HP Pavilion dm4x Review

HP Pavilion dm4x laptopThe HP Pavilion dm4x is a new 14” screen laptop equipped with Intel’s second generation Core i5 processor.  The HP dm4x definitely fits the profile for a student laptop: it’s portable at 4.4lbs and 1” thin, has a durable aluminum casing to standup to the rigors of campus, can stretch to over six hours of battery life to last through classes and has more than enough performance power to run any software you’ll need as a student.  And most important of all, with a starting price of $761.99 via the HP Academic Store (student discount pricing) it fits the student budget.  In this review of the dm4x we have the HP dm4-2070us quick ship version of the laptop.  The specs for this model being reviewed are below:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.90GHz
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000
  • Storage: 640GB (5400RPM)
  • Optical Drive: SuperMulti DVD Burner
  • Display: 14.0” HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768)
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Wireless: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Sound: Dolby Home Theater with Altec Lansing Speakers
  • Keyboard: Full Size Island style (chiclet) keyboard, Fingerprint reader built-in
  • TouchPad: Multi Gesture support with on/off button
  • Ports: Digital media card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 VGA port, 1 RJ-45 (Ethernet) port, 1 headphone out, 1 microphone in
  • Dimensions: 13.42” x 8.98” x 0.98” – 1.27” (Width x Depth x Thickness Range)
  • Weight: 4.3lbs
  • Battery: 6-cell 55WHr Li-Ion battery
  • Web Cam: built-in HD webcam with integrated digital microphone

HP dm4x shopping page

The Pavilion dm4x can be purchased via HP Home & Home Office, the HP Academic Purchase store or 3rd party retailers such as Amazon.com for pre-configured versions like the dm4-2070us.

Difference between dm4t and dm4x

If you visit HP.com you’ll find that they are selling both a Pavilion dm4t and a Pavilion dm4x.  Confusing?  Yes, just a bit, so let’s clear up the differences right now as it’s pretty simple:

  • The dm4t has an Intel Core i3 processor while the dm4x only offers a faster Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • The dm4t offers only integrated graphics while the dm4x offers an upgrade to dedicated AMD 6470M graphics

And that’s it, everything else including the design and build are the same between these laptops.  Basically the HP dm4x is a slightly more powerful version of the HP dm4t.

Design and Build

The HP dm4x when configured on HP.com gives you the option of choosing between a dark umber case finish or a lighter color aluminum finish.  The dm4-2070us comes with the aluminum case and is what you see in the pictures in this review.  Below is an image of the dm4x as it appears with a dark umber casing:

image

With both color finishes you get a brushed metal look and the case is made using aluminum to provide a strong skeleton that will protect the laptop internals.  Even though the case is fully metallic it doesn’t cause the laptop to weigh an extreme amount, I weighed the dm4x on kitchen scales and got a reading of 4.3lbs without the power brick or power cord.  That 4.3lb weight is actually pretty good for a 14” screen laptop and weighs less than the Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (4.8lbs) and Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 I recently reviewed (4.6lbs).  With the power cord and brick the weight of the dm4x comes to 5.1lbs

DSC_3151
The HP dm4x weighs 4lbs 5 ounces
DSC_3152
And 5lbs 2 ounces with power supply

The design of the dm4x is clean and attractive.  The brush metal finish is simple yet stylish.  The screen uses a drop hinge design so it sits quite low when raised, this is beneficial on an airplane to keep the lid from hitting the seat in front.  The corners of the dm4x are curved giving the laptop an overall soft look while ensuring you won’t get jabbed with any sharp edges!  The keyboard carries through on the curved look by having the corner keys curved.  The keyboard has a chiclet style design which is pretty common and in style these days.  There are no dedicated multimedia key buttons on the keyboard, instead the F1 – F12 keys are each assigned a media function such as increasing / decreasing volume or screen brightness.

HP dm4x lid

The HP Pavilion dm4x has a brushed aluminum lid

The Pavilion dm4x slopes from the back to the front with the thinnest point being at the very front at 0.98” and the thickest at the back where it measures 1.27” thick.  This is slightly thinner than your average 14” laptop and should ensure that the dm4x will easily slip into the laptop compartment in any standard backpack.

Another build quality feature worth mentioning with the Pavilion dm4x is that it has HP’s Protect Smart technology included to help prevent data loss during drop situations.  Basically this means that should you drop your laptop there is software on board smart enough to detect the drop (using a built-in accelerometer) and park the hard drive read/write head so that it does not damage data by scratching the disk when the laptop hits the ground.  It’s nice to have this feature as it is one typically seen in more expensive business laptops.

DSC_3150

HP Pavilion dm4x Performance

There is no question the performance the HP dm4x provides is going to be more than enough for the average student.  The fact of the matter is that the base level Intel Core i5-2410m that has a 2.30GHz clock speed and dual cores is going to be ample performance for 90% of students and their needs.  This is the latest Intel mobile processor technology, it’s 20% faster than the previous generation of Intel Core i5 processors and will provide smooth HD video playback, seamless multi-tasking and speedy application switching.  If the 2.30GHz standard clock speed isn’t enough for a certain program the processor can actually overclock itself safely to 2.90GHz using the Intel Turbo Boost technology present on the Core i5-2410m.   Although the Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics solution is very good for 3D graphics rendering, it may not be powerful enough for students doing heavy 3D CAD renderings or graphics animations. If that’s the case you can opt for the dedicated AMD Radeon 6470m graphics card and get better 3D graphics performance.  The Radeon 6470m will also provide a better gaming experience for students interested in playing a few games during down time.

To get an idea of the overall performance of the Pavilion dm4x with the Intel Core i5-2410m and Intel HD 3000 graphics I ran the Windows Experience Index, PCMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage to generate some benchmark scores:

PCMark Vantage Score:

pcmark

3DMark Vantage Score:

3dmark

Windows Experience Index Scores:

image

The 6,204 score in PCMark Vantage is a slight improvement over the 6,056 score the similarly configured Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 received.  The 14” screen category average PCMark Vantage score is around 5,457 so the dm4x can be considered above average.

Right now HP is offering a free upgrade to 6GB of memory when you configure a dm4x, that’s a very generous amount of memory.  You can max out at 8GB of memory, but 6GB is more than enough so don’t waste your money on paying for more memory.  One upgrade I might recommend is opting for the 7200RPM speed hard drive instead of the standard 5400RPM hard drive that HP includes.  Right now it’s only a $10 upgrade from the 640GB 5400RPM hard drive to the 640GB 7200RPM hard drive, and the faster disk performance you get which leads to improved boot up times is well worth it.  Most people focus on the capacity (size) of the hard drive, but a faster spinning hard drive or even faster SSD drive (solid state disk) such as is standard in the Apple MacBook Air can really help make for a faster overall computing experience.

You do get the option of upgrading the processor to as fast as an Intel Core i7-2620m, that’s an expensive upgrade of $200 and not necessary for your average student laptop usage.  Go with the Intel Core i5 processor to get more bang for your buck and keep the price down.

HP dm4x Battery Life

One of the most important features of a laptop for a student is how long the battery lasts on a charge.  HP claims dm4x battery life of up to 6.75 hours with the included 6-cell battery.  The manufacturers quoted battery life is usually “optimistic” shall we say, so I went ahead and did my own test.  With screen brightness set to level 4 out of 10 (still bright enough to easily read text), wi-fi on and a program set to refresh a browser window every 60 seconds the battery lasted 5 hours and 48 minutes.  That’s very close to six hours and what I would consider excellent battery life for such a powerful computer.  If you turned of wireless and dimmed the screen all the way down you could probably get close to the quoted 6.75 hours, but I don’t think that’s a realistic usage scenario for a student.  The near six hour battery life should last you through a few lectures, depending on their length, and if that’s not enough battery life for you there’s the option of a higher capacity 6-cell battery that gives a quoted battery life of 7.5 hours (it’s the same size as regular 6-cell, just $20 more expensive) and a larger 9-cell battery for over 10 hours of battery life.  One caveat with the 9-cell battery is that it is oversized and will weigh more and protrudes from the bottom which causes the laptop to have quite an incline when resting on a flat surface.

HP Pavilion dm4x Screen

HP dm4x screenThe HP dm4x has a 14” screen with a 1366 x 768 resolution.  It is an LED backlit screen with a glossy finish typical on consumer laptops.  There is no screen upgrade option of any type, so if you wanted a higher resolution than the standard 1366 x 768 you are out of luck.  Most will be happy with the standard screen resolution, it offers comfortable text size viewing and a 720p HD resolution for movies.  However, some screen resolution junkies that like 1080p may be disappointed there is not a higher resolution offered.

The screen brightness is excellent. Indoors I found it uncomfortably bright on the highest level brightness setting, level 7 or 8 brightness is ample for your typical class or office setting with fluorescent lights overhead. Although not tested, you could probably use this laptop outdoors and get a decent screen viewing experience when the brightness is set to the highest level.

The screen has a glossy finish which people seem to either love or hate. The glossy finish does make colors more bold and blacks more deep, making for rich movie viewing experiences. The downside to the glossy screen is that when the screen has a lot of blacks on it and you’re in a brightly lit environment you get a ton of reflection off of the screen turning it into a virtual mirror. For the most part I find the average user enjoys the richer colors a glossy screen provides and are willing to accept the reflections you get on the screen in some situations.

The viewing angles on the screen are typical of what you’ll find with other laptops. The vertical viewing angle is quite narrow, meaning viewing straight on with the eye perpendicular to the screen gives the truest color, once you deviate widely from that angle colors can invert and in general become discolored (see the photos for an example). Horizontal viewing angles are much better and you can see the screen and its true colors from quite a way off to the side, the brightness of the screen helps this.

Below are some different viewing angle examples on the Pavilion dm4x:

HP dm4x screen straight on HP dm4x screen tilted back
HP dm4x screen tilted forward HP dm4x screen right angle view

 

HP dm4x Port Options

Input and output port options should be an important consideration with a laptop as it dictates what you can and can’t do when interfacing with other technology and peripherals.   The dm4x has a standard array of ports and will satisfy just about any students needs.  Below is a tour around the laptop to show what ports are located on which side:

On the left side of the dm4x you get the most ports.  From back to front you have the VGA monitor out port, Ethernet RJ-45 port, HDMI port, USB 2.0 port, headphone out and microphone in

HP dm4x left side

 

On the right side of the dm4x you can see the optical drive (a DVD burner, there’s no option for Blu-Ray), 2 USB 2.0 ports and the power jack.

HP dm4x right side

 

On the front of the laptops left side is the media card reader slot, you can place an SD card in here.

HP dm4x front

 

The back of the laptop has no ports

HP dm4x back

 

You get all of the essential ports here, it’s certainly nice to have the HDMI port to be able to output video and audio to an LCD TV.  It’s a little disappointing not to have some type of fast data transfer port such as eSata, FireWire or the latest USB 3.0 technology.   For those that prefer to backup data using an external portable storage drive it’s going to be slow going transferring all of that over a USB 2.0 port connection.

HP dm4x Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the dm4x is chiclet style in design (also referred to as “island style”), meaning the keys protrude out from the casing.  I like this design as it prevents crumbs and other debris from falling between keys and going into the laptop itself, so from a practical perspective it’s easier to clean, just use a can of air to easily blow away all debris.  The chiclet keyboard design is also pleasing and in style right now, Apple uses it across their MacBook line of laptops.

HP dm4x keyboard

The keyboard is pleasant to type on.  It’s hard to accidentally bump a key and type the wrong letter as buttons require a good push and not just a light brush to register a hit.  This is a good thing unless you’re an ultra speed typist who prefers very sensitive keys.  The function row of keys at the top (F1 – F12) are used primarily as media buttons, HP calls these “one touch action keys”.  For instance, use the F11 button to quickly mute the laptop or F12 to toggle wi-fi on or off.  I like this approach as most people rarely use the function keys nor do they learn what they’re for in applications they use, the old standby of using F1 for Help or F5 for browser refresh aren’t well known these days.

There is no option for a backlit keyboard like is offered in the HP Envy line of laptops and is becoming a popular feature among users, I wish HP offered this.  You do get a fingerprint reader included which is a nice alternative to using passwords to login to the computer or websites you frequent.

The touchpad on the dm4x is a decent size, it is black and has a matte finish which means no ugly fingerprints left behind.  The touchpad is pleasing to use, while I have read some complaints of last years version of the HP dm4 having a “jumpy cursor” I have had no such problems.  It appears that HP has worked on the touchpad and improved it for the dm4x.  One difference is that the buttons are now separated and not integrated into the touchpad, I prefer separate buttons and feel this is a good move.  That said, I still wish the dm4x mouse buttons were more substantial, their travel distance is very short and they’re somewhat stiff.  They’re not the best touchpad mouse buttons I’ve used and find myself using a wireless mouse instead, but that’s generally my preference anyway.

HP dm4x Speakers

The speakers included with the dm4x are Altec Lansing branded and boast Dolby Advanced Audio sound.  That sounds impressive, but don’t expect to be that guy getting blown backwards while sitting in a chair as the laptop blasts out a cinema quality audio experience.  Rather, what you’ll get is a good stereo sound experience with the two speakers at the front of the laptop emitting sound right at you, but you’ll still suffer from lack of bass typical with most laptops.  That’s fine though, for any academic purposes such as watching online lectures these speakers are great.  I also tested the speakers and built-in microphone with Skype and it was a good experience, the speakers actually can get very loud and I had to turn them down to below half volume to prevent feedback between the speakers and the microphone while Skyping.

HP Pavilion dm4x Heat

HP has built-in a technology they call CoolSense that works to keep heat levels down.  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 dm4x on your lap, and if that’s not for you then you can disable this software.  During my usage I found the laptop did indeed stay a comfortable temperature on my legs.  When used on a desk the dm4x stayed very cool, nowhere on the keyboard did I detect any heat build up so no issues with sweaty hands and palms!

HP CoolSense

HP Pavilion dm4x Review Conclusion

Students should take a close look at the HP dm4x laptop as an option for use as an important academic tool.  It’s got everything you need for your academic computing needs and then some nice extras.  First of all the design is very appealing so fashion conscious students will approve.  It’s not just a pretty face though, the dm4x is built with sturdy metal materials and beneath the hood the second generation Intel Core i5 processor will provide more than enough power to tackle multi-tasking, frequent application switching and smooth video playback.  An option for dedicated graphics with 1GB of memory can make the dm4x a good choice for engineering students as well.  Most importantly for students this laptop is very portable, weighing in at 4.3lbs, and the battery life of about 6 hours on a standard battery is enough to last through a few lectures without being plugged in.  If you need more battery life there are battery upgrade options, something you don’t get with other laptops such as the Apple MacBook Pro.  Finally, the price in the mid $700’s is a very good one for what you get with the dm4x.  Getting the most features and best quality for a laptop you hope will last you four years of college is a tough buying decision, the HP Pavilion dm4x passes the test for meeting student needs in a laptop and providing quality with value so it should certainly be on your shortlist of laptops to consider with this important buying decision.

Here are links to the latest HP Laptop Deals!



60 Responses to HP Pavilion dm4x Review

  1. Jordan June 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    really fantastic review. I’m thinking about getting this laptop or the lenovo e420s. I’m leaning towards the lenovo but what’s holding me back is the lenovo’s screen. The hp screen seems better. Which one would you get?

    • AJ June 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      @Jordan. The HP dm4x screen is brighter and the colors pop more. But the HP dm4x screen is glossy and you do get reflection off of it (especially if you have strong lighting from above or behind you and the screen is dark), if that bothers you a lot then it would make the ThinkPad E420 a stronger choice. Also, as I just responded to another question, there are other factors to consider such as battery life and keyboard quality and what’s more important to you as an individual.

  2. hhuangpe June 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Appreciated the in-depth review and your review also on Lenovo Edge E420 – almost identical spec. and price now at Staples and OD respectively. Which one do you prefer from durability and reliability point of view?

    Both are not true business grade laptop and I don’t plan to buy extended warranty.

    Thank you again.

    • AJ June 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      It’s a close matchup between the E420 and the HP dm4x. I think there are three major factors separating them and it may depend on personal preferences as to which you prefer:

      ThinkPad E420 has better keyboard feel and the pointing stick built-in if you like that
      HP dm4x has better battery life with the standard battery, almost six hours, which is an important factor. The high capacity 6-cell is a cheap $20 upgrade too
      The ThinkPad E420 has a matte screen, while the dm4x has a glossy screen. I find glossy to be distracting and prefer matte, but to each his own, many go the other way

      Outside of that the pricing is very similar. There is a $50 off coupon on the dm4x for students I just posted about: http://www.studentbuyingguide.com/2011/06/hp-dm4x-laptop-50-off-coupon-for-students/ which might help to make it a better deal as the 6GB of memory and 640GB hard drive is standard. Sounds like you’re looking to buy in retail store though. If you forced me to make a decision I think I’d go with the dm4x simply because it’s got better battery life, is more stylish and HP includes a generous amount of RAM and HD space even on the basic configs. Good luck!

  3. hhuangpe June 29, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Thanks for the quick response. The E420 is on sale at Office Depot for $579.99 at http://www.officedepot.com/compare/compareEmail.do?skus=780678_659092

    and the dm4x is on sale for $599.99 (after rebate) at Staples http://www.staples.com/HP-Pavilion-dm4-2070us-14-Laptop/product_332979 ends July 2nd.

    Thank you again.

    • AJ June 29, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      Wow, both great prices and definitely a tough call. I still give the edge to the dm4x for battery life, design and slightly less weight. However, as noted the matte screen, better keyboard / pointing stick and the availability of an eSata port for faster data transfer to portable storage are all factors that could sway you to the E420 if you want those features.

  4. Cardinalo July 17, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    Hey AJ. Thanks for the great review. The HP dm4-2070us and the Lenovo E420 (the ones you reviewed) are both $449 at Staples and Office Depot respectively. Which one do you think will last for 4 years? I bought the HP and it seems slightly fragile. The aluminum doesnt really feel like metal that would protect this thing if it fell. Any ideas?

    • Andrew July 17, 2011 at 6:39 am #

      Based on the fact the E420 is heavier you could probably surmise that the internal skeleton is a little more beefy and the skin thicker, so it might have the slight edge. Having said that, I think if you take proper precautions with the dm4x (don’t carry it with one hand, put it in a sleeve when in your backpack for extra protection) there’s no reason it won’t last 4-years. There are no claims that either laptop is tested to withstand a 4-foot drop, you’d need a laptop with some MIL Specs for that (such as a ThinkPad X220 or T420 that cost around $1,000). But for the price you got at $449 that’s unbelievable and the build quality for price as good as you can possibly get!

    • Cardinalo July 17, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Ok. Thanks for your help AJ! I was also wondering, is there a way to join this website? I love reviewing laptops/finding deals so I would love to join.

    • Andrew July 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      Good question! We don’t have a forum yet so there’s no real way to “join”, however the plan is to get a forum up and running soon so that it is possible to register and make your own posts. And if you’re interested in doing a user review of any laptop you buy and having it posted on the site then that’s certainly a possibility, you can send me an email to andrew @ studentbuyingguide dot com or use the contact form if you are interested.

  5. Cardinalo July 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Another question, why does the WEI Graphics for the Lenovo rank 5.9 while the HP is only 5.4? Arent they both intel hd 3000? Does this suggest that the lenovo is slightly better at gaming?

    • Andrew July 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      I actually puzzled over that fact myself, they have the exact same graphics card and the exact same resolution screen and yet the graphics performance was rated quite differently by the Windows Experience Index. I can’t make a whole lot of sense of this myself, the hard drive on the E420 was faster at 7200RPM versus 5400RPM on the HP dm4, but that should not affect graphics performance. It’s possible the Lenovo E420 had more up to date drivers installed than the dm4-2070us, but why HP would not have included up to date drivers on a new laptop beats me. At the end of the day if you look at the scores then yes you would have to assume that with the given specs the E420 has better graphics performance even though the hardware is the same.

    • Jeff October 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

      I know the reason. E420 has 4GB( 2+2), which is dual-channel. DM4X has 6GB (4+2), which is single channel. RAM influent graphic ram.

    • Andrew October 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

      Nice insight there Jeff, thanks for clearing that up.

  6. Arjun July 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Hey Andrew great review! I am an incoming college freshman and am having a tough time deciding between the HP Pavilion dm4x and the Dell Inspiron 14R. It seems like you really know your stuff so I was hoping for an opinion considering that college is now a month away. I just am looking for good battery life and something that will serve me for the years to come. Appreciate it!

    • Andrew July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

      hey Arjun, I’d lean towards the HP dm4x vs. the Inspiron 14R. The HP dm4x has more metal in the frame and body which should lead to a more durable build and therefore longer lasting. Also, the battery life on the dm4x is 6 hours while the Inspiron 14R is somewhere around 3.5 hours I believe. Good luck with your decision on the laptop and first year at college!

  7. Ahmad August 26, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    Hey, I’m really close to buying the dm4-2055ca. It has all the same specs albeit slightly less RAM (4GB) and a better graphics card. My only concern is the fan. I’ve read some review which state that the fan gets really load. Is this true?

    Thanks

    • Andrew August 26, 2011 at 6:09 am #

      Ahmad, personally I didn’t think it was all that loud and it definitely was not as loud as the Dell Inspiron 14z or the Dell Vostro 3450 laptops I recently reviewed. I guess some people are more sensitive to noise than others and will report the slightest thing, but I found that the HP CoolSense technology that’s built into the dm4x actually worked to decrease fan usage and overall noise.

    • Ahmad August 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      Thanks so much for the help. Have a great day.

  8. Ahmad September 2, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Hi, I ended up purchasing the Dm4-2055ca I mentioned earlier. Everything runs great, no loud fan at all.
    Just on concern. USB’s won”t fit into my two USB slots on the right. Is their a problem with my machine or are they optimized for something else?

    • Ahmad September 2, 2011 at 1:32 am #

      ^
      *one
      *there

    • Rose October 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      How is the sound quality? Is it loud and clear enough for waching movies with family?

    • Andrew October 7, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      The speakers are fine, the only area in which they’re weak (and is the same for most any laptop) is for bass. So if you like a lot of rap or rock that has bass or movies with explosions you won’t get the low rumbling effect you might want. Spoken audio is clear and the higher tone music is fine.

  9. Collins September 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Great review! Thank you for the detailed overview and explanation of the unfamiliar specs.

  10. Rose October 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Hi AJ,
    Thanks for your helpful review, but still I can not decide between Sony VPCEG290X and HP dm4x (both cost around $650)? which one do you think is better for everyday use?

    • Andrew October 7, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      hi Rose, the HP dm4x and Sony EG are very close in specs and good laptops. However, I would go with the HP dm4x because it is lighter at 4.3lbs versus the Sony EG 5.1lbs and the HP body is made of a more durable aluminum than what I assume is plastic for the VAIO EG. Good luck with your decision!

  11. Cerito October 7, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    I was hoping to compare this Laptop (dm4x) to the Satellite P740-BT4G22 Laptop. You have not posted the Satellite P740-BT4G22

  12. Joel October 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Nice review, but you haven’t mentioned anything about Linux compatibility. I came across a post on Ubuntu Forum where someone was complaining that he couldn’t get the dm4x’s touchpad to work correctly under Ubuntu. Do you know anything about that? Have you tried it with Linux at all?

    • Andrew October 14, 2011 at 7:19 am #

      Hi Joel, I’m sorry but I did not install Linux on the dm4x and can’t comment on the issues with the TouchPad. I’d be mildly surprised since it’s just using Synaptics drivers and has no unique features.

  13. Lotte November 8, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Thanks for the great review! I also read your Dell Inspiron 14z review with interest, and can’t decide between these two…
    I was thinking to buy either the new Dell Inspiron 411z (with intel core i5-2430, and 640 (5400 rpm) or 750GB (7200 rpm)), or HP dm4-2102eo (intel core i5-2430 and 750 GB (5400 rpm)).
    Both price and specs are nearly the same, HP seems to have a better build, but I guess Dell’s battery time is longer and it ‘s slightly lighter. On the other hand, Dell appears to be more noisy and have a (minor?) touchpad problem… (although I read that the dm4 touchpad is not great either)…
    Any comments/thoughts/suggestions?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Andrew November 8, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      If I were deciding between the Inspiron 14z and the HP dm4x, I’d go with the dm4x due to its better build quality. It’s heavier due to metal chassis, but that’s kind of a good thing, unless you really need something as light as possible I’d accept the trade off. Also, the dm4x gets over 5 hours of battery and so for most that will be good enough. Neither laptop has the greatest touchpad, you can do things like download the latest drivers to try and improve them but at the end of the day they’re still usable they just have “quirks” now and again. I generally use a wireless mouse when at a desk and would recommend that. The Logitech Anywhere Mouse is my favorite.

    • Lotte November 8, 2011 at 8:06 am #

      Thanks so much for your quick reply! I’ll keep it in mind…

      Have a nice day!

    • M November 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Just saw this and wanted to reply in case you haven’t decided – I just bought the Dell Inspiron 14z because it had great specs and everything I wanted/needed for just under $600. I’d also had another Dell for over 5 years that I was very happy with. But, unfortunately, I’ve just returned *3* of these laptops to Dell because each one they sent had a major defect (in the OS, battery, etc.). Also, the fan was quite noisy on 2 of these and the trackpad is ridiculous, though I would never have returned it for those reasons. I was fed up after a month of returning computers and talking to tech support, so I just bought this HP reviewed here… I’ll see how it goes!

      As much as I wanted to like the Dell, I can’t recommend it; though their customer support was pretty great.

      And thanks, Andrew, for these reviews – this website is so useful. I followed your advice on the specs (hard drive and battery) for the laptop I ordered and I’m hoping for a good experience with HP.

    • Andrew November 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      that’s great feedback, sorry to hear the Inspiron 14z was a dud so many times, that’s really unlucky. The dm4x is a great machine and has a great price tag. Frankly I think for the price it’s a much better option than the expensive Envy 14.

  14. Sasha November 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    AJ thanks for the detailed reviews. I’m comparing the 14″ laptops under 5 lbs. HP, Lenovo, and Dell all have good & bad points. I’m seriously considering the Toshiba Portege R830 series or the upcoming Z830 coming out this month (I hope)! Could you help make a comparison to Toshiba? Thanks, Sasha

    • Andrew November 14, 2011 at 6:51 am #

      hi Sasha, the R830 is the most expensive of the 14″ / 13″ laptops I’ve reviewed but it is probably tied for my favorite with the HP dm4x. My only issue with the R830 is that it the keyboard is not very good and the screen very reflective, the HP dm4x did not have these issues. Still, I’d choose them both over the Dell Inspiron 14z. As far as the Toshiba Z830, I think the jury is still out on ultrabooks, obviously it doesn’t have an optical drive so if you needed that then it’s not a good option. Also, the keyboards on super thin machines tend to have poor key travel and I really like good keyboards so to me that’s a flaw that will be hard to overcome. But the incredibly light weight is certainly nice.

  15. Sasha November 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Thanks AJ! Good to know what to look out for. I’ve been extremely satisfied with my last two HP desktops. But a friend suggested checking out Toshiba for laptops since they specialize in them. Also appreciate your opinion on Dell 14z since a deal caught my eye from Costco.com:

    $1,099.99 after $200 OFF
    Dell XPS 14z
    Core i7-2640M 2.8GHz
    Backlit Keyboard
    0.9″ Thin

    Sounds too good to be true?
    Sasha

    • Andrew November 15, 2011 at 7:35 am #

      Well the XPS 14z definitely is nice, and a Core i7 inside a 14″ body is about as powerful as you can get. I also like the backlit keyboard. If you’ve got the budget, I’d be very tempted to go for that. However, you could save a lot by sticking with a cheaper $700 – $800 HP/Toshiba laptop.

  16. Sasha November 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    PS Actually the Toshiba R835 does have an optical cd/dvd drive and weighs only 3.2 pounds and a 3.0 USB port which the HP dm4x doesn’t . Oh such hard decisions!

    • Andrew November 15, 2011 at 7:17 am #

      Sorry, I should have remembered that! The HP dm4x does not have USB 3.0 or eSATA, so if you will be frequently moving files to portable storage via a cable connected portable drive then I would definitely take that into consideration. However, if that’s not something you’ll be doing often the lack of it shouldn’t make much difference.

  17. Matt November 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Has anyone else noticed that even though HP is advertising Turbo Boost on the dm4x there is no option in the BIOS to enable it, no drivers for turbo boost on HPs website, and absolutely not enabled. Try it out yourself … download Argus monitor and notice that it does not go past the standard clock speed. Wtf?

    • John February 16, 2012 at 6:48 am #

      Matt, i know its been awhile since you last posted this but any news?? i have this laptop and you make a great point i always had just assumed it was at least “auto” OCing me for a temporary boost in power like when im streaming hd videos or other processor intensive tasks (you know since thats basically how the technology is advertised/works as far as my simple mind is concerned). Any word from HP? Checking my search computer/files as well as searching the windows and hp help program, their website, and google for answers didnt seem to turn up anything at all. Andrew, great review but what about not having the turbo boost? Seems unfair for a manufacturer to advertise for a feature that is not on this computer. And i have noticed a few places here are there where the extra power could be used and have hit 100% CPU usage at least couple dozen times in the months ive owned it. This is kind of important can we try to get this taken care of? I will help in any way i can just let me know, thanks. –John

    • SC March 3, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      You might want to plug into the wall and then install the intel turbo boost monitor software. Or just try the Argus monitor you have mentioned. I was able to see that my cpu speed varied from around 2.3GHz to 2.9GHz with the latest BIOS (with VT enabled) when the laptop was plugged in.

  18. H January 8, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    Hey! So, I’m looking to buy a new laptop, and so far I’m really leaning towards the dm4x. However, what’s holding me back is graphics. While your review is a bit kinder, I’ve read some others that are considerably more critical of the graphics capabilities when it comes to gaming. I don’t game much, personally, but I do own Batman: Arkham City, and I’d really like to play it with a good performance experience. You also mentioned different options for graphics animation. What would be the best option for me in that particular aspect? And how might a PC game like Arkham City fare on the dm4x?

    • Andrew January 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      It depends on the game, some games are “processor hungry” while others are “graphics card hungry”. Batman Arkham City actually does need dedicated graphics to run well, here’s an article from LaptopMag in which the Dell Inspiron 14 got only 20fps using the Intel HD3000 graphics that the HP dm4x has: http://blog.laptopmag.com/tests-show-batman-arkham-city-requires-a-high-end-notebook-gpu . So, with that, I’d look for a laptop that at least has a mid level graphics card for your needs. You might consider the HP dv6t Select Edition or Quad Edition, even though those are larger sized laptops.

  19. Catherine January 11, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Thank you all the great info…I’m buying one! My question is about the ‘care’ packages HP offers – do you think it’s worth $120 for a 2 year package or is the standard warranty the way to go?

    • Andrew January 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Catherine, good choice for a laptop. Extended warranties are nice if they cover accidental damage, for instance if you spill liquids or drop the laptop and it’s your fault the HP Care warranty will still cover resulting damage. However, if you’re a careful person and are pretty sure nothing will happen due to your own negligence then I recommend using an American Express or Discover Card to make the purchase and those companies automatically extend whatever warranty you get by 1-year. You can read more about it here: http://www.laptopreviews.com/amex-extended-warranty-2011-08, it’s a great way to get longer warranty protection but not pay any extra.

  20. Grace January 12, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Andrew, thank you for posting this review. I read several others as well along with all the good and the ugly posted about this particular laptop. I was still sold on it and I’m waiting for my new HP dm4x to arrive.

    The price including all options I chose, but not including tax, was $637.19 with the student discount. Freebies included were really nice – free double upgrade to 8GB memory, an upgrade to 750GB hard drive and free shipping. I opted to up the hard drive from 5400rpm to 7200rpm for $20, which is included in the price I have given.

    HP Pavilion dm4x Entertainment PC
    • dark umber
    • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    • 2nd generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2430M Processor (2.4 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) Turbo Boost to 3.0 GHz
    • Intel(R) HD Graphics 3000 [HDMI, VGA]
    • FREE Double UPGRADE to 8GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
    • 750GB 7200 rpm Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
    • No Additional Office Software
    • No additional security software
    • 6-Cell Lithium-Ion Battery (standard) – Up to 6.75 hours of battery life +++
    • 14.0″ diagonal High-Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768)
    • SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
    • HP TrueVision HD Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone and HP SimplePass Fingerprint Reader
    • Intel 802.11b/g/n WLAN with Wireless Display Support
    • Standard Keyboard
    • HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope

    I decided to buy another HP because my first HP laptop has lasted over 4 years and has been tortured by 2 boys here and there. I’d say that is a great tribute to the quality of HP machines! Hopefully, all will go well right out of the box. If I have any issues I’ll come back to let you know and/or ask questions. Otherwise, happy hunting and good luck to all looking for the best deal!

    • Andrew January 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Hi Grace, that’s a good deal, and the HP Academic discount is a nice way to save money for sure. The free upgrade to 8GB of RAM is probably more than you even need, but hey, it’s free so who’s to complain :)

      Good luck with the dm4x and thanks for the comments!

    • Ron January 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Grace, where did you get it!? I am looking for one for my son.

    • Andrew January 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Ron, you can get a similar configuration at Staples right now: http://www.staples.com/HP-Pavilion-dm4-2180us-14-Laptop/product_375364 for $549.99 after rebate. I believe HP has now removed the dm4x from online.

  21. Catherine January 12, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Andrew, Thanks for the great advice…I can’t wait for the computer to arrive! I’ll be back with an update for you :-)

    • ZAN February 6, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      Hi, I bought this laptop, HP DM4-2191us at Staples yesterday, and I realized that the cooling fan is always on. I have updated the BIOS and disabled “fan always on” on BIOS setting, however, the fan is till on.. Is it a normal condition or not?

    • Andrew February 6, 2012 at 2:58 am #

      Have you tried using the HP CoolSense software that’s on there? Try using that and adjust the fan. I did not experience a constantly running fan, but I used it on a desk at most times. If it’s in your lap and you have performance set to maximum then it might force the fan on anyway.

  22. ZAN February 6, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    Andrew : Thanks for your reply. Yes, I the cool sesne “on” and even I did not do anything, and the CPU usage is just 5%. I also realized that the default bios setting for the fan is “fan always on”. I tried to contact HP support, they suggested me to update the BIOS and the fan is constantly running (slow at quite at the beginning and sometimes louder when the temperature is higher). Honestly I like this new laptop very much

    • ZAN February 6, 2012 at 3:28 am #

      is it normal for this model to have the fan always on? and why does HP set the default Bios setting as “fan always on”.?

  23. dacrazyman February 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    i ordered the HP Pavilion DM4-3050US for $479 after rebate from quill.com. it actually has two USB 3.0 ports plus everything else others mentioned.

    • Jason Garro February 26, 2012 at 3:37 am #

      Wow, this is the best review website I’ve found on the HP dm4 line! I appreciate all the comments on the Dell Inspiron 14z, Toshiba Portege R835, etc. These are all the same models I’ve considered. My wife actually just got the Inspiron 14z and except for the stiff buttons on the trackpad and annoying port covers it’s a nice machine.

      For me, I’m pretty much sold on the dm4t with USB 3.0. I love the design and the weight and look of the laptop. I’ve been a little concerned about the negative reviews of the older dm4 models especially how a number of people have mentioned the had only 2 hour battery life. Also, some said the laptop just died after a few months of use. Should I still be concerned about these problems on the new 3050 model?

      Is the dm4-3050us basically the same laptop as the dm4t? I noticed it has a few improvements such as improved trackpad & USB 3.0? Also, I’m thinking of upgrading to the oversized 9 cell battery. Has anyone used it and what do you think about it? Does it really kick up the battery life to 10 hours and is the incline annoying or helpful on both a table and on your lap?

      Thanks,

      Jason

    • Andrew Baxter February 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      Jason, thanks for the positive comments! Glad the review was helpful. Your timing is good, we just posted a review today of the new dm4t 2012 update. It’s actually for the dm4t-3000 series. Here’s a link to the review: http://www.laptopreviews.com/hp-pavilion-dm4t-2012-review-2012-02 . Check it out and if you ask questions there the reviewer Zaz will be happy to answer whatever questions you have.

  24. Bruce W. April 2, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    I have the HP Pavilion dm4 14″ laptop. How do I connect my Sony video camera with firewire to this laptop? There is a usb port and a eSATA port on the sides. What to do? Is there an adapter available?

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