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New DV6 Model With New CPU And Graphics

March 14, 2010 By: lilybird Category: Desktop and Laptop

HP Pavilion DV6-2162NR 15.6-Inch Black Laptop – Up to 4.25 Hours of Battery Life
If you are looking at the DV6 line of notebooks you may have noticed that there are several new models out with model numbers like “DV6-21xx”. These are basically the same notebook as the previous models with a new CPU/graphics combo that greatly improves performance. Like the previous DV6 generation it is well constructed with a metallic toned black exterior (HP also offers versions in white). Take a good look at the shell art since it is something that may not appeal to everyone. I bought mine for my mother-in-law and she definitely appreciated having something a little more individual than the usual dull grey exterior. Despite the glossy exterior we haven’t noticed much in the way of finger prints or any scratches despite the helping hands of our kids who love to “help” grandma with her computer.

The specs for this model are set well above what the average home owner needs today which (in my mind) future proofs it nicely. If you are on a tight budget you can get what you need for less (look at the HP Pavilion G60 line). If you have a little bit more to spend and you want some headroom to handle your computing needs for the next few years this is a great choice.

CPU – This is one of the first models from HP that sports Intel’s new “Core i5” line of CPUs. The short version is that it outperforms the older “Core2” chips and is slightly better than the (also) new “Core i3” chips. As noted in the description it’s 2.26GHz part that can “Turbo Boost” up to 2.53GHz. What isn’t mentioned is that this is a dual core part with 3MB of cache. That may sound a lot like the old Core2 chips but don’t be fooled: this chip will outperform the old Core2 by 20%-50%. If you are trying to decide between the “Core i5” and “Core i3” I would recommend the Core i5 to gamers and people who run high end applications (like CAD software) and the Core i3 for people running business applications (like MS Office) and web browsing. If you want to know more read on. If nerd stuff bores you then just trust me, this is a great chip to have in your laptop.

Okay here is why the Core i5 is a big deal: The Core i5 (and Core i3) have Intel’s newest, fastest and smallest CPU core (also known as the “Westmere” core) which is two generations newer than the “Penryn” core used in the Core2 line. Because with each generation the parts get smaller they get cheaper to make. Also with the Westmere core Intel has bundled the chipset and a new graphics chip onto one package which also reduces cost (and allows Intel to do some new and cool performance tricks). One thing the Core i3 and i5 have that Core2 does not is “hyperthreading.” Hyperthreading is a feature that makes two CPUs act like four. To do this Intel has enabled each CPU core to act on two software threads at once. So the two CPU Core i5 is almost as good as a four CPU part for a lot less money and requiring a lot less power (there are a few four core mobile CPUs out there but the battery life is terrible and I don’t recommend them). Hyperthreading is something that every user can benefit from: no more watching your computer slow to a crawl because your anti-virus kicked in. Windows 7 just dumps that off on a new thread and you keep humming along surfing the web or playing a game. The main difference between the Core i3 and i5 is that the Core i5 has “Turboboost” (which can speed up your CPU or the graphics chip as needed) and the Core i3 does not. If you aren’t stressing the CPU or the graphics chip then the Turboboost found in the i5 isn’t going to do a lot for you.

RAM – 4GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1066MHz is combined with a 64bit OS to which should provide more than enough memory for pretty much any application you can think of outside of extremely high end gaming. Note that most older notebooks come with “DDR2” and this one has “DDR3”. The main difference is that “DDR3” uses about 20% less power “DDR2” which of course equals slightly better battery life.

HDD – The 500GB drive is far more space than most users need (few people will use more than 100GB). HP also offers 320GB and 640GB drives in some models. This one runs at 7200RPM but HP has version that run at 5400RPM. The 7200RPM drive offers better performance but the failure rate is slightly higher than the slower 5400RPM drives. I have a slight preference for the slower drive just because I hate HDD failures but honestly the 7200RPM drives have improved to the point where there’s not much difference in failure rates anymore.

Graphics – This model is using uses Intel’s new “HD” graphics which is vastly superior to their old “4500MHD” chip. You can actually do a some 3D gaming on this notebook though newer high-end 3D games will need to run at reduced settings. Online games like World of Warcraft will run best at reduced settings. It can do 1080p HD graphics but notice this model doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive so I’m not sure it matters that much (the only DV6’s I know of with Blu-ray are custom models ordered direct from HP).

Display – I don’t like that about a year ago HP switched the DV6 from a full 16″ display to the slightly smaller 15.6″. Still the 1366 x 768 widescreen LED Brightview display on this model doesn’t disappoint. Indoors it is brilliant with surprisingly strong blacks (too many notebook displays are all brightness with no depth). Outdoors you’ll have some issues with glare but it’s better than a lot of competitors. I like that the screen provides a decent amount of vertical space without overdoing it. The difference between the 15.6″ and a 14″ is surprising (go compare them in a store if you haven’t had a chance).

Sound – Surprisingly good sound for a notebook. The speakers are well positioned and deliver a good range. I’ve heard better but it was on a $3K notebook.

Battery – HP bundles 12 cell Lithium-Ion battery on this model but most DV6 models have a 6 cell. If you are on the road a lot the 12 cell is nice. Home users who plan to plug in a lot probably won’t care. Personally I prefer the 12 cell. The 6 cell will give you 2-4 hours of real use and the 12 cell will give you 3-6 hours (HP claims “up to seven hours” on their website but that’s only if you do everything possible to conserve power). The 12 cell will bulge out a little in the back and adds about 1/5 of a pound to the weight.

Operating System – This model the “Premium” version of Windows 7. The “SB” (small business) models have the Win 7 “Professional” version. Win 7 premium is fine for most users but the Pro version lets you back up over a network and better support for older software (it can basically run Windows XP in the background for your older programs). Most homes users will be fine with Win 7 Premium but if you have a lot of old software you may consider getting a notebook with Win 7 Pro (which will add a little to the cost of the notebook).

Optical Drive: The standard HP DVD/CD RW Drive with Lightscribe. If you haven’t used Lightscribe it basically allows you to burn black text or images onto LightScribe compatible CD or DVD media. A typical image burn takes 20 minutes or so. It’s nice to have but be aware the images are a little dull. I’ve noticed mine fade over but I mostly burn copies of CDs for my kids and they are rough on them.

I don’t have any serious “cons” for this computer. The “Touch Media Controls” for things like the volume (as opposed to buttons you push) are a little odd at first but we got used to them quickly and hey, they look cool when they light up. I also don’t find the included remote to be that useful but anyone planning to hook this up to their TV might like it. I suspect most people will just put in a drawer and forget about it.

If you’re staring at the various DV6 models trying to decide which one to buy my advice is (based on the models available when I wrote this):

– For home users who aren’t gamers you can save about $100 if you go with the HP Pavilion DV6-2150US 15.6-Inch Laptop which combines a Core i3 with Win 7 Premium and a 6 cell battery. The performance for non-gaming software will be very close to the more expensive i5 models and you’ll save money by going with Win 7 Premium and a smaller battery.

– If you need good battery life, run higher end software, or like to game a bit go for the HP Pavilion DV6-2170US which combines the Core i5 with the 12 cell battery. The Intel graphics aren’t the best but it’s a big improvement over past products. This is the model I think has the best balance of features.

– If gaming matters more than battery life you should probably look at other laptop lines but if you are sold on the DV6 go for the HP Pavilion DV6-2190US which has a quad CPU Core i7 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 230M graphics. It’s only got a 6 cell battery and that CPU and graphics are going to drain it quickly. On the plus side it’s the only model in this group with gigabit ethernet (most home users will be fine with 10/100 ethernet [which is more than enough for several computers surfing the web] but if you want or need 10/100/1000 ethernet only the higher end DV6 models have it).

– If you have a lot of older software consider the HP Pavilion DV6-2157SB Small Business Editionwhich comes with Windows 7 Pro (which can run older software in a WinXP kernel). It has a Core i3 and a 6 cell battery. It also has a different finish (“Plaid Mocha”) but I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on it.

To wrap it all up: you can always buy more features for more money but if you are looking for a laptop with some higher-end features and upscale build quality this is an excellent choice. HP spent money in the right places and has created a high-end laptop at a mid-tier price. I think the HP Pavilion DV6-2150US 15.6-Inch Laptop is one of the better values out there today but I prefer the features offered in the HP Pavilion DV6-2170US. If you are a student you may want to check out HPs “Academy” program which offers student discounts (it can be hard to find on HP’s web site – just search for “HP Academy”).
HP Laptop

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