Note: This review is part of our Back-to-School 2008 roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The $899 HP Pavilion dv9925nr is one of just a few options Best Buy offers for students who want to take a budget desktop replacement back to school this fall. In many ways, it's a solid choice: the laptop offers an attractive design, decent features, and a beautiful, 17.1-inch display. The Pavilion dv9925nr is also one of the few sub-$1,000 systems to incorporate 4GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows Vista, which helped it outperform the pokey Toshiba Satellite L355D-S7815 ($699) on our performance benchmarks. However, the AMD-based Pavilion dv9925nr was unable to perform on a level with similarly priced systems built around Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Unless the 17.1-inch display is an absolute necessity, you'll get more bang for your buck with a smaller, 15.4-inch system, such as the HP Pavilion dv6985se.
|Processor||2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60|
|Chipset||Nvidia nForce 560|
|Memory||4GB at 667MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce Go 7150M (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||15.2x11.2x1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.4 / 8.2 pounds|
The dv9925nr's case features the familiar Pavilion design, with rounded corners and a glossy imprint finish--with a subtle circular pattern--that create an overall sleek look. However, "sleek" is not the same as "small": the laptop's 17.1-inch display guarantees it will take up a lot of space on your desk. Although its 7.4-pound weight is on the light side for a desktop replacement, the Pavilion dv9925nr isn't likely to leave your dorm room until it's time to go home on break.
We're fans of the Pavilion dv9925nr's glossy display, which features a crisp 1,440x900-pixel native resolution. The screen produced rich colors and sharp details, and there's plenty of screen real estate for traditional computer work as well. Similar to all Pavilion laptops, the dv9925nr includes a row of light-touch buttons above the keyboard that launch the media player and provide volume and playback controls. Altec Lansing stereo speakers, located above those controls, deliver decent sound.
Like almost all desktop replacements, the Pavilion dv9925nr's keyboard is full size and includes a 10-key numeric keypad. The touch pad includes a scroll zone, and we love the pad's power button at the top, which is handy when you want to use an external mouse. The final design feature of note is the handy Wi-Fi power switch located on the laptop's front edge.
|HP Pavilion dv9925nr||Average for desktop replacement|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video, Webcam||VGA-out, S-Video, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, two headphone jacks, microphone jack, dual-array microphone||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner with LightScribe||DVD burner|
Because of its budget price, the Pavilion dv9925nr lacks both the Blu-ray drive and the HDMI port that are becoming more common on desktop-replacement laptops. It also lacks a Bluetooth radio, so you'll have to use some of the laptop's four USB ports to connect your peripherals. Otherwise, the Pavilion dv9925nr offers an average selection of ports and connections for a desktop replacement, with the addition of an expansion port that lets you connect to an HP docking station. Like other Pavilions, the dv9925nr also incorporates dual headphone jacks, which make it easy to share movies and music with friends.
The retail-only Pavilion dv9925nr comes in a single fixed configuration that includes a budget 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor and integrated Nvidia graphics. The configuration is notable for its generous 4GB of RAM as well as 64-bit Windows Vista. Unfortunately, the combination wasn't enough to pull the Pavilion dv9925nr above mediocrity on CNET Labs performance benchmarks. The laptop tied for last place on our multimedia multitasking test and never climbed out of the bottom three on the Photoshop or iTunes tests. In all the retail back-to-school laptops we've looked at, systems with AMD CPUs have consistently underperformed against Intel-powered laptops in the same price range. Other systems in the same price range, such as the HP Pavilion dv6985se, did better with a middle-of-the-road Intel Core 2 Duo T5750.
The Pavilion dv9925nr did a better job of keeping up with the pack on our battery benchmark test. Its eight-cell battery lasted nearly three hours on our video-playback drain test--average for a smaller laptop, but more impressive for a desktop replacement with such a large screen.
HP backs the Pavilion dv9925nr with an industry-standard one-year warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7 during your warranty period, and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the Web site's thorough FAQ database.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)