HP Pavilion g6 Review: Budget Notebook Without the Budget Feel
The HP Pavilion g6 is the go to budget notebook at HP for users who want a lot of computer for around $500. Part of the Pavilion line, the g6 includes several upgrades over previous versions that make for a much nicer notebook, especially in this price range. If you’re looking for a $500 notebook that doesn’t disappoint, put this notebook on your shopping list.
The HP Pavilion g6 comes in a variety of models, so be sure to look at the specs as they compare to our review model, which is a HP Pavilion g6-1a69u. We expect to see the g6 available at numerous stores as a Black Friday doorbuster. The following review will apply to numerous HP Pavilion g6 models, but the performance will depend on the processor in the notebook.
A 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM and Intel HD graphics drive the Pavilion g6 aong with a spacious 500GB hard drive for storage. This isn’t the latest Intel Core i processor, but capable enough for many home and basic student users. The notebook comes with WiFi b/g/n, a 8X DVD-RW drive, and a 6 cell battery.
The 15.6″ display has a 1366 x 768 resolution, and the notebook can power two external displays over VGA and HDMI if you turn off the notebook display.
The g6 starts at $449, though you will see it in a variety of prices both higher and lower based on the deals offered by major retailers. Our review model is priced at $544.99.
Who is the HP Pavilion g6 For?
The HP g6 is a budget notebook aimed at basic home and student users. The hardware is capable and the build quality decent, which is exactly what most home users need. Students may be better served by bumping up to a Pavilion dv notebook or looking at notebooks with more media chops, but the g6 will do when money is tight.
HP Pavilion g6 Hands On Video
Build and Design
The g6 is well-built for a budget notebook. The very solid frame and display showed only minor flex when we stressed it. The sturdy feel goes through the entire base with a solid center of the keyboard, another common weak point in budget notebooks.
The notebook looks good and the black and charcoal colors play well together. The finish is plastic, but it has an OK feel to it, especially in the palmrest area. The glossy lid won’t catch fingerprints too easily, but may pick up the occasional scuff. The bezel is a matte black, which we prefer over glossy bezels.
The HP g6 has a 15.6″ display with a 1366 x 768 resolution. This glossy display will show some reflections, but isn’t too bad indoors. The side to side viewing angles are good enough that you could watch a movie with a friend, if you sit close, but you can also use the HDMI port to connect to the big screen. Viewing angles drop off pretty quick horizontally, but we could find a comfortable angle on a table, desk or our lap.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is a hybrid style, with drop spacing to give the feeling of more space between the keys. It is an OK keyboard, but we were noticeably slower on this notebook compared to an island style keyboard. The key travel is pretty good and helps with the overall typing experience. We like that the function keys are primary, so that you can easily control volume, brightness and media playback, but we don’t like the WiFi on/off switch so close to backspace. We also aren’t a fan of the rightmost row of keys which pushes Enter and backspace towards the center and requires a significant shift in muscle memory.
The touchpad is sufficiently large and offers a textured mouse surface that is precise and works well with two finger scrolling. The mousepad does a good job of palm rejection, even when we tried to get it to mess up. If you need to turn off the touchpad, a simple double tap on the upper left will turn it on and off.
Processor and Performance
The Core i3 processor may not be the newest, but it’s powerful enough for many home users. The biggest hit comes in terms of graphics, but for playback and basic media creation (like photo touchup) you can use the g6 as reviewed.
We opened up several browser windows, Skype, Word and played some video on Hulu without any lag on the machine. If you need to, you could use the notebook to edit a short vacation clip for YouTube, but if you think you will be editing a lot of video you should look for a notebook with more power.
Multimedia and Gaming
The Pavilion g6 is not a gaming notebook, especially not with last year’s integrated graphics. You can play flash games and even some very low demand casual games, but any blockbuster titles that you could play on an Xbox are out of the question.
As far as media playback, we had no issue streaming a 1080P clip on YouTube or playing on locally. The image looked fine, though you are limited by the display resolution to an effective 720P resolution. While watching The Daily Show on Hulu Plus at 720P the notebook had no issues.
Audio and Speakers
The g6 packs in Altec Lansing speakers and SRS Premium sound, which deliver decent sound. The volume goes high enough to fill a dorm room or small office without distorting. Unfortunately the audio lacks definition, resulting in a very muddy middle at any volume for music and video. Stairway to Heaven sounded OK, but lacked the depth that really draws you in to the song. Not bad for a budget notebook, but music lovers should get a set of desktop speakers.
Heat and Noise
The Pavilion g6 handles heat well, with only a minor uptick in temperature on the left palm area after 15 minutes of watching Hulu and an hour of web surfing. The base of the unit stayed cool enough to keep the notebook on our lap for extended periods of work. The fan is loud enough to hear in a quiet room, but not loud enough to get in the way of watching TV or listening to music on the notebook.
For a $500 notebook we are pleased with the battery life on the HP g6. The included 6-cell battery lasted 4 hours and 30 minutes during a simulated web browsing test that surfs to popular webpages with the display set at 40% brightness. You can’t go through the full day on this notebook, but it is respectable in the price range.
Budget notebooks typically come with just the basics, but the g6 does add in a HDMI port to keep up with the demands of most consumers.
Right side: DVD, USB 2.0, Power, Kensington
Left side: VGA. Vent, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 2.0, Mic, Headphone, SD Card Reader
The built in webcam isn’t anything to write home about, but it will do for calling home and chatting with friends. The image is a bit grainy and low light performance is not so hot, but if you are in good lighting colors are accurate.
Aside from a Norton Internet Security trial the g6 comes relatively free of bloatware. We quickly traded Norton for Microsoft Security Essentials, and got back to work. There are numerous programs included such as Blio for ebooks, and a few shortcuts, but most of it is not going to detract from the user experience. We did like that Skype and Rhapsody were already on the computer for easy access, but not installed so that they don’t take up resources at startup.
The HP Pavilion g6 comes with a one year warranty, but you can add-on additional years and enhanced warranty coverage when you purchase one at HP.com. Warranty prices range from $75 to $150, with the highest price warranty including 3 years of accidental coverage. Typically we pass on a manufacturer warranty, but ultimately the decision is up to you.
The HP Pavilion g6 offers a decent value for your money. You get a capable processor, respectable battery life and good build quality for just over $500. There are cheaper notebooks, but unless they have a Core i or AMD Fusion processor you’re going to make a big sacrifice on performance.
The HP Pavilion g6 is a good budget notebook. While there aren’t a ton of standout features and extras, it also doesn’t have any major issues. Budget notebooks need to cut corners somewhere to come in at an affordable price and HP chose the right places to trim when they made the g6. Students and average home users in need of an affordable notebook should look at the g6, especially as part of back to school and Black Friday promotions.
- Build Quality
- Key Placement
- Audio Quality
HP Pavilion g6 Detailed Specs:
|Notebook type||For budget shoppers|
|Operating system||Windows® 7 Home Premium|
|Processor||2.53GHz Intel Core i3 Processor|
|Maximum memory||4GB DDR3|
|Internal Storage||500GB 5400RPM hard drive|
|Display Size||15.6-in high-definition LED (1366×768)|
|Graphics Card||Intel Integrated HD Graphics|
|Audio / Visual||Altec Lansing SRS Premium Sound|
|Connectivity||VGA, HDMI, RJ-45, headphone, mic, 3 USB, 4-in-1 multicard reader, DVD RW|
|Camera||Low light sensitive webcam|
|Battery Life||Up to 6.6 hours|