HP Envy Sleekbook 6-1126sa review

Getting the balance almost right, AMD shows it's still a contender

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The HP Envy Sleekbook 6-1126sa is a laptop of contradictions. It looks like a expensive Ultrabook, but costs the same as a budget PC. The performance promises so much, but doesn't quite deliver where it needs to. At the same time, it's a great media machine yet, but one that boasts the stamina you would expect from a far more agile and sober laptop.

We liked

The styling of the Sleekbook is to be commended, since it looks like a far more expensive system than it actually is. The curving of the chassis hides the true thickness of the machine well, and given it isn't that thick anyway, this only adds to the general air of svelteness.

The fact that you can enjoy a couple of movies without having to have it plugged in is also impressive, and despite its large form factor, that does mean that it makes for a good companion if you need a machine to travel with.

Best of all though, the fact that this computer costs just £500 (around US$790/AU$757) is impressive, and shows that AMD does indeed bring something worthwhile to the market. You can get cheaper machines running Intel chips, but they simply won't look this good or be anywhere near this big.

We disliked

The main problem with the HP Envy Sleekbook 6-1126sa is that it simply doesn't have the raw processor performance or the gaming prowess that it promises.

Yes it supports the latest DirectX 11, which is used by the most recent games, but it doesn't have enough raw grunt to actually render those games as playable frame rates.

The 5,400rpm traditional hard drive also slowed down the machine, and while 500GB does give you a lot of space for data, it's a shame a small SSD can't be installed alongside this for use as a system cache. It wouldn't add much to the cost, but would make a notable difference to the speed.

Final verdict

Overall, despite the obvious performance anxiety that this machine suffers from, the HP Envy Sleekbook 6-1126sa is a system that anyone looking to buy a budget laptop should look at. Its large screen and decent audio subsystem make it great for enjoying music and movies, while the comfortable keyboard and strong battery life make it a joy to use for more mundane tasks.

Admittedly we would have preferred more raw power for our money, and the lack of real gaming performance does annoy, but in almost every other respect this is a tempting computer. It's worth considering - or at least it is until Intel upsets the market once again when it release its next-generation processors, and their powerful graphics cores.