A budget gaming laptop is a tough balancing act. Between pricing and performance, manufacturers must cut corners to yield the best possible result. At AED 3,699, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15-ec0001ne has managed to piece together a reasonably well-equipped laptop that should play most current games at decent frame rates, provided you are willing to compromise on quality a little bit.
Here are the full specs of the HP Pavilion 15-ec0001ne configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (3 GB GDDR5 dedicated)
RAM: 8 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM
Screen: 15.6” FHD IPS WLED Backlit
Storage: 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Ports: 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (Data Transfer Only, 5 Gb/s signaling rate); 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (Data Transfer Only); 1 USB 2.0 Type-A (HP Sleep and Charge); 1 AC smart pin; 1 HDMI 2.0; 1 headphone/microphone combo; 1 RJ-45
Connectivity: Realtek Wi-Fi 5 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5
Weight: Under 2kgs
Size: 36 x 25.7 x 2.35 cm 14.17 x 10.12 x 0.93 in
Design and Features
The Pavilion has a slight Alienware vibe to it, with similar edgy cuts around the body and especially the screen. Thankfully, it hasn’t borrowed the chunkiness as well, with HP keeping the silhouette as slim as possible for a laptop in this price category. The body is finished in matte-black plastic but feels sturdy in the hand and doesn’t give off a cheap feeling to it. At under 2kgs, the laptop is also easy to carry around, and its compact form factor should fit into any backpack.
The display is a 15.6” IPS panel with narrow bezels with a bit heft at the top to accommodate the camera. It’s a normal 60Hz display - which is what you will get for this price - but the panel itself is properly calibrated to produce some nice, punchy colors and good brightness. There were no issues rendering dark areas, and we noticed no color banding or ghosting issues in our tests.
The keyboard is your standard chicklet-style with HP’s on-brand green backlighting. We appreciate that they managed to squeeze in a full keyboard in this space and still make it quite comfortable to type and game with. The keys have a nice weight to them when pressed and provides enough feedback when registering a click. The only issues with this keyboard are the tiny arrow keys, but that’s a compromise we are willing to make for a full-sized keyboard.
The trackpad is a different story, however. In terms of accuracy, it’s your standard laggy, largely imprecise trackpad that you find on most laptops. We’re not sure if it’s by design or not, but the entire trackpad rattles when you tap on it. It also tends to miss a tap or two often enough to be nuisance. Clicking the trackpad for the left and right click mouse functions is satisfying but the rattle never stops being unnerving, so it’s probably best to switch to an external mouse.
The laptop has dual front-facing Bang & Olufsen speakers, which are - alright. They barely have any volume, along with minimal detail or bass to carry any sort of audio satisfactorily. Suffice to say, it will be necessary to use desktop speakers or headphones for any sort entertainment consumption.
Coming to the ports, HP keeps it fairly light with 2x USB ports, 1x USB-C port, 1x HDMI port, 1x memory card slot, and 1x headphone jack. We would have preferred an extra USB port to support an additional device such as a an external keyboard or HDD.
The Pavilion’s AMD Ryzen 5 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU manages well to serve up some decent gaming performance.
Here’s how the HP Pavilion 15-ec0001ne performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Sky Diver: 16,901; Fire Strike: 5,846; Time Spy: 2,250
GeekBench 4: 4,551 (single-core); 10,944 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,962 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hour and 30 minutes
Far Cry 5 Ultra: 37, High: 40, Medium: 42
Rise of the Tomb Rider Ultra: 35.40, High: 45.06, Medium: 49.89
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Ultra (N/A), High (N/A), Medium: 34
As expected, the Pavilion performs best on the low to medium end of game quality settings. You can squeeze out a few more frames if you mix and match the settings to get around 50-60fps on most games. The 1050 holds up well on the highest settings as well, as long as you don’t mind around 30fps and occasionally choppy performance.
We were only able to perform a benchmark test on Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the medium setting (with AA set to SMAA), because anything higher would simply crash the game after a few seconds. The error message said that the video driver didn’t have any enough resources to run the game (the GPU has 3GB of RAM), so this is something to keep in mind for more graphically intensive games.
Heat and Noise
The Pavilion uses a thermal based cooling solution that works well most of the time. What we do appreciate about HP’s engineering is that the laptop doesn’t heat up the WASD key area which is where your palm will rest while gaming. Instead, the heat is transferred to the lower right part of the keyboard, so the laptop never gets uncomfortable while playing on it.
The fan noise levels are reasonable and not too loud. They might be uncomfortable if you are sharing a room with someone, but they aren’t loud enough to bleed into your headphones.
In our battery test, where we loop Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 with screen brightness at 50% and with headphones plugged in at 50% volume, the Pavilion’s battery could only provide enough juice for a little over two hours. That’s quite poor in terms of battery performance and we suspect it will be much worse when you add in WiFi usage and CPU-intensive tasks into the mix.
The HP Pavilion Gaming 15-ec0001ne is a fairly specced and reasonably priced laptop. For AED 3,699, the laptop’s mid-range internals do a good job in providing at least 40-50fps in games, provided you keep your graphics preferences to low or medium. It can also handle games at the highest setting but it’s not ideal if you want a smooth gaming experience.
The laptop’s well-balanced display and a comfortable keyboard are also excellent additions, and the cooling system that keeps the heat away from the right areas ensures undeterred playtime. The only real issue with the Pavilion is its incredibly poor battery life. You get around two hours on a full charge, which is hardly ideal to carry it around for work purposes.