HP Pavilion Gaming 15 Laptop Review

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 is a popular budget gaming laptop selling at a very competitive price on Amazon. It competes with Asus TUF, MSI GF63 and Lenovo Ideapad L340 gaming laptops for the budget crown. Lets put HP Pavilion Gaming 15 through 10 rounds of grueling test and find out if this laptop is worth its price

Round 1: Specs

Pavilion Gaming 15 sits below HP’s Omen line and offers a better value for money. It is designed for gamers who don't want to spend a fortune on their laptop. So what exactly are you getting for your money? You are getting a 15.6 inch 1080p display, 9th generation Intel core-i5 processor, Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU, 8 GB system RAM and 256 GB of SSD. If you are willing to spend more, HP offers a configuration with core-i7 processor coupled with GTX 1660Ti GPU.

Round 2: Build Quality 

Pavilion 15 doesn’t look like a typical gaming laptop. Instead of the same-old black-and-red motif, this laptop has a matte-black finish with emerald accents. The Pavilion borrows its design language from the more expensive HP Omen lineup. It has the same rectangular shape and comes with a rugged centered hinge. But unlike Omen laptops which opt for a brushed-metal look, Pavilion goes for a matte-black finish.

Opening the laptop reveals a green backlit keyboard with some funky polygon-shaped speakers.The speaker grilles create this optical illusion, which looks like a series of 3D boxes. This gaming laptop is under an inch thick and weighs around 4.9 pounds. I think Pavilion 15 is thin and light enough, to game on the go without breaking your back

Round 3: Display Quality

The screen is full HD coming in at 1920 by 1080 resolution. It's an IPS panel and supports 60 Hertz refresh rate. This screen is fairly bright measuring 250 nits of brightness and supports wide viewing angles. It comes with an anti-glare matte finish which does a good job of fighting screen reflections. It has decent contrast and sharpness but colors don't look vivid and punchy. This is largely because of the anti-glare coating.

But color reproduction is consistent and looks good even at extreme angles. The side bezels are thin and look really clean. The top bezel is just wide enough to house a 720p webcam. Overall I am happy with the screen quality on HP Pavilion Gaming laptop. If I had one nit-pick, it would be the lack of a high refresh rate screen. Asus Tuf laptop which also sells for roughly the same price, comes with a 120Hz refresh rate screen. High refresh rate screens are great for gaming and I wish HP had used one in this laptop.

Round 4: CPU

HP Pavilion Gaming laptop comes with an Intel Core i5 processor from the Coffee Lake family. Specifically this is the 9th generation core-i5-9300H, where H denotes “High Performance” CPU. This is a 4 core 8 thread processor operating at 45 Watt TDP. It is able to automatically overclock from 2.4 Ghz to 4.1 GHz while still maintaining the same 45 Watt thermal envelope.

As a result, this laptop can deliver snappy performance while remaining relatively cool. In passmark CPU benchmark this CPU scored 9852 points. Compared to top 10 common laptop CPUs, this CPU occupies 2nd spot right behind the more expensive core-i7 processor. For a budget gaming laptop, I think this is a good CPU choice. You will have no trouble running any modern game at optimal settings. It will also handle day to day tasks like surfing, running office suites and other productivity software without any issues.

Round 5: Graphics Performance

In a gaming laptop, GPU is as important if not more important than the CPU. This laptop ships with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics card. This GPU is over 50% faster than GTX 1050. It has whopping 896 CUDA cores which is amazing for a laptop GPU. It has 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 Video RAM and it supports 128 Gigabits per second bandwidth. So that translates to excellent gaming performance. You will be able to run almost all modern games at 1080p resolution without any issues.

At full HD resolution, I was able to play Rise of Tomb Raider at 82 frames per second at normal settings and 58 frames per second at high settings. Ghost Recon ran at respectable 42 and 38 frames per second under similar setup. BTW, in addition to gaming, this laptop is also an excellent content creation workstation. The 4-core 8 thread core-i5 processor paired with this powerful GPU provides a perfect machine for running Photoshop and various video editing software like Adobe suite and Davinci Resolve. If you are looking for a powerful budget laptop to edit your YouTube videos, this should be on your short list. GTX 1650 supports hardware acceleration on all popular codecs like h264, AVC and vp9. This means smooth 4K video playback on YouTube and Netflix with no dropped frames.

Round 6: Battery Life

Pavilion Gaming 15 is powered by a 3-cell 52.5 Whr battery. Gaming laptops tend to have horrible battery life, but this laptop has pretty impressive battery life. I was able to get almost 7.5 hours of battery life during continuous video playback at fullscreen. This laptop also supports fast charging. The included 150W power brick is able to charge the battery from 0 to 50% in about 45 minutes.

When it comes to thermal heat dissipation, HP has set the fans to “always-on" mode in the BIOS. This means by default,  the fans are always running which may irritate some folks. But the fan noise is relatively quiet under nominal load. You have the option of disabling this always-on mode in the BIOS, but this may result in overheating during long gaming sessions.

HP claims to have put some advanced thermal management in this laptop. It has a pair of fans coupled with 2 heatsink pipes which keep the CPU & GPU cool. There are a bunch of infra-red sensors inside the laptop that monitor the temperature. The software regulates the fan speed to adjust the airflow and keep the laptop cool. I would say when it comes to battery life & thermal engineering, HP has got most of the things right in Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop

Round 7: System RAM

Pavilion Gaming laptop comes with 8 GIG of system RAM. 8 GIG is adequate but I would recommend upgrading the RAM. Luckily HP has made it very easy to upgrade the RAM. There are 2 DIMM slots available for memory upgrade. The 8 GB RAM occupies the first DIMM slot while the 2nd slot is empty.

You can add another 8 GIG RAM in the 2nd slot, thereby doubling the system RAM to 16 GB. This will also enable the dual channel configuration which is about 10-15% faster than single channel. If you want to go crazy, you can add up to 32 GIG of RAM. More RAM not only helps with gaming, but also with Photoshop, video editing and productivity softwares.

Round 8: SSD storage

This laptop comes with 256 GB of PCIe NVMe SSD. The SSD has fast read/write speed, which is great for snappy performance and reduced windows 10 boot times. If you want to upgrade the storage, HP gives a 2nd SATA3 slot. All the cables and adapter needed to add a 2nd SSD drive are already present in the motherboard. This makes it super easy to add another SSD drive to expand storage. If you plan to use this laptop for other things besides gaming, I would encourage adding another SSD.

Round 9: Keyboard & Trackpad

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop comes with an island-style keyboard which is backlit enabled. But there is no RGB lighting, you only get monochromatic green color. The keyboard is slim but snappy and its bright backlighting helps with gaming in dim playing conditions. The keyboard layout is also solid, with the exception of the half-size “up” and “down” arrow keys. Some gamers will not like the size of these arrow keys. On the positive side, there are dedicated “Page Up”, “Page Down”, “Home”, and “End” keys above the numeric keypad. Overall I found this keyboard to be pretty good not just for gaming, but also for typing long documents.

HP Pavilion Gaming laptop comes with a multitouch trackpad that measures 11.4 by 5 cm. This large size of the trackpad coupled with its smooth finish makes performing multi-finger gestures very easy. The trackpad integrates two mouse buttons, which have tactile pressure points and deliver an audible click when pressed. Gaming laptops are notorious for having lackluster trackpads. Most OEMs just assume that gamers will use a dedicated gaming mouse, so they don't bother making a good trackpad. Luckily HP did not make this mistake, and equipped Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop with a nice trackpad

Round 10: Ports

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop has plenty of USB ports to connect all of your peripheral devices. There is a USB type-C port supporting 10 Gbps data transfer speed. It also supports power-delivery and displayport. So that means you can charge this laptop from USB type-C port and also connect it to an external monitor. There are 3 USB 3.1 port, there is an HDMI port, and an ethernet port. The ethernet port is great for gamers looking for stable internet connection during LAN parties. This laptop also comes with a media reader for transferring pictures and videos stored in SD cards. The media reader uses USB 3.0 protocol and supports transfer speed of around 75 MBytes per second. I think HP has hit it out of the park when it comes to ports. Of all the gaming laptops in this price point, I think that HP Pavilion Gaming 15 has the best selection of ports.

Conclusion: The Bottom Line

So overall I am very impressed with this laptop. It is a compelling and affordable option for gamers on a budget. It offers great performance and graphics capability, in addition to nice multimedia experience. However this is not the only gaming laptop in the market at this price point. There is Asus TUF, MSI GF63 and Lenovo Ideapad L340 Gaming Laptop which are also great choices

Purchase links:

Buy HP Pavilion Gaming 15
Buy MSI GF63
Buy Lenovo Ideapad L340
Buy Asus TUF FX505DT
Buy Acer Helios 300
Buy Acer Predator Triton 500
Buy 32GB Kit (16GBx2) RAM
Buy 2TB M.2 SSD
Buy 1TB M.2 SSD
Buy 500GB M.2 SSD

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