Introducing the HP Envy 17

HP's Envy line-up has been so often requested around here that actually having one on the test bench feels like both a major win and a kind of letdown. These notebooks (particularly the 14, for which a review is forthcoming) are so well regarded by their user communities that it's kind of hard not to expect the most out of HP's prize series.

There's some merit to that. The Envy 17 is a stylish, powerful piece of kit. Unlike a lot of consumer notebooks, HP's Envy series are understated and clearly designed to be both attractive and functional. So now that we've finally got one in hand, let's pop the hood and see what makes this bad boy hum.

HP Envy 17 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-720QM
(4x1.6GHz + HTT, 45nm, 6MB L3, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 45W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 1x4GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5
(800 Stream Processors, 500MHz core clock, 3600MHz effective memory clock)
Display 17" LED Glossy 16:9 1920x1080
(LG LGD0283 Panel)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 7200 RPM
(Seagate Momentus 7200.4, one spare drive bay)
Optical Drive Slot-loading Blu-ray Reader/DVD+/-RW Drive
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Broadcom 43224AG 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio IDT 92HD81B1X HD Audio
Beats audio stereo speakers with subwoofer
Headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 62Wh battery
Front Side Speakers
Left Side Exhaust vent
Ethernet jack
USB 2.0/eSATA combo port
USB 3.0
Microphone jack
Headphone jack
Right Side 2x USB 2.0
Card reader
Optical drive
AC adapter
Kensington lock
Back Side Exhaust vent
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 16.3" x 10.83" x 1.25"-1.52" (WxDxH)
Weight 7.51 lbs
Extras HD Webcam
Backlit keyboard with dedicated 10-key
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Dual drive bays
Warranty 2-year limited warranty
Pricing Starting at $1,299
Priced as configured: $1,699

With Sandy Bridge not terribly far away, the specifications for the HP Envy 17 we have on hand are going to seem a little pedestrian, but make no mistake: it's still a powerful notebook. At 1.6GHz the Intel Core i7-720QM may be the slowest quad-core in Intel's mobile line-up, but it can still outpace their fastest dual-core in properly threaded tasks, and it can turbo up to 2.4GHz on two cores to make up a lot of the difference (or 2.8GHz on a single core).

The other major selling point of the Envy 17 is the AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics part. Given the relatively svelte profile of the Envy compared to other 17"-class notebooks, the 5850 is fairly powerful by laptop graphics standards. 800 of AMD's stream processors purr away at 500MHz, and unlike NVIDIA, AMD is able to coax some halfway decent speeds out of its mobile GDDR5, running at an effective 3.6GHz. Still, the 5850 can be considered something of a disappointment: this is AMD's second best mobile part, but it's still a substantially underclocked desktop Radeon HD 5770, a card that goes for around $130. Worse, the 5850 in the Envy 17 appears to be underclocked even by Mobility 5850 standards, running about 125MHz below spec on the core and 400MHz below spec on the memory. It's probably reasonable to assume this is to assuage concerns about heat, but it still takes a healthy bite out of potential gaming performance.

The remainder of the Envy 17 is pretty by-the-book, with the increasingly common Seagate Momentus 7200.4 hard drive pulling storage duties along with an attractive slot-loading blu-ray reader/DVDRW drive. The card reader is accounted for, and there's USB 3.0 and eSATA, but sadly no ExpressCard or FireWire. What's odd is HP's decision to ship the review unit with a single 4GB DDR3 DIMM instead of a pair of 2GB or 4GB sticks, but that's neither here nor there: when you go to order the Envy 17, it actually starts at 6GB of DDR3 these days.

Touring the HP Envy 17
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  • gomakeit - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    agreed - same here
  • Finite Loop - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    When I reached page 42 of the article, I started getting this distinct feeling that I had read this article before.
  • ciparis - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    The last page seems to be missing; it just redirects to the first page.

    I'd like to read the conclusion :)
  • mrmbmh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Thanks for your nice review.
    when I click on the "conclusion page" it leads me to the first page... fix it please.
  • janwuyts - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    With that title for the article, why not include an actual macbook pro in the comparison?
  • tarunactivity - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Yes. . Doesn't the ENVY have a right to face its accuser?

    Funny that the MBP does not feature in any of the charts!
  • retnuh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Agreed, there should have been some attempt to compare where applicable, screen, weight, battery tests, jury rig win 7 bootcamp & newer drivers to test 3d even or starcraft2 (Win7) vs starcraft 2 (OSX), portal. But to use a headline like that and not include data from a MBP is lame. OR EVEN LINK to a review of the MBP inside the article so we can easily look up what was forgotten is even worse.

    Next time try,
    title: "HP Envy 17 review"
    somewhere in the first two paragraphs: "we've gotten a lot of requests to compare this to an apple mbp 17, here's a link to our previous review for comparison"

    Then its a side note, for the curious, not a slap in the face.
  • retnuh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    There doesn't seem to be a 17" MBP review, but here's the link to the 15" for those interested.
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "HP Envy 17: HP's MacBook Pro Killer?"

    Please, PLEASE, stop referencing damn apple products. You're instantly referencing another product and possibly removing sales by the headline alone, which, HP should be pretty annoyed at.

    P.s. I own a HP Envy 13... fantastic machine (Once you slap an intel 1.8" SSD in there
  • takumsawsherman - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    This is perhaps unintentionally hilarious. The article sort of reads like an apology for HP. It's not supposed to be an HP advertisement, so therefore Anandtech shouldn't be worried that HP will be "annoyed". If HP didn't want to be annoyed, maybe they should have maybe created a product that was actually a credible threat to even the base MacBook, never mind the MacBook Pro. The battery life at *idle* is a complete laugh, and you cannot even watch a 90 minute movie!

    From the actual data of the review, and some salient points from the text, no one should ever buy this laptop. Of course, considering that HP just made me send in a customer's laptop in as opposed to sending me a replacement hard drive (in-warranty failure) unless I pre-paid for the hard drive (refund would be issued when they received the return part). This is on a laptop that is 10 months old and HP diagnosed the hard drive failure (after I already gave them info from another diagnostic tool - another 30 minutes on the phone so that they could verify).

    Then there was the firmware update that was supposed to fix a problem with 4 laserjets on a network. These laserjets had this quirk since they were purchased a few years ago. Installed the updates, and one failed and borked the printer. HP's response? Not our problem, pay $40 for us to even chat with you. Problem - bad formatter board as a result of failed firmware upgrade, not our problem, though.

    That is one of the many reasons why HP won't have a product that is a "killer" anything. They have no concern for the customer's view of them. There is no reason for anyone to be a "repeat" customer of HP.

    (except ProCurve switches - never had a problem with that support or the products)

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