The HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea is an all-rounder family laptop with 17in screen and unusual choice of quad-core processor
From HP comes this 17in HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea laptop, aimed at general home users with its comprehensive selection of ports and features. In price and performance terms, it's on equal footing with the selection in November issue's group test – in fact it was scheduled to appear amongst them, but arrived just too late for review there.
Curiously, the HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea takes a processor from AMD, the Phenom II P920, clocked at 1.6GHz. Curious and curiouser, this is a quad-core chip. We found this ran a little hotter than dual-core chips at the same clock speed, but fan noise was tolerably low.
This is backed up with ATI's PowerXpress switchable graphics technology, leading with a powerful graphics card in the shape of the ATI HD 5650 with 1GB DDR3 dedicated memory.
Sure enough, in our usual laptop graphics test, the HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea proved capable of playing FEAR at Maximum detail settings at a merry 70 frames per second. And it will also take more recent games in its stride, assisted by its support for DirectX 11.
In general performance, the HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea didn't shine so brightly in our WorldBench 6 speed test, scoring 73 points here where comparably priced Intel-fuelled notebooks now easily exceed 100 points.
In a Cinebench R10 test for multi-core processing, the dv7 showed a 3.6x speed up when all four cores were called upon for CPU rendering.
Construction is chunky but quite decent, with a thin metal textured skin covering both wrist-rest area and the screen lid back.
We didn't find the HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea the most comfortable in normal use though. First there's that highly glossy screen to look through. It has good colour and viewing angles, notwithstanding its knack of picking up unwanted reflections from any nearby lighting.
Then the trackpad, an attempt to mimic Apple's buttonless trackpad, proved awkward in use. It required more than easy pressure to get its front corners to register clicks. The keyboard isn't so bad though, all Scrabble-like keys with an easy action.
Connecting to other devices is well catered for, with both HDMI and VGA video outputs. Ethernet is gigabit-capable, while wireless is covered with 802.11n and Bluetooth.
A tray-load DVD±RW dual-layer drive supports Lightscribe printing of disc labels.
At just over 3kg, it's not terribly light but given the large screen size this is may be quite acceptable. Powering the HP Pavilion dv7-4045ea is a 6-cell removable battery rated at a reasonable 55Wh, although the quad-core AMD processor takes its toll on battey life.
We saw just under four hours life, when using the low-power integrated graphics. Expect this to drop further should you try any discrete-card gaming on battery power.
See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?
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