If you are in the market for a gaming laptop, some of the popular choices come from Asus, MSI. Acer and Dell’s Alienware. These brands offer unparalleled number of options in the given price range and hence, you are spoilt for choices. However, HP has also jumped in the gaming laptop bandwagon in India since the last few years with its OMEN series and Pavilion gaming series of laptops. This year, HP is taking things a notch up with updated 2019 range. The OMEN series gets all the fancy features most flagship gaming laptops from other brands are getting.
However, for the affordable range under Rs 1 lakh, HP is relying on its Pavilion Gaming series of laptops. Starting at Rs 70,990, it directly competes with Dell’s G7 series as well as Asus’ TUF series of gaming laptops. The idea behind the HP Pavilion Gaming laptop is simple – offer good performance packed in a practical design for casual gamers. However, a Dell G7 or an Asus ROG Strix G also offer the same, and if you read our reviews, both of them have proved themselves in our reviews.
So does the HP Pavilion Gaming laptop have anything to keep itself apart from the existing options? Is there a solid reason to opt for this one over its thoroughbred rivals?
HP Pavilion Gaming: The good stuff
Design: This thing deserves a place in an art museum
The name tag ‘Pavilion’ is usually associated with the more practical ultrabooks in HP’s lineup. And practical also translates to boring clamshell designs that we have seen from HP since ages. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Pavilion Gaming laptop.
At first sight, the Pavilion Gaming looks like any other slab of black metal with an HP logo in the centre. However, look closely and you will see HP’s genius design direction. Instead of going for an all-flashy design with multiple RGB lighting zones and wild stickers, HP has gone for the stealth approach with the design of the Pavilion Gaming laptop. The all-metal chassis wears a matte black paint and HP has used a glossy violet theme on its logo to suggest its gaming intentions.
The stealth paint scheme only adds to a fighter jet-inspired designs of the rear heat vents – these look so cool and exquisite at the same time that I found myself often staring at them for a while. And then when you open the lid, its angular shape makes for an airy feeling. The keyboard deck gets the same matte black paint scheme with the violet accents on the keyboard, which when backlit looks beautiful. Additionally, the honeycomb design of the speaker grille on top of the keyboard looks stunning. The screen has bezels around it but most of it isn’t noticeable.
At 2.28Kg, it isn’t very light but when you consider the beautifully crafted body, it is easy to forgive the weight. The stealth theme always works with gamers instead of wild RGB lighting. Hence, this is the best-designed gaming laptop in 2019 you are going to see. Period.
Display: Bright, vivid and smooth
HP aims to get the user experience right with the Pavilion Gaming laptop and even the display ensures that. You get a 15.6-inch full HD screen as standard and depending on how much you want to upgrade, you can get up to 144Hz IPS LCD panel. I had the latter on my unit and safe to say, it performed exceptionally. The screen produces bright and vivid colours with wide viewing angles and high contrasts. Hence, whether you are playing games or watching movies, it is always a treat. Colours at times seem to pop out which makes games look more interesting. The 144Hz refresh rate makes everything looks smoother than usual. If you are getting this laptop, I suggest you should go to the 144Hz panel for the best experience.
Performance: As fast as it can get for casual gamers
When it comes to performance, all gaming laptops mostly deliver well on but it depends on how a manufacturer tunes to get the best out of the given hardware. HP has worked well on the thermal management system and that ensures you are getting top-notch performance from the given hardware. I had the top-end variant with the 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 12GB RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD along with 1TB HDD at 7200RPM, and Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card with 6GB VRAM.
These are among the top-spec hardware you are going to get from the Intel-Nvidia universe. The Nvidia GTX 1660Ti is the best non-RTX card you are going to get at the moment and for games that don’t require ray-tracing, this performs like a top-end GPU. I played F1 2019, Control, Need For Speed Payback, Train Simulator 2020 and Wolfenstein YoungBlood, and except for the last one, all of them ran on ultra graphics with consistent frame rates around 60 fps and more. With Wolfenstein YoungBlood, I had to dial down the graphics to High to get the optimum frame rates of around 70-80 fps.
F1 2019 is my favourite title and I clock an average of 3-4 hours on the weekends. In these sessions, the heat was managed well with no signs of throttling but the metal body meant that you could sense the heat if you are using the keyboard for long.
When it comes to the keyboard, I was surprised to see a very well designed keyboard layout with tactile keys. I worked on a few long word documents on this laptop and even after two hours at a stretch, there’s no fatigue. The trackpad is accurate and responsive, which makes it a breeze to browse the Internet or scroll through long lists.
In a gaming laptop, battery life is never great and if most of them manage to touch the 5 hours-mark, that the best you are going to get. The HP Pavilion Gaming 15 does just that, clocking up to 5 hours under regular workloads such as working on word documents and web browsing.
HP Pavilion Gaming: The bad stuff
Speakers are simply sub-par
Even though the Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop comes with Bang&Olufsen tuned speakers, the overall audio performance is simply sub-par. The speakers aren’t very loud and at best, are good enough for YouTube binge sessions. That said, most gamers either plug in headphones or external speakers for the better experience even on more expensive laptops. Therefore, the speaker performance doesn’t make sense on these laptops.
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop: Conclusion
As I said in the beginning, HP wants to get the user experience just right and after going through the laptop in detail, it seems that this laptop offers what it promises. For a gaming laptop, the performance is top-notch in its category along with a great display and good battery life. It’s practical too with an easy-to-live keyboard and trackpad. But what conquers everything, in my opinion, is the stealth-inspired design and rock-solid build quality – something that’s not seen in other gaming laptops at this price. The HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop feels well put together with an impeccable fit and finish, and for that reason alone, it is a recommendation for gamers on a budget.