HP Pavilion dv7t vs. HP ENVY 17 Comparison: One or the Other?

HP’s two flagship multimedia notebooks offer nearly identical configuration options yet the ENVY 17 is nearly $350 more – what are the real differences and what points should you consider when choosing one over the other?  For this comparison we’ll matchup a high end HP dv7t Quad Edition configuration with a similar configuration of the ENVY 17.

HP Pavilion dv7t HP ENVY 17
Processor Core i7-2670QM quad-core Core i7-2670QM quad-core
Screen 17.3” full HD matte 17.3” full HD glossy
OS Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7690M 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7690M 1GB
Memory 8GB 8GB
Storage 750GB 7200RPM 750GB 7200RPM
Optical Drive DVD burner (tray-load) Slot-load Blu-ray player/DVD burner
Weight 6.72 lbs 7.38 lbs
Thickness 1.24 – 1.42 inches 1.28”
Ports 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, 2x headphone jacks, media card reader 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, 2x DisplayPort, 2x headphone jacks, media card reader
Battery Life 3 hours 4.5 hours
Web Camera Yes Yes
Audio Beats speakers and subwoofer Beats speakers and subwoofer
Warranty 2-year limited 2-year limited
Starting Price $899.99 $1,249.99
Price as Configured $1,169.99 $1,484.99

Specifications-wise these two laptops are nearly identical; the main difference is in the port selection (the ENVY 17 has two DisplayPorts for running multiple monitors), battery life (the ENVY 17 gets 50% more life because it comes with a larger standard battery), and the dv7t is a bit lighter because it isn’t made of mostly metal.  Of course, the ENVY 17 has many other things going for it as we’ll see later in this review.

Price

Advantage: Pavilion dv7t

The ENVY 17 has a $350 higher starting price as of writing; the final configurations ended up with about the same gap. Consider whether the differences we discuss in the rest of this article are worth it to you.  When buying it’s always recommended to check the latest HP Coupons as there are always some available and often for these specific models being compared.

Design and Build Quality

Advantage: ENVY 17

Design is the most significant difference between the Pavilion dv7t and the ENVY 17; the ENVY 17 is HP’s top-of-the-line and has a lot of nice touches.  Some may say the ENVY 17 is too much of a knock off of the Apple MacBook Pro, but the fact those two are put in the same league in terms of design tells you something.  Both are aluminum clad and sleek looking.  The HP dv7t doesn’t look bad by any means, but it is a little more frumpy looking with its brown finish and does not have design touches such as a backlit keyboard and Beats volume dial.

dv7t
HP Pavilion dv7t

envy-17-3000
HP Envy 17

Battery Life

Advantage: ENVY 17

The ENVY 17’s larger standard 8-cell battery outpaces the Pavilion dv7t’s standard 6-cell by about 50%, giving it 4.5 hours of life. It’s worth noting the ENVY 17’s battery is sealed and not user-replaceable. The Pavilion dv7t is available with an extended 9-cell battery which should provide even more life than the ENVY 17’s 8-cell.   However, when comparing standard sized batteries the ENVY 17 is the winner.  If you value the ability to be able to take out and replace your battery then that might tip the scales slightly toward the dv7t.

Performance

Advantage: TIE

Both of these laptops can be configured with essentially the same specs.  This includes an AMD 7690M graphics card, up to Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor, up to 16GB of memory and an SSD for fast storage access.  Upgrades generally cost the same for each model so there’s no cost advantage maxing out one model relative to the other.  If you configure either with high-end performance components you’ll have a very capable multimedia machine that can also double as a gaming machine.

Screen

Advantage: Pavilion dv7t

I almost called this a tie but the Pavilion dv7t’s screen has the distinct advantage of having an anti-glare (matte) surface when configured with the 1080p version. The ENVY 17 has an “edge to edge” glass display, a fancy marketing term for a giant reflective piece of plastic over the front. It gives the illusion of a borderless display. In reality all it does besides look nice on a display shelf is create reflections – a lot of reflections.

Weight and Thickness

Advantage: TIE

The Pavilion dv7t weighs a half-pound less – this is likely due to the ENVY 17’s all-metal construction and larger battery. The ENVY 17 has an aesthetic advantage of being the same height all from front to back (1.28”) whereas the Pavilion dv7t varies in height from front to rear (1.24~1.42”). Overall there’s not much of a difference here.  If you prefer the even height of the ENVY 17 that might score some aesthetic points.

Ports Selection

Advantage: ENVY 17

These notebooks differ only in their video output options; the Pavilion dv7t includes HDMI (it’s almost a requirement on modern computers) and a legacy VGA port, which is great for connecting to projectors. The ENVY 17 also has HDMI but ditches VGA in favor of two cutting edge DisplayPorts. This allows the ENVY 17 to do multiple monitors, a huge advantage for home power users. It support’s AMD’s Eyefinity multi-monitor options. It’s one of the only notebooks on the market to do so.

HP dv7t Side Ports:

DSC02324

DSC02325

HP ENVY 17 Side Ports:

IMGT3047

IMGT3045

Speakers

Advantage: ENVY 17

Both notebooks feature a five-speaker setup: four mid-range (two under the palm rest and two under the display facing the user) and a low-range subwoofer. The audio performance is remarkable for a notebook; the sound easily fills a small to medium size room and can entertain several people. The ENVY 17’s sound a bit clearer, perhaps due to different speaker grilles. I also like the nifty physical volume dial on the ENVY 17; I haven’t seen one of these on a notebook in years.

HP ENVY 17 volume dial:

IMGT3042

Warranty and Support

Advantage: TIE

HP recently upped the warranty period on some Pavilion notebooks including the dv7t to two years. The ENVY 17 has the same two-year coverage.

Software

Advantage: ENVY 17

The ENVY 17 offers both Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Adobe Premiere Elements 9 bundled and installed for free.  With the HP dv7t you get these programs installed in a trial fashion but have to pay for the full versions, though HP does offer a $30 discount for buying either.  The ENVY 17 also has less bloatware installed upon startup, which offers a slight advantage in reducing the annoyance factor of uninstalling unnecessary applications.

And the winner is?

After all this typing I still have a hard time deciding. Overall the Pavilion dv7t takes the crown simply because it delivers the exact same performance and has mostly the same configuration options for just over $300 less. However if you’re considering the Apple MacBook Pro 17” then the ENVY 17 would be the closest option in terms of design and quality – compared to the Apple, the ENVY 17 delivers the same or better build quality, better performance, better speakers, has more configuration options, and is less expensive. It’s hard to go wrong with either of these notebooks.

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6 Responses to HP Pavilion dv7t vs. HP ENVY 17 Comparison: One or the Other?

  1. Retseem April 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Unfortunately the optical drive has been forgotten in this comparison. The Envy can play Blu-Ray discs which the dv7t can’t. And who is the winner now?

    • Andrew Baxter April 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      The optical drive options are the same on both, the dv7t can have a Blu-Ray or Blu Ray Burner:

      SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
      FREE UPGRADE to Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner
      Blu-ray writer & SuperMulti DVD burner

      Right now the upgrade to Blu Ray is free on the dv7t. So again, a tie.

    • Wrong April 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

      Not true. The DV7 can be configured with a BR player AND Burner, the Envy can only play. Advantage DV7 (and this is coming from someone who is looking at the Envy regardless). Come on HP…give me Ivy Bridge, matte 1080p option and a blueray burner….take my money!

  2. Adan S. M. April 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    The new Hp Envy 17 has the new design which helps with the heating and cooling of the Laptop plus the new design helps with the fan noise. The Hp dv7t has the old design which every owner can tell you gets really hot and noisy. Also the Hp Envy 17 has 5.5 -6 hours of battery life. Your 4.5hrs is not accurate at all. I’d advise you to recheck the battery life. The Envy 17 also has 3 USB 3.0 slots not 2. The new envy 17 also comes with the adapter for the second drive free of charge. Saving the user money, the dv7t does not. WHO WINS NOW…

    • Wrong April 17, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

      Actually, there are a number of folks complaining that the drive rails DO NOT come with the Envy (yep, I was looking to add SSD, but figured it was better to shop around for a Sammy SSD). The complaints I saw ranged from $50 for the part and shipping, to $0 if the Envy owner complained to HP enough.

  3. Charles Jefferies April 11, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    @Adan S. M. – take a breather please. The battery life numbers come from our reviews of these notebooks.
    As obvious as it sounds, the results are what they are. I’m glad you took the time to come to your own conclusion; we certainly came to ours. dv7t is still the winner in our roundup.

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