The HP Pavilion M6-1188CA ($699.99), available in Canada, is a mid-priced performance laptop made for enthusiasts. It’s got 3D gaming prowess and bundled Adobe multimedia software going for it, along with a sense of style that’s sometimes lacking at the mid- to entry-level. It makes a few tradeoffs to stay under $700, but on the whole this is a system that will keep enthusiasts and hobbyists happy.
Design and Features
The Pavilion M6-1188CA might share its positioning and pricing with the Pavilion line, it is really designed to be the bridge to HP’s upscale ENVY line of laptops and desktop. To this end the M6-1188CA has a sliver brushed aluminum look and feel to its surfaces. The M6-1188CA is of average dimensions, 2.65 by 37.95 by 25.07 cm (HWD) and weighing in at 2.28 kg. It has a 15.6-inch, 1,366-by-768-resolution screen, but it lacks the touch interface that makes Windows 8 more compelling. You’ll have to make do with the M6-1188CA’s responsive multi-touch trackpad for navigating Windows 8. At the same price point, the HP Pavilion 15-b168CA ($699.99) comes with a touch screen. Since we’re picking nits, the screen and lid could use a bit more rigidity. The system we used had a tendency to bounce a little after you let it go or moved the laptop from surface to surface. This would be a major annoyance if the M6-1188CA had a touch screen, but in this case it’s relatively minor.
The M6-1188CA has a good amount of connectivity on its chassis, with three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, SD card reader, and a headset jack. The USB 3.0 ports are black instead of the more common blue, which can lead to user confusion. Though slim, there is a one-in-four chance that you’d plug a USB 3.0 hard drive into the slower USB 2.0 port. Windows will tell you of your error right away, but you may miss it if you’re multitasking and have a lot of Windows open on your screen.
The M6-1188CA comes with a fingerprint reader on its palmrest, and while it’s not really needed on a consumer laptop like this, having a fingerprint reader can make it easier to lock down your laptop. One swipe of a fingertip, and you can log into the PC, your favorite websites, and even log into websites that require higher levels of security like biometrics. The fingerprint reader may even work with the IT requirements at your office, but check with your IT staffers to see if the M6-1188CA will interface with their systems. The M6-1188CA comes with Beats Audio branding and the Beats control panel software. While we did hear a shift in sound quality when Beats Audio was active, the system’s small speakers mean you’re better off using headphones for listening to music, viewing movies, or playing games.
The M6-1188CA comes with a large 1TB hard drive, 8GB of system memory, and a DVD burner. These are decent specs for a sub $700 laptop. Though they take up very little room on that 1TB drive, the system comes with quite a few pieces of pre-loaded software, including Solitaire, Mahjong, HP Connected Photo (Snapfish), Kindle, HP+ (online store), Skype, Norton Studio (60 days trial subscription), Netflix, eBay, Microsoft Office Trial, HP connected music, and HP MyRoom (video conferencing). Most of these programs and applications are veiled ads for their respective services, but they can be convenient if you already use them in your day-to-day life. Two included programs that are eminently useful are the full copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 10. These two programs can be used to edit your photos and videos. The inclusion of these Adobe programs is a plus, as you won’t have to buy a photo or video editor if you count these activities as your hobbies. The M6-1188CA comes with a one-year warranty.
The Pavilion M6-1188CA is one of the better performing laptops among the Canada systems we’ve reviewed. Its AMD Radeon HD 7660G integrated 3D graphics is much more powerful than other midrange systems with Intel HD Graphics 4000 like the Samsung Series 3 NP300E5E-A05CA and the Lenovo IdeaPad N581. With the Radeon HD 7660G graphics, you’ll be able to play high end 3D games at native 1,366 by 768 resolution, albeit at low to moderate quality levels. The M6-118-CA was able to gain double-digit frame rates when all the eye candy was turned on, which is better than just about any other laptop in this roundup.
The AMD A10-4600M processor in the M6-1188CA is a good fit for the system, and it helped the M6-1188CA garner good scores on the day-to-day tests (PCMark7) and adequate test scores on the multimedia tests (Handbrake and Photoshop). Simply put, if you want video and photo performance, get one of the systems with a Core i3 or i5 processor in it. If you’re looking for a good day-to-day laptop with some gaming prowess, get the M6-1188CA.
The M6-1188CA also got excellent battery life for the segment. It lasted almost six hours (5:59) on our battery rundown, hours longer than most rivals. Only the M6-1188CA and Samsung NP300E5E-A05CA were able to break the five-hour barrier. This means that the M6-1188CA will be a better companion on a plane ride or commuting by rail than some of the other systems that only managed three to four hours of battery life.
The HP Pavilion M6-1188CA has just a bit more performance and styling than other systems in the sub $700 price range. It’s the one you want if you standout design is important in you life, or if you really find a need to unwind with a few rounds of 3D games after a hard day at work or school.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the HP Pavilion M6-1188CA
Compare the HP Pavilion M6-1188CA with several other laptops side by side.
|Processor Name||AMD A10-4600M|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 7660G|
|Type||General Purpose, Ultraportable|
|Processor Speed||2.3 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1000 GB|
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