November 20, 2020
The HP Envy 15



Is the HP Envy Windows users’ answer to the MacBook Pro? PAT PILCHER is so impressed with this wee grunter that he awarded it top score.

From $3799

HP Envy 15 review
The HP Envy 15

With so many of us working from home, the need for a good laptop has been thrown into sharp relief. While most of us are okay with a notebook capable of running productivity apps and spitting out documents, others need something a little more powerful. It’s here that HP’s Envy 15 ultra-book really comes into its own.

Power users like video editors, digital artists, designers and of course gamers, all want that hard-to-achieve combo of computing grunt and portability without compromise. Thankfully, the HP Envy 15 delivers.



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Its serious firepower comes in the form of an Intel Core i7 CPU and NVIDIA GPU, pots of RAM and oodles of storage. In a notebook, this is nothing to sneeze at. High-performance components present serious challenges when it comes to engineering a notebook PC. For a start, high-end components are often energy guzzlers. This puts a dent in battery life. They also generate copious amounts of heat, which when you want a slim and ultra-portable laptop means there’s limited space available for cooling/airflow. Apple has had this part of the market sewn up for ages with the MacBook Pro.  So, the question is this: Is it a good buy for Windows-centric power users?

With the Envy 15, you not only get a notebook PC, but a piece of art crafted out of metal and silicon. It’ll attract envious stares. The alloy lid has a brushed aluminium finish with a shiny HP logo in its centre. Sharp lines and ridges help to give the base (also crafted out of aluminium) an attractive look too.

HP Envy 15 review
The HP Envy 15

Flipping its lid open greets you with a gorgeous keyboard that’s done out in the same brushed aluminium finish as the chassis. It has a cool geometric design along its left and right sides for both ventilation and speakers. Like the MacBook Pro, everything in the Envy 15 reeks of quality, and it is here that HP’s attention to detail shines.

Because it’s mostly crafted out of aluminium, the Envy 15 weighs in at a mere 2.14kg. Along with a muscular spec, HP also crammed in a generous selection of ports. There’s 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x Thunderbolt 3.0 ports, an HDMI port plus a micro SD card slot. Rounding things out is a 3.5m audio/mic socket. On the wireless front, you get Bluetooth 5.0 plus Wi-Fi 6. Connectivity is prodigious.

The Envy 15 packs a stunning 15.6-inch UHD AMOLED display with tiny bezels surrounding it. This confers it with a vivid and super crisp screen on which colours pop along with inky deep blacks and searingly bright whites. For media consumption, it really is the business.

Under its hood, there isn’t much left wanting. It sports a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz (which goes all the way up to 5GHz with TurboBoost). Accompanying the CPU is 16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM and a whopping 1 TB SSD. Gamers and designers can rejoice in its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti (which also has 6GB GDDR6 RAM). Windows 10 is preloaded. In short, the Envy 15 will run smoothly regardless of what you throw at it. With multiple apps and Chrome running with 8-9 tabs open, streaming music, the Envy 15 was merely idling.

HP Envy 15 review
The HP Envy 15

If there was one weak spot that I found, it was with the keyboard. While its scrabble tile design may be comfy to type on, the Home key is located right next to the backspace key. This meant I often found myself accidentally sending the cursor back to the start of sentences when hitting the backspace key. While not a biggie, it is annoying, even if the tactile feedback from the keys is pretty good.

On the security front, the Envy 15 comes with a fingerprint sensor on its keyboard plus a webcam (both of which play nice with Windows Hello for biometric logins). The camera also has a privacy shutter. The speakers impressed, given the immutable fact that they’re still only laptop speakers.

Feeling nostalgic, I fired up a copy of Serious Sam to put its GPU through its paces with the game’s graphic settings maxed out. While gaming and slimline laptops have traditionally been like oil and water, gameplay was silky smooth. While the Envy did get warm on my lap, its ball-scorch factor wasn’t too bad in that it wasn’t unbearably hot. Benchmarking on PCMark saw the Envy scoring 4,475. On GeekBench it scored 1,243 (single core) and 4989 (multi-core), all of which are decent results. All told, there’s plenty of oomph there for most tasks, which considering how portable the Envy is, makes it ideal for power users on the go.

HP Envy 15 review
The HP Envy 15

Of course, all that power is next to useless if the batteries are not up to the job. Thankfully they are. You get a big 6-cell, 83 Wh Li-ion polymer battery with the Envy. It delivered just shy of 6 hours use in high-performance mode, which given the high spec of the machine is only to be expected. HP’s blurb says 16.5 hours of battery life should be possible with energy-saving modes and non-demanding apps. Unfortunately, tight timeframes meant I was unable to put this claim to the test. Fast charging also means the Envy can go from flat to half charged in just 45 minutes.

If you’re thinking I was impressed with HP’s Envy 15, you’d be totally right. Not only does it offer up more buckets of grunt, it’s also beautifully designed and has a distinctly premium feel. Coupled with its gorgeous display, oodles of storage, GPU and capacious battery, the Envy 15 is a perfect no-compromise notebook for power users wanting to stick with Windows.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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