updated 12:00 am EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
HP Pavilions with Phenom II claim huge speed boost
HP as part of a sweeping notebook update this morning became the first PC builder to use AMD's new mobile Phenom II processors. Its Pavilion dv5, dv6 and dv7 all have the option of using the dual- and quad-core versions of AMD's new chips and overcome many of the performance and battery life gaps with Intel. A dual-core 2.8GHz Phenom II N620 can be up to 69 percent faster than HP's previous best Turion Ultra but gets up to 24 percent more battery life.
All of the Pavilions embrace a new philosophy HP nicknames MUSE (materials, usability, sensory appeal, experience). Unlike their frequently plastic ancestors, they move at least partly to aluminum and a thinner, minimalist design in unusual colors such as black cherry, champagne and red. Some of the previously special edition-only software customization has carried over to the Pavilion line and now gives users 15 artist-penned desktop backgrounds.
Topping the range, the 17.3-inch dv7 totes a few new features for Pavilions with a 1GB Mobility Radeon graphics chipset that supports Crossfire and Beats-processed audio that includes a subwoofer. Dual drive bays let it hold up to 2TB of storage, and it can use up to quad-core chips.
Beneath it, the dv6 has a 15.6-inch display but is first in the series to have the option of a touchscreen. Its smaller design still allows quad-core processors, and the single drive bay still allows 1TB of storage. The dv5 is HP's first with a 14.5-inch screen and yet still has options for quad-core processors and 1TB of disk space.
All of the Pavilion dv updates are due May 19th and will carry starting prices of $650 for the dv5 and dv6 with the dv7 costing $800.
Alongside these, the ultraportable dm series has been updated to bring the Pavilion dm4, with a large 14-inch LCD and full-power Intel processors instead of CULV; it also has the option of dedicated Mobility Radeon HD video. Dropping an optical drive keeps it to less than an inch thick and at a lighter 4.4 pounds, although its profile caps its storage at 640GB. The dm4 will ship on May 19th like the larger models but will cost $730.
The Phenom II-based models are potential turning points for AMD. It has often had to compete solely on cost as the less efficient manufacturing process has often meant sacrifices in speed and battery life. Their existence also lends credence to the possibility of AMD-based Macs as Apple could preserve the high-end aims of the MacBook or MacBook Pro lines without having to use Intel hardware.