While superficially similar, there are a few important differences between the dm4 and the Samsung Q330’s hardware. HP’s machine has the advantage of a Core i5 processor against the Q330’s Core i3, the former of which has the ability to increase the speed of individual cores when the other isn’t in use – something Intel calls Turbo Boost. In the dm4 you also get a faster, 7,200rpm hard drive to help boost overall speed and responsiveness.
Consequently the dm4 enjoys a noticeable advantage in our system performance testing, though in practice both systems perform very well. Still, it’s nice to know some of your processing power isn’t going to waste when not using multi-threaded applications, and the 64-bit OS means you can upgrade the RAM without penalty. Both are outperformed by the Acer Aspire Timeline 4820TG, but it’s £100 or so more than both.
One thing the dm4 isn’t is a gaming machine. It just about coped with our undemanding TrackMania Nations test, but anything more taxing will quickly have it begging for mercy. If gaming is a priority for you the Acer is worth looking into as it has a dedicated graphics chip, but it’s more expensive, not especially well-designed or made, and less portable, so it’s not the perfect alternative.
Of course, any laptop intended for day-to-day mobility needs good battery life, and the dm4 delivers handsomely. It comfortably bests the Q330, and almost reaches the six and a half hour mark – reduce the screen brightness and it would probably reach this landmark.
This isn’t quite enough leave home without your charger, but it is enough to ensure it’s only required sporadically. It’s also enough to enjoy any film, with the dm4 lasting a minute shy of four hours of DVD playback. Hell, you could probably sit through the director’s cut of Das Boot and have juice to spare.
This is impressive, but it’s simply the final layer of polish on an extremely accomplished product. The dm4 has all the prerequisites of a day-to-day workhorse, but adds a level of visual flair and attention to detail too rarely seen in laptops of this price. We can scarcely remember such a good laptop costing so little.
There are only one or two very small things we’d change about the dm4: one being the touchpad position; and the second being the somewhat hopeful notion of adding switchable graphics. Such ideas aside, it’s an absolute corker of a laptop considering its accessible price.