The HP Envy 13 is a rare breed of laptop that combines a small form build with a dedicated graphics card in the form of the MX150 while still being quite affordable.
The model I have been sent is a 2017 model laptop, as the current generation is not available yet and the specification includes:
- CPU – Intel® Core™ i5-7500U (2.5 GHz base frequency, up to 3.1 GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, 3 MB cache, 2 cores)
- Display – 33.8 cm (13.3″) diagonal Full-HD IPS touchscreen edge-to-edge glass (1920 x 1080) display
- RAM – 8 GB memory
- Storage – 360 GB PCIe® SSD storage
- GPU – NVIDIA® GeForce® MX150 (2 GB GDDR5 dedicated); Audio by Bang & Olufsen; HP Audio Boost; Fast Charge; Backlit keyboard; Faster 2×2 Wi-Fi®
- Wireless – Intel® 802.11b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® 4.2 Combo
- Ports – 2 USB 3.1 Type-C™ Gen 1 (Data Transfer up to 5 Gb/s, Power Delivery, DP1.2, HP Sleep and Charge), 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (1 HP Sleep and Charge)
1 headphone/microphone combo
- Weight – 1.38 kg
- Dimensions – 30.54 x 21.56 x 1.39 cm
Price and Competition
You can currently buy this model for £1029.00 with an HP 3 Year Care Pack with Pickup and Return Service direct from HP or £1,099.00 if you prefer to use Amazon.
Specification-wise there is not a whole lot out there in direct competition. A brief bit of research on the Currys website came up with the LENOVO IdeaPad 720S 13.3″ which is cheaper and marginally lighter, but the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U/ RX Vega 8 combo has less graphical power as I proved in my Acer Swift 3 review.
The XPS 13 is an obvious thought when comparing, but they are not really the same as it lacks a dedicated GPU. However, it does make for a good comparison, as it costs £999.00 at Currys and is 0.15kg lighter but will not be able to handle gaming nearly as well as the Envy 13.
Alternatively, there is the popular Alienware 13 which goes in the other direction, the cheapest model is £1,249.00 with a i5-7300HQ but a much more powerful GTX 1050Ti with 2GB GDDR5. It is also much larger and is nearly double the weight.
So, if you are on the lookout for a small light laptop that has semi-decent gaming performance this looks like one of the best options available.
Design & Build
As someone that travels a lot, I am a bit fan of the 13-inch format, it makes life so much easier. This isn’t quite the same level as you see on some ultrabooks, it is larger and heavier all round that the superb XPS 13, but none compete with this spec that I am aware of. Overall the weight and dimensions are extremely portable.
The general design is pretty standard, it is a pleasant looking all-aluminium laptop that gives off both a premium look and feel.
You get a good selection of ports, in particular, there are, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 and 2 USB 3.1 Type-C so you don’t have to worry about annoying adaptors to plug in your peripherals.
It appears that you can charge the laptop via one of the USB-C ports but the supplied power adaptor uses the dedicated port.
The display doesn’t have the attractive edge to edge design you find on XPS laptops, but the bezels are still quite slim on the left and right. The overall quality of the display is good too, colours appear to be vibrant and the touchscreen is responsive. The glass top surface is very reflective though making it less than optimal in bright conditions.
The Envy comes with Bang & Olufsen speaker technology and there is a grill above the keyboard housing the speakers.
The keyboard uses the standard chiclet-style keys and covers the full width of the computer giving you a decent amount of typing room. I found it quite comfortable typing on it for a couple of hours on a train journey.
The trackpad is wide but not very tall, there is plenty of room to use it comfortably though. It is not my favourite trackpad though, in particular, I am not keen on the click action, it doesn’t feel very responsive and you need quite a firm press down.
Due to its graphical and processing power, this is not a fanless design and at the base of the laptop are air vents covering the full width.
Performance is where this laptop excels, the i5-7500U might not be the latest CPU on the market, but I doubt most people will notice the performance differences on a day to day basis compared to the current 8th-generation chips.
The 360 GB PCIe SSD storage is generous, it allows you to install all your apps and a few games without juggling around what you have installed. While I can just about get by on 256GB for a laptop, that extra 100GB buys a lot of breathing room. The performance of the NVMe drives is understandable excellent, maybe not the best, but again you won’t notice the difference.
Unlike most of its competition, this little laptop has a moderate amount of gaming power from its MX150 discrete graphics. You won’t be playing everything at maxed out details but this will comfortably play most AAA games. I was able to get Deus Ex: Human Revolution playable at 720p with low settings, not ideal but it is quite a demanding game. Things like GTAV and Skyrim ran at 1080p with no issues.
For day to day use, this is superb, I was able to handle all my regular tasks with no slowdowns or laggyness. I rarely do anything overly taxing on my PC but I do multi-task a lot and I always have millions of chrome tabs open, none of this caused issues with the Envy.
When not gaming and sticking just to office work I was able to get a full days’ worth of work done without charging with ease. I didn’t do a specific battery test but I wasn’t getting anxious about needing to charge it after 8 hours of use.
I am quite sensitive to sound and I did find the fans spun up quite a bit on occasion. It is not offensively loud but when working in total silence it was noticeable. It has been unusually warm in Blackpool and the rest of the country recently so this won’t have helped. During gaming, the fans understandably spin up quite a bit, even then, the noise isn’t excessive.
This ticks all the boxes for my personal needs, small, light with plenty of processing power and enough graphical power to do some AAA gaming on occasion. It is perfect for anyone on the move a lot whether that is travelling for pleasure or work. I would love to be able to have a laptop like this on a long-haul flight so I can kill the hours with some gaming.
It is well priced too at around £1k, while that is still quite a large investment, you are getting a lot of laptop for your money.
Overall, this is a fantastic laptop that will suit most peoples needs without breaking the bank.
HP Envy 13-inch Laptop (13-ad015na)