HP Envy 17 3D Vs. The New HP Pavilion dv7

I’ve played around with the newest rev of the Envy 17 3D. A bunch. Now, with the latest Pavilion dv7, I found myself asking one big question: “What the heck is the big difference between these two big-boned, 17-inch desktop replacement laptops?” I swiped both from the labs to give you an idea, but here’s the two-second version, the way I see it: The Pavilion dv7 delivers good mainstream performance and a couple awesome audio features for a solid starting price.For the slightly longer version, read on.....




HP Envy 17 vs Pavilion dv7 image.jpg

The Case
I’m not a superficial guy, but let’s start by going over their looks. After all, this is what of people will see as you wheel these things around town. Though, honestly, when you’re getting a laptop this big, you’re likely just going to plant it somewhere in your house.


The textured gunmetal surface of the Envy 17 catches the eye and makes it feel meaty. Didn’t get in your daily workout? Do a couple reps with the Envy 17. But when people see it, they notice it.


The Pavilion dv7 has a colorful brushed aluminum lid and resin base that makes it a little easier to lug around town. It looks friendly enough and with the speaker grill plating just below the screen, it actually makes me think of it as a retro-minimalist mashup. But I’m kinda odd.


The I/O Ports
Between the two, the port configuration is looks fairly similar, but with a closer look, you’ll notice a couple stepped up differences. On the Envy 17, you’ll find a DisplayLink port, one of the USB ports is hybrid eSATA, there’s USB 3.0 and one of the two headphone jacks support cell phone headsets. The Pavilion dv7 has two headphone jacks and a separate microphone jack. It also ditches DisplayLink and eSATA in favor of two of the USB 3.0 ports.


Quick aside: You’re already seeing USB 3.0 replace 2.0, but what does that really mean in terms of speed? If you plugged in a USB 3.0 external hard drive, you’d be able to notice the difference in a heartbeat. We’re talking FAST data transfers. I dropped 28 GB of mixed media on the dv7 in just under 10 minutes (9:42). Meanwhile, I tried transferring that same content over a USB 2.0 slot and it’s still transferring. (OK, it took almost twice as long, 18 minutes, 30 seconds).




The Keyboard / Mouse Combo
You’ll be doing double-takes as you check out the keyboard on both these PCs. Both have the same island cut-out keys and number pad in the same configuration. In fact, if you were taking a quick glance between the two, the only noticeable difference is that the Envy 17 3D has backlit keys while the dv7’s backlit mousepad will be drawing your eyes.

I’d wager that the halo glow around the dv7’s mousepad might even be a bit subliminal. According to HP’s Kevin Wentzel, “We’ve been listening to feedback from the critics and the community about what they wanted in a touchpad.” So, there’s a defined strike zone and separate mouse buttons on the dv7. And, for what it’s worth, the Synaptics drivers are refined and doing a solid job with multi-touch drivers (I was pulling off smooth pinch-zooming without any hangups).

A couple extra buttons on the dv7: One quick-launches the Web and a bit of biometric security with a fingerprint scanner. The later works with SimplePass 2011 to fingerprint protect your valuable information and passwords. (We also have a video that explain exactly how the security works in more detail).


The Sound
Both laptops boast Beats audio. (If you want a detailed breakdown on how Beats audio works, check here.) At its heart, a dedicated powered amp on the mobo delivers clearer sound. What I did find interesting is that while the Envy 17 3D has two front-firing speakers and the HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer, the dv7 makes room for four speakers (two sit in the grill below the screen and two front-firing) along with the subwoofer hiding beneath a grill plate on the undercarriage. What I can say is that you do get fuller sound with the dv7. A word of caution, though: Notebook speakers, regardless of where they are coming from, can have overly bright mids and highs if you don’t tweak the audio settings properly.  The Beats audio software control panel helps regulate some of that. Obviously, though, the headphone experience you get out of the Beats audio system is solid. But I don’t need to go into that again, do I? Nah, just go off what the NY Times said.


The Screen
Well, this is where there’s a difference, no way around it. The obvious one being that the Envy 17 3D boasts….wait for it….3D. The screen looks bright and crisp even when the 3D mode isn’t toggled on and with a native 1920 by 1080 resolution, it blasts off the screen. The test Pavilion dv7 I grabbed comes with a slightly more muted display, in both brightness and resolution – it’s natively 1600 by 900 pixels.


This is the one part that really isn’t a fair comparison at the moment because, quite frankly, you’ve got two highly configurable systems here. There’s no denying that the 17 3D is a bit of a beast. And it packs one helluva punch for its $1599 starting price. My test machine ranks a 5.9 on the Windows Experience Index riding on a Core i5 M580 CPU, 6GB RAM and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850. The Pavilion, which skews a little more mainstream consumer, comes in starting at $1099 (The one that I tinkered with would go for more). The dv7 in my mitts snagged a 5.8 on the Windows Experience Index courtesy of an Intel Core i7, 6GB RAM and the AMD Radeon HD 6490M. (FYI: The WEI is determined by the lowest scoring component. But check out the CPU / GPU rankings on these laptops!) But this also happens to rock switchable graphics. What does that mean? Well, let’s say you have the computer set to battery saving mode, it throttles down the CPU and the graphics processor dips because you don’t need fancy 3D effects when you’re writing an email. Often. BUT, you can have the laptop smartly kick into top gear when you’re, say, playing Fallout: New Vegas. I opened up a utility (you can just Right Click on the desktop and select “Configure Switchable Graphics”) that shows which apps you’ve used recently. At the tap of a button, I can select when I want the dv7’s graphics chip to fire up.


[UPDATE: While the Envy 17 3D does, in fact, come with 6GB RAM, turns out my testing unit only had 4GB. That might explain the RAM score in the Windows Experience Index.]







windows experience ENVY 17 3D 2.jpg


At the end of the day, both will deliver HD video on-screen, both will field your everyday tasks and given the enough RAM, both are more than capable than handling a contingent of current games. The Envy 17 3D emphasizes its awesome higher-resolution, 3D screen while the dv7 focuses a little more on the audio. Which is best for you? Well, that depends on the features that matter most.


There you have it, a quick breakdown of what the big difference is between these two behemoths. Need a little more info to go on? Did I miss something? Hit the comment box below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.


by Tai
on ‎03-16-2011 01:35 PM

3/15/11: Rather than the FHD screen, the backlit keyboard, better GPU , I can not justify the $600+  price difference to go with a envy 17 3D given the fact that HP does not give deep discount to envy as to dv7.  My dilemma is that i really really need the FHD resolution to do my work and careless about the gaming feature.    I really don't think these are worth the price increase in my case.


I notice the memory score for envy 17 3D is only 5.9 whereas the dv7 is 7.4. Can you explain why?



by GizmoGladstone
‎03-16-2011 03:34 PM - edited ‎03-16-2011 03:37 PM

Hey Tai,


I can tell you that the difference between the two machines is more than a handful of specs and the screen. It's also a visceral thing in that the 17 does have a different build and heft to it. In retrospect, maybe I should have recorded a video as well. But I'd have to get the laptops back from the lab.


That said, I do respect where you're coming from. FWIW, the beauty of just about any laptop is that you can scale the price to your needs, removing or adding components. But the screen quality is DEFINITELY noticable between the two. And whether or not you care about the gaming feature, a good graphics chip goes a long way. But I'm sure you know that.


Now, as for your astute question about the RAM, I have a question in with the team. I'm actually double-checking to make sure that I didn't goof on the amount of RAM in each machine as well. I'll update the story as soon as I learn more.





by GizmoGladstone
on ‎03-17-2011 02:23 PM

So I'm going to update the story with this, but it turns out that the demo unit I grabbed from the labs actually had 4GB of RAM in it, not 6GB like you'd find on a standard unit, which could explain for that reading.

by Ryan Wold
on ‎04-01-2011 05:36 PM

Thanks for the post!  I've been debating between these two laptops for weeks now.  I finally bit the bullet 3 days ago and ordered the HP Envy 17 3D.  Personally, the looks and the solid build quality of the Envy is really what sold me...oh, and the slot loading blu-ray.  :-)

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎04-01-2011 06:11 PM

Nice! Glad I could help ya, Ryan. Enjoy it....and hit me here on the site if you have any questions / comments / tips / insights / random insults for me! ;p

by Ryan Wold
on ‎05-18-2011 03:50 PM

I've had my HP Envy 17 3D for a few weeks now and LOVE it.  I would highly recommend the Envy to anyone who has the extra money.

by Elton
on ‎05-31-2011 05:44 AM

If I compare the hp dv7 and the envy 17( non-3D one) .. Which do you think is better?

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎05-31-2011 12:12 PM

Hey Elton:


Since the Envy 17s are so configurable, the only real difference boils down to the screen. On the 'regular' 17 you don't get the 3D image capabilities. Another thing to keep in mind: the default screen on the regular 17 has a max resolution of 1600 by 900. You'd need to upgrade it to get a display capable of 1920 by 1080.


Hope that this helps!



by dipoleloSouthA
on ‎10-18-2011 05:35 AM

i am specifically interested in the Pavilion DV7-6051ei, is it the same as the one above?i am a gamer and i am quite sure that the Dv7 can easily handle any of the latest games on the market, However i think we can all agree that the 3D feature is probably the hottest feature on any device nowadays, Is there anyhow i can go around this on my Dv7? such as an App or drivers which will allow me to be able to view 3D movies with the glasses as though i were right infront of the Envy 17 3D or Cinema?

by jmullen1987
on ‎11-29-2011 08:52 PM

Hi! Have just bought myself a pavillion dv7 and now waiting inpatiently for it tco arrive!

I know the dv7 obviously can't play 3D on its screen, but is there anyway the blu ray player can be updated to play 3D movies onto my TV (3D) through an HDMI cable I was hoping??


by asclar
on ‎03-31-2012 08:49 AM

I am considering the purchase of the HP Envy 17 3D computer. I am concerned about the overheating issue that I see many owners have experienced when using memory intensive programs. The main use for this computer will be with large Power Point presentations with mny images. Avera size of one ofthes penttions is 600 mega bite and I often have 2 or even 3 open at one time. I also present HD videos when I present. Is HP comming up with a solution to avoid the overheating issue as this appears to be " Cooking" the system in many instances making the compiter an unreliable choice for those users who are looking for high performance?

by OpenSky
on ‎04-21-2012 11:51 AM

I have and HP Pavillion dv7 and love it.  In the last year, however, I've not used a great deal.  The other day I booted it up and it there was no video.  I attached an external monitor and booted it up again.  It video output is great and the computer works fine.  Any suggestions as to what's the problem?  I checked the set up and all configs look good.  The camera works also. 

by emaldonado66
on ‎10-25-2012 02:05 AM

How do you connect an eSata drive to this new hybrid eSATA?

Is there a cable I can purchase?

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