The Bottom Line
Apr 20 2011 - The HP ENVY 17 has been updated for 2011 to include 2nd Generation Intel Core i processors and a new AMD Radeon HD 6850M graphics card. Starting at $1,250, the base configuration offers a Core i5 processor and 6GB of memory for decent performance in a variety of scenarios. The graphics card performs well especially for the base price, and overall the HP ENVY 17 is a solid buy.
- Good Build Quality
- Support for Two Hard Drives
- Decent Graphics Card
- Lack of a Quad-Core Processor for $1,250
- Touchpad Isn't the Best For Gaming
- Intel 2nd Generation Core i5-2410M Dual Core Processor
- 17.3-Inch HD+ BrightView Infinity LED Display (1600x900)
- AMD Radeon HD 6850M 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
- 6GB DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
- SuperMulti 8x DVD Drive
- HP TrueVision HD Webcam
- 6 Cell Battery
- 3 USB (2 USB 2.0 and 1 SuperSpeed USB 3.0), HDMI, RJ-45
- 16.38" x 10.83" x 1.25" @ 7.25 Pounds
Review - HP ENVY 17 2011 Laptop
HP, well known for business and consumer laptops, has updated the ENVY 17 for 2011. This higher-end laptop is at the top of HP's consumer product line and offers a variety of features that make it a worthy contender for gamers on the go.
The major update to the ENVY 17 comes with the inclusion of Intel 2nd Generation Core i processors. The base HP ENVY 17 starts at $1,250 and features an Intel Core i5-2410M chip. The dual-core processor clocks in at 2.3GHz but can hit 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost. Unfortunately, this is a more economical chip with only 3MB of L3 cache. If you need the performance power of a quad-core processor, the ENVY 17 can be customized to include the Intel Core i7-2820QM with 8MB of cache for improved performance under load.
Since this is a 17.3-inch laptop, one must ask how the display fares against competitors. The standard screen is more than adequate with a maximum resolution of 1600x900, but a full 1080p display is available for $150 more. If you're doing serious gaming, you'll probably want to upgrade to the full HD screen as the higher resolution on a 17.3-inch display is a definite asset.
Next, you're probably wondering about the overall design and build quality. Since the ENVY 17 is in the upper tier of HP's consumer notebook line, it does have a more sophisticated feel with an aluminum body that made the previous generation ENVY 17 a hit among consumers. The laptop has a laser-etched design, though, that might be off-putting to some. If you're a gamer looking for an aggressive notebook with lots of lights, this notebook isn't for you. But it does have a streamlined elegance that is somewhat similar to a MacBook Pro. Also similar to a MacBook Pro is the ENVY 17's lack of touchpad buttons. It takes some getting used to the universal touchpad, and it's not the best for intensive gaming scenarios, so keep a mouse handy.
What's nice about the HP ENVY 17 is the fact that it can go from moderate gaming to the workplace with ease. This multifunctional notebook is perfect for those who use a laptop in a variety of scenarios. It is quite versatile with support for up to three external displays, as well as a nice dedicated graphics card. The AMD Radeon HD 6850M is standard in the base $1,250 configuration and offers 1GB of GDDR5 with the same chip as the Mobility HD 5850. The AMD HD 6850M features 800 stream processing units and is a decent value for a notebook in this price range.
One downside to the base configuration is the slow 5400RPM hard drive. While it's spacious at 750GB, the lack of speed is a bottleneck. Unfortunately, the available options aren't very budget-friendly. The system supports dual hard drives, which is a positive attribute, but the only available option on HP's website for a 7200RPM drive includes an SSD and the price skyrockets by $630. It would be nice to see a bit more options that spanned a wider price range rather than such a steep price jump.
In conclusion, the HP ENVY 17 is a top-notch laptop if you seek versatility. It can go from spreadsheets to gaming easily. However, it does not offer the same level of performance in-game compared to that of a desktop replacement gaming notebook equipped with a high-end graphics card, such as the GTX 485M. For under $1,300, though, the HP ENVY 17 is a decent value overall.