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HP Pavilion dv9790ea review: HP Pavilion dv9790ea

If you're after a laptop that can keep you entertained as well as help you get some work done, the HP Pavilion dv9790ea is certainly well equipped for the task. This hefty desktop replacement offers plenty of power and can even turn its hand to gaming. It's available now for a wallet-lightening £1,300 from PC World. A hefty chunk of change, sure, but is it good value?

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7.5

HP Pavilion dv9790ea

The Good

Fast processor; decent 3D performance; large hard drive.

The Bad

Short battery life; low resolution screen; heavy.

The Bottom Line

The HP Pavilion dv9790ea is a powerful machine that can even turn its hand to gaming. It's let down, however, by its low screen resolution and poor battery life

Positives
If you're after a machine that'll handle strenuous activity, the dv9790ea is more than fit enough for the job. It's powered by Intel's second fastest mobile chip yet -- the Core 2 Duo T9300, running at 2.5GHz. There's a generous 4GB of RAM included too, so it's no surprise that it broke little sweat in terms of performance, managing to achieve a high PC Mark 05 score of 5,617.

It's also not bad when it comes to gaming either, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip. It didn't manage to crack the 3,000 barrier running 3D Mark 06, but it still came home with a respectable score of 2,741 -- fine for running most games, but not the very latest titles, such as Crysis.

If slightly more passive entertainment is your thing, there's a digital TV tuner so you can watch your favourite programmes or record them for later, using Windows Media Center. With 500GB to play with on the hard drive, you should have plenty of space for your own files without having to worry about running out of storage for Neighbours episodes.

If you're particularly security-conscious, you can easily secure your files thanks to the fingerprint reader.

Negatives
Portability isn't high on the agenda when it comes to desktop replacement models, and the dv9790ea is no exception. It's slightly lighter than some other 17-inch models, but at 3.5kg it's still a hefty lump to lug around.

Battery life is another area where desktop replacements fare poorly and although it managed to achieve slightly better scores than some of its rivals, they're still nothing to write home about. It only managed to keep going for 1 hour 21 minutes when faced with the intensive Battery Eater test. Dropping down to the less strenuous Reader test improved matters slightly, but it still only ran for 2 hours 30 minutes before giving up.

If you're looking for a machine to playback high-definition material, the dv9790ea isn't the one for you. It's only equipped with a normal DVD drive so you can't play hi-def Blu-ray optical discs. Even if you find HD content online, you still won't be able to make the most of it, as the 17-inch screen only stretches to a resolution of 1,440x900 pixels -- short of the 1,920x1,080 needed to watch 1080p material. If you want to enjoy HD footage at its best, you'll need to connect it up to a flat-screen TV via the HDMI port instead.

Conclusion
If you want a fast machine you can easily move from room to room, the HP Pavilion dv9790ea will certainly fit the bill. It's powerful enough for the odd bit of gaming, but the low screen resolution and short battery life are rather disappointing.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide