HP dm4 Beats Edition Video and First Thoughts

We recently received the HP dm4 Beats Edition laptop to review, it’s very similar features and specs wise to the Pavilion dm4t we reviewed, but the design and look make it stand out.  For those unfamiliar, the Beats Audio brand is an audio technology part owned by rap artist Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine.  A big part of Beats Audio is its branding, it has a lot of celebrity backers (LeBron James, Dr. Dre.) and of course cool design that can be used on laptops like this dm4.  Whether you consider yourself immune to celebrity influence and marketing or not, most will agree that the look of the dm4 Beats Edition is pretty cool.  The overall design of the laptop immediately catches your eye, it’s refreshingly different.  Here’s a picture of the dm4 Beats Edition fresh out of the box:

dm4 Beats top view

The black finish with red accents is used throughout the design of the dm4 Beats.  The lid and palm rests area use a matte black finish with a soft rubberized feel, it both looks and feels great.

dm4 Beats laptop

The red lettered keys are really quite unique, but it’s not until you turn off the lights and see the red backlit keyboard that the full effect can be experienced:

dm4 Beats backlit keyboard

Of course, the design wouldn’t be complete without a customized desktop wallpaper to match the overall look, as such here’s a look at the Beats Edition desktop wallpaper you get:

dm4 Beats wallpaper

While the overall look is cool and rather hip, it’s not unprofessional either.  Though the dm4 Beats might not be suited to a board room, it wouldn’t look out of place in an office setting.   The one set of people I’m not sure the look will appeal to is females, the dm4 Beats carries a rather masculine look.

HP dm4 Beats Edition Performance

The HP dm4 Beats proves that beauty and brawn don’t have to be mutually exclusive.   The dm4t Beats comes with up to a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, AMD HD 7470M graphics, 8GB of RAM and an optional SSD / mini SSD for fast storage access.  Our particular configuration specs for the review unit was more middle of the road in terms of power:

  • Screen: 14.0-inch diagonal HD+ Anti-glare LED-backlit Display (1600 x 900)
  • Processor: 2nd generation Intel Core i5-2430M Processor (2.4 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) Turbo Boost to 3.0 GHz
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • OS:  Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3
  • Storage: 750GB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
  • Battery: 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery – quoted battery life up 7.0 hours
  • Ports: 3 USB (1 USB 2.0 and 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0), HDMI, VGA, Ethernet RJ-45, Media Card Reader, Headphone Out, Microphone In
  • Optical Drive: SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • Keyboard: Chiclet style design, backlit keyboard
  • Wireless: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Weight: 4.4lbs
  • Dimensions:  13.30″(L) x 8.85″ (W)x0.96″(min H)/1.27″(max H)
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Price as configured: $699 on HP.com (after $50 off coupon, before taxes)

The Intel Core i5 2.4GHz processor on board this dm4t Beats is more than capable enough for the average user and is budget friendly as it’s the standard processor.  Processor upgrades are generally expensive and rarely worth the cost unless you’re a demanding user looking to do such things as gaming or using other intense 3D applications.  The best performance upgrade you can make is selecting a 32GB mSSD + 500GB HD ($150 upgrade), meaning a mini-SATA SSD and Hard Drive combo, so that your OS boots fast but you still have generous storage capacity for large files.

Even if you don’t make any internal performance upgrades, as was the case for us, you still get good performance as the benchmarks show.  We used the Futuremark suite of PCMark benchmarks to do some comparisons:

PCMark Vantage Benchmark Results

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Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
HP Pavilion dm4t Beats – Intel Core i5-2430M, Intel HD3000, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 7,260 PCMarks
HP Envy 15-3000 – Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD Radeon 7690, Toshiba 7200RPM 9,736 PCMarks
SONY VAIO SA – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD 6750M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 7,007 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

 

PCMark 7 Benchmark results

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Laptop PCMark 7 Score
HP Pavilion dm4t Beats – Intel Core i5-2430M, Intel HD3000, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,382 PCMarks
HP ENVY 14 Spectre (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,231 PCMarks
Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60Hz, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,539 PCMarks
HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,168 PCMarks
HP dv7t Quad (Intel Core i7 2670QM 2.20GHz, 2GB Radeon HD 6770M, 8GB RAM, Crucial M4) 4,308 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM) 2,022 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad W520 – Intel Core i7 2720QM, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro 2000, Intel 320 SSD 4,299 PCMarks
HP Envy 17 3D – Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 6850M 1GB, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 2,592 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad U400 – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD Radeon 6470M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,287 PCMarks
Dell XPS 15z – Intel Core i7-2620M, Nvidia GT 525M, 8GB RAM, SSD 3,604 PCMarks

 

The Windows Experience Index score for the dm4t Beats came to 5.9, as you would expect the bottleneck was the slow 5400RPM hard drive:

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It’s disappointing that HP didn’t at least make a faster 7200RPM drive the default for the dm4t Beats Edition, strangely there’s not even an option to upgrade to a 7200RPM drive, the only storage performance boost you can opt for is the expensive SSD.  The hard drive supply shortage due to last years floods in Thailand is likely to blame, there’s a dearth of 7200RPM drives (aka, they’re expensive right now).

Regardless of this, for most people that want to use a laptop for web surfing, typing up documents and viewing videos the dm4 has more than enough punch even at it’s base level configuration.  Multi-tasking is seamless thanks to the dual core Intel Core i5 processor and playing high resolution video will not cause the laptop to break a sweat, staying well below 30% processor utilization.

HP dm4 Beats Video Overview

To get a better look at the dm4 we shot some video and did a quick tour and overview:

HP dm4 Beats Edition Overview

We’ve just scratched the surface here on the dm4 Beats Edition, there’s a lot more to cover, but that is reserved for the upcoming full review that will be posted later this week on Laptop Reviews!

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