The HP Pavilion dv7-6b04ea has a very impressive set of specifications on paper - however, it doesn't live up to the tale of the tape. This laptop uses an AMD processor, the dv7's quad-core 1.8GHz A8-3510MX processor is backed up by 8GB of RAM yet only manages to achieve a score of 82 in the WorldBench 6 tests. It’s not woefully slow, but is some way off the pace-setters in this category, the two Toshiba models.
Dual-graphics capabilities also don't quite live up to expectations either. The Radeon HD 6755G2 graphics card hits only 33 frames per second in the FEAR tests at Maximum settings. It isn't disastrous, but it’s nowhere near the performance achieved by the Rock Xtreme.
There are some bright spots, though. Storage is amply catered for with two 750GB hard drives, totalling a class-beating 1.5TB. The screen is decent, an anti-glare coating doing a good job of lessening reflection from the glossy, 17.3in screen. However, the maximum resolution is 1600 x 900, short of full HD, surprising when the optical drive is capable of Blu-ray Disc playback.
What really sets the dv7 apart from the rest of the pack, though, is the design. It's arguably the best-looking model we tested this time, with its brushed-metal finish giving it a look smart enough for the office, eye-catching enough to be used on the move and neutral enough to fit in with any room of the house. The keyboard is nice and big, though if we've one quibble the Up and Down arrow keys are a little squashed. The touchpad is backlit so it can be used in dark environments – although unfortunately the keyboard is not. It also feels quite sturdily built, capable of withstanding a few bumps and scrapes.
It is heavy at 3.4kg, though if you did want the HP to be a travelling companion it has a decent battery life of just over five hours - bested only by the stunning stamina of the Asus U46SV-WX044X. A fingerprint reader offers additional security and you'll find a good selection of ports for connecting peripherals.