the 7:05 from the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, which continues to be the gold standard for battery life on budget gaming laptops.
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Software and Warranty
Despite its discrete GPU, the Power 15t doesn't offer much in the way of gaming-centric software. In fact, you only get Nvidia's GeForce Experience, which offers a suite of utilities to enhance your gaming experience, such as Battery Boost, Game Optimization and ShadowPlay, which lets you livestream your games.
The notebook also has a number of HP-branded apps and utilities, such as HP Recovery Manager in case of a system crash. You also get HP Support Assistant for running system updates and troubleshooting fixes. Orbit lets you pair your laptop and smartphone so you can seamlessly transfer content (documents, photos, music and videos) between devices.
Lastly, HP SmartFriend is a monthly subscription service ($14.99 per month for one device and $29.99 per month for five systems) that delivers 24/7 phone support, access to general how-tos and tips; assistance with managing mobile devices from your computer; and virus, spyware and malware removal.
There are a few instances of bloatware, courtesy of Windows 10, such as Netflix, Amazon, Keeper, Plex and a link to the WildTangent Games page.
The Power 15t kept its cool after streaming an HD video for 15 minutes. The touchpad measured a brisk 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while the center of the keyboard hit 82 degrees. The bottom of the notebook registered 88 degrees. All of these temperatures are below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
You can use the Power 15t's 720p integrated camera in a pinch, but I'd recommend that you invest in an external webcam. The test shots I took were filled with visual noise and graininess, and the dark brown striations in my wooden headboard looked like blobs instead of individual lines. The color was also blown out, making my blue wall and shirt appear lighter than they actually are.
I reviewed the $1,139 model of the HP Pavilion Power 15t, which has a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor; 12GB of RAM; a 1TB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU; an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB VRAM; and a 1920 x 1080 touch screen.
The $879 base model of the laptop has the same processor and hard drive, but with only 8GB of RAM, 2GB of VRAM and a 1080 nontouch display. During press time, we learned the base configuration's price dropped to $629.99, but we're not sure how long this deep discount will last. The $1,319 version upgrades the laptop to a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i-7700HQ processor and a 2TB hard drive. You can also get a 4K (3840 x 2160) display for an additional $200.
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The HP Pavilion 15t is, without a doubt, a good-looking gaming laptop, and beneath that lovely exterior, you get solid gaming and overall performance for $1,139. You also get over 6 hours of battery life and a nice, comfortable keyboard. However, the display and the sound system are lacking, which might be fine for other laptops, but not a gaming system.
For $999, you can get the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop, which has a better display and speakers in addition to longer battery life and better overall performance. Even better, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU, the notebook is VR-ready for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive owners. Overall, though, the Power 15t is a decent choice for gamers who are looking for a stylish gaming laptop that won't put a hurting on their wallets.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag