HP Pavilion dv6 15.6in quad-core notebook
Llano laptop, anyone?
Choosing an HP notebook isn’t an easy task, not because they are hard to find - far from it - it’s just the bewildering choice of notebooks you can find in a range. Take the recently refreshed Pavilion dv6-6b series, for example. There are currently a staggering 16 different options in this family alone.
Quad-core CPU and dual GPU: HP's dv6 AMD A6 version
There are choices to be made between a metal or plastic finish too, as the specs differ between the two. All of which is a bit of a long winded explanation of why you'll see the full product name in this review; just calling it a dv6 or dv6-6b is just too vague.
The precise model I’m looking at here is the dv6-6b06sa powered by an AMD Quad-Core A6-3410MX  (1.6GHz) which together with 4GB of DDR3 gives the dv6-6b06sa a fairly good balance of power and battery life. If you need to upgrade the memory then the motherboard supports up to 8GB.
DVD-writer, but no Blu-ray
Part of AMD's Llano range – the company's alternative to Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i CPUs – the A6-3410MX is a Quad core processor clocked at 1.6GHz, which thanks to AMD’s TurboCore technology can be dynamically overclocked to 2.3GHz. Pitched at the mid-range mainstream notebook it comes face to face with Intel’s Dual cored i5-2430M (2.3GHz, 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost). HP offer both makes of CPU in the dv6-6b lineup and an i5 2430M powered dv6 with roughly the same spec (smaller hard drive) as the dv6-6b06sa is around twenty quid cheaper.
If you were after the flavour-of-the-month Beats Audio, only the metal finished HP dv6 units feature this kit. The plastic finish review model relies on standard Altec Lansing speakers instead and they don’t perform too badly either. At least the audio doesn’t sound like a bee in a can – although they are a little light in the bass region, which is par for the course for most laptops.
The plastic finish is stylish and defines this dv6 as the model minus the Beats Audio
As an entertainment notebook, ideally, there should be enough storage space for all your downloaded or streamed media, and HP haven’t slacked in this department as the dv6-6b06sa comes with a 1TB (5400rpm) drive.
Well, it started out life as a terabyte drive but as usual there’s a fair old chunk of HP software taking up residence on it. To back up data there is a SuperMulti DVD±R/RW drive. Somewhat surprisingly there isn’t a USB 3.0 port in amongst the four USB ports.
All the four USB ports are version 2 affairs
The dv6-6b06sa has a chiclet style keyboard and it’s a good example of the breed with decent key spacing. The keys themselves feel comfortable with just the right amount of travel and there’s even a separate numeric keypad.
If you’re a fan of glossy screens then the 15.6in screen will be right up your street. HP calls it a BrightView display, and it’s not kidding. However, it’s one of the most reflective screens I’ve seen for a while, great for watching movies on but a nightmare to use in an office environment due to light reflections.
PCMark 7 Results
Longer bars are better
And here's yet another notebook with a 15.6in panel that only manages a 1366 x 768 native resolution. Even if you fancied upgrading you're out of luck. Given all the options HP does offer there’s not a higher resolution screen available anywhere in the current dv6-6b lineup either.
To give an idea of the battery life, looping in PCMark Vantage the HP dv6-6b06sa notched up a score of 180 mins. For entertainment purposes it gave 211 minutes of life for DVD playback and 136 minutes while playing a game, in this case Far Cry 2.
Playing the game?
Talking of gaming, the AMD HD6545G2 integrated graphics support DX11 so I gave it a quick spin through the Aliens v Predator benchmark at the screen’s native 1366 by 768 resolution. This notched up an average frame rate score of 13.6fps, hardly playable, but it is a pretty intensive benchmark. The DX10 performance was better though, scoring an average 34fps in Far Cry 2 which is OK for casual gaming.
A respectable all-rounder for the price
The only thing that lets this AMD dv6 down is its all-but-casual gaming performance, although to be fair it’s not been designed for anything more demanding in this sphere. More to the point, the HP Pavilion dv6-6b06sa is a good all-rounder for home use for those on a fairly tight budget. It has enough power to do the everyday jobs and comes with huge storage capacity or it would do once you’ve stripped out the HP bloatware. ®
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