Most helpful positive review
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Overall a good value with minor niggles.
on October 6, 2012
Being in need of a laptop to use while not able to use my main computer, I opted for this over an Acer model I'd been considering with roughly similar specs. Having good experience with HP laptops in the past, I figured this would meet the same standard, and after receiving this and getting everything set up as I like it, I'm pleased with the purchase.
The full-size keyboard with the number pad is a great boon, and while it's not necessary, especially if you don't do anything that requires the input of a lot of numbers, it's a deciding factor for me, as the number row is too slow for me personally. The low profile keys are responsive and quiet, which makes it good for use late at night without having to worry about waking others, and the spacing between the keys makes typing a breeze.
The touch pad is textured, which is initially strange, since most laptops have smooth touch pads, but I've found it's actually a nice touch. It's easier to tell when you're accidentally resting your fingers or hand on it and the mouse is doing something it shouldn't because of it. I haven't much of an issue with this, though, since it's placed well enough away from the keyboard that idle thumbs won't be resting on it and centered in just the right spot that your palms don't come near it.
The screen is on-par with most other laptops in this price range, although the horizontal viewing angle surprised me, with little to no visible loss in image quality. If you're going to be watching movies, this is something to consider. Paired with the respectable quality of the built-in speakers, this is a good media machine for travel.
Compared to other laptops I've used, the mere 5.5 pounds this weighs in at barely registers when I have it sitting on my lap, and the construction, for being slim and plastic, is solid enough that dropping it shouldn't cause any damage (though I don't recommend making that a habit).
By far my favorite feature of this laptop so far is the cooling. Even when I was putting it through the paces and pushing the system and graphics load by testing games, it never got much above warm, and that was mainly only noticeable when putting my hand in front of the heat vent. Even then, it was back to running nice and cool within a matter of a minute or two. This is, hands down, the best cooling I've ever come across in a laptop.
Overall system performance is top notch for the default hardware this comes with. Windows experience rating barely breaks the 5 mark, but for this range of laptop, this is expected, and is primarily a fault of Windows itself demanding the ability to use transparency and other effects. Turning these off will improve performance, but not noticeably enough for most purposes to make it worthwhile. Upgrading what you can on the system will do more to improve this than turning off cosmetic effects.
The default hardware, especially the RAM and hard drive. With only a single 4 gig stick of RAM and a 5400 RPM hard drive, load times and data access speeds are noticeably hindered, and if you plan to be doing much more than word processing or internet with this, you'll definitely want to spend the extra $20 to at least upgrade the RAM with another 4 gig stick to max it out. Since this system uses the newest board technology, you can safely use PC3 12800 RAM chips without issue (just be sure it's laptop memory and not for a desktop system). For the hard drive, I'm personally a fan of solid-state drives, but even nabbing a 7200 RPM drive will provide a marked improvement in load times and access speeds. These two upgrades, if you get a top-rated 1 terabyte drive, will only add another $120 (or less) at current prices.
If you're looking for a gaming machine, you are not going to be pleased with this machine. The graphics card, while not sharing RAM with the rest of the system (from what I've been able to see), is a long way from optimized for cutting edge games. My own testing with the relatively un-demanding Terraria got me a lot of system heating and lag after only a few minutes of play time. If you do want to play games on this, you're going to have to stick with games that don't require a lot of processor or graphics power. Again, this is not a gaming machine, and expecting otherwise is going to leave you sorely disappointed.
Heat vents are another issue, but this is primarily only a concern if you actually use this on your lap. The primary fan vent sits right on your left leg, preventing any airflow from coming in, and the cooling vent for the hard drive and RAM has similar issue with clothing. This isn't a major issue, but if you're regularly doing anything that runs the system warm, it could potentially cause damage in the long run. Getting a hard surface to set this on in order to maintain airflow is recommended.
On balance, the biggest issues with this laptop can be resolved with some relatively cheap upgrades, and those that can't be fixed are outside the scope of what it was designed for. I'd definitely recommend this system to others, or get it as a gift.