HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook review: A budget laptop with touch, and a few trade-offs

The biggest question mark for most people considering the 15z-b000 is going to be the AMD A8-4555M processor. Test-drive a bunch of laptops with friends or at a store (plus, read enough laptop reviews), and you'll get an idea of what a mainstream Intel Core i5 CPU can do in a modern laptop. The AMD chip here, while a quad-core chip, isn't as fast in our benchmark tests as even the mainstream Intel chips found in other budget laptops.

The difference, however, is modest compared with the performance hit you'd take with the Intel Atom chips in many of the low-cost Windows 8 tablet/laptop hybrids we've tested, so the Windows 8 interface still runs very smoothly. In general, for Web surfing, social media, and even HD video playback, the Sleekbook is more than adequate, although I did run into a little bit of occasional stuttering and pausing when opening multiple browser windows.

More interesting is the GPU part of AMD's platform, via a part called the Radeon HD 7600G. AMD says it's the equivalent of a discrete graphics card (such as you'd get from Nvidia), but keep in mind, it's still at the lower end of the scale. This won't play the newest games at the highest detail settings, even at the lower 1,366x768-pixel screen resolution, but it still beats Intel's default HD 4000 graphics. In a not-too-challenging Just Cause 2 test, at the same 1,366x768-pixel resolution, this system ran the game at 15 frames per second, while HP's more expensive Spectre XT with Intel's HD 4000 graphics ran the same test at 10.9 frames per second.

While the graphics may be good for a budget laptop, one area where AMD can't seem to catch up with Intel is in battery life. Despite being a low-power system, and with a chassis big enough to hold a sizable battery, the TouchSmart 15z-b000 ran for only 3 hours and 20 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. That's not great for a laptop designed for easy travel, and Dell's similarly budget-minded Inspiron 15z ran for more than 1.5 hours longer in the same test.

Conclusion
The HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook wins points for being the best-looking sub-$700 touch-screen Windows 8 laptop I've seen so far, and for adding a tiny bit of GPU muscle to a class of laptops generally unsuitable for gaming.

Keep in mind that the trade-offs are going to be relatively short battery life, a slightly frustrating touch pad, and occasionally sluggish performance. But, if you need to have a presentable-looking, very thin laptop for only $650, this system deserves a serious look.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
800 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
446 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
288 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
200 

Load test (average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
44.9 

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

System configurations:

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/SP1; 1.8GHz AMD A8-455M APU; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 512MB (Shared) AMD Radeon HD 7600G; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm

HP Spectre TouchSmart 15-4010nr
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/SP1; 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 400, 500GB HD + 32GB SSD

Dell Inspiron 15z
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB HD + 32GB SSD

Lenovo IdeaPad Y500
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; (x2) 2GB Nvidia Geforce GT650M; HDD#1 SanDisk 16GB SSD/ HDD#2 1TB Seagate 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire V5-571P-6499
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm + 20GB SSD Hybrid

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook

Part Number: C7F18AV_1823913

MSRP: $649.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications

  • Installed Size 6 GB
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