When it comes to premium multimedia notebooks, there are only a few companies that really deliver the goods. Among them is HP and their Pavilion DM series of notebooks are designed to do just that. Today, we have with us their latest entry in the market, the dm4-3010tx; a more portable alternative to the dv6, but with newer and updated hardware. This is identical to the dm4-3022tx Beats Edition, except for the fact that it doesn't have a full black theme over the chassis. Let’s see if it manages to tick all the boxes in our checklist.
Design and Build
The dm4 looks and feels a lot more elegant and stylish, compared to the dv6. It’s smaller, since it’s a 14-incher and quite slim, making it easy to slip into your backpack or briefcase. It’s not as light as any Ultrabook, unfortunately, so at 1.9kg, you will feel the heft in your bag. The chassis is designed with a blend of plastic and metal, which lends it a very sophisticated feel. HP has paid a lot of attention to detail as well from the texture on the lid to the way the ports line up with the cut-outs in the body, all spell premium finish. Thankfully, there isn’t any glossy surface present anywhere; instead, we have a smooth brushed aluminium-like finish on the lid and the interiors as well.
Not a fingerprint magnet but does attract smudges
HP has updated the connectivity options as well and we finally get two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0. We also have VGA, HDMI, headphone/microphone combo port, LAN jack, card reader and a DVD burner. There’s also a webcam, capable of 720p recording and Beats Audio for the sound processing. On the right side of the palm rest, you’ll notice there’s provision for a fingerprint scanner, but this model does not feature it. The keyboard, unfortunately is not backlit, but it is chiclet-styled, so typing is a comfortable experience. The 14-inch LED backlit screen is quite bright for outdoor usage with good colour reproduction. Overall, we like HP’s little update to the dm4, which makes it relevant in today’s times.
Apart from a few cosmetic tweaks, the internal components have also been spruced up a bit. Powering the notebook is a Core i5-2450M CPU running at 2.5GHz. This is a dual-core CPU, but has four threads, so multi-tasking is not an issue and if you need more speed, it can also Turbo up to 3.1GHz when an application demands it. The chipset can handle up to 16GB of RAM, but HP bundles along 6GB, which is enough for most tasks. You also get a generous 640GB hard drive and the “latest” AMD Radeon HD 7470M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. This is not a new card, but a rebadged HD 6490M. Despite this, the card still supports DX11, OpenGL 4.1, DirectCompute 11 and Open CL standards. What we liked is, instead of going with DDR3 RAM, HP have picked the GDDR5 edition of the HD 7470M, which is a lot more potent and is somewhat comparable to Nvidia’s GT 325M.
Excellent build quality
Apart from the hardware, HP also bundles along some of their own software and trial versions of some essential programs, like Norton and Office 2010. Their Recovery Manager helps you recover files, HP Power manager, Launch Box, Coolsense and a lot more. Holding it all together is Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
We compared the dm4 to the MSI’s GE620, which we know is targeted at gamers, but it does happen to fall in the similar price bracket. Despite the dm4 being more of a mainstream notebook, it’s able to keep up quite well with the more powerful GE620. It’s able to beat the MSI in most of the tests but loses to it when it comes to real world games. It also struggles a bit with video encoding as well.
Not too shabby
Even though the GPU is of the older generation, the higher clock speed and increased bandwidth from the GDDR5 RAM helps in achieving very playable frame rates in real world games. We got a very healthy 27fps in DX10 mode with the ‘Very High’ preset, which is not bad.
Throughout our testing process, the notebook never overheated, even once during any intensive tasks. The fans do spin up in order to drive out the excess heat, so they are audible, but other than that we didn’t face any problem. The keys have a good feedback making them comfortable to use. We only wished it had backlighting to make it perfect. Along with Beats Audio, you also get a little control panel to adjust and tweak the sound depending on whether you have speakers or headphones. The audio quality is pretty good and the software helps boost the volume, while enhancing the mids and low frequencies, at the same time. The built-in speakers are quite loud at full volume and can easily fill a small room without distorting. The AMD GPU comes with automatic switchable graphics, so depending on the application, the software will allocate either the onboard GPU or the dedicated one. You can manually change this setting yourself, as well.
The trackpad is smooth and easy to use, however the two mouse buttons are quite stiff and not very easy to press. Two finger scrolling is present as well, along with other gestures.
With Battery Eater Pro set to use the onboard graphics, we got a battery life of 1hr and 20min. This is not too shabby and in real world usage, you should easily get about 3hrs or even more, if you use it carefully.
At Rs. 53,200, including taxes and everything, the HP dm4-3010tx is a good buy, if build quality and looks are high on your list, along with performance, of course. The dm4 is an all-rounder. There are few places where it could do a bit better, like an option for backlight keys, but overall, we were pretty satisfied with what’s on offer. If you’re shopping around with this budget, then we strongly recommend you check this model out.
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