The HP Star Wars Special Edition is decent mid-range laptop for the Star Wars fan
Star Wars is well and truly back. With The Force Awakens arriving on Blu-ray next week and spin-off Rogue One hitting cinemas later this year, the hype and excitement around this iconic franchise isn’t likely to let up anytime soon. It’s particularly hard not to get caught up in it all, especially when we’re being inundated with tie-in merchandise much like this Star Wars Special Edition laptop from HP.
Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is how the chassis has been emblazoned with Star Wars artwork. It has a ‘Galactic Empire-inspired’ design, according to HP, which means it’s well and truly from the ‘Dark Side’ of the Force. However, I do wish HP had put in just a little more effort, such as extra textures or embossing to match its battered and war-weathered appearance. It’s something that Star Wars fans will no doubt appreciate, but the artwork is essentially a skin applied to a standard HP Pavilion chassis – although it never felt like it was going to peel off or anything like that.
Underneath, it’s also still a rather heavy and clunky 15.6in laptop, weighing 2.09kg and measuring 25.2mm thick. Carry it around in a backpack and you’ll definitely start feeling like Luke giving Yoda a piggyback.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Dark Side theme continues into the keyboard, which has ominous, red backlights. There’s no brightness adjustment here, though, so you’ll need to make do with it either on or off. As for the keys themselves, they’re reasonably comfortable to type on. They’re not overly spongy, as is the case with so many mid-range laptops, but ideally I would have liked an extra few millimetres of travel.
The touchpad’s a whole different matter. It’s decorated with the Death Star’s narrow trench graphic, which Luke used to fly through in order to attack the thermal exhaust port in A New Hope. This has a slightly coarse and rough texture, which offers a little too much rebel resistance to your swipes. The integrated mouse buttons rattle as you click them, too, and they also feel incredibly spongy, leading to the odd misclick. It could also do with being a little taller to allow for more vertical scrolling space.
Performance and Battery Life
I tested the Star Wars Special Edition 15-an001na, though other specs are available. This one has a dual-core Intel Core i5-6200U processor with a base clock of 2.3GHz but can Turbo Boost to 2.8GHz. This is supported by 6GB of RAM provided in 2GB and 4GB memory modules.
Its performance was pretty reasonable in our 4K-based benchmarks, as he system managed an overall score of 37. Its single-core performance was its strongest aspect, with a score of 66 in the image editing test, but it was let down by its multitasking score of just 18, which really brought down its overall average. This isn’t that surprising, though. As an everyday laptop, the 15-an001na will do its job just fine.
This 15-an001na also has dedicated graphics in the form of an Nvidia GeForce 940M chip with 2GB of DDR3L memory. However, there’s also a 15-an000na model too, which only uses Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 520 chip, so be sure which you’re looking at before you buy.
Even with the Nvidia chip, this model only managed a stuttering 18.9fps in our Dirt Showdown test when I set it to 1,920×1,080, 4x anti-aliasing and Ultra graphics, so you’re going to need to tone down the settings in order to garner playable framerates. Dropping the quality to High resulted in a more respectable 37.6fps, but you’ll need to go down further to get nearer that elusive 60fps sweetspot. Ironically, the Star Wars Special Edition isn’t great for playing Star Wars Battlefront, but the game will still run around 30fps on Low detail settings.
In terms of storage, you get a 1TB hard disk, but it’s slow at a spindle speed of 5,400RPM. There’s also a DVD-RW optical drive, which is something you’re seeing less frequently these days. A Blu-ray drive would have been nice, but at least you can pop in a Star Wars DVD to watch while you wait for The Force Awakens.
You’ll be able to watch at least half of the original trilogy before the battery runs out, too, as it lasted a reasonable 5h 3m in our video playback test with the screen set to 170cd/m2 brightness and Airplane mode turned on. This is by no means a terrible result, and you’ll probably be able to stretch it out further under more general use.
|Processor||Dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U|
|Memory slots (free)||2 (0)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||Nvidia GeForce 940M|
|Total storage||1TB hard disk|
|Optical drive type||DVD-RW|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||2x USB3, 1x USB2|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, 1x 10/100|
|Memory card reader||SD|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||One year RTB|
|Price inc VAT||£549|