HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Review

HP Pavilion dv6z Quad EditionThe HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition laptop has a 15.6” screen and is meant as a desktop replacement and multimedia entertainment laptop.  The dv6z Quad Edition has the latest AMD Llano Quad Core processors, you can get either the AMD A6 or A8 series, the review unit that I have includes the AMD Quad-Core A8 3510MX 2.5GHz processor.  The nice thing about these Llano AMD processors are that they have an integrated graphics card with good enough performance to allow you to play modern 2011 3D games, but are not as power hungry as dedicated graphics cards.  Even better, the cost of the AMD Quad Core dv6z powered laptop is lower than that of the HP dv6t Quad Core Intel powered laptop.  The HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition starts at $599 on HP.com.  If you’re looking to save some money and still get a powerful laptop then this laptop could be for you.  We’ll do some comparisons of the dv6t and dv6z in this review to see if either might be better for your needs.

Before we start here are the specs for the dv6z Quad Edition under review:

HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Packing Slip Specs

  • Screen: 15.6” LED backlit 1366 x 768 resolution, glossy finish
  • Processor: AMD A8-3510MX (2.50GHz / 1.8GHz Cache)
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon 6620G
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 (2 Dimm)
  • Storage: 640GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
  • Optical Drive: Blu-Ray player & SuperMulti DVD Burner
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Web Camera: HP True Vision HD Webcam and Digital Microphone
  • Ports: 4 USB (2 USB 2.0 and 2 High Speed USB 3.0), HDMI, VGA monitor out, Ethernet LAN port
  • Dimensions and Thickness: 14.88″ (W) x 9.71″ (D) x 1.23″ (min Height)/1.39″ (max Height)
  • Weight: 6.1lbs

HP dv6z Quad Core Unboxing

The HP dv6zqe came well packaged and arrived in just 10-days from the time of order.  HP plastered an AMD processor on the outside, just to make sure you know that’s what you’re getting inside I suppose.  Below are some pictures of the unboxing and what you get inside:

HP Pavilion dv6z BoxHP Pavilion dv6z Box Open
HP Pavilion dv6z LabelHP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Unboxing

HP dv6z Quad Edition Design

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 is 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 dark umber lid.  To get a better idea of the design of the dv6z check out the video review I did of the dv6z:

HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Review

The one downside to the design is the glossy surface used around the screen, it picks up fingerprints and can also reflect light which is annoying.

HP dv6z Quad Edition Build Quality

The dv6z is one of the better built consumer laptops I’ve used in a while.  It’s on par with business-class laptops in terms of sturdiness.  The case and lid are very rigid and have little flex.  The only noticeable flex on the body can be found on the bottom under the optical drive housing, this is fairly typical of any laptop as it’s hard to reinforce the hollow area an optical drive requires.  The keyboard has a bit of flex on it in places as well, that will be covered more in the keyboard section.  Overall the dv6z is a very sturdy laptop that feels like it will be able to take some abuse and keep on ticking.

HP dv6z Weight and Dimensions

The Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition is not a laptop designed to be carried for miles around campus, rather it is more of a desktop replacement style laptop. It weighs in at 5lbs 10 ounces (5.625 lbs) without the power cord and adapter, but add in the weight of the adapter and the travel weight goes up to 6lbs 11.4 ounces (6.7125 lbs):

DSC_0363DSC_0364

The dv6z isn’t exactly thin, it has a thickness of 1.23” to 1.39” so it would take up quite a lot of space in a backpack.  The dv6z is still light enough to be easily moved around a home or office without breaking your back though, so it’s entirely appropriate to buy this laptop and use it as a portable computer, I just wouldn’t want to walk miles with it or heave it along on a long distance flight.

HP dv6zqe Screen

HP dv6z quad screen

The HP dv6z Quad Edition offers two different screen resolution options. You can go with the standard 1366 x 768 resolution or pay $150 extra for the 1920 x 1080 resolution display. I kept the price down and went with the 1366 x 768.  This is quite a low resolution for a 15.6” screen laptop and if you can afford it I’d recommend upgrading to the 1080p screen.  One thing to consider is that if you want to do gaming on medium to high settings on the native screen resolution you will get better performance with this lower resolution.  However, if you don’t care about gaming and just want to fit more on the screen and have a great movie watching experience viewing Blu-Ray 1080p movies then the higher resolution is a nice upgrade.   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, so if you’re a movie buff the upgrade might almost be necessary.

HP dv6z screen view

The screen brightness on the dv6z Quad laptop is amazing, almost too bright at the top setting if you ask me.  I left the brightness two notches below the top for a comfortable level that was easy to read.  The bright screen made viewing angles from the side very wide.  Vertical viewing angles were so so.  Overall the dv6z screen is better than the average laptop screen, but it is not as gorgeous as say an IPS technology screen used on the Apple iPad that offers wide viewing angles.

The screen has a glossy finish, which is good if you like movie viewing as it provides bolder colors and great contrast.  However, it also picks up a lot of reflections and if you’re working on it 8 hours a day that can get annoying and cause eye strain.

HP dv6z screen angle viewHP dv6z screen angle view

 

HP dv6z Quad Core Performance

If you’re purchasing the HP dv6z Quad Edition you’re probably at least somewhat interested in performance, otherwise you could get the cheaper regular HP dv6t.  The dv6z AMD A8 processor this laptop comes with features 4 cores so that multi-tasking is a natural strength of this laptop.  Each core can handle a separate task, think of it as having 4 brains, instead of a human that becomes scatter brained when trying to do four different things this processor takes it all in stride when four different programs make four different requests all at the same time.  The result is very smooth performance with all of your typical day-to-day program tasks.  Running a web browser, security scan, playing a video and typing up a document at the same time can all be done and you’ll still get good performance with each program.

With the AMD A8-3510MX you get an integrated graphics card in the form of the AMD 6620G.  While this is not a dedicated graphics card, it’s integrated into the APU with the processor and does not have its own dedicated memory, it performs almost like a dedicated graphics card and most definitely outperforms the Intel HD3000 integrated graphics.  The AMD 6620G offers enough 3D performance to be able to play newer 2011 high-end 3D graphic engine games at medium to high settings on the 1366 x 768 screen.  You get decent graphics performance but don’t pay the cost in battery life as you normally do with higher performing graphics cards, I was still able to achieve over 5 hours of battery life on the dv6z.  To understand how the dv6z Quad Edition Llano powered laptop does in terms of performance let’s compare some 3DMark benchmark scores to other laptops, one with a dedicated GPU and one with integrated, both using an Intel platform:

3dmark

Laptop3DMark Vantage Score
HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition – AMD A8-3510MX, AMD 6620G Graphics2,919 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition – Intel Core i7-2630qm, AMD 6770M Graphics6,373 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dm4x – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 6GB RAM, Intel HD3000 Graphics1,174 3DMarks

The near 3,000 score the dv6z with its 6620G graphics card achieves is far superior to the Intel HD3000 graphics performance, almost by 3x.  However, when you compare the score to the more powerful dedidated AMD 6770M graphics you see it’s only about half the score that achieves and can see why dedicated graphics with dedicated memory still wins the day.

Comparing overall system performance scores, the HP dv6z Quad Edition with the AMD A8 processor is on par with an Intel Core i3 level system, but depending on usage the AMD APU may give you better performance on some programs relative to Intel.

LaptopPCMark Vantage Score
HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition – AMD A8-3510MX, AMD 6620G Graphics, 6GB RAM5,347 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition – Intel Core i7-2630qm 2.00GHz, 6GB RAM8,211 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM3,204 PCMarks

The Windows Experience Index on the dv6z Quad Edition came it at a strong score of 5.8:

HP dv6z Quad Windows Experience Score

 

HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition Battery Life

The battery life of the HP dv6zqe of course varies upon usage, I conducted a battery friendly test in which the screen brightness was set to the 3rd level, wi-fi was on and a web page was left open that refreshed every minute.  Under these conditions, the dv6z battery lasted 5 hours and 10 minutes, which is pretty darn good for a desktop replacement laptop.  Since the dv6z Quad is intended as a desktop replacement I doubt many people will even need that much battery life.

HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Keyboard

DSC_0369

The HP dv6zqe keyboard is spacious to say the least, it stretches from edge to edge and includes a built-in number pad. The keyboard uses a chiclet style design. 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.  It’s really too bad that HP didn’t include a backlit keyboard, though the Envy line is considered the premium line of HP notebooks and gets that treatment, I would have expected to see it on the dv6 series as you pay enough to expect this feature.

HP includes a fingerprint reader as a standard feature, this is nice to have as an alternate form of login for Windows.  Another feature I like is that 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 functions keys work on a Mac, call it copying but I’ll call it following a smart design implementation, you can change the default behavior of the Fn keys in the Bios if you do rely on the standard functionality of those keys.

HP Pavilion dv6zqe Touchpad

DSC_0396The HP dv6z  touchpad is 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 touchpads such as two finger rotation and pinch to zoom.  You have to enable these features in the touchpad control software, the more advanced features are not on by default.

HP dv6z Quad Ports

The dv6z Quad Edition has the latest USB 3.0 port technology which offers faster transfer speed to USB 3.0 compatible devices. This is great 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 versus 2.0. You also get the an HDMI port so that you can output video to a monitor or LCD screen. Here’s a complete review of the ports you get on each side of the dv6z Quad Edition laptop:

dv6z Quad left side

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

dv6z Quad right side

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

HP dv6z front ports

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

HP dv6z back side

HP dv6t back view: no ports, just the hinges

HP dv6zqe Heat and Cooling

HP CoolSense

When using the dv6z Quad laptop under normal conditions of light to moderate use the laptop stays cool. The HP Coolsense technology software allows you to adjust how often you want fans to come on, set it to the quietest setting to reduce noise and fan usage or adjust it to the coolest setting and fans will run more frequently and keep the laptop cooler. Under normal usage the CPU stayed around 40C, which is a very reasonable temperature. Under more demanding usage such as benchmarks the temperature can crest as high as 70C, it is recommended you use this or any laptop on a table if you’re going to be gaming or doing anything intensive. On the whole, the dv6z Quad does a good job of staying cool and the Coolsense software allows you to adjust how often fans come on and in turn how noisy this laptop gets.

HP dv6z Quad Edition Conclusion

The HP dv6z Quad Edition has a great price to performance ratio to offer.  Even at the base configuration cost of $599 you get a very capable laptop and with excellent build quality and design, one of the better I’ve seen in consumer grade laptops.  The aluminum chassis makes the laptop rigid and sturdy, so it will hold up over time and be worth the money you invest.  The battery life is very good at over 5 hours, most laptops of this size get around 4 hours.  The dv6z Quad isn’t going to be the most powerful gaming laptop around, that’s not the intention, but rather it will be able to capably run the latest games on medium settings at a 720p resolution but when you don’t need the graphics performance it will do a good job of being power efficient and extending your battery life.  There is room for improvement on the dv6z Quad Edition, the keyboard is not backlit which is disappointing, the keyboard has some flex to it and the glossy screen bezel picks up fingerprints and requires frequent cleaning.  The overall performance will be more than adequate for 95% of users, but for those that run the most demanding of programs it might not quite cut it.

In conclusion, the number of features and the build quality you get for price of the dv6z Quad Edition is a bargain, the performance is great and there just aren’t many complaints to find about this laptop.

Where to Buy:

The HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition can be configured and purchased at HP.com:

11 responses to “HP Pavilion dv6z Quad Edition Review”

  1. 1515 says:

    Is the build quality the same at the dv6tqe? (e.i. the keyboard, looks, flexes, screen ?)
    THX!

    • Andrew says:

      Hi, yes, the body used on the dv6zqe is exactly the same as that used on the dv6tqe. The only difference between the dv6z and dv6t is the internals. So whatever you read about the build for one holds true for the other.

  2. 1515 says:

    ok thx
    Love your reviews!

  3. Richard says:

    Hello, I just found the website and noticed that this is the laptop that I JUST purchased. I have a desktop for gaming and I’ve been using this for school/gaming. I have to say that I am very impressed by it. I love everything about it and it can actually keep up with today’s games. It can’t play at full graphics settings but it is still a very viable option for gaming. I for one am going to be using it to play Diablo 3 at my friends house instead of taking my desktop over. Great review by the way!

  4. mike says:

    I’d purchased this laptop last year around this time. i love it. BUT, I only have 6 gb. That’s a lot, but I need to add more memory due to several of my demanding Adobe programs. What’s the max that I can add?

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