The Pavilion dm4-3000ea BE’s general performance leaves us with few complaints. Its Intel dual-core ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i5-2450M CPU runs at a default speed of 2.5GHz but can clock up to 3.1GHz and supports up to four virtual cores. While not up to the quad-core Core i7 CPUs found on HP’s Envy line, it won’t break a sweat in most tasks, whether it’s gaming or productivity. It’s backed by the usual 4GB of RAM, expandable to 8GB.
Our only disappointment is the hard drive. Not only would we expect a hybrid SSD/HDD at a price this close to £1,000, but to add insult to injury the 500GB drive is a slow 5,400rpm model. In other words, neither the capacity nor performance says premium, and along with the lack of Blu-ray drive this seriously dents the Beats Edition glamour.
Thankfully we’re back on track with graphics, where the usual Intel integrated effort is aided by an AMD Radeon HD 7470M with 1GB of dedicated memory. This is hardly a gamer-worthy card but it will let you play lots of titles if you can live with a few compromises. For example, Stalker: Call of Pripyat was just about playable at 720p and on medium detail, managing a 28.2fps average. The 7470M also does a great job of video processing and (supported) software acceleration.
Surprisingly, where the dm4-3000ea Beats Edition truly excels is in longevity. Its 11.1V 62Wh battery managed just over seven and a half hours in our low intensity test ofgeneral productivity with wireless radios disabled and screen brightness set to 40 percent. That’s certainly near the top of the 14in-and-upwards laptop class, and with careful use this little beast should just about last you through a working day.
Value is where this HP trips up. As with most of the company’s Beats Edition machines we’ve looked at, there’s a significant premium to those svelte black and red looks. Dell’s XPS 14z is its premium 14in offering completely in aluminium, and for the same money gets you 8GB of RAM and a faster, larger hard drive.
That’s not taking into account the value-add of the Beats Solo HD, which are worth around £120. If you were planning to buy some anyway, the Pavilion dm4-3000ea’s price drops to £780, which is a lot more manageable and actually decent value for its looks and features. The slow hard drive is still a niggle, but if you’re savvy enough you could always replace it with an SSD yourself.
However, if you’re happy to go with a machine that’s a little more ordinary on the outside you can get a lot more on the inside, with similarly-specced laptops from the likes of Acer, Asus and Lenovo (without metal lids or backlit keyboards) going for around £550. Just don’t expect them to last quite as long away from a socket.
If you were planning on getting a pair of Beats Solo HD headphones, HP’s Pavilion dm4-3000ea Beats Edition is worth considering for its style, good speakers, comfortable ergonomics, decent battery life and unique red keyboard backlighting. However, if you already own a premium pair of cans, you can get more laptop for less elsewhere.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 7
Battery Life 9