HP Pavilion dv6-6100ax laptop

A 15.6in AMD A6-based laptop that's decent, but nothing special

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HP Pavilion dv6-6100ax
  • HP Pavilion dv6-6100ax
  • HP Pavilion dv6-6100ax
  • HP Pavilion dv6-6100ax
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Graphics performance
  • USB 3.0

Cons

  • 5400rpm hard drive
  • Could use a little more RAM
  • Overall performance a little slow

Bottom Line

The quad-core Pavilion dv-6100ax from HP is not as fast as some cheaper laptops we've seen that use a Core i3 CPU. However, it possesses good graphics performance and battery life. It's a decent 15.6in laptop that's exclusively available from Harvey Norman, but it's nothing special and we wish its price was a little lower.

Would you buy this?

For many of us, AMD isn't usually top-of-mind when shopping for a new laptop, but the company has come up with a new line of CPUs (which it calls APUs, or accelerated processing units) that are almost an attractive alternative to Intel. HP has used AMD's A6-3410MX APU in its Pavilion dv6-6100ax notebook, which is aimed at users who want a model that can do a little bit of everything. It's an exclusive model to Harvey Norman and it costs $1198, so you may have to use some of your haggling skills if you want to get it slightly cheaper.

On the outside, the Pavilion dv6-6100ax looks the same as the Intel-based Pavilion dv6-6027tx that we reviewed in July, which is to say it's nice, but a little too glossy for our taste. At 15.6 inches and 2.55kg, it's a little bulky and not a great laptop to choose if you want something to carry to and from school or work every day. It has a footprint of 38x26cm and it is 4cm thick at its thickest point at the rear.

The speakers are typical for a laptop (they aren't great, but just passable) and its keyboard and touchpad are reasonably comfortable. The keyboard has a dedicated number pad and the touchpad supports multi-finger gestures such as two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicks.

On the inside you get the aforementioned AMD A6 APU, which has four cores and is best suited to running applications that can make use of all four cores at the same time (think Adobe Premiere Pro, for example). At 1.6Ghz, it's not a super-fast processor in a straight line drag and this was shown in our tests.

Running our Blender 3D rendering test with all fours dedicated to the task, the Pavilion notched up a time of 1min 03sec, which is about three seconds slower than what an Intel Core i5-2467M CPU (which also runs at 1.6GHz) achieved in the same test. It was a little more sluggish in the iTunes MP3 encoding test, where it took 1min 51sec to convert 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. Its time of 1hr 26min in our DVD-to-Xvid transcoding test isn't bad, but it ain't quick either.

Basically, the processing speed of the AMD A6-3410MX is approximately the same as a low-voltage, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M Sandy Bridge CPU, but it's not as fast as an entry-level, regular-voltage Intel Core i3-2310M Sandy Bridge CPU that runs at 2.1GHz. A laptop such as Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge 320, which costs less than $800, will do just as good a job as the Pavilion dv6-6100ax in many everyday tasks.

Where the Pavilion dv6-6100ax is reasonably strong is in the graphics arena. It has two graphics adapters that can be used depending on the application and circumstance: the AMD Radeon HD 6520G adapter is built in to the APU and is a low-power option that can be used when the laptop is running on its battery, the AMD Radeon HD 6750M is a high-power option that can be used when you want to play games. It'll run first-person shooters fine at the native 1366x768 resolution of the screen (or as close to that resolution as possible) and as long as you don't crank up the image details. We also had no problems running sports and racing games.

In 3DMark06, the Radeon HD 6750M recorded a score of 7742, while the Radeon HD 6520G recorded 5391. The latter result is particularly good for a graphics solution that is part of the CPU (or APU, in this case). Using this solution, the laptop recorded a battery life of 3hr 6min in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. This is a good time for a 15.6in laptop at this price point.

The Pavilion dv6-6100ax's performance and battery life are improved compared to the previous AMD-equipped HP that we reviewed, the Pavilion dv6-3010ax, but we're disappointed that the price has gone up a little for this model. Along with the AMD APU and discrete graphics, you also get 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek PCIe GBE), Wi-Fi (Broadcom 4313 802.11b/g/n), HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0, two headphone jacks and a microphone jack, a DVD burner and an SD card slot.

For its $1198 price, we can't help but think that it should include a little more RAM (at least 6GB) and a 7200rpm hard drive instead of a 5400rpm model. It's a tough model to recommend, especially when there are Intel Core i3-based models that are a little faster and a little cheaper. Its graphics performance is decent, but again, there are models such as Toshiba's Satellite P750 that are a little faster and cost the same as the HP. The only area in which this 15.6in HP seems to compete is battery life; its runtime of over three hours is good for a 15.6in model at this price.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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