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HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx review: HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx

HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx

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Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

6 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

OVR
7.7

HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx

The Good

Fast Core i7 processor; generous RAM and hard drive; 17.3-inch screen.

The Bad

Lack of 1080p and Blu-ray limits home theater appeal; gaming performance is middling.

The Bottom Line

Equipped with a big screen and a fast Core i7 processor, the HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx is a speedy all-around Windows 7 laptop, but in this price range we expect either Blu-ray or faster gaming graphics.

This holiday season, the field of high-end laptops was redefined by the release of Intel's Core i7 processor, which offers improved next-generation multicore performance. While some of the initial Core i7 machines were quite expensive, the technology has already trickled down to more affordable laptops such as the HP dv7-3085dx. Is it worth your while to consider? That depends on whether you want a machine that's fast or a machine that's fast with games.

At $1,299, the dv7 remains relatively slim for a gaming laptop, but with a GeForce 230M GPU, it's not really an enthusiast machine. Instead, consider its greatest assets to be the Core i7, a massive 17.3-inch screen, and higher-end Altec Lansing speakers, making this a compelling desktop home theater.

The package sounds great, especially since, other than the GPU, it has the same specs as the HP Envy 15-1050nr, which costs $700 more. On the other hand, some unfortunate cutbacks were made on this model: there's no Blu-ray (even while the much cheaper, but slower, dv7-3065dx includes it), and the very large screen isn't 1080p, although it comes close at 1,600x900 pixels.

This laptop represents a $300 price bump up from other high-end retail machines like the Sony Vaio FW560F/T, but the addition of a Core i7, solid gaming graphics, a fast hard drive, and plenty of RAM could make this a contender.

The design of this HP Pavilion dv7 is familiar to us; we've also reviewed a lower-spec midrange model in a nearly identical chassis, the HP Pavilion dv7-3065dx. Clad in a very glossy espresso finish with chrome pattern flourishes on the outer lid and inner palm rest area, the design of the Pavilion dv7 leans more toward multimedia sleek than gamer clunky. The slightly rounded edges and chrome highlights lend a nice formal look, but the fingerprints will mount up quickly.

The keyboard and adjoining number pad that span the width of the laptop's interior use glossy-topped tapered keys. While we're not a fan of shiny surfaces on our keyboards, the responsiveness and decent key spacing on this model made up for it. The touch pad wasn't our favorite, as HP tends to top their high-end models with smooth mirrored touch pads that, while looking stark, are prone to smudging and have poor traction. It didn't ruin our experience, but this is a laptop that cries for a mouse.

Above the keyboard is a set of touch-sensitive media keys, controlling volume, basic play, fast forward and rewind, and a Wi-Fi on/off toggle. The touch controls worked better than many, and were easy to locate.

The glossy 16.9 ratio 17.3-inch LED screen on the HP dv7-3085dx has a native resolution of 1,600x900 pixels, which is better than 720p but not quite 1080p "full HD" resolution. While this machine doesn't have a Blu-ray drive, it would have been nice to get fuller resolution for HD playback on a screen this size. In its existing max-resolution settings, images were large and clear but suffered from a slight lack of crispness. Side viewing angles were decent, but the tremendous glossy-screened surface area created many opportunities for glare.

On the audio front, the built-in multispeaker Altec Lansing array, with SRS surround effects, worked well and was one of the better laptop audio systems we've heard. Overall, the HP dv7-3085dx is a compelling audio/visual hardware setup, especially for the price, but, again, we really wish this had 1080p. And it's positively baffling that the cheaper $729 dv7-3065dx includes a Blu-ray drive, while this $1,299 model doesn't.

The 6GB of DDR3 RAM and large 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive are extra bonuses that are nice for the serious computer user, and beat the included specs in the lower-cost Sony and Asus high-end retail configurations. The dv7 also has a nice array of ports, with nothing really left to be desired except for the oddly eliminated Bluetooth. Ports are arrayed mainly on the left side of the laptop, with a few ports stuck in near the right-side DVD drive; the back is port-free, which on a laptop this wide feels a little silly.

In the laptop CPU pecking order, the Core i7 is at the top of the list performance-wise, and in this regard the dv7-3085dx is a big winner. Equipped with its 1.6GHz Core i7 processor plus a good amount of speedy RAM and a 7,200rpm hard drive, the HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx was our fastest-performing laptop in the high-end range in terms of handling multimedia like Photoshop and iTunes, as well as engaging in multitasking.

That's great news for someone looking for a speedster laptop, but the gaming benchmark scores tell a different story. Because of its above-mainstream but below-enthusiast GeForce 230M GPU, its framerates playing Unreal Tourament III were the lowest among all four high-end retail laptops in our Holiday 2009 roundup. That's not to say the dv7-3085dx is bad at gaming by any means: UT3 ran at 55fps in 1,440x900, and Street Fighter 4 achieved 60fps at 1,600x900 resolution (using SF4's built-in benchmark, with all settings set to high but no antialiasing). The dv7-3085dx should be good enough for plenty of games, but it's not a screamer.

Juice box
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)
Off (60%) 0.53
Sleep (10%) 1.5
Idle (25%) 22.29
Load (05%) 78.62
Raw kWh Number 136.70
Annual Energy Cost $15.51

Annual power consumption cost
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
$15.51 

With its included eight-cell battery, the HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx lasted for 2 hours and 6 minutes under our rigorous video-playback battery drain test. That's not bad for a laptop with such a huge screen running a powerful processor, and with more judicious use of power management settings and under more casual usage conditions it should last longer. The HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx is, like may laptops, Energy Star qualified.

HP backs the Pavilion dv7-3065dx 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 site's thorough FAQ database.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
679 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
110 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
148 

Unreal Tournament 3 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x800, 0X AA, 8X AF*  
1,440x900, 4X AA, 8X AF*  
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx @ 16x9
71.1 
55.1 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
126 

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

System configurations:

HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM; 6144MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Asus G60VX-RBBX05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

HP Envy 15-1050nr
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM; 6144MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4830; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Sony Vaio VGN-FW560F/T
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 6144MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

OVR
7.7

HP Pavilion dv7-3085dx

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 9Battery 4Support 7
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