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  • truk007 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "...we've been sitting at "adequate" for entirely too long. Here's hoping that the mobile variants of AMD's 6800/6900 series can leverage features such as PowerTune to give mobile gaming a shot in the arm."

    I've been waiting a very long time to buy a new laptop with the hopes that I can play the games I love at settings better than native. I want my laptop to be able to do most of the things my desktop does, especially gaming.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I think we all are waiting for that day. The ability to truly replace my desktop with a laptop and docking station is approaching, especially with USB3.0 and eSATA performance increases.

    I'm curious if the GPU in this laptop was clocked down for heat, or if battery life also played a role - I'd believe either.

    What would be nice is if there was an interface that enabled me to use my desktop GPU on the laptop. I've seen mods where a guy set his desktop GPU and PSU on his desk and used it for his laptop (actual high-detail gaming). - If only there was a port on the laptop and an apparatus that you could sit your GPU into (with a high-data cable that connected to that port) that would serve as a more conventional way to do the same thing. Less modding and more standard.
    Reply
  • Tros - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I used to think the same thing, seriously.

    A SFF desktop will blow any desktop-replacement laptop out of the water though, and let you get a laptop for what it's made for (mobility). I used to have an Inspiron 9300 (17 in, GeForce 6800 Ultra), and it was fantastic. But then a couple years passed by and it wasn't good for gaming anymore, heavy, and didn't last long on a charge.

    Now I have a shuttle-equivalent though, and LAN parties are better.
    Reply
  • tyke - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    "at settings better than native"

    I don't think your comment really means anything.
    Reply
  • Great_Scott - Monday, December 20, 2010 - link

    So I guess you're not familiar with docking stations? Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    We've also been sitting staring at our own reflections for too long. The continued fraud of glossy screens is just pathetic at this point. Even in the commercials and glamour shots for these computers, the screen is obscured by a white sheen, ruining the "deep blacks" and "rich colors" promised by third-tier vendors at Best Buy. And who's taking their cues from these purveyors of fake-chromed plastic laptops? Apple. HP. What an embarrassment for the companies and slap in the face to users. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I think calling anything a XXX killer dooms it to failure, and comparing this laptop to a MacBook Pro is a bit disingenuous. The only thing similar to this laptop and a MacBook Pro is the screen size, the price range, performance, and intended use cases are completely different!

    Anyway, outside of the few people that would rather not use suitcases to carry their PC to a LAN party, I see these laptops as being rather niche, even in a gamer's world.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Agreed. You can get 16" laptops with similar (if not better performance) and a smaller weight and footprint.

    To me, you can hit all markets with simply three laptop sizes: 12", 14", 16"
    Reply
  • gc_ - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Screen size is not the same either --
    MacBookPro 17 has a 1920x1200 screen 16:10, case is 39.3 x 26.7 x 2.5 cm
    Envy 17 has a 1080p (1920x1080) screen 16:9, case is 41.6 x 27.5 x 3.87 cm

    Similarities include thinnish aluminum case, no-button pad, glass-to-edge display.
    Reply
  • OneArmedScissorB - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "I think calling anything a XXX killer dooms it to failure"

    But it guarantees people will click on the article and even reply. We're all being professionally trolled! :p
    Reply
  • slagar - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    So true, but I would have read the article regardless :-) Reply
  • SilthDraeth - Monday, December 20, 2010 - link

    Also, there is no comparison to the macbook pro. Understandably, performance benchmarks can't really be compared, as it is Apples to Microsofts. BUT one can compare battery life, lcd screen quality, keyboard etc.

    Granted, I need to read the rest of the review, but looking at the LCD tests, I didn't see the Macbook's lcd ranges in the graph.
    Reply
  • rwei - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    On the F1-F12 keys, there is a setting in the BIOS to correct that. I would have returned mine otherwise, it was really ticking me off.

    On an unrelated note, why do you hate gloss around the screen so much? Especially with a raised, rubberized edge around the screen area like on the Envy 17, I've personally never gotten a finger on the screen. Just open and close using the edge...but I guess that's a matter of personal preference. Might be worth noting though.

    Finally, the Fn+B key combination enables and disables Beats audio, which seems to be an audio "enhancement" that will result in the bass push that you were probably hearing. I usually disable it on headphones/speakers but leave it on for the laptop speakers. Subjectively, using Etymotic ER-4Ps, the sound out of the headphone jacks with Beats disabled seems flat, but is almost completely free of any kind of noise/static (not even my 5th gen iPod can claim that).

    (one more thing - I'm surprised you didn't make any mention of Eyefinity! I'm pretty sure no game will run adequately above 1280x800x3, but for some people being able to drive three monitors off of a laptop is a killer app)
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    It looks like a nice machine. I like some of the details that go into it.

    However, in regards to your comment on Apples track pad. Do people actually "click" it?! I have not "clicked" in years on any of my laptops that support multi-touch. One finger tap for left click, two finger tap for right click. I love the MacBook track pad because its HUGE. Making it for more accurate and easy to use. I also like that its centered.

    On another note, I would have liked to of seen Apples screen listed on the displays page. To get a decent comparison.

    I am going to add this machine to my list of possibilities for my next work machine though.
    Reply
  • heymrdj - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I don't tap at all. I turn it off of any new laptop I get or even one I'm working on. It slows me down because I can't quickly pickup and move my hand without having to slow down and watch how firmly I push my hand back down onto the touchpad.. I don't enjoy having to think about that. If I turn the sensitivty down to the point that it won't activate when I move my hand, then it's a strange feeling on my finger to have to lift and tap it firm enough to activate that senitivity. It's aggrivating.

    Owner of and user of HP 9550t CTO, HP Mini 210 HD, and HP Envy 17 CTO.
    Reply
  • Darnell021 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    are you bragging? your lack of ability to use a trackpad and vehement distaste towards tapping makes me cringe.

    it should not be an aggrivating experience.

    try multitouch on a macbook it will change your life.
    Reply
  • pollyanna - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    "your lack of ability to use a trackpad and vehement distaste towards tapping makes me cringe."

    Does it matter?

    Your high opinion of yourself so you from judgmental opinions about the preferences of others makes me cringe.
    Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Multitouch: Get over it. What an overhyped bunch of crap. Five years of breathless excitement over.... zooming and rotating.

    What Apple and its apologists don't understand is that undiscoverable UI may as well not exist. This goes for asinine peek-a-boo widgets that don't appear unless you roll the cursor over them, ridiculous hidden menus and unmarked hotkeys, and yes most multitouch functions. What we don't see multitouch being used for is the one thing for which it makes intuitive sense: multiple selections, or selecting a range.

    In Apple's case, the hypocrisy is even more embarrassing when you consider that a two-button mouse has been deemed "too scary" for its user base. But unmarked hotkeys and secret gestures are just fine?
    Reply
  • slacr - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    It would be really neat to see some MBP figures for the screen comparison, screen selection feels like a big breaking point for laptops at the moment.

    On another note, how multitouch capable are these trackpads really? Is it possible to do such things as three finger swipes for back and forward while browsing?

    I'm also really looking forward to the Envy14 review, i've sourced a few in stock with the display upgrade and my employer is forcing me to get "non-apple" for work.
    Reply
  • KZ0 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I've got an Envy 14, and I assume the trackpad is about the same. I'm using this: http://code.google.com/p/two-finger-scroll/ for controlling two finger clicks, finding it does a better job than the standard driver.

    Two finger scrolling works nice by default, I haven't gotten three finger swipes working really well.

    Else - if you go for an Envy 14 - get a dual core and the good display. Quads kill battery life (and you don't get switchable graphics with a quad core CPU), and make a lot of noise. The screen is just wonderful. I also got an intel x25 160 GB for it, and booting / launching applications fast is really useful when using it for taking notes, etc. A minute each day in a year adds up to quite a bit of time.
    Reply
  • vant - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I guess hp forgot people use their laptops on the go. 2 hours is pathetic. Reply
  • heymrdj - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    The "Desktop Replacement" laptop isn't as much as battery power on the go, but more the fact you have an entire desktop computer with 3/4 the power capable of being moved anywhere. I have my high end desktop with it's 4 drive raid 0 array, graphics card, X6 1055T, and I love it. I really do. But I miss my HP 9550T. When I could bring it up on my 1,000 mile trips with no lugging, grunting, or damages. I could came anywhere at decent FPS with the 8800GTM. Sure I could only get about 45min of gaming battery life, and about 2 hours of idle internet (9 cell), but it was great having that power around. People that don't need mobile power just can't understand how well these notebooks fit. That and whimpy people complain about carrying 10lbs of laptop/accessories all the time. Never understood that, the difference between my Mini 210 and my 9550t are negligible to me. The Envy 17 is lighter than my old 9550t is, and it's nice, lets me carry a spare battery with the weight I saved. Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Woot! Someone else who actually understands that laptops don't just magically become unmovable desk objects once they get over 14". We must be two of the largest and strongest people on the internet. You know, the type of person who doesn't need to carry a 5lb bag of apples in from the car in two trips, or ask for help when opening a bottle of Pepsi. We are real life strong men, able to carry multiple pounds of laptop and laptop accessories AT THE SAME TIME. Good gaming brother. Reply
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Yeah. Overused. Can we synergize our paradigms and action our alliances now?

    In any event, it's not a "MacBook Killer" if it doesn't run OS/X. For all the talk about being able to run Windows on a MacBook, very few people actually do. At my workplace, for instance, we have about 600 engineers (networking hardware and software); we all get laptops. We get a choice of various HP and Thinkpads, or MacBook Pros. It's about half-and-half as to what people select (I took a T400, as I use some Windows-only software). I've yet to see anyone running anything other than OS/X on their MacBooks except in an occasional VM. It's not just the hardware which people buy MacBooks for, it's the combination of hardware and software (which yields things like the near-doubling of battery life... 2 hours? Seriously, HP?).
    Reply
  • wintermute000 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    With that battery life?!?! not even close.

    Also WTF is it with manufacturers giving us 1500USD+ laptops WITHOUT SSDs. You spend that much money (enough to build a fire breathing gaming/graphics workstation from hell), you're gonna want it to fly, and SSD is the single most important component for that. I'd wager that SSD + i5 gives better real world performance for most people than i7 + conventional HD.

    Not going to even touch the OSX vs Windows flamewars, I have my opinions and thats what wil guide my decisions. Suffice to say that the overall package/industrial design is not going to come close to the tight integration the macbook pro people pay for. Little things like magsafe power connectors, button to show power gauge, etc.

    I guess if you want windows this is a good buy, but if you want a 17" gaming capable hi end laptop personally I'd rather get something cheaper from MSI or ASUS and use the savings to upgrade to an SSD.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Note the question mark, and it's not us saying Envy is an MBP "killer" - it's plenty of other folks out there. I'd say the Envy 14 has a better shot, since it at least has switchable graphics, but as the conclusion states:

    "As we mentioned before, HP's Envy line of notebooks are often touted in the comments on our reviews as being alternatives to Apple's MacBook Pro series. In reviewing the Envy 17 at least, we find that's not entirely a fair comparison."

    The reason it's not fair is two-fold: first, MBP is geared far more towards battery life, and second, the Envy 17 at least (with quad-core CPU) is quite a bit more powerful in multi-threaded tasks than any MBP. So, the answer to the question mark in the title is that it's not an MBP killer--or really even an alternative--outside of having a similar aesthetic.
    Reply
  • Luke2.0 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    It is a GOOD tagline IMO:
    1. Eye-catcher (Controversy). Throw in some reference to Apple products and there: more readers, more comments, more "fire". =/
    2. Well, the "?" is the safety belt.

    Btw, I can't reach the conclusion page now!?
    Gotta wait it fixed...
    Reply
  • heymrdj - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    You seem to think that we're at that age where these things are affordable, we're not at that time yet. It's like people wanting to buy a full 15" good performing, long battery life basic laptop from walmart for 300$, but they also want it to last 3+ years. We're not there yet, they still cost more than that. A good gaming laptop with heavy build (like the envy's) and real ssd (like a OCZ, Crucial, or Corsair Sandforce drive) is going to cost into at least the 1900 range. The SSD alone (say 120GB main drive) is going to cost at least 170$ from their distribs I'd imagine, compared to the 30-50$ they can get the mechanical HD's. There's a reason REAL gaming/workstation laptops like the HP Elitebooks and the high Sager/Clevo models START at 2400. Reply
  • Dan Wiggins - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    Rather than a speedy but constrained SSD, I prefer to have 500 GB of storage with me. Do programs launch as fast, does the OS boot as quickly? No - but I can get a lot more done since I have a lot more with me. I don't boot/shut down a dozen times a day, typically once or twice for extended periods.

    Of course, I do some serious CAD work for a living, where a single model can be 2 GB; having a tiny 128 GB of SSD simply doesn't cut it - between the OS and the programs I need for work, I'd be able to keep a dozen models around, tops.

    Having 8 GB of RAM helps me out a lot more than an SSD...

    Don't confuse your list of desires as the list of desires for everyone. That's the beauty of the non-Apple ecosystem - choice. You can have SSDs or HDDs or easily switch between the two. You can even get laptops with dual drives, so you can use your speedy SSD for the OS and HDD for massive storage.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I can't get to the conclusion page - it keeps returning me to page 1 whether I click the next button on the page before, use the drop-down menu or change the URL to a '7'. Any ideas or is this just me? Reply
  • gomakeit - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    agreed - same here Reply
  • Finite Loop - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    When I reached page 42 of the article, I started getting this distinct feeling that I had read this article before. Reply
  • ciparis - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    The last page seems to be missing; it just redirects to the first page.

    I'd like to read the conclusion :)
    Reply
  • mrmbmh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Thanks for your nice review.
    when I click on the "conclusion page" it leads me to the first page... fix it please.
    Reply
  • janwuyts - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    With that title for the article, why not include an actual macbook pro in the comparison? Reply
  • tarunactivity - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Yes. . Doesn't the ENVY have a right to face its accuser?

    Funny that the MBP does not feature in any of the charts!
    Reply
  • retnuh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Agreed, there should have been some attempt to compare where applicable, screen, weight, battery tests, jury rig win 7 bootcamp & newer drivers to test 3d even or starcraft2 (Win7) vs starcraft 2 (OSX), portal. But to use a headline like that and not include data from a MBP is lame. OR EVEN LINK to a review of the MBP inside the article so we can easily look up what was forgotten is even worse.

    Next time try,
    title: "HP Envy 17 review"
    somewhere in the first two paragraphs: "we've gotten a lot of requests to compare this to an apple mbp 17, here's a link to our previous review for comparison"

    Then its a side note, for the curious, not a slap in the face.
    Reply
  • retnuh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    There doesn't seem to be a 17" MBP review, but here's the link to the 15" for those interested.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3669/apples-15inch-2...
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "HP Envy 17: HP's MacBook Pro Killer?"

    Please, PLEASE, stop referencing damn apple products. You're instantly referencing another product and possibly removing sales by the headline alone, which, HP should be pretty annoyed at.

    P.s. I own a HP Envy 13... fantastic machine (Once you slap an intel 1.8" SSD in there
    Reply
  • takumsawsherman - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    This is perhaps unintentionally hilarious. The article sort of reads like an apology for HP. It's not supposed to be an HP advertisement, so therefore Anandtech shouldn't be worried that HP will be "annoyed". If HP didn't want to be annoyed, maybe they should have maybe created a product that was actually a credible threat to even the base MacBook, never mind the MacBook Pro. The battery life at *idle* is a complete laugh, and you cannot even watch a 90 minute movie!

    From the actual data of the review, and some salient points from the text, no one should ever buy this laptop. Of course, considering that HP just made me send in a customer's laptop in as opposed to sending me a replacement hard drive (in-warranty failure) unless I pre-paid for the hard drive (refund would be issued when they received the return part). This is on a laptop that is 10 months old and HP diagnosed the hard drive failure (after I already gave them info from another diagnostic tool - another 30 minutes on the phone so that they could verify).

    Then there was the firmware update that was supposed to fix a problem with 4 laserjets on a network. These laserjets had this quirk since they were purchased a few years ago. Installed the updates, and one failed and borked the printer. HP's response? Not our problem, pay $40 for us to even chat with you. Problem - bad formatter board as a result of failed firmware upgrade, not our problem, though.

    That is one of the many reasons why HP won't have a product that is a "killer" anything. They have no concern for the customer's view of them. There is no reason for anyone to be a "repeat" customer of HP.

    (except ProCurve switches - never had a problem with that support or the products)
    Reply
  • xype - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "See, this is what we're talking about when we say we want to see better screens in notebooks. Now we just wish we could get these kinds of panels without having to constantly buy premium-grade hardware."

    In other words, you want premium-grade hardware without having to buy premium-grade hardware. I guess this is why the PC manufacturer's market is in such a bad shape—because they all try to cater to people who are unwilling to spend money.
    Reply
  • dustcrusher - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Maybe I misread the instructions on my Jump to Conclusions Mat, but I figured they meant something a little different: "why do we have to buy top-end everything just to get a quality display? Can't we just pay extra for a normal laptop with a really nice screen?"

    It's a fair question. Surely there is a way to offer a high-quality display for an additional cost that is reasonable to manufacturer and consumer.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Yes, precisely. And of course there's a way to offer better displays without the price being substantially higher; one has only to look at the numerous IPS HDTVs priced below $1000 to see that it's possible. Unfortunately, most laptop companies don't appear interested in anything but minimum cost, unless you're buying a premium product in which case you get higher costs on everything. :-\ Reply
  • Netopia - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I've done IT work for about 20 years and have owned and/or used dozens of laptops. I bought the Envy 17 when there was a $400 off coupon (if you upgraded to the Core i7). I've got a couple of regrets:

    I wish I had not used the coupon and just gotten a Core i5 for the same price. Battery life is HORRIBLE.

    I wish I had actually seen this laptop in real life and tested it first. The track pad is the absolute WORST I've ever used. Depressing one or the other of the 'buttons' (which is really just flexing the bottom left or right of the track pad) takes significant effort compared to any other track pad I've used.

    I'm left handed, so I tend to use more of the left side of the pad when scrolling, and I do tap or double tap quite a bit when surfing. The upper left corner is actually a button of sorts too. If you double click this area it turns off the track pad! I can't tell you how many times I've inadvertently turned the pad off without realizing it. In the past on other laptops I've also used this area to set up a gesture for a middle click, but it's already reserved on this laptop.

    Speaking of the track pad software, it really doesn't have good configuration for setting up different tap areas on the key pad, so custom stuff like I mentioned above isn't even available.

    It's funny... I never gave much thought to track pads. Some were better, some were worse, some had stiff buttons, and some mushy buttons... but it was never a big deal. This is the first laptop I've ever used where I have truly thought that it was an issue.

    Joe
    Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Go on Notebookcheck and look for the thread about the Envy 14 trackpad. There are multiple alternative software choices and I highly encourage everyone to switch to one of them - they greatly improve the trackpad, making it actually usable. I should know, I have an Envy 14. Reply
  • Netopia - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    THANK YOU! Much appreciated! Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    And I should've said Notebookreview... Sorry.

    Here's the link for anyone who might also be interested: http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-envy-hdx/502589...

    Should work for the Envy 17 and 15 too and well just about any Clickpad-using laptop. I know this shouldn't affect a product's review, but a big sore point about the Envy is often the trackpad and thanks to those few tools we can enjoy what is an otherwise great machine a little bit more!
    Reply
  • joshv - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I own an Envy 15 bought about a year ago. The thing gets hot enough to fry an egg on, even when not doing much of anything, so I am glad to hear that they adressed the thermal issues.

    The touch pad's "clickers" are worthless. Until I figured out how to "tap", the touchpad was a definite negative. It took me maybe a week to adjust and become proficient - though now I really like the touch pad - it's large and very sensitive.

    Perhaps the 17" is different, but for the 15" the nine cell battery isn't a drop in replacement, it's a massive "strap on" slab that mounts to the bottom of the laptop, basically becoming a 3/4" thick base. This thing dramatically increases the weight and size of the Envy - but is *required* for any significant usage when unplugged. Battery life is otherwise abysmal.
    Reply
  • Modeverything - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I have one of these ENVY 17 notebooks. It's an ok machine, but I don't think it's worth the money, or is a Macbook killer.

    The two biggest issues I have with it, is the mouse track pad is really annoying. Being that it's a solid piece (no separate buttons), the place where you press the buttons also detects finger movement. Too many times when trying to click on something would my finger move just a tiny bit as I pressed down, and it would cause me to miss what I was trying to click, or drag an item by mistake. I had to buy a mouse with a mini USB dongle to use as a permanent replacement to this touch pad. I keep the touch pad turned off now.

    The other issue is that while playing games, the video card can get the case so hot it can actually cause mild pain. Part of the area that heats up is right where your left hand will be if you are resting it on the case to use the keyboard. Also, about half the time I start a game and within about one min, the video card will overheat causing me to have to hard reboot the machine. Usually on the second time it plays properly. I have updated to the latest drivers as well.

    It's an ok notebook, but it should have been better.
    Reply
  • Modeverything - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    One thing that I forgot to add that is a good point. One of the main reasons I bought this notebook is because it can run two hard drives. I have an SSD as my boot drive, and the 500 GB mechanical drive for all of my data. This was a huge plus for this notebook. Reply
  • JediJeb - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I haven't owned a laptop for several years and have been shopping for one lately, but frankly I hate the glossy screens it seems every one of them has now days. I don't like being distracted by the reflections on the screen. Back when CRTs were what you used on a desktop the ones with glossy screens soon feel out of favor once we had ones with matte finishes on them. Why is it now that even desktop LCDs are returning to the glossy finishes? I can't even imagine trying to use one of the glossy ones outside in the sunlight! With all the bright florescent lights at work it would still be bad for eye strain with the reflections. Does anyone still make a laptop without the gloss? Reply
  • TheAdAgency - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Vaio Z has a matte screen Reply
  • pollyanna - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    Apple does. You can choose between high gloss and matte. Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I'd be in the market for this type of notebook but I wouldn't even consider it with an Intel CPU. Due to Intel's unscrupulous Biz practices for which they have been convicted, I wouldn't buy any product containing an Intel CPU. If HP decided to offer an AMD based version with an upgraded graphics card I may consider it. Reply
  • Roland00Address - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    HP was planning on offering AMD quad core cpus in their envys 14s and 17s but this was eventually dropped. If I were to guess why it was dropped it was because the AMD quad cores cpus compete against the i3s and i5s and this is supposed to be an enthusiast laptop. Reply
  • smacz - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Hey Dustin,

    How do the speakers in this compare to the Logitech Z305 you tested earlier? If you could let us know how these compare to the speakers in the Dell XPS laptops that would be great. Thx.
    Reply
  • Etern205 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    While 99% of the notebooks will only have 2 ram slots. I've remember the HP envy's as having 4 ram slots.

    Is there a way for you guys to verify it on this new model?
    Reply
  • Etern205 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Found out the HP Envy 15 has 4 ram slots

    HP Envy 15 service manual
    http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01911053.pdf

    One at the bottom
    One below the keyboard
    2 below the left palm rest
    Reply
  • Mr_Armageddon - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Why would you name the title of this review "HP Envy 17: HP's MacBook Pro Killer?" but then neglect to have any numbers from the MBP in your comparison charts?

    Granted the Envy 17 is geared towards a different user, looking for more powerful multimedia features, but regardless you should have thrown some MBP numbers in your charts running bootcamp, especially with the article title as it is.
    Reply
  • sjprg2 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Why won't HP give us the specs on the hard drives. I have called them and asked and gotten the runaround but no answers. Are they SATA 1, 2, or 3? It important as with the advent of SSDs, (Which by the way HP will not tell you which brand or speed of the SSD option). You did not include them either. Did you just copy their spec sheet? We look to you for answers, not company hype. I'm looking for a field laptop to run Adobe Photoshop CS5 at a more reasonable level than the Clevo 7200. For example the Canon 1DSIII produces an image of about 25MB RAW and CS5 processing produces a TIF file of approx 275 MB each. The Leica S2 RAW files are on the order of 37MB. We need horsepower, and SSDs. All of my current computers are already converted to SSD. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Well, given the chipset, they should be SATA 2, as it does not support SATA 3 and I would imagine there would have been more notice taken if it were running at SATA 1 speeds. Reply
  • Sebec - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Dustin used "at the end of the day" twice in the conclusion for two different points. Seems repetitive. I think both statements could stand on their own without the need to use such a phrase. Reply
  • TheAdAgency - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Indeed, he should have opted for a quick "All things considered, it is what it is..." the second time he was seeking for a hackneyed summary phrase. However at the end of the day, you are the most likely the only one who noticed. Reply
  • rwei - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    If you still have this thing on hand, I'd be curious to see what Dustin has to say about it, and especially in a comparison to the Dell Studio 17 (maybe that's what you meant by XPS 17 in your conclusion?). The Envy 17 is very comparable to that laptop (waaaay more so than the Macbook Pro) and I think it suits the use case which he described well:

    "Oftentimes when you get to the 17" form factor you're dealing with bulky desktop replacement machines that offer questionable value over just buying a desktop, or at least that was the belief I held before I started shopping for one. Now that I'm no longer in school I don't need a 14" "does-it-all" notebook; instead, I can use a 17" when travelling for extended periods of time as a comfortable workstation, or as a monitor when I'm out on a shoot. And when I want to be a complete dweeb writing in public in a coffee shop so someone can see me and be so curious, I can use a netbook or ultraportable notebook. And after a lot of research, I finally decided the Studio 17 was the one for me."

    It's funny because I was exactly in Dustin's boat and went from a 14" Asus A8Jm to the Envy 17, for pretty much the exact same reasons. In case you were wondering what kind of user DOES love this laptop, consider my case as a recent college grad and Windows power user not intending to take a class again in the near future, facing the prospect of a tiny NYC apartment where a desktop probably won't fit very well, and who travels often enough to want a computer he can take with him. To me, the Envy offers:
    - an amazing screen (as you pointed out)
    - great build quality (as you also pointed out)
    - solid, if not class-leading performance (again, you pointed this out). I play SC2 at 1080P High all the time and enjoy it tremendously
    - messenger-bag-able weight and size (not "carry to 6h of class with several textbooks" weight, but "carry onto plane every few months" or "bring 10ft to couch" weight)
    - great price: I DID consider the Macbook Pro 17 when I was making my purchase, and the deal breaker was easily that configured this way, the Envy 17 costs several hundred dollars less than the most basic Macbook Pro 17.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I wrote this review. ;)

    I like the Studio 17 more than the Envy 17 truthfully. I think the Envy 17 is slightly better looking and has a better screen, but the Studio 17 sounds slightly better, has a better keyboard, and has better connectivity. The Studio 17 also lasts way longer on the battery.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "HP Envy 17: HP's MacBook Pro Killer?"

    I'm sorry but ars is better than inane headlines like this.
    One simple question: does it run OSX?
    No? OMG, what a surprise.
    It's no fscking MacBook killer then, is it?

    I mean, christ, this is not an issue of Windows is better than Mac or vice versa --- it's the simple fact that people buy Macs to run OSX --- that's not opinion, that is fact. If you're not selling something that runs OSX, you might be in the "Vio killer" game, you might be in the "Lenovo killer" game, heck, you might even be in the Cr-48 or Samsung Galaxy killer game, but you are no freaking way in the MacBook Pro killer game.

    The headline is as inane as "Focus 2011: Ford's Boeing 777 Killer?"

    [Not to mention that the very fact of including an optical drive puts this in a different league from MacBooks. I fully expect the next round of Ivy League MacBooks, pro or otherwise, in Q1 next year to have no optical storage --- and to be that much more desirable because of it.]
    Reply
  • Theguynextdoor - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I don't own the Envy 17, but I do own the Envy 14 and on that one you can revers the default F keys back in the BIOS AND in the HP manager menu (although I deleted it). Reply
  • Solidstate89 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    ...in regards to hating the unified touchpad. I absolutely despise that design idea and I can't help but harp on HP for implementing it in nearly their entire range of notebooks. Reply
  • derPat - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Is the Envy running OSX?
    No!
    It is a nonsense to compare an Envy with a MacBook. It is like comparing a Ferrari Enzo with a Chevy Corvette just looking at the engine specs ...
    I'm also sick of the "killer" bs, I expect an article like this on Gizmodo, not on Anandtech ...
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    lol, 2 people with essentially the same comment, and both not exactly the truth. As I work at a university, I see plenty of students who have Macbooks but don't really care one way or another for Windows or OSX, they just like the size/design/battery life and they are actually a decent price with the student discounts.

    This is an interesting comparison though, as both a ZR1 and an Enzo will get you around a track similarly quick, though one has more perceived value, costs a lot more now, and will likely hold its value far better in the future. Sounds familiar.
    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    No it is just a gaming laptop, it's definitively not a MBP killer. It's not even a semi-professional setup. It's not really an alternative if you where thinking about a MBP 17 or something like that. It's as usual not even a true portable computer as with lots of these consumer HP's. It's DTR in a whole other segment and is an alternative as an alternative to MBP users. Don't really think these fit into the Envy category which is supposed to be high-end consumer stuff. It's really not that much of that. It's an replacement and alternative to a low-end gaming machine.

    While it has stuff like USB 3.0, eSATA, and mini-DP it doesn't have a matte none-gloss display, it doesn't have Firewire or a ExpressCard-slot (granted MBP 17 doesn't have a antiglare screen by default, but it's just a 50 dollar add-on, and is also something available to most business or mobile workstation notebooks). It's not a prosumer product in that category. I think they should put together a great setup on the ATi/AMD mobile GPUs but this is just not it. And why wouldn't you buy this piece with the 9-cell battery? I know it's not available at retails but anyway. You might actually get 2 hours of internet use then. And you don't HAVE to have a quadcore, look at the MSI GX640. And you should be able to get through a movie on the larger battery. Simply I don't think it's worth it even if what you are after is a gaming laptop that will always be plugged into the wall.
    Reply
  • PrezWeezy - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    You asked if it was a MacBook killer but then didn't include any of the MacBook specs in the review. Can you update the charts with MacBook info? I've been very carefully considering buying a MBP 15 for the battery life and screen quality so I'm interested to see how this stacks up. Reply
  • ahmed25 - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Hi Sklavos
    Any idea about the 900p screen quality?Contrast and color gamut...?
    Reply
  • TheQuestian - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    I'm a little confused by this article. It posits whether or not the ENVY is a MacBook Pro Killer, and then proceeds to compare it not even once to said competitor. Instead? Yes, let's compare it to gaming laptops costing hundreds/thousands more. And then, let us conclude, based on these pointless tests that the ENVY is simply designed for a "different market". Wow.

    Sure, expensive gaming laptops outperform the ENVY in gaming, but if you are in the market for a super high-end gamer, this is not the laptop for you. In fact, the tests in the article even corroborate that. What they don't corroborate is the disappointing conjecture put forth here as a conclusion.

    I would have liked to see some benchmarks comparing performance in Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, or some other 3D modeling programs, since these are what "art students" are actually using their MBP's for. Why we are including FPS numbers for Crysis Warhead in an article "supposedly" about the MacBook Pro is beyond me.

    I don't actually have a problem with conclusion, here, so long as it is founded on real numbers. But this article just smacks of preconceived notion mixed with irrelevant extracurriculars. Yes, the ENVY is a mediocre gamer that looks like a MBP. But how is it as a MBP? That is the question. As for now, it still appears to be a C-H-E-A-P-E-R (hello!) alternative to the MBP, and I have no reason to think it will underperform in that capacity. Please let's keep in mind what questions we are answering.
    Reply
  • locowolf - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Given the article title and text, it's surprising that none of the benchmarks include the macbook pro for direct comparison. Can you add the macbook pro to the charts so that readers can compare the numbers and make their own determination? Reply
  • Blindsay - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    One thing that might be interesting to look at would be to see how much extra peformance you can get at overclocking the gpu, try it at what the reference clocks are and then see if you can push it further. I have a 5650 in my DV7 and it runs at 550/800 stock and i have it running at 700/1000 (on a/c only) and it made a huge difference in gaming. I bet we would see similar results with the 5850. And temps were well within spec still, i didnt go above 70c. my i7 720 was maxing at 80c and i couldnt find a way to overclock that. Reply
  • IceStorm - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    I did a clean install to a Vertex 2 240GB SSD and put the included 500GB HDD into the second bay (you have to buy the second bay kit separately). I installed all of HP's patches. I installed ThrottleStop and limited the CPU to a 7x multiplier, 62.5% usage, and used AMD's GPU Tool to bring the GPU down to 150/312.

    Didn't help.

    The most I could get out of it in that configuration was 90 minutes on the 9-cell battery watching a blu-ray - from the disc or from an image file on mechanical HDD. The only major change in that state was that the fan didn't kick on.

    It's a DTR, no matter how you color it. To be fair, it's a very nice DTR with a beautiful screen and excellent audio (when the fan is low/off), but it's still not going to live life far from a wall socket. It's good if you don't want a proper desktop and need multiple display support (assuming you can stand the fan), but they could do so much more with a proper mobile part and switchable graphics.
    Reply
  • Dug - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Why are you adding in desktop components into the mix and so many sli configurations?
    It is so hard to read these things with different graphs for different components that don't even belong.
    And then they completely switch on the next page.
    Keep things consistent.
    Reply
  • araczynski - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    how is this an alternative to a macbook? does it run osx? does it look good?

    no on both accounts, so this is just another pc notebook.

    what's with the 70's paintjob?
    Reply
  • araczynski - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    mind you, i'd pick this over a macbook any day though. Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    People need to reject these asinine glossy screens. This is cheap crap inspired by the low-grade, fake-chromed, Celeron-packing lineup at Best Buy, Manufacturers embarrass themselves by pushing this out as anywhere near a high-end offering, and they offend consumers by lying about its merits.

    "Richer" colors? "Deeper" blacks? NO, because your entire display is covered with a sheen of reflection 100 percent of the time. Even in a pitch-black room, the computer lights YOU up and thus you're staring at yourself instead of what you're working on.

    Demand better, people. Glossy screens are the biggest regression in computing... possibly ever.
    Reply
  • freespace303 - Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - link

    I've been using a 13" MacBook Pro since June, and I have to disagree with you sir. The glossy screen doesn't bother me at all. I would have to have a plain black background to catch a glimpse of me in the reflection, or be in a very bright room. As I'm typing this reply on this very laptop, in a dark room, I don't see myself, or any other reflections. It's quite nice.

    Now, on the other hand, if your using a laptop outside ALL THE TIME, during the day, then yes, I would probably go for a matte screen, but for my needs, and considering I use it most of the time, that isn't the case.

    Also, the 13" MBP does have one of the brightest and nicest screens for a laptop this size. That's probably why I don't see glossy screens as much of a problem.

    Oh, and I'm not Apple biased at all, considering I just ordered myself the HP Envy 17 3D!
    Reply
  • freespace303 - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    OMG thankyou, I've been waiting for this review for SO LONG!!! I ordered the 3D version a few weeks ago and will have 21 days to play with it before deciding on whether to return it or not. *starts reading review, keeps fingers crossed* Reply
  • brysoncg - Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - link

    Even on the 1st gen Envy 15 (which I own) they had the BIOS option to set it back to a F1-F12 default.

    Also, the audio output on my laptop were crippled by the default Beats audio settings. In the Beats audio control panel, there are 3 settings, Beats Tour, Beats Studio, and Default. Whenever I have either Beats option selected, the volume output is limited at 75%, but with integrated speakers only. Disabling these and the "Beats Audio" setting (fn+b, which seems to mainly be a bass boost on this older Envy) increase audio output greatly.

    As for the touchpad, it only has one physical button (at the center of the bottom edge), and uses a "touch zone" to distinguish a right-click vs. a left-click. I doubt that this has changed from the 1st gen to the current gen.

    On these older 15 models, HP had an external 9-cell battery option, which I am able to get about 5 hours of total laptop usage with, but it close to doubles the weight of the laptop. Another downside is that its contacts are poorly designed, since on mine they ended up breaking (and HP wanted $300 to fix it). HP obviously knows they were bad design, since on the current Envy 14 the contacts for the external battery have been completely redesigned (back to an older-style connection - I guess sometimes newer isn't better :) ).

    The newer Envys have lost some of the options of the older Envys, but have also gained a few options. Primary lost option: 4 sticks of RAM (now only two slots on all models). Gained options: internal CD drive on all models, more connectivity (more external video connections, more audio connections, nicer screen panel (no 3/4 inch plastic bezel around the entire screen).

    The first upgrades I did with my Envy 15 were to populate the 4th RAM slot, for 8GB total RAM, and to put an SSD into it (the original 500GB HDD now lives in an external case with a powered eSATA connection). Everything about it is a lot faster now than what it was when I bought it.

    Overall, I enjoy the available power in my Envy 15, and have never had any problems with glare on the glossy screen. I do wish some accessories were cheaper, though.
    Reply
  • flashbacck - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Can you guys figure out whatever happened to the Radiance Display that was available when the 14/17's were originally released? Reply

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