Home / Computing / Laptop / HP Pavilion DM4-2101 / Performance, Value and Verdict

HP Pavilion DM4-2101 - Performance, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

The HP Pavilion DM4-2101 features a Core i3-2330M processor and integrated HD 3000 graphics. This positions it as a lower mid-range model at best, but it is worth noting that this 2nd generation i3 boasts roughly as much power as the previous-generation i5 processor. In our benchmark test, its performance was roughly on-par with the i5 2010 DM4 model, while selling for a cool £150 less these days.

HP Pavilion DM4-2101 review 2

This level of performance is satisfactory for almost any kind of day-to-day productivity task. Similarly, while the 5,400rpm 500GB Hitachi hard drive and 4GB DDR3 RAM are nor particularly notable, they level-peg rivals at this price and shouldn't prove to be performance barriers unless you're looking at an intensive task like video rendering. There's a memory slot free within the DM4-2101's casing too, letting you easily upgrade to 6GB of RAM should you need it.HP Pavilion DM4-2101 review

Where the DM4-2101 has improved over its 2010 series sibling is in gaming. The standard Sandy Bridge Intel HD 3000 graphics chipset may not be all that powerful, but it's a big step up from previous integrated solutions. In the Trackmania Nations benchmark, it managed 41.5fps and came out with a near-playable 19.1fps average in the more demanding S.T.A.L.K.E.R. test.

An improvement over previous-gen budget models as it may be, this laptop isn't much good for gaming. For anything other than ancient classics and the odd indie title, you need a dedicated graphics card, i.e. a different laptop.

HP Pavilion DM4-2101 review 1

As much as many of you may hanker after the additional power of a Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor and dedicated graphics card, one area that benefits massively from a humble-but-efficient CPU is battery life. In our Mobilemark battery test, the Pavilion DM4-2101 lasted a jaw-dropping nine hours and two minutes, making the DM4 appear an athlete among asthmatic, gasping weaklings. The glossy screen and not-quite-ultraslim build may have lost the Pavilion some portable cred, but the excellent stamina wins it back, and some extra to boot.

Up until recently, the Pavilion DM4-2101 sold for a shade under £600, putting it up against devices with features missing here - such as discrete graphics and USB 3.0. However, now that it has dropped down to under £500, we can't help but conclude it's a solid gold laptop, just like the DM4-1050 before it. The speakers are poor, the screen's not fantastic and the keyboard's quirks take a bit of getting used to. But the attractive design, solid performance and fantastic battery life put it right back at the top of the tree.

Verdict

Classy design, great build quality and stunning battery life make the DM4-2101 very easy to recommend. It's not without problems, lacking advanced connectivity and featuring an average screen and poor speakers, but you rarely see the basics provided for as well as you do here for under £500.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Screen Quality 6
  • Value 9

nanite2000

February 6, 2012, 6:32 am

When you say this is a 'long-lasting' laptop, I assume you werer referring to its battery life? It's an HP laptop, so I wouldn't expect it to last more than a year or so before dying.
Buyer beware - there's a reason HP laptops are so inexpensive.

Andrew_TR

February 7, 2012, 6:18 pm

Zing! I have heard a fair few complaints about the reliability of HP's trackpads in particular, but unfortunately it's something that's hard to test in a review.

MikeWilliams

February 9, 2012, 12:26 am

My previous model dm4 has been working fantastically for a year. So far, so very good. But nanite2000 has a good point. Why doesn't TR run reliability surveys like Which? magazine?

Julian Bell

February 19, 2012, 8:35 pm

Thanks for a great review again as always TR.
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to echo nanite2000's remarks on reliability. I bought a previous model DM4 (based on a glowing review from yourselves) and the left hinge (which all the wires use) has failed twice. I understand you can't really test the long term durability of such parts - my complaint is entirely with HP. The first failure was within 6 months and got fixed under warranty. It then began to fail again just under a month after the original one year warranty expired. The whole hinge disintegrated and the ribbon carrying the screen and backlight cables was severed internally by the inherently poor design of the hinge. My only option was DIY, so I ended up taking the whole machine apart (the only way to get to the lid) ordering another ribbon cable for the screen/backlight/webcam from ebay, fitting this and then epoxying the actual hinge to keep it firm and this has held up reasonably well since October, although it is loosening up now, so it's probably time for another lot of epoxy resin.

If you are a student like me, who feels they've spent that little bit more (I paid £650 for the 9/10 TR Recommended DM4-1050EA) to get a machine that is going to last, please don't be fooled by the initial strong feel, good looks and good performance of HP's machines - if the basics fail then you're going to be left with a £500 (or in my case £650) paperweight.

comments powered by Disqus