The HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl is not your standard budget laptop. No, this 15.6-inch desktop replacement includes some surprises for its price of $599.99 (list, at Costco). for starters, it eschews common plastic for a luxurious brushed aluminum case. and instead of two tinny, weak stereo speakers, it boasts four speakers powered by Beats Audio. in addition, its battery life and warranty last longer than you’d expect. because it is sold at Costco, the laptop comes backed with a two-year warranty. and thanks to its efficient AMD Fusion APU, it delivers outstanding battery life on a standard six-cell battery. its application performance will suffice for most budget shoppers, while the integrated AMD Radeon graphics are clearly superior to Intel’s current integrated chip and offer some gaming ability. though its application performance trails comparable Intel-based models, the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl still has an appealing combination of sleek design, powerful audio, long battery life, and two-year warranty.
Design Nothing about the Pavilion dv6-6123cl’s design reveals its budget status. Silver brushed aluminum graces the lid and keyboard deck, while the keyboard tray is black, as is the screen bezel and the plastic bottom panel. It’s not the only budget model to feature brushed aluminum; both the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U ($629.99, 4 stars) and the Asus U56E-BBL5 ($649.99, 4 stars) also boast aluminum cases, though the Gateway NV55S05u ($579.99, 4 stars) uses a plastic chassis. the Pavilion dv6-6123cl looks and feels like a much more expensive model than it is. the case looks great and feels firm. it weighs 5.6 pounds, which is average for a 15.6-inch model. the use of plastic doesn’t shave any weight off the Gateway NV55S05u, which also weighs 5.6 pounds.
The keyboard features chiclet-style keys, and despite the presence of a dedicated number pad, the keys feel roomy and generously spaced. there are no dedicated media control keys; play/pause, fast forward, rewind, and volume functions are located on the row of F keys. They are reversed mapped, however, so you don’t have to hold the Function button to pause a track, for example, or mute the volume.
Below the keyboard is a large, responsive touchpad with two dedicated mouse buttons. in contrast to the soft feel of the keyboard, the two mouse buttons feel thin and cheap and create a fairly loud clack when pressed. the touchpad supports multi-touch gestures such as two-finger scrolling and pinch zooming. many times multi-touch gestures can be jumpy, but we found that not to be the case here; two-finger scrolling, for example, was smooth and accurate.
The 15.6-inch display features a 1,366-by-768 resolution, standard for the size. the screen features LED backlighting and produces a bright, crisp image. the screen has a glossy coating, but it’s far from the most egregious offender in terms of producing distracting glare and annoying reflections. the two hinges holding the display are narrow but stiff and able to hold the large display firmly in place. an HD Webcam sits above the display that can capture video up to a resolution of 1,280-by-800.
Features Perhaps more than its graceful aluminum case, the feature that helps the Pavilion dv6-6123cl separate from the budget pack is its inclusion of Beats Audio. it significantly improves the sound, whether you are listening to the laptop’s integrated speakers or headphones. the laptop features not the usual pair of speakers, but four speakers. Two are located behind the angled speaker bar above the keyboard, and two are located on the front edge of the laptop. the bass response of the speakers can be felt and heard, and the sound reaches an impressively high volume, while retaining its clarity. the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl is one of the few laptops where we’d listen to music without the aid of headphones or external speakers, though listening via headphones reveals surprising depth and the potential for ear-splitting volume.
Some budget laptops, such as the Gateway NV55S05u and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U, try to skate by with only USB 2.0 for data connectivity. the Pavilion dv6-6123cl, however, provides two USB 3.0 ports on the left side and two USB 2.0 ports on the right side. Also on the left side are HDMI and VGA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a mic jack and two headphone jacks. a tray-loading DVD burner sits on the right side along with the power connection. on the front edge resides a multi-format media card reader (SD and MMC). and in a surprise for a budget laptop designed for home use, the Pavilion dv6-6123cl features a fingerprint reader. Thankfully, it is not located between the two mouse buttons but off to the side, on the right side of the wrist rest below the number pad.
Wirelessly connectivity comprises 802.11n Wi-Fi and Intel Wireless display (WiDi), which lets you wirelessly stream the laptop’s display to an HDTV. (Your TV will need a Netgear Push2TV adapter to allow it to receive the signal, it should be noted.) Unfortunately, Bluetooth did not make the cut, though it is seldom included on a budget laptop.
The 500GB hard drive doesn’t offer the capacity you can get elsewhere; the Asus U56E-BBL5, the Gateway NV55S05u, and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U each serve up a 640GB drive. HP does an admirable job, however, of keeping the Pavilion dv6-6123cl’s drive free of bloatware. Other than a handful of free games and a desktop shortcut encouraging you to “Discover HP webOS,” the laptop features software that provides utility. Cyberlink YouCam is on board for use with the Webcam, and HP’s SimplePass 2011 works with the fingerprint reader. Other HP utilities include Recovery Manager for creating backups and restoring your system and CoolSense to keep the CPU running smoothly.
As a Costco model, the Pavilion dv6-6123cl comes backed with a two-year warranty instead of the usual one year of coverage. Also, Costco’s Concierge Service provides members with troubleshooting and setup help. Buyer’s remorse is no worry thanks to Costco’s 90-day return policy.
Performance You’ll get better application performance from a budget laptop based on the 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M CPU such as the Asus U56E-BBL5 or the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U, but the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl, with its 1.4GHz AMD A6-3400M APU, 6GB of DDR3 memory, and integrated AMD Radeon HD 6520G graphics, turned in a fair showing the labs. its application scores were lackluster while its 3D performance scores were surprisingly respectable.
On PCMark 7, its score of 1,477 trailed the Asus U56E-BBL5 (1,920) and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U (2,066) by significant margins and finished slightly behind the Gateway NV55S05u (1,620), which features the 1.5GHz AMD A8-3500M APU.
The same held true on our multimedia tests. on our Handbrake benchmark, the Pavilion dv6-6123cl’s time of 3 minutes 43 seconds was much slower than either the Asus U56E-BBL5 (1:55) or the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U (2:00). on Photoshop CS5, the Pavilion dv6-6123cl took 8 minutes 3 seconds to complete the test while the Asus U56E-BBL5 (4:13) and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U (4:10) finished in nearly half the time. and on Cinebench 11.5, the Pavilion dv6-6123cl posted a score of 1.79, which again trailed the Asus U56E-BBL5 and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U, both of which scored 2.60.
The Pavilion dv6-6123cl turned the tables when it came time to run our 3D graphics tests, outpacing Asus U56E-BBL5 and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U, both of which rely on integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics. on 3DMark06, its score of 5,561 at a resolution of 1,024-by-768 topped the Asus (4,840) and Lenovo (4,414). it also achieved a playable framerate on our Lost Planet 2 test at 1,024×768, finishing with 33.7 frames per second (fps). the Asus U56E-BBL5 (22.6 fps) and the Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U (17.6 fps) both fell short of the 30 fps minimum for smooth gameplay on the test.
The Pavilion dv6-6123cl turned in an impressive battery life score on MobileMark 2007. With a 6-cell (55Wh) battery, it ran for 5 hours 42 minutes, surpassing the IdeaPad V570-1066A9U’s time of 4 hours 41 minutes. the Asus U56E-BBL5 ran for 7 hours 34 minutes, but it has the advantage of using an 8-cell (74Wh) battery.
Similarly priced Intel-based laptops offer better application performance, though at the expense of 3D graphics muscle. for budget buyers who need a home laptop for consuming media rather than creating or editing media, there is a lot to like about the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl, from its sleek aluminum enclosure, more-than-passable audio, and decent graphics performance to its long battery life and two-year warranty.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS: Check out the test scores for the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl
COMPARISON TABLE Compare the HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl with several other laptops side by side.
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HP Pavilion dv6-6123cl
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