HP Pavilion Aero 13 review: A small laptop you'll want to take everywhere

More upscale than your average Pavilion, the 13-inch Aero is a less-expensive MacBook Air alternative.

Updated Oct. 29, 2021 4:00 a.m. PT

Written by  Joshua Goldman
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Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
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HP Pavilion Aero 13
8.5/10 CNET Score
$520 at HP
8.5/ 10

HP Pavilion Aero 13

$520 at HP
Battery Life/Runtime 640 minutes
Weight 2.2 pounds
Display size/type 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD
Processor tested AMD Ryzen 5 7535U
Graphics tested AMD Radeon Graphics


  • Weighs under 2.2 pounds
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent performance for everyday tasks


  • Backlit keyboard not standard
  • No touchscreen option
  • Memory is soldered on

The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is not your average Pavilion laptop, a product line that is decidedly average. For HP, Pavilion is its everyday line with a focus on value, while its Envy and Spectre lines are the midrange and premium models, respectively. But wow, HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Amazingly, with all that it offers though, it has a starting price of $750.

The configuration I tested is $1,000 but even if you max out the configuration the price stops at $1,125 and you're getting a really great set of specs for that money including upgrades to the keyboard, display, storage, Wi-Fi card and a choice of four colors. Basically, while the price might not scream "budget-friendly laptop" you're actually getting quite a lot of laptop for the money. 

The Pavilion Aero 13 is listed as coming soon on HP's UK siteand the price is expected to start at £850. It's not available from HP yet in Australia either, but Harvey Norman stocks a configuration for AU$1,598

HP Pavilion Aero 13

Price as reviewed $1,000
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
Memory 16GB 3200MHz (onboard)
Graphics 512MB AMD Radeon Graphics
Ports USB-C (10Gbps), USB-A (x2, 5Gbps), HDMI 2.0 out; AC in, combo headphone jack 
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Networking Realtek 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (21H1)
HP Pavilion Aero 13

The Aero 13 is available in sliver (pictured), rose gold, warm gold and white.

Josh Goldman/CNET

When it comes to 13-inch lightweight laptops, Apple's MacBook Air is the unofficial benchmark -- at least in terms of the design and features you'll typically find at or around $1,000. The Pavilion Aero 13 doesn't quite match the fit and finish of Apple's least expensive laptop, but it comes close and offers some things you just don't get on the Air. It also weighs nearly a pound less. 

For instance, the MacBook Air has a 2560x1600-pixel, 13.3-inch display with 400-nit brightness and P3 color gamut coverage. The Aero 13 can be configured with either a 1920x1200 or 2560x1600-pixel display (neither is a touchscreen, though). I tested the former and it covers 100% sRGB color gamut and 81% of Adobe RGB and P3 color gamuts. While it's rated for 400 nits, the brightness actually measured 495 nits in my testing. It's a generally excellent display, certainly better than I'd expect to find on past Pavilion models, and if you want the higher-resolution panel, it's only $30 extra. 

HP Pavilion Aero 13

The keyboard is comfortable and spacious but the silver keys aren't always the easiest to read. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Speaking of upgrades, my configuration didn't come with a backlit keyboard; it's a $10 upgrade if you get an Aero 13 in silver, but is included with the other three color options HP offers. However, the colors are $10 or $15 extra so it's pretty much a wash. You can also pick between an AMD Ryzen 5 5600U or Ryzen 7 5800U processor with 8GB or 16GB of memory (it's onboard and can't be upgraded later, so get the 16GB if you can afford it) and a choice of a 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD for storage. You'll also be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free.

The performance from the Ryzen 7 5800U is impressive, outperforming a pricier Intel Core i7-1185G7 in the Dell XPS 13 -- a premium rival to the Aero 13. You are getting a lot of processing power here for sure and combined with 16GB of memory, you won't experience any slowdowns on typical office and schoolwork, streaming entertainment or basic content creation. Battery life is great, too, lasting for 10 hours, 8 minutes on our streaming video test. 

HP Pavilion Aero 13

You'll find more than USB-C ports on the Pavilion Aero 13. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Most importantly, the HP Pavilion is just a pleasure to use. It feels good in your hand. It's insanely light and yet you can still open it with just your thumb. You get more than a couple of USB-C ports and even though the power adapter uses a barrel connector, you can charge it through the USB-C port, too. 

The keyboard feels about as good as any skinny laptop at this price and the precision touchpad is smooth and responsive without any jumpiness. There's even a fingerprint reader in the palm rest for passwordless sign-ins. There are some things missing that you'll find on HP's Envy and Spectre models, such as a shutter to block the webcam and a shortcut key to instantly kill the mics and there's no microSD or SD card reader. 

But to HP's credit, it doesn't feel like you're missing much when you're using Pavilion Aero 13. With the long battery life, featherweight body and zippy performance, this small laptop is one you'll probably want to take with you everywhere. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 6765HP Pavilion Aero 13 (13-be0097nr) 5699Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310) 5684Razer Book 13 5659Framework Laptop 4871
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 CPU (multicore)

HP Pavilion Aero 13 (13-be0097nr) 7944Framework Laptop 5366Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310) 4477
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

HP Pavilion Aero 13 (13-be0097nr) 5700Razer Book 13 5077Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310) 4964Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 4556Framework Laptop 4313
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test (minutes)

Razer Book 13 687Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 672HP Pavilion Aero 13 (13-be0097nr) 608Framework Laptop 470Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310) 458
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

HP Pavilion Aero 13 (13-be0097nr) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.9GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz;512MB AMD Radeon; 512GB SSD
Framework Laptop Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe; 512GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4980U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4.27GHz; 512MB AMD Radeon Vega 8; 512GB SSD
Razer Book 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1155G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4.27GHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe; 256GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310) Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4.27GHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe; 512GB SSD