HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl

Standing out in the budget laptop category isn’t hard. Even modest improvements like metal construction, extra ports, and quality sound are enough to garner attention in a category where price reigns supreme. The HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl ($649.99 list, at Costco) offers plenty of reasons to give it your attention, but the addition of a new second-generation Intel Core i3 processor puts it over the top. If you’re in the market for a laptop that’s under $700, the HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl is the cream of the crop.


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One of the first details that caught my eye with the dv6-6013cl was the updated design, which uses brushed aluminum and a bold dose of color. With so many laptop designs mimicking the bare aluminum look popularized by Apple’s MacBook Pro line, it’s refreshing to see a metal-clad laptop that has some more interesting visual elements.
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HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl : Top
HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl : Angle
HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl : Front
HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl : Right


In addition to the navy blue paint job, the Pavilion dv6-6013cl also uses a vertical “grain,” which looks great, and added some subtle yet functional curves to the metal panels as well. On the palm rest, for example, the metal panel curves down into the keyboard, providing a more comfortable surface for your hands. On the lid along the hinge, a curved lip lets you carry the closed laptop more comfortably and with a more secure grip. The metal construction also means this laptop doesn’t suffer from the noticeable chassis flexing common to many other budget systems.

The dv6-6013cl measures 10 by 14.8 by 1.6 inches (HWD), though these dimensions are slightly misleading as the laptop is mostly 1.4 inches thick except for the curved lip along the hinge. Weighing 5.6 pounds, it’s a tad heavier than both the 5.3-pound Sony VAIO VPC-EB33FM/BJ ($629.99 list, 4.5 stars) and the five-pound Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire AS5742-6475 ($599.99 list, 4 stars).

Type    Value
Processor Name    Intel Core i3-2310M
Operating System    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor Speed    2.1 GHz
RAM    4 GB
Weight    5.6 lb
Screen Size    15.6 inches
Screen Size Type    widescreen
Graphics Card    Intel HD Graphics
Storage Capacity (as Tested)    500 GB
Networking Options    802.11n
Primary Optical Drive    DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)

The dv6-6013cl has a chiclet-style keyboard done in the same style as previous HP laptops, like the high-end HP Envy 14-1210NR ($999.99, 4stars). These two keyboards are nearly identical except for the backlight found on the Envy 14. In addition to the full sized keyboard, HP also squeezed in a numeric pad onto the dv6-6013cl. The buttons of the numeric pad are slightly narrower than the standard keys, but feel no different in actual use. The dv6-6013cl also uses a multitouch trackpad with separate buttons instead of the troubled clickpad HP used on previous Pavilion models. It’s distinctive visually as well, highlighted by a white ring of light, which would be awesome if only it were paired with a backlit keyboard. It’s not, so when the lights are low, you’ll be able to mouse without trouble, but you’ll be typing blind.

The 15.6-inch screen has a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768, which is standard for 15.6-inch screens, and will play 720p video. While the screen isn’t big enough for a group to gather around for a movie, it is big enough for one or two people. The widescreen layout is nice for videos, but especially so during productive tasks, as it provides enough visual real-estate to work with two large windows side-by-side.

The dv6-6013cl also sounds better than most laptops in this price range. Where many budget laptops have cheap speakers that sound anemic, the dv6-6103cl includes Beats Audio, a combination of software and hardware that provides a satisfying listening experience. Sound remains clear and undistorted even when turned up, and the only complaint I have is that the lack of any bass response was more noticeable as the volume was increased.

Its selection of ports is fairly average for a budget laptop. It has both VGA and HDMI outputs for connecting to an external monitor or HDTV, and the usual Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi. While USB 2.0 ports are common, most budget systems provide only two or three–the Pavilion dv6-6013cl has four. In addition to the regular headphone and microphone jacks there’s also a second headphone jack, allowing two people to listen with headphones.

The Pavilion dv6-6013cl also includes a generous 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive, the same size as the drives found in the Lenovo G560-0679AKU ($599 list, 3.5 stars) or the Acer AS5742-6475. A built-in memory card reader handles SD and MMC cards, and the optical drive lets you read and burn CDs and DVDs.

Looking at the desktop, you’ll see a few bits of bloatware, like a dedicated eBay link, HP games, and a generic ebook reader. Digging into the programs of the computer reveals more pre-installed trials and freebies, like a trial subscription for Norton Internet Security, Microsoft Office, and unwanted freebies like the Bing Bar, or HP’s PictureMover. You’ll probably want to clean a lot of these off of your system right away.

Because this is a Costco configuration, buyers can also take advantage of Costco’s extended warranty, which doubles the 1-year warranty provided by HP, covering the laptop for 2 years at no extra expense. In addition to this lengthened warranty period, Costco also provides their Electronics Concierge Services, a free tech support line.

HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl The dv6-6013cl is the first budget laptop we’ve reviewed that comes equipped with an Intel second-generation Core processor (a.k.a., Sandy Bridge), in this case a dual-core 2.10GHz Intel Core i3-2310M. Other laptops that feature the new chipset include the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 ($1,299 direct, 4 stars) and the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Thunderbolt) ($2,199 direct, 4 stars).

While not at the high-end of the Intel Core processor line-up, the Core i3-2310M is still a strong CPU, providing performance similar to the first generation top-tier i3 processors, but adding vast improvements to graphics processing. As a result, the dv6-6013cl performed well. It put up respectable scores in CineBench R11.5 (2.04) and Handbrake (3:13) benchmark tests, ranking alongside other top performers in the budget category, like the Toshiba Satellite A665D-S5175 (2.05 Cinebench, 4:03 Handbrake) and Acer AS5742-6475 (2.10 CineBench, 3:02 Handbrake).

In benchmark tests that test the entire system overall, the HP Pavilion also performed well, completing our Photoshop CS5 test in 5 minutes 48 seconds and scoring 5,563 points in PCMark Vantage. These scores put it right alongside the top budget laptops we’ve seen, like the Acer AS5742-6475 (5:35 Photoshop; 5,639 PCMark) and Sony VPC-EB33FM/BJ (5:39 Photoshop; 5,252 PCMark).

Where the dv6-6013cl is most impressive is in its new graphics capabilities. In 3DMark tests it blazed past its 1st-gen peers, scoring 4,116 at medium resolution and 1,748 at native resolution. The previous top-performers in the category, the Acer AS5742-6475 and Sony VPC-EB33FM/BJ, couldn’t even come close. The Acer AS5742-6475 scored 1,888 at medium settings and 1,617 at high settings, while the Sony VPC-EB33FM/BJ scored 1,874 (medium) and 1,686 (high).

The improved integrated graphics capability was most pronounced in our gaming tests. In Crysis the dv6-6013cl scored 14.3 frames per second (fps) at medium resolution, and 3.6 fps on high. In our Lost Planet 2 benchmark, the Pavilion scored 13.9 fps (medium) and 5.1 fps (high). As a rule, budget systems with integrated graphics haven’t even been able to run these gaming tests. While these particular games are too demanding for competitive play, you will finally be able to play quite a few current 3D graphics games, like World of Warcraft, Torchlight, and Fallout: New Vegas, on the dv6-6013cl.

In our MobileMark 2007 battery rundown test the dv6-6013cl lasted 5 hours 17 minutes with a 6-cell 55Wh battery. This time is better than both the Lenovo G560-0679AKU, which lasted 3:49, and Acer Aspire AS5742-6475, which lasted 5:01. However, both of these laptops use slightly smaller 48Wh battery, which is the more common size among budget laptops.

Even without the new Intel processor and subsequent improvements in graphics capability, the HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl was a strong contender for Editors’ Choice. Its sturdy yet stylish design, the extras like a fourth USB port and second headphone jack, the longer lasting battery, and Costco’s extended warranty had already pushed this laptop to the head of the budget laptop category. Thanks to the new Intel Core i3 processor and the addition of gaming options, even the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire AS5742-6475 gets left behind. The HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl takes top honors.

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