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HP Envy 14 (Summer 2011) review: HP Envy 14 (Summer 2011)

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As one would rightly expect from a current Core i5 laptop, the HP Envy 14 performed well in our benchmark tests. It's more than capable of handling anything short of the heaviest multitasking or gaming. It fell behind the latest 13-inch MacBooks, but was a close match with Toshiba's Satellite E305, one of our current midsize favorites.

The AMD Radeon 6630 graphics can switch on or off as needed to extend battery life. The default is to have the GPU off when running on the battery and on when running on AC power, but individual apps can be assigned a specific mode as well. It's not as flexible as Nvidia's Optimus graphics switching, but it accomplishes the main task of making the battery charge last longer. While plugged in, the AMD 6630 ran Street Fighter IV at the native 1,366x768-pixel resolution at an excellent 50.2 frames per second.

Juice box
HP Envy 14 Average watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.87
Sleep (10%) 1.06
Idle (25%) 11.52
Load (05%) 46.19
Raw kWh number 50.96
Annual power consumption cost $5.78

Annual power consumption cost
HP Envy 14
Asus U41J

For a powerful 14-inch laptop, the Envy 14 has impressive battery life. In our video playback battery-drain test, the system ran for 4 hours and 54 minutes. That's about 1.5 hours more than the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition laptop we reviewed last year, and much of the credit should go to Intel's very efficient second-generation Core i-series processors.

HP includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan starts at $399, but includes accidental damage protection and onsite service. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and a well-maintained online knowledge base and driver downloads.

While it falls just short of hitting all our marks, the HP Envy line is tough to beat when it comes to high-end, high-design, metal-construction Windows laptops, with its only real competition coming from Dell's XPS line. Now that you can no longer get a 13-inch MacBook of any kind for $999, the Envy 14 looks like an even better deal.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Envy 14
Asus U41J

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Envy 14
Asus U41J

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Envy 14
Asus U41J

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Envy 14
Asus U41J

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

HP Envy 14 (Summer 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6630 + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Western Digital 7,200rpm

Asus U41J
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 M380; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 425M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Lenovo Essential B470
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 410M; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

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