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The HP Pavilion Aero 13 Review
It’s always nice to see premium features trickle down to more affordable prices. More often than not, it makes for a more exciting, valuable proposition for buyers. Take the pavilion Laptop 13 for example. Coming from HP’s tried and tested Pavilion series, we already know who this is laptop is for. It is for anyone looking for a reliable entry level laptop that’s a jack of all trades to get them through their typical working day. What is new now is the look and feel.
It’s not a convertible laptop, but you will have a hard time telling it apart. It’s only when you open the lid and start experiencing the product that you realize it’s a conventional product laptop. The same goes for building materials. If you look at it from a distance, you can’t really tell it’s made of anything but metal. It’s only when you hold it for a long time and give it a nudge that you realize it’s made entirely of plastic. There is some flexibility if you make a conscious effort to find one.
The Pavilion Aero 13 is the first of its line to be constructed from magnesium-aluminium alloy throughout its chassis. That makes it extremely light at just 2.18 pounds – in fact it’s the lightest consumer laptop HP has ever produced. The HP Envy 13 is a bit wider and a bit shallower, and it’s the same thickness at 0.67 inches, but it weighs 2.88 pounds.
The previous-generation Pavilion 13 was larger in all dimensions, 0.70 inches thick, and weighed 2.71 pounds — without an all-metal design. It’s clear that the Pavilion Aero 13 stands out among HP’s thin and light 13-inch laptops. It also beats the best 13-inch laptop around, the clearly premium Dell XPS 13, at least in weight. That laptop is 0.58 inches thick, weighs 2.8 pounds and is a bit shallower, even considering its own 16:10 display. The reason: HP has built a bit of a lift into the hinge that props up up the keyboard is angled for better typing and improved airflow, so the Pavilion Aero 13’s chin is larger than it appears when the lid is open. A closer competitor is the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED ($1,000 with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an OLED display), which is a bit larger in width and depth and heavier at 2.5 pounds, but it’s only 0.55 inches thick .
There is a cost associated with that lightweight metal alloy. While the Pavilion Aero 13’s lower chassis gives just a little bit with a good squeeze, the lid is quite bendable. That’s because the metal is not only more pliable, but also quite thin. Build quality is one area where the Pavilion Aero 13 shows its budget pedigree – although it’s not bad by any means. Still a more premium laptop like the XPS 13 or HP’s Specter x360 13 gives the impression of rock solid rigidity that the Pavilion can’t match.
The ZenBook 13 OLED has some use for it too, but it’s hard to say which is more solidly built without comparing them side by side. I note that the Pavilion Aero 13’s hinge is excellent – you can open the lid with one hand and there’s only a little bit of wiggling while typing.
Aesthetically, the Pavilion Aero 13 has a modern look reminiscent of the Envy line. It’s a minimalist design with clean lines and angles that comes in four colors: my review unit’s natural silver, Pale Rose Gold, Warm Gold, and Ceramic White. Whatever color scheme you choose, you’ll get a simple and attractive look without being overbearing. It’s also modern thanks to the small screen bezels resulting in a 90% screen-to-body ratio. The XPS 13 and Specter x360 13 are more standout machines, but there’s plenty of room for one laptop that looks so good without drawing attention to itself.
Connectivity is mixed, with a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, USB-A port and USB-C port on the left and a second USB-A port on the right. That’s great legacy support, but because of the AMD chipset, there’s no Thunderbolt support. There is also no SD card reader, which is disappointing. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 provide wireless connectivity.
Equipped with an 8-core/16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU, along with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), the Pavilion Aero 13 promises to be a decent performer. AMD’s chip is faster in CPU-intensive tasks than Intel’s 4-core/8-thread 11th Gen Core i7-1185G7, the top of the line among Intel’s thin and light consumer processors.
These extra cores are most important for anyone who will be using applications such as creative software that put a lot of strain on the CPU. Video editing stands out here, and according to our benchmarks, the Pavilion Aero 13 packs a surprising amount of power in such a light package.
The Pavilion Aero 13 is the fastest laptop in our comparison group and neck and neck with others laptops equipped with the Ryzen 7 5800U, such as the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED. These two switched from benchmark to benchmark, with the HP leading the way in Handbrake with an excellent score of under two minutes to encode our 420MB test video to H.265 and in Cinebench R23. These benchmarks show how well a laptop will perform not only on creative tasks such as video rendering and rendering, but on most tasks that push the CPU for a longer period of time. They show not only the performance of the processor, but also how well a laptopThe thermal design keeps the CPU running at full speed.
The performance of the HP Pavilion Aero 13 was impressive across the board.
At the same time, ZenBook 13 OLED advanced in Geekbench 5 and the PCMark 10 Complete score, tests showing how well a laptop will perform in a mix of productivity work such as web browsing, video conferencing, and office applications, as well as while multitasking. The difference wasn’t that big, so it would be fair to name the two laptops equal. And as you can see in the table below, both laptops beat the Intel competition, with fast scores well above each other laptop’s about $1,000 price. Except for single-core scores in Cinebench R23, the Intel chips couldn’t compete. Breaking down the PCMark 10 benchmark into the scores for Essentials, Productivity and Content Creation showed the same disparity.
Simply put, the Pavilion Aero 13 was impressive across the board. If you use the CPU-intensive applications mentioned above, you won’t get much thin and light laptops that can hold up. The Pavilion Aero 13 was fast enough during my testing and could handle anything I threw at it without hesitation. I highly recommend this incredible light laptop based solely on its performance.
HP migrated the higher 16:10 aspect ratio down into the Pavilion brand and outfitted the Pavilion Aero 13 with a 13.3-inch 16:10 IPS panel in one of two resolutions. You can choose from Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200), which my test device has, or QHD+ (2,560 x 1,600) screens.
I was impressed with the screen, which was so much better than you’ll normally find on a pavilion or other ostensible budget laptop. Again, this is a $1,000 machine, so it’s reasonable to expect a good screen — and HP delivered it. My subjective experience matched my objective results, which I’ll outline in a moment, with colors popping out without oversaturation and appearing accurate enough for all but the most discerning creative professionals. Although the absolute number contrast was lower than I’d like, black text still stood out on a white background — important for anyone working with words or numbers on the screen.
The ultra-bright display of the HP Pavilion Aero 13 keeps up particularly good in direct sunlight.
According to my colorimeter, the Pavilion Aero 13’s display was mostly a premium, high-quality display. It was very bright at 437 nits, well above our 300 nits threshold and close to the 458 nits of the Dell XPS 13 Full HD+ display. The Asus ZenBook 13’s OLED panel has a brightness of 397 nits in comparison. Each of these screens can be used even in direct sunlight, but the Pavilion Aero 13 holds up up amazingly good. The Pavilion Aero 13’s only disappointment was the contrast ratio, which came in at just 830:1 — below our 1000:1 threshold for the best screens. The XPS 13 was much better at 1350:1, while the ZenBook 13 OLED enjoyed the extreme contrast of that display technology at 396,690:1.
The Pavilion Aero 13’s color saturation averaged 77% of AdobeRGB and 99% of sRGB, slightly better than the premium average. The XPS 13 came in at 75% and 98%, while the ZenBook 13 OLED once again took advantage of the display technology with an excellent 100% of both color spaces. HP’s colors were fairly accurate with a DeltaE of 1.8 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent), with the XPS 13 at 1.36 and the ZenBook 13 OLED at a phenomenal 0.49.
The audio wasn’t quite up to the same standard. The volume was too low, although there was no distortion when turned all the way up. Mids and highs were clear, but there was no bass, making the sound a bit lifeless. It’s fine for system sounds and the occasional YouTube video, but you’ll want earphones or Bluetooth speakers to binge on Netflix or listen to music.
Wrap up HP Pavilion Aero 13 Review
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