For all the aesthetic frippery, though, it's really the hardware inside the Envy 15 that sets it apart. Kicking things off is the quad-core Intel Core i7-720QM, whose 1.6GHz core clock speed is slightly misleading. Low as this may sound, its ability to turn off unused cores and divert power to others (what Intel calls Turbo Boost) allows the 720QM to run as high as 2.8GHz. As we found in the Novatech X70 CA, it performs very well indeed and as such it puts the Envy 15 into a different league of performance than Apple's Core 2 Duo-equipped MacBooks.
This bleeding-edge CPU is backed by a plentiful 4GB of DDR3 RAM, with a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium installed to keep it happy. There's also a fast 7,200rpm 320GB hard drive, which could only be improved upon by adding a prohibitively expensive SSD. Added to the ATI Mobility Radeon 4830 graphics, which boasts a useful 1GB dedicated video memory, the Envy 15 should trample over most tasks.
It does. While the Novatech does best it in PCMark Vantage, primarily thanks to its even more powerful graphics, an overall score of nearly 6,000 still makes the Envy 15 the second fastest laptop we've ever tested. This makes it perfect for any number of tasks, such as HD video editing or anything that will tax all four of those cores.
This excellent performance extends to gaming as well. In Trackmania Nations (our casual gaming benchmark) it produced a very comfortable 83.5 frames per second - around 20fps more than the recently reviewed Sony VAIO CW. Our STALKER: Call of Pripyat is a little more taxing, giving us a barometer for more recent titles. Here the Envy 15 also performed well, producing an average 45.3fps across its four tests. We wouldn't qualify this system as a gaming one as such, but this clearly shows it's more than capable in this arena.
Like most laptops the system gets pretty noisy when playing games, but it also gets very warm. Indeed this is true of any intensive task, be it taxing for the GPU or CPU. We wouldn't say it was a dangerously warm machine; a menagerie of vents all round the machine help dissipate heat and the palm rest area only ever gets lukewarm, but anyone with a nervous condition about such matters will pause for thought. Vitally, however, when all the system's power isn't required the CPU is very good at clocking down and containing any such heat issues, so it's rarely a problem during regular use.