HP introduced us to its newest additions to its Pavilion Sleekbook line of budget-friendly laptops this past September: The Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and Sleekbook 15. Both laptops are certainly pushing the envelope in terms of what budget-friendly PCs could deliver as AMD processors power them both, where other laptops have relied on Intel for their CPUs.
Considering just how popular Intel is for laptop manufacturers, there are certainly a number of them who will expand to other chip makers, such as AMD, and that’s exactly what HP did when it introduced its budget-friendly Pavilion Sleekbook 15. This laptop comes with a 15.6-inch display and an AMD-powered quad-core processor, but does it stand up to other competing budget-friendly laptops with Intel inside?
Owning a MacBook Pro for work, laptops are extremely important to me as there’d be no way I’d be able to pay the bills without being able to write, edit video and produce regular content for this fine website. The power of a laptop is important to me as I need it to edit video and play the occasional modern-day video game like SimCity or Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Portability is also extremely important to me in a laptop as I often attend events both in New York City and in remote locations. Lugging around a heavy laptop is not my idea of a good time, so the lighter it is, the happier my back will be.
Lastly, a laptop’s keyboard is also of importance considering a good portion of my day is spent writing stories. If a laptop’s keyboard doesn’t feel right, it could ruin my workflow, meaning you won’t get to read as many exciting and interesting stories from moi.
Just to clarify, I’ve been reviewing a number of laptops recently so I’ll certainly spend a bit of time comparing it to others I’ve used in the past, but just wanted you to know what I currently own and use on a regular basis for my day-to-day work.
HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 Specs
15.6-inch diagonal High Definition BrightView LED-backlit Display (1366 x 768)
AMD Quad-Core A8-4555M (1.7GHz up to 2.5GHz, 4MB L2 Cache) + HD 7500G Discrete-Class Graphics
4GB DDR3 RAM
Windows 8 64-bit
500GB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
1x USB, 2x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI, RJ-45 Port, 4-in-1 media card reader, 1x combo microphone / headphone jack
403.86mm x 259.58mm x 21.08mm (15.9in x 10.2in x 0.83in)
4 Cell Lithium Ion 37Whr Battery
Industrial Design (good)
The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 we were lent for our review came in “sparkling black,” although we barely noticed any bit of sparkle when we first set our eyes on the laptop, although upon closer inspection, we can confirm there is a bit of sparkle to the majority of the Sleekbook 15’s case. Aesthetics aside, the Sleekbook 15 is quite a large machine, which we believe has to do with the inclusion of its large 15.6-inch display as well as its full-sized keyboard, which we’ll get to both of those features later on in our review.
The majority of the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 is made of a plastic material. The keyboard and rear of its display look to offer a bit of a shine to its plastic material, while the underside is a more dull plastic. The bezel surrounding the Sleekbook 15’s display looks to be the same size on the left, right, and upper portion of the bezel. The bottom, on the other hand, is slightly thicker. The top bezel is where you’ll find the Sleekbook 15’s webcam sitting at the center, and the word “Pavilion” can be found on the upper-right portion. The bottom bezel has the HP logo at the center, and two rubber stumps can be found on either side, which we assume is to offer a slight gap when the Sleekbook 15 is in its closed position.
The back of the display is made of a shiny, plastic material and is slightly angled towards the center on all four sides. The angles are about 1 inch thick and offers a nice look that would make the rear of the display look completely dull. The bottom right of the rear of the display has a large HP logo.
The base of the Sleekbook 15 is where you’ll find its keyboard that has a small 0.5-inch grove located at its bottom portion. Above the keyboard is where you’ll find the Sleekbook 15’s perforated speaker strip, which has a silver strip separating it from the rest of the keyboard which we found to offer a nice contrast to the overall black base. At the left corner of the speaker strip is where you’ll find the laptop’s power button.
The underside of the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 looks to be made of a more dull plastic material with three lines of vents spreading across the majority of the underside. An additional vent can be seen on the right side of the Sleekbook 15’s underside, which extends to the left side of the laptop.
The Pavilion Sleekbook 15 features a full-sized keyboard, which means you data-processing folk will be happy to see the number keys have been included in this laptop. Getting used to a full-sized keyboard on a laptop took a little bit of time as it seems the regular keys were pushed over to the side in order to fit the number keys in. Aside from the learning curve, the keys on the keyboard were comfortable to use as they offer a clicky feel when pressed with a very slight squishy feeling when fully pressed. The keys are all made of a smooth material with a very slight texture for each key’s character.
The shiny plastic featured on the base of the keyboard doesn’t offer a good feeling for the palm rests of the keyboard as being able to move your wrists around takes more effort than it should. Typing for extended periods of time can result in your wrists heating up a bit if you move them around too often, which will make them stick to the Sleekbook 15. The edges of the palm rests, as well as the entire laptop, are smooth and don’t offer any sharp edges.
The trackpad is completely textured and doesn’t allow for fingers to glide their way around easily, although the texture allows for more precision. We’re not sure just how precise you need your mouse cursor to be, but in terms of using it on a regular basis of browsing the Internet, sending out emails and spending time on social media sites, we found that it didn’t allow us to perform as well as we would like. Two large plastic buttons are located at the bottom of the textured trackpad for mouse clicks, although left-mouse clicks are also possible simply by tapping the trackpad. Towards the top-left region of the trackpad is a small circular grove, which when double-tapped, locks the trackpad from being used.
Ports: The majority of the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15’s ports are located on the right side of its base as you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI port, RJ-45 port, 4-in-1 memory card reader and the port for its AC adapter. The majority of the left side of its base features a vent, but you’ll find an additional USB port and the laptop’s combo microphone / headphone jack.
The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 features a 15.6-inch display capable of a resolution of 1366 x 768. This isn’t a high resolution compared to other machines we’ve seen in the past, especially when viewed on a 15.6-inch display, but it’s still able to offer some nice visuals. The display on the Sleekbook 15 does feature IPS, which means you’ll be able to view the screen at extremely wide angles without losing quality in viewing images or reading text.
HP didn’t disclose the Sleekbook 15’s brightness ability, so we can’t tell you exactly how many nits it’s capable of producing, but through our real-world testing we found its display was comfortable to use indoors at 40% – 50% of its full brightness. Using the Sleekbook 15 outdoors was difficult as not only was its full brightness not strong enough to make it a viable option to use outdoors on a sunny day, but its reflective screen also made the viewing difficult.
Webcam (very good)
The webcam that is available on the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 is the company’s HP TrueVision HD Webcam capable of capturing images at 720p. For the purpose of our review, we put it up against the Toshiba KIRAbook’s HD webcam, which can capture images at 720p as well.
In our daylight tests, the Sleekbook 15 produced a very good image as the color, saturation and brightness of the image all looked good. No strange hues or glowing were seen in the Sleekbook 15’s image and everything in the image looked pretty sharp when compared to the image the KIRAbook produced.
In our low-light tests, the Sleekbook 15 also did well as it was able to make out the test subject, although the image was pretty noisy, but this could easily be overlooked considering the circumstances. When compared to the KIRAbook’s webcam, which we rated poor in our original review, the Sleekbook 15 produced a much better image.
The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 we were lent for our review was from the Sleekbook 15z-b000 series and featured an AMD quad-core processor running at 1.7GHz with 2.5GHz possible when optimal conditions are met. During our real-world testing with the Sleekbook 15, I noticed the laptop was able to keep up with a number of my demands without any difficulty, that is, as long as I didn’t push the machine too hard. With that said, let’s see how the Sleekbook 15 performed in our benchmark tests.
One of the first benchmarks we like to run for PCs is PCMark 7 which is a benchmark used in order to simulate real-world tasks such as opening applications, booting up your computer and doing some mild graphical tasks.
In our PCMark 7 benchmark, the Sleekbook 15 didn’t perform as well as Intel-based machines, and in fact had one of the lowest scores we’ve seen in some of our recently reviewed machines with a score of 1086. We understand the Sleekbook 15 is being introduced as a budget-friendly machine, but a score this low may lead you to reconsider if this is the right laptop for you if you feel you’re going to be doing a lot of multitasking on it.
The second benchmark we like to run on our test machines is 3DMark 11, which is a benchmark that is more demanding as its primary focus is how well it’ll perform as a gaming machine.. And we’re not talking Facebook or Flash-based games here as those tend to not demand so much from a system, but instead, actual games like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed or any other current-generation games.
The Sleekbook 15 didn’t perform as poorly as it did in its PCMark 7 benchmark, and in fact performed pretty much standard to what we’ve seen in recently released laptops with a 3DMark 11 score of P664. This means when it comes to running graphic-intensive applications or video games like the latest Call of Duty or any other modern game, the Sleekbook 15 won’t be able to give you the performance you’re probably going to need.
The final benchmark we like to run on our test machines is Geekbench, which isn’t a benchmark that tests the laptop with real-world applications, but instead squarely focuses on the CPU’s raw performance score by throwing mathematical equations at it.
The results of our Geekbench benchmark echoes the results of our PCMark 7 testing, which is to say the AMD Quad-Core A8-4555M isn’t a powerful processor as it scored a 2768 in our Geekbench benchmark. The A8-4555M will be able to crunch out a decent amount of mathematical equations, but with a score as low as this, we wouldn’t be surprised if it hesistates a bit when it’s really challenged.
Value for weight, price (poor)
We know when purchasing any PC, people tend to look at its internal specs and purchase a computer based on what they currently need. One factor many overlook is its weight as more powerful portable computers will most likely be heavier than PCs that aren’t as powerful. That’s why we also like to look at a PCs performance relative to its weight so we can see if all of that power is worth you breaking your back over or if a PC’s weight isn’t worth its sub-par performance.
In our value for its weight equation, the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 performed poorly as its 4.6lbs combined with its poor PCMark 7 make this a machine that we feel isn’t worth lugging around in your bag. Budget-friendly laptops tend to not perform as well in this test since they tend to weigh more and perform less than other machines, so keep that in mind if you’re considering doing a lot of traveling.
Battery Life (good)
HP featured a 4-cell Lithium 37Whr battery in the Pavilion Sleekbook 15 which isn’t exactly a large battery, but it should be able to handle a few hours of use when you need it.
The first battery test we ran on the Sleekbook 15 was a long-term battery drain test to see how long it would take for it to drain. Our testing showed an hour of battery drain resulted in a 19% drop in the its battery under the conditions of leaving its Wi-Fi on, its screen at 50% of its brightness and leaving it on to let its battery drain. This means you should expect a little over 5 hours of battery life under these conditions.
Having the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 sit and letting its battery drain is probably the last reason why you’d consider purchasing this laptop as you may actually want to use it once in awhile, which is why we run additional battery tests where videos are played to see how far its battery would drain. The first video test was done under the conditions of playing a 1080p local video with 50% screen brightness for an hour and noted a 30% drop in battery life, which means you can expect 3.3 hours of battery for local videos. As for streaming videos, we watched a 1080p YouTube video with 50% screen brightness for an hour and noted a 33% drop in battery life, which means you can expect 3 hours of battery for streaming videos.
Battery Charge (very good)
The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15’s 4-cell Lithium 37Whr battery means it shouldn’t take too long to get the laptop fully charged, and that’s exactly what we experienced as we noted it took around 1 ½ hours to charge it from 0% – 100%. This certainly is a great rate of speed for a laptop battery to charge, but considering the size of the battery, it isn’t completely surprising.
We have mentioned the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 being a budget-friendly laptop throughout our review of the machine as it currently is available on HP’s website for under $500. With that said, it’s difficult to determine if the Sleekbook 15 is a machine either budget-minded customers or first-time laptop owners should consider purchasing as it doesn’t stand out in a way where we could emphatically recommend it to someone who is looking for this type of laptop.
The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 has a short list of features that make it worth picking up, such as its webcam, acceptable battery life, full-sized keyboard and its price of under $500. But if you’re looking to purchase an laptop that will keep up with you, especially if you’re a heavy multitasker that doesn’t want your machine to crumble after opening a couple of tabs in your Internet browser of choice, then you may want to look elsewhere if you’re looking for something a little more memorable.