HP Pavilion G6
HP’s Pavilion G6 isn’t what you might call attractive. The dreary grey plastic that forms its chassis is hardly inspiring, but underneath there are some surprisingly powerful components, including a quad-core processor and dedicated graphics.
Taking centre stage is a quad-core AMD Llano A8-3520 CPU. It runs at 1.6GHz, although AMD’s Turbo Core function means it can increase this to 2.5GHz for added performance in single-threaded applications. That, along with its 6GB of RAM, meant it completed our multimedia benchmarks with an overall score of 40. Hardly record breaking, but it’s still fast enough for any common application. If you use multi-threaded applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, you should notice a significant boost over a dual-core processor when using this laptop.
The processor has integrated graphics, but that hasn’t stopped HP from adding a dedicated card. The Radeon 7450M has 1GB of video memory and can work in CrossFire mode with the CPU’s onboard GPU to create a surprisingly powerful gaming combination. In our Dirt 3 test, the G6 managed a very smooth 38.1fps, so you should be able to play modern games at reasonable levels of detail.
We expected its battery life to suffer because of its processor and graphics card, but the G6 coped surprisingly well, and nearly managed six hours away from the mains. You’ll need to stick to light tasks, such as image editing, but unlike other quad-core laptops we’ve seen, there’s still potential for working on the move.
Using the G6 to write this review, we quickly noticed that image quality was surprisingly good for a budget laptop. There was ample brightness and colours were reasonably vivid, although viewing angles were fairly basic. It has a limited amount of screen tilt and a glossy finish, so we noticed light reflections a lot more on the G6 than on competing laptops.
The keyboard isn’t particularly good looking, but it is functional. The flat keys are grouped tightly together, but because they’re full size we didn’t feel too cramped when typing. In typical HP fashion, the function keys have been repurposed as multimedia shortcuts, although you can disable this if you prefer.
We had no trouble using the touchpad, even though it’s smaller than we’d have liked. It’s sensitive enough to quickly navigate the desktop, and its raised surface makes it easy to find using your sense of touch alone if you’re working in the dark. Handily, a double-tap to the small recessed corner disables the touchpad should you prefer to use a mouse. The buttons directly below it push in rather far before they register a click, but at least they make an audible noise so you can tell when you’ve pressed them in far enough.
Unsurprisingly, there are no USB3 ports, but otherwise the G6’s connectivity is reasonable. Three standard USB ports, a multiformat card reader and a DVD optical drive are the highlights, but there’s also audio input and output jacks and an Ethernet port, as well as HDMI and VGA video outputs.
Compared to the much more stylish HP Pavilion DV6, the G6 is something of an ugly duckling, albeit one with significantly more powerful components inside. However, when it comes to real-world tests, there isn’t very much separating the two. If you have multi-threaded applications that can make the most of its quad-core processor then the G6 may perform better, but the cheaper DV6 seems a better buy overall.