HP might not be the first name that comes to your mind when it comes to gaming notebooks, but the company has been offering premium products under the Omen range. It also offers entry-level and mid-range gaming notebooks under the Pavilion brand. Speaking of which, the company recently announced a refresh to its 15-inch midrange variant. The new Pavilion Gaming 15 now comes with the latest 9th-generation Intel processor options, updated Nvidia graphics, and some minor cosmetic changes.
Now on first glance, the new Pavilion Gaming 15 looks identical to the previous version. That’s because the new model is essentially using the same design language. It doesn’t entirely stand out as a gaming machine and continues to take a minimalistic approach. This makes it great for someone who wants a laptop that can blend in as an everyday laptop and doesn’t stand out when using it say in college or in an office environment. And when you go back home, you can catch up on winning more of those ‘chicken dinners.’ The plastic build does it make a bit flimsy in certain places, and the matte black rubberised finish can attract fingerprints and smudges.
The laptop is fairly slim though, and not as heavy as most gaming notebooks out there. The trapezoidal pattern speaker grill makes a comeback, as well as the matching violet, coloured HP logo and keyboard backlighting; which does look cool, but those are the only gamer-focused features that you are going to see on this machine.
You do however get a fast 144Hz 1080p panel to enhance your experience. It is an IPS anti-glare micro-edge matte WLED-backlit bezel-less display. Of course, it isn’t edge-to-edge and there is enough space on the top to stuff in a webcam, but HP has shaved off a few centimeters from the frame. Notably, the bottom is more angular than before, and all-in-all the panel itself looks and feels the same as the previous model. It’s a pretty decent display and while you can’t compare it high-end OLED panels, it gets the job done. It can fairly produce good colours and offers good viewing angles. I just wish it offered a bit more punch when it comes to brightness and contrast.
There’s a decent set of ports including HDMI, a USB Type-A 3.1 port, an RJ-45 connector, a USB Type-C 3.1 (sadly no Thunderbolt support) and an SD card reader. On the right side, there is the charging plug, two USB Type-A 3.1 ports, and a 3.5mm Audio jack.
As mentioned earlier, HP is now offering the 9th-generation Intel processor options on the Pavilion Gaming 15. You can opt for either a Core i5 or Core i7 along with the latest Nvidia GTX 1600 series GPUs with MaxQ design. HP sent us the top of the line variant which features an Intel Core i7 9750H six-core processor, with 12GB of DDR4 RAM, and a GTX 1660Ti. As for storage, you get a 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD with a 7,200rpm 1TB hard drive so you have ample of storage at your disposal.
The fast NVMe drive definitely helps in loading things quick and snappy. Windows loads fast, and everyday tasks like checking mails, browsing through multiple Chrome tabs, streaming videos, is a piece of cake. Of course, you can do a fair amount of gaming and the new GTX 1660Ti works great. It’s a more advanced version of the GTX 1060 so you can easily swift through esports titles, and AAA titles aren’t too shabby. I could easily get around 90 fps on Apex Legends at ultra settings and about 65 fps on Rise of Tomb Raider at the highest settings.
The keyboard feels a little cramped and HP should have used full-sized arrow keys, considering it has the word 'Gaming' in its name. You do however get a full-sized num-pad and while the key travel is a bit shallow it is pretty good for typing or casual gaming. The touchpad is large and all plastic, and is good at response. There are no dedicated left and right click keys though and the integrated ones didn’t feel very intuitive. In fact, the touchpad felt a little wobbly, but that could be a unit
For a mid-range gaming notebook, the battery life isn’t all that bad. Regular web-surfing on Wi-Fi you can get up to 5 hours of runtime. Under heavy loads, the battery manages to last about one hour and 20 minutes. Of course, if you want to do some gaming then you’ll need to plug in the 200W adapter.
So basically if you are looking for a powerful laptop that can blend in while at work or at play, then the new Pavilion Gaming 15 seems like a pretty solid deal. While it maintains a limit to not look as flashy as a gaming notebook, it does manage to be great for your casual gaming needs and works very well as an everyday notebook.