HP Pavilion Gaming 16 review: Challenging the status quo

By: |
August 14, 2020 5:35 PM

The HP Pavilion Gaming 16 is out to challenge the status quo, but does it change it? Well, mostly it does.

HP Pavilion Gaming 16The HP Pavilion Gaming 16 starts at Rs 59,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

For a long time now, all gaming laptops have been governed by an unspoken rule that bigger is always better. A gaming laptop must look a certain way, feel a certain way, and cost a certain way. If it doesn’t live up to any of these standards, well, it’s everything but a gaming laptop. It’s a laptop that you can probably also game on some, but a gaming laptop it is most certainly not. HP’s new Pavilion Gaming 16 laptop is designed to challenge that status quo.

It is big, but not big enough. It can go up to 1 lakh but you can also get a well configured model with an AMD processor for as low as Rs 59,999, and with an Intel processor for Rs 70,999. Despite all this, the Pavilion Gaming 16 for all intents and purposes is a gaming laptop, and a good one at that.

To be clear, it’s not an entirely new machine but an update to HP’s existing Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop with a bigger screen and more powerful silicon. But despite the many similarities, I believe the Pavilion Gaming 16 is more value for money because you see, in the case of gaming laptops, a bigger screen is always better. So is more power. That said, it’s not just about the screen or processor, but there are other improvements too, that help enhance the all-round experience on HP’s new laptop. So, let’s get started, shall we.

Design and build quality

The Pavilion Gaming 16 borrows major design cues from HP’s Omen gaming lineup. That’s a good thing because Omen is HP’s premium lineup, and to get a design that’s reminiscent of something more premium (and more expensive) on a mass-market product like the Pavilion Gaming 16 is good news for buyers. Also, the design is hallmark HP with its rocketship console-like styling and honeycomb upward-firing speakers, which means it instantly stands out in a crowd of other entry-level to mid-range gaming laptops from every nook and corner. By the way, the Pavilion Gaming 15 also looked exactly the same.

HP Pavilion Gaming 16HP aptly calls the one colourway it’s currently available in as shadow black. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It does not look like a gaming laptop to be completely honest. In fact, far from it. Maybe it’s got something to do with how HP positions this thing, as something that even content creators would want to get, I am not sure. That’s not to say that it is bland or boring. Again, far from it. The best way to describe the Pavilion Gaming 16’s design is that it’s stealthy. It’s very sleek too. HP aptly calls the one colourway it’s currently available in as shadow black. If you’re looking for something bolder — read, garish — you should look elsewhere.

The biggest highlight of the Pavilion Gaming 16 are its dimensions though. Even though it’s technically a bigger laptop than the Pavilion Gaming 15, it’s lighter. When paired with its sharp, angular design, the Pavilion Gaming 16 looks and feels a lot more compact than competing 16-inch products. And you can carry it around as easily, unlike most gaming laptops out there that are conventionally big and bulky. The accompanying charger is also something that does not take a lot of space.

HP Pavilion Gaming 16The HP Pavilion Gaming 16 looks and feels a lot more compact than competing 16-inch products. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It’s made of plastic, which is understandable considering its low price, but it’s very solidly built (while being soft to the touch). There have been no odd creaks or weird flex in the two weeks that I have used it. As an added bonus, the Pavilion Gaming 16 is one of those rare 16-inch laptops that you can also use for some light work, maybe Netflix and all, propped up on your lap when required.

Display

I really like the wide, expansive and matte 16.1-inch IPS panel on offer here. The Full-HD (1920 x 1080) resolution is good. The 60Hz refresh rate is serviceable. HP has done a good job keeping the bezels in check as well, without compromising on essentials like a webcam (though there’s no Windows Hello support on this one).

The overall quality of the display leaves a lot to be desired though. Brightness levels are average at best and colours appear mostly muted. That latter bit could be a concern, even a deal breaker, for content creators.

Performance and battery life

The Pavilion Gaming 16 packs up to a 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H (Comet Lake-H) processor. The i7-10750H is an 8 core, 16 thread processor built on a 14nm process node with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz and boost speeds of up to 5GHz. The chip consumes 45W of TDP.

The i7-10750H-powered Pavilion Gaming 16 that I have for review has a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q GPU, 16GB of DDR4-2933 SDRAM (dual channel), 1TB 7200 rpm SATA HDD, and 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. Both the RAM and SSD are upgradable. This is the top-of-the-line model and is priced in India at Rs 1,10,999.

HP Pavilion Gaming 16The Pavilion Gaming 16 packs up to a 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The configuration ensures that the Pavilion Gaming 16 can play most of your high-end games at medium to high settings with decent frame rates. Single-core performance is really good for a laptop of its class. Multithreaded performance is also mostly good but if you’re looking to get this laptop for content creation, an AMD equivalent is the way to go right now. Basic day-to-day tasks are handled well by the Pavilion Gaming 16 though which means it’s a capable machine for basic work from home scenarios. Its thin and light form factor means it’s easy to carry around, which is always a nice thing to have.

The laptop has a tendency to get hot at peak loads, but the fans (there are two of those inside) never get really loud (they are never really silent too). HP has done well with thermals here and the exhaust vent on the back does well in heat dissipation. It is the speaker and upper keyboard area that usually gets hot, when under stress, leaving a large portion at the bottom end still relatively usable even during long gaming sessions.

HP Pavilion Gaming 16Both the RAM and SSD are upgradable. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The 52.5whr battery inside the Pavilion Gaming 16 is its Achilles heel. A bigger battery would have been nice (it’s the same size as the Pavilion Gaming 15’s) considering there’s a bigger screen and more power-hungry processor inside. I have been averaging between 4-5 hours on casual usage, and that’s not a figure that inspires confidence. The laptop supports fast charging but only via the accompanying barrel charger.

A few quick pointers:

  • The Pavilion Gaming 16 has a full-size keyboard with numeric keypad (keys are backlit though there’s no fancy RGB lighting you normally associate with gaming laptops). Keys are nice and tactile, with ample spacing. Though if I was to nitpick, I would have liked a little more key travel. The trackpad is also of a good size and supports precision drivers.
    Connectivity options include 1 USB Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4, 2 USB Type-A, 1 HDMI 2.0b, and 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack. There’s also a full-size SD card reader.
  • The laptop supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
  • The Pavilion Gaming 16 has two upward-firing speakers. Sound quality is good but the setup could have been louder.

Should you buy the HP Pavilion Gaming 16?

HP Pavilion Gaming 16The 52.5whr battery inside the Pavilion Gaming 16 is its Achilles heel. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The HP Pavilion Gaming 16 is out to challenge the status quo, but does it change it? Well, mostly it does. Everything about it is a breath of fresh air when it comes to gaming laptops. The design is top-notch and the performance, though there’s some room for improvement, gets the job done, and this is also true about high-end gaming.

The Pavilion Gaming 16 is a jack of all trades and is priced just right, and even though it’s not perfect (battery life and all-round screen quality are some glaring concerns), it should definitely be on your list when you’re out to get a laptop for all seasons. Because that’s what it is. A laptop for all seasons.

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • Thin and light for a gaming laptop
  • Plenty of SKUs to choose from
  • Good performance

Cons:

  • Screen quality could have been better
  • Disappointing battery life

Also Read Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review: Work hard, play harder

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