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HP Envy 13 review: Proves thinner is often better

HP Envy 13 lead image
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £649
inc VAT (starting price)

The HP Envy 13's premium design is certainly something, but it's not quite as thin as HP's recent Spectre 13


  • Seriously thin and light
  • Keenly priced


  • Disappointing keyboard
  • Hindered performance

HP Envy 13 review: Configurations and Performance

The HP Envy 13 is available in a range of different configurations, so you’ll need to make sure which one you’re buying. At present, you can get an Intel Core i5-6200U model which has a 1,920×1,080 screen or a higher-end Intel Core i7-6500U model which has a 3,200×1,800 resolution display.

Bizarrely, the model I was sent for review (Envy 13-d002a) was a mixture of the two, with a 1,920×1,080 display and a Core i7 processor. This particular model doesn’t seem to be on sale anywhere at time of writing, so this review will have to act as a basic guide to give you some idea of how the different models perform.

The Intel Core i7-6500U has a base clock speed of 2.5GHz and can Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz under the right thermal conditions. This was paired with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. In our application benchmarks based on 4K video, it managed an overall score of 37, which was a little disappointing considering this was the same processor used in the Lenovo Yoga 700 (14.1in), Asus ZenBook UX303UA and Dell XPS 13, which scored 47, 46 and 46 respectively.

HP Envy 13 side

Even though the fans pick up to an audible level with the system under load, the thinner, lighter chassis of the Envy 13 likely meant the cooling wasn’t quite as efficient, hence the drop off in performance. Handling the tasks of everyday computing, the Envy 13 still performs adequately, just not quite as swiftly as some of its peers.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 will also mean only light gaming is possible. In Dirt Showdown at 1,280×720, 4x anti-aliasing and High graphics it produced a disappointing 22.3fps, so you’ll need to reduce image quality to get playable framerates.

Battery life was only average at 6 hours 23 minutes. This was tested by playing a video with the display set to 170cd/m2 brightness, so more general use will see the laptop getting you through an average working day at least. Its longevity pales in comparison to the Asus UX303UA’s excellent 9 hours and 50 minutes, however.

HP Envy 13 side ports

HP Envy 13 review: Display

Meanwhile, the 1,920×1,080 IPS panel was a respectable performer and comfortable to view thanks to its matt coating and wide viewing angles. Its black levels of 0.28cd/m2 were good for the money, as was its peak brightness of 306.1cd/m2. A contrast ratio of 1,077:1 was also great. Colour accuracy for the sRGB gamut was the only area where the display came up a little short, with coverage of just 83.7%. Its average Delta-E of 3.22 also showed the Envy 13 isn’t the most accurate display for colour sensitive work. For more general use and web browsing, however, it’s more than adequate, and the backlight is evenly distributed across the screen.

HP Envy 13 review: Verdict

Overall, though, the HP Envy 13 is a bit of a mixed bag. Its design is great to look at, but it doesn’t necessarily hold up so well under closer scrutiny, especially when you put your hands on it. I found the keyboard, in particular, disappointing to use for prolonged periods, and its performance is also hindered by its chassis compared to similarly-specified laptops.

Still, it is keenly priced. The Envy 13-d003na model with the 3,200×1,200 display and Intel Core i7-6500U is also good value at around £730, but keep in mind I can’t attest to the screen’s quality and its high-resolution will also likely have a negative impact on the laptop’s battery life.

The Envy 13-d008na has the same 1,920×1,080 screen I tested but an i5-6200U for around £649. The main difference is predominantly in base and Turbo clock speed on the i5-6200U, which is 2.4GHz and 3GHz respectively, so you can expect around 8% slower performance, but that’s still pretty good value for its price. In the end, though, I would rather spend a little extra and get the Asus ZenBook UX303UA, as this has better build quality and performance along with a top-notch screen.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U
Memory slots (free)1 (0)
Max memory8GB
SoundRealtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Screen size13.3in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics 520
Graphics outputsHDMI
Graphics memoryIntegrated
Total storage256GB SSD
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports3x USB3
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerSD
Other portsNone
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne year limited parts, labour and collect and return
Price inc VATFrom £649
Part numberHP Envy 13-d002na

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