HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition (dv6tqe) Review

HP dv6tqeThe HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition is a 15.6” screen desktop replacement style laptop with, as its name suggests, a powerful Intel Quad Core processor as a standard feature.  The HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition, which for the sake of brevity we’ll refer to as the HP dv6tqe, also comes equipped with a high mid-range AMD graphics card option so that it can double as both a work and gaming machine.  With the amount of features and power the dv6tqe has you’d expect it to have a price of over $1,000, but in fact it is competitively priced and can often be found for well under $1,000 when using an HP coupon code on HP.com.  In my case, I used a 30% off coupon available at the time of purchase and got the following configuration for $799.99 before taxes, shipping was free:

  • Color: Dark Umber
  • OS: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Screen: 15.6″ diagonal High Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366×768)
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core i7-2630QM (2.0 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 2.9 GHz
  • Graphics: 1GB GDDR5 Radeon(TM) HD 6770M Graphics
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
  • Storage: Upgrade to 750GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
  • Battery: 6-Cell Lithium-Ion Battery, around 5 hours of battery life
  • Optical Drive: Blu-ray player
  • Ports: 4 USB (2 USB 2.0 and 2 High Speed USB 3.0), HDMI, VGA monitor out, Ethernet LAN port
  • Dimensions: 14.88″ (W) x 9.71″ (D) x 1.23″ (min Height)/1.39″ (max Height)
  • Weight: 5.78lbs
  • Webcam: HP TrueVision HD Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone and HP SimplePass Fingerprint Reader
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g/n WLAN with Wireless Display Support
  • Warranty: 1-year

There are a lot of options for upgrades, for instance you can upgrade to a higher resolution 1920 x 1080 screen for $150.00, a faster Core 2.3GHz i7 processor, SSD storage, more memory – the configuration possibilities are extensive and you can put together an impressive system for a fairly reasonable price.

HP dv6tqe Buying Experience and Packaging

I purchased the HP dv6tqe direct from HP.com, after placing the order the laptop was shipped 13-days later and arrived to my door after a total of 17-days.  The package was delivered via FedEx and shipped from Shanghai, China.  Any laptop you custom order will come from China and in general it takes 5-days to make it from there to your door in the U.S., depending on how far East you are.  West Coast denizens will have about a day advantage in receiving!

The laptop arrived in a standard brown box with a “Beats Audio” sticker on it:

HP dv6t box packaging

Upon opening the box the HP dv6tqe was firmly held in using cardboard braces:

HP dv6t box packaging open

Overall the packaging was well done but presentation nothing special, HP didn’t try to pull an Apple by making an amazing packaging presentation (anyone that’s opened a new Apple MacBook knows what I’m talking about).  Inside the box you get the dv6t Quad Edition laptop itself, power adapter and cord, battery and getting started and warranty guide.

HP dv6t out of the box

 

HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition Design

HP dv6t umber lid

The HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition uses the same body as the regular Pavilion dv6t.  The look of the Pavilion dv6t was updated this year so that the standard color is what HP calls a “Dark Umber” finish.  The lid has a nice dark aluminum brush finish that’s both professional and stylish.  The HP logo on the lid lights up when the laptop is on.  The hinge design is pretty cool in and of itself, it’s a drop hinge style design with an elbow like bend to it.  The hinges are a silver color and provide a nice contrast to the darker lid.

HP dv6t keyboard areaUpon opening the dv6t you’ll see the dark umber design is carried over onto the keyboard and palm rest areas.  The touchpad has a cool light accent that goes around it, unfortunately there is no backlit keyboard option, for a high-end laptop that’s a real sore point for potential dv6tqe buyers as the competing Dell XPS 15 (L502) does have the option as do many other 15” performance laptops.

The speaker grille at the top of the keyboard is a silver color, and again, provides a nice contrast to the much darker umber color around it.  The sides of the laptop where the ports are found are also a silver color.  The bottom of the laptop is black and made of plastic.

Overall the design is attractive and will appeal to a wide audience.  There’s certainly nothing offensive to be said about the design, it does tend to pickup fingerprints rather easily but not as much as some of the glossy plastic laptops on the market.  As a note, there is an option to “upgrade” to a steel gray finish instead of the dark umber finish, however it comes at the cost of $25 which I don’t get because frankly the dark umber looks more appealing.  To each his or her own though, style tastes are personal.

HP dv6t Weight and Size

The Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition is not a laptop designed to be carried for miles around campus, it qualifies as a desktop replacement style laptop.  It weighs in at 5lbs 13 ounces (5.8125 lbs) without the power cord and adapter, but add in the weight of the adapter and the travel weight goes up to 7lbs 6.9 ounces (7.53 lbs):

Pavilion dv6t weight Pavilion dv6t travel weight

The dv6t is also not what you’d call a thin laptop, its thickness ranges from 1.23” to 1.39”.  That’s still thin enough to fit in a backpack, but it will take up quite a bit of space.  The point being, the HP dv6tqe can be moved around a home or office without much effort, but carrying it around a campus would be quite a workout and not exactly what this laptop is designed for.

HP Pavilion dv6t Build Quality

The dv6t has a very solid chassis built of aluminum.  The lid, palm rest areas and bottom of the laptop had no sign of flex and in general the laptop feels like a tank.  The hinges are also firm and look and feel like they’ll be able to take years of opening and closing of the lid, of course with only a couple of weeks of testing I can’t verify such a claim!  The only knock I can give to the dv6t is that there is some flex in the keyboard area, nothing terrible or that would slow your typing down, but it is there.

HP Pavilion dv6tqe Performance

If you’re buying the HP dv6tqe you obviously care about the performance of the laptop, if you didn’t you’d just buy the more affordable regular HP dv6t-6000 series without the Quad Core and high end AMD graphics card.  I’ve used many a laptop with the good old Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processor in, and they’ve all performed remarkably for normal tasks and programs.  You know, things like web browsing with multiple tabs, email, running an Antivirus in the background, basic photo editing, online movie watching, etc.  But if you’re a power user that’s into high end gaming or an engineer that has to use a program using OpenGL graphics like Solidworks 3D CAD Design software, then you’ll take all the hardware performance power and 3D rendering capabilities you can get.

The HP dv6tqe under review uses the AMD Radeon 6770M 1GB graphics card and Intel Quad Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz processor that can overclock to 2.90GHz.  Without any kind of tweaking or installing of better or newer drivers, here are the benchmarks this configuration dv6tqe attained:

HP dv6tqe PCMark Vantage 64-bit score:

pcmark

HP dv6tqe 3DMark Vantage score:

3dmark

Windows Experience Index rating:

wei

Here’s a comparison of how the HP dv6tqe stacks up with its PCMark Vantage score relative to other recent laptops I have used:

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition – Intel Core i7-2630qm 2.00GHz, 6GB RAM 8,211 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM 5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM 3,204 PCMarks

Obviously there’s quite a performance advantage thanks to the speedy Quad Core Core-i7 processor and AMD graphics.  The one bottleneck with this HP dv6tqe, which is highlighted by the Windows Experience Score of 5.9, is the fact it has a 5400RPM hard drive which is considered slow.  To overcome that bottleneck you’d either have to upgrade to a faster spinning 7200RPM hard drive, or better yet, splurge on an expensive SSD drive that is offered as a $310 upgrade option at the time of this writing (ouch).

The included AMD 6770M graphics class is by no means the fastest mobile graphics card out there, it’s considered a fast middle class graphics card, but will be more than adequate for most people and will allow you to run just about any game at a resolution of 1366 x 768.  If you step up to the higher resolution 1920 x 1080 screen and use that resolution for gaming then it might be harder to get fast frame rates on more demanding games.

I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention the issue HP had this summer with the HP dv6tqe graphics card not being able to handle OpenGL graphics (note, the issue is fixed now, so don’t let this scare you away).  Basically, HP moved from making the AMD graphics manually switchable by the user to making it auto-switching, meaning the laptop decided when it was a good time to use the dedicated graphics and when it was better to use the onboard Intel integrated graphics.  The auto-switching sounds like a smart feature, but the problem was that starting in June and up until last August the laptop refused to run in dedicated graphics mode on any OpenGL based software program.  That meant that programs such as Solidworks were forced to run on Intel integrated graphics, which in fact it won’t do, so people that bought this laptop for OpenGL graphics usage purposes paid for a graphics card they couldn’t use.  This was all resolved on August 16th with an HP driver update that now makes it possible for the user to manually switch between dedicated and integrated graphics and at the same time makes it possible to use the AMD graphics card for OpenGL programs.  So in summary, if you’ve heard horror stories regarding the graphics card and not being able to use the dedicated graphics mode on the HP dv6t Quad Edition, dv7t Quad Edition or HP Envy laptops then rest assured this issue is now fixed.

HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition Battery Life

The battery life of the HP dv6tqe varies tremendously upon what tasks you are using it for and what level screen brightness you set it to.  The graphics can be switched between the dedicated AMD graphics card on board and the integrated Intel graphics.  If you use the dedicated AMD graphics then battery life will be much shorter, the Intel graphics are less powerful and as such uses much less battery power.   The battery test I did assumed a “best case” scenario in which Intel integrated graphics were used, screen brightness was set to mid-level and wi-fi was left on with a browser open that refreshed every 1-minute.  Under this scenario the battery lasted 5 hours and 8 minutes– pretty darn good for this size laptop.  With a 15.6-inch screen laptop you assume the battery life may just be an afterthought since it’s generally a desktop bound size, but it’s certainly nice to have the longer battery life available if you need to travel with this laptop.

HP Pavilion dv6t Keyboard

DSC_0216

The HP dv6tqe keyboard is nice and spacious, it stretches from edge to edge and includes a built-in number pad, great for accountants and other number crunchers.  The design is a chiclet style, which is becoming almost standard on consumer laptops these days.  The keys have a nice amount of travel and in general are pleasant for typing on.  There is a small amount of flex in certain places on the keyboard if you push down hard, but nothing that’s going to affect typing or probably even be noticed by the average user.  I already mentioned the fact that it’s a disappointment HP does not offer a backlit keyboard option for the dv6t, you have to step up to the Envy line of HP laptops to get that.

A nice standard feature HP includes is a fingerprint reader, this is handy as an alternate form of login for Windows and can be used on any website that requires use of login, the software will store your login credentials after you login to a website for the first time and from then on a finger swipe can be used to login.  Another feature I like is the fact the top row Fn keys act as dedicated media type buttons, for instance you can just push F10 to turn up the volume,  you don’t have to hold Fn + F10.  This is how the top row of keys work on a Mac and what customers prefer these days, so HP made a smart choice here.

HP Pavilion dv6tqe Touch Pad

The HP dv6tqe touch pad is nice and large making it easy to move the cursor all the way across the screen with one swipe or do multi-finger gestures such as two-finger scrolling.  The touch pad uses Synaptics drivers so you get all of the basic capabilities that comes with synaptics touch pads such as pinch to zoom, two-finger rotation, flick.  You have to enable them in the touch pad control software though, the more advanced features are not turned on by default.

A nice design touch is the light that surrounds the touch pad to make it easy to find in the dark:

DSC_0220

It’s a very cool look, and kind of leaves you wishing for more and having a backlit keyboard.

The two buttons below the touch pad are dedicated buttons and easy to use, however they are a little loud with their click so if you’re in a quiet room with others it could annoy a few people.

HP dv6tqe Screen

HP dv6tqe screenOne nice thing about the HP dvt6qe is that you have a couple of screen resolution options.  You can go with the standard 1366 x 768 resolution or shell out $150 extra for the 1920 x 1080 resolution display.  I wanted to keep the price of the dv6tqe under $1,000 for the purpose of review, but I would actually recommend most people upgrading to the high resolution display.  It’s a little expensive, but it’s amazing how much more you can fit on the screen and you’ll get a much higher quality movie watching experience for those Blu-Ray movies you’ll be able to play using the built-in Blu Ray drive.  When you watch hi-definition movies at the 720p (1366 x 768) resolution on a 15.6” screen you can actually notice some pixelation, which detracts from the viewing experience.

That all said, if you simply can’t afford or don’t want to upgrade to the 1920 x 1080 screen then the standard screen is still decent.  It’s nice and bright and, although glossy, it isn’t as horribly reflective as some other glossy screen laptops I have recently used.  The viewing angles are quite typical for a laptop, the best way to view the screen is straight on perpendicular to your eyes.  When the screen is tilted back or forward the colors tend to distort, this is typical for any laptop display unless it’s a more expensive IPS technology screen such as is used in the Apple iPad.  The viewing angles from the side are nice and wide, certainly much wider than the vertical viewing angles.

HP dv6tqe screen HP dv6t screen tilted
HP dv6tqe screen tilted back HP dv6tqe screen side view

HP dv6t Ports

The updated 2011 version of the HP dv6t has the new USB 3.0 port technology that offers faster transfer speed to USB 3.0 compatible devices.  This can be a boon when you need to transfer data to an external storage device, transfer speeds are on the scale of 4 – 6 times faster using USB 3.0.  You also get the all important HDMI port so that you can output video to a monitor or LCD screen.  Here’s a complete rundown of what port you get on each side of the dv6t:

DSC_0198

HP dv6t left side: VGA monitor out port, HDMI port, Ethernet LAN port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 microphone port, 2 headphone ports

DSC_0203

HP dv6t right side: Optical drive (Blu-Ray in this case), 2 USB 3.0 ports, power adapter

DSC_0196

HP dv6t front side: Media card reader slot on the left side, Beats Audio speakers on each side

DSC_0201

HP dv6t back view: no ports, just the hinges

HP dv6tqe Audio and Speakers

The HP dv6t has four speakers, two on the front side and two on the top above the keyboard.  This makes for an above average sound experience from a 15” laptop and the Beats Audio branding, while a lot to do with marketing, does make for a nice sound experience.  However, there is still no subwoofer so bass is lacking.

HP dv6tqe Heat and Cooling

With a high performance laptop one concern is going to be how hot the laptop gets when being run at full tilt.  The only part of the dv6t that got overly warm was the bottom of the laptop after some extended benchmarks were run, the keyboard and palm rest areas got just a bit warm, nothing that would make typing uncomfortable or cause you to sweat any.  Although using the dv6tqe in your lap is not recommended, HP did provide a built-in technology they’re calling CoolSense that works to keep heat levels down when the laptop is in your lap.  The CoolSense software runs in the background and detects when you’re using the laptop on your legs and adjusts the fan and processor speed to keep the laptop cool.  This could mean an increased fan speed and decreased processor clock speed while using the dv6t on your lap, and if that’s not for you then you can disable this software.

HP CoolSense

HP dv6t Quad Edition Conclusion

The HP dv6t Quad Edition is a powerful laptop option and can be had at a great price if you keep your eyes open for a deal.  The fact that I was able to get a configuration with a Quad Core i7-2630qm processor, AMD 6770M graphics, Blu-Ray drive, 750GB storage and 6GB RAM for $799 is amazing.  The dv6tqe is built very well, the aluminum chassis makes the entire laptop rigid and firm, there’s no flex on the body.  Even the battery life, normally not a strong consideration for a 15” laptop, is good at around 5 hours.  The switchable graphics make the dv6tqe flexible and able to turn up the power when you need it, and throttle back to integrated graphics when power efficiency is more important.  Some of the downsides include no backlit keyboard option, something many other competing laptops in this class offer.  The upgrade to a high resolution 1920 x 1080 screen is quite pricey at $150, but something I would recommend to most people nonetheless.  The design is nice, but it does tend to pickup fingerprints so you should carry a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface down.

Overall, if you’re looking for a laptop that can serve as a media center or gaming machine at home or in the dorm room, the dv6tqe is a great choice and can be had at a great price.  It would not fit well as a laptop to carry around campus a lot due to its bulk and heavy weight, so you need to evaluate what your needs are in a laptop first.

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Where to Buy:

The HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition can be configued and purchased at HP.com:

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Filed Under: Feature Articles, Student Laptop Reviews

About Ian Rowan

Ian Rowan is a freelance writer who’s worked and written for Men’s Journal, The Village Voice, Switched.com and Vice Magazine. When he’s not traveling or writing his premature personal memoir, he specializes in technology trends, social media, web 2.0 and gadgets.

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4 Responses to HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition (dv6tqe) Review

  1. Naveed September 22, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Hi,
    I’ve the same model, I’m planning to buy SSD SATA3 for this laptop but I’m not sure if this will support SATA3 or not? Like if I buy one and then I come to know that no it does not support, I don’t want to waste my money if it does not support. Kindly if anyone is confirmed please let me know.
    Regards
    Naveed

    • Bob October 9, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

      Naveed,

      Just today I replaced the 7200 rpm HD with Crucial 128 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT128M4SSD2. (picked it up at Amazon for $184.99)

      My WEI on the disk moved from 5.9 to the top… 7.9. Strange, I have the same video as above, but only get 6.5 today, not the 6.6 he got when posted. Guess the standards have moved up again 🙂 My cpu and memory are the same and I have 8Gb. I did pay the $150 for the 1920 x 1080 and maybe that’s why my performance suffers a bit.

      Cheers

  2. Jaack McMcMahon October 14, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    My machine is a Core i7- 2630Q and has a 750Gb 7200RPM drive and 8Gb ram. It also has a AMD Radeon graphics card beside the built-in intel graphics inside the cpu . The performance on GIMP has been outstanding with the fast hard drive. The boost audio make this a great gaming and video player machine. The brushed steel case adds to the look and feel of a very well built and reasonably priced system. At $850 US Dollars , Win7 Home Ed. and a 3 year warranty make this a top notch system for almost any user. It has more power than most user could ever utilize. Only down side is the small battery that laptop makers skimp on.

  3. Larus October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Nice review … I came across this while searching for benchmarks on the HP dv6t Quad Edition. I just ordered one Monday, on the 17th. Got a good deal for only $934 … a Core i7 – 2670QM, Free upgrade to 8GB RAM & Blue-ray Disk, 640GB HD, 2GB AMD 6770M, One 6 Cell & 9 cell battery, Full HD/1920×1080 LED. Would have been $909 but I wanted the steel gray color. I also thought a backlit keyboard should be optional, but I plan to get a Logitech wireless one to correct that(K800). Take Care.

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