Companies that have excelled in the laptop market over the last three years have used a simple idea, one that's been a secret in the retail industry for years and one that we're going to blow wide open in What Laptop. The secret is to offer something more than everyone else. That's it. Easy right?

HP has adopted that tactic magnificently and its latest machines right across the price spectrum are shipping with improved specs on the competition. The Pavilion DV6-3112sa is no different and the spec sheet makes impressive reading.

Like the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T, the HP packs in a first-generation Core i3 350M processor, which puts it head and shoulders above the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660-16N in terms of power. The Core i3 makes mincemeat of basic computing tasks like email and web surfing, and will even stretch to video editing and high-definition (HD) content as well.

However, this improved processor isn't the secret of the DV6's success and the real surprise comes in the form of memory. The more memory your laptop has, the faster it handles day-to-day tasks and runs demanding programs.

The DV6-3112sa packs in a whopping 6114MB of RAM. This is double the Acer's allocation and 2GB more than the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660, which ships with 4096MB. All this creates a staggeringly fast machine capable of running demanding programs, such as video and photo editing and games.

The increased RAM and dedicated ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 produce astounding graphical performance, making it capable of playing games like Portal 2, and even demanding titles on lower graphics settings.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 207
MobileMark 2007: 231
3DMark 2003: 10,067

Poor build

In terms of power, the DV6-3112sa is excellent, but HP has made sacrifices. The lid is fantastic and looks stylish, but when you open it up to reveal the keyboard and screen, you're left underwhelmed.

HP pavilion dv6-3112sa

The matt plastic doesn't retain the quality feel and there's substantial flex in the plastic. The isolation-style keys look plain and feel clunky to use, as does the trackpad. This is disappointing and it feels like corners have been cut to make the impressive specs list possible at a competitive price.

The three-hour battery life is also quite weak, just meeting the minimum requirement we look for in a modern laptop.

If you're looking for a powerful home machine, the HP is a fantastic buy. It's one of the most capable budget machines on the market. It's not the lightest, nor the most beautiful, and if you're looking for a portable companion, look to the Acer. However, if it's a great performer you're after, then we would heartily recommend the HP DV6-3112sa.

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