HP Pavilion dv7-6143cl
Great performance in 3D gaming. Switchable graphics helped boost battery life to over 9 hours. USB 3.0 and Bluetooth. WiDi. Sleek metallic design. Beats Audio emphasizes bass makes in-ear music and movies sound great.
No Blu-ray. No True 1080p HD resolution.
Those looking for a portable home entertainment solution need search no longer. The HP Pavilion dv7-6143cl is a media center laptop that provides multiple wired and wireless solutions to connect you and your living room to digital contentâ€”and it’s not too bad at gaming either.
The 17.3-inch home entertainment laptop seems to be HP’s forte as the PC manufacturer has released yet another Editors’ Choice-worthy device in this category. The HP Pavilion dv7-6143cl’s ($999.99 list at Costco) inclusion of such future-proofing features as USB 3.0 will provide users with a faster connection speed when transferring data to and from your external hard drives, and Bluetooth and Wireless Display 2 (WiDi 2.0) will open up a wider range of wireless peripherals for your use. The fact that it comes with a discrete chipset and an Intel Core i7 processor that can bang out 72fps on games like Lost Planet 2 only adds to its value. That combined with the kind of long battery life usually seen in ultraportables, and you’d be hard-pressed to pass it up.
The aluminum chassis of the dv7-6143cl forgoes the laser-etched design of past models like the HP Pavilion dv7-4283cl ($999.99 list, 4 stars) in favor of a brushed texture. Normally, when manufacturers configure a laptop with an oversized battery, it juts out horizontally; HP decided to utilize the battery as a mini-stand, elevating the back of the laptop slightly, angling it. The dv7-6143 weighs 7.04 pounds, which compared with the 8.1-pound Dell XPS 17 ($1,670 direct, 3.5 stars), seems like a lightweight. It’s likely that the dv7-6143cl will stay house-bound, but the option to bring it on the road is always comforting.
The17.3-inch widescreen has a 1,600-by-900 resolution, which doesn’t translate to true 1080p HD but 720p. Other 17-inch laptops, like the Acer Aspire AS8950G-9839 ($1,499.99 street, 4 stars) displays in “true HD,” but it’s only the video enthusiasts that will notice the difference. Above the screen is an HD webcam for video conferencing and chatting with your friends. The full-size keyboard is chiclet-style, with each key to its own little square island. There’s also a numeric keypad, a welcome addition for number crunchers. HP has redone its touchpads, getting rid of the clickpad that was notorious for causing on screen cursor jumps, and replacing it with two separate mouse buttons and a touchpad. The mousepad is framed by a glowing LED lightâ€”a nice addition for late-night workers and players. Off to the right side, beneath the keyboard is a fingerprint reader that will add some extra security for the more cautious users.
Connection options come in physical and wireless form, such as Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, SD/MMC card slot, Audio jacks, VGA, HDMI, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. There’s also WiDi 2.0, which allows you to stream the contents of your computer’s multimedia (in 1080p HD) to your HDTVâ€”provided you have the Netgear Push2TV receiver. Your HD content, however, will be limited to digital downloads and streaming, as the dv7-6143cl only comes with a DVD R/W optical drive (A Blu-ray drive is not included).
The dv7-6143cl also comes equipped with Beats Audio, a program that gives you a deeper bass experience when listening to music. While the laptop speakers aren’t phenomenal, they’re better than the usual fodder. However, when I hooked up my headphones to listen to some Red Hot Chili Peppers with Beats Audio switched on, Flea’s bass solos had a deeper and more dynamic quality.
This laptop also features a 750GB 5,400rpm hard drive, which is the same size and speed as the Acer AS8950G-9839 and 110GB more that what the HP dv7-4283cl provides.
Costco also offers customers some added benefits. For example, whereas most vendors provide just a one-year warranty, Costco bumps that up to two years. It also offers Costco’s Concierge Services, which a free service to Costco members who purchase electronics at the store. The service gives you access to technicians to walk you system setup, product use, and for troubleshooting. Lastly, the store accepts returns within 90 days (which takes care of buyers’ remorse).
The dv7-6143cl comes equipped with a 2GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM processor, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M discrete graphics chip. On PCMark Vantage, the dv7-6143cl, scored 7,554 (2,302 in PCMark 7), which fell somewhere between the Dell XPS 17 and Aspire AS8950G. It trounced the Dell XPS 17 on our Cinebench R11.5 (4.97) and Photoshop CS5 (3 minutes 52 seconds) timed image filtering test, and received nearly identical scores the Acer AS8950G-9839. The dv7-6143cl pulled away from the competition on our Handbrake test, scoring 1 minute 37 seconds. The Acer AS8950G-9839 was 31 seconds behind.
In 3D-oriented tasks, the dv7-6143cl shined, receiving a score of 10,983 on Entry level settings and 8,747 on Native in our 3DMark 06 test. In gaming tests, its AMD Radeon HD 6770M card helped it eke out playable frame rates in Crysis at Medium settings (50 frames per second) on though it scored an unplayable 11.2fps in Very High setting. On Lost Planet 2, it scored playable frame rates on both settings (73fps Medium; 36fps High).
The Radeon chip also comes with manual graphics switching technology. When you install a game you must go into the “Catalyst Control Center” by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Configure Switchable Graphics.” While in the control center you can select from a list of programs for which you want the graphics card on (as opposed to the integrated graphics chipset) â€”as I did after I installed Lost Planet 2 and Crysis.
The switchable graphics features also helps in saving battery power (it automatically defaults to integrated graphics when the AC plug is pulled from the laptop). Combined with the dv7-6143cl’s 9-cell (100Wh) battery, it helped the laptop score an amazing 9 hours 13 minutes on our MobileMark 2007 test. The Acer AS8950G-9839 (5:22) and Dell XPS 17 (3:01) just couldn’t compete.
The HP Pavilion dv7-6143cl offers up a standard feature set with a few nice extras, but its performance in media-oriented and 3D gaming tests and a battery time that usually shows up on small ultraportable laptopsâ€”not media center desktop replacement laptopsâ€”puts it above the laptops like the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire AS8950G-9839. All this is why it’s our new Editors’ Choice for media center laptops.
General Purpose, Media, Desktop Replacement
Intel Core i7-2630QM
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Screen Size Type
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
Primary Optical Drive