The Best 14-inch Laptop: HP vs. Lenovo

by Reads (76,474)

These days it’s no longer necessary to buy a 15.6″ desktop replacement to get a quad-core processor and dedicated graphics card. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 and HP Pavilion dv4t both offer an astounding amount of power in a 14-inch package.

Check out the full NotebookReview.com reviews here:

HP Pavilion dv4t Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Review

The notebooks for this comparison are configured as follows:

 

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480

HP Pavilion dv4t

Starting Price:

$795

$550

Price as Configured

$960

$1,195

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 7 Home Premium

Screen

14″ glossy 1366×768

14″ glossy 1366×768

Processor

Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core

Intel Core i7-3612QM quad-core

Graphics Card

Nvidia GT 640LE 2GB DDR3

Nvidia GT 650M 2GB GDDR5

RAM

8GB

8GB

Storage

750GB 5400RPM + 32GB SSD

750GB 5400RPM + 32GB SSD

Optical Drive

Blu-ray reader/DVD burner

DVD burner

Battery Life

6 hours

6 hours

Wireless Card

Intel

Intel

Weight

4.85 lbs.

4.79 lbs.

Thickness

0.8~1.3 inches

1.3 inches

Ports

3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, media card reader, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet

2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, media card reader, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet

We configured these notebooks reasonably close in specifications. The main noticeable difference on paper is the noticeably faster GT 650M graphics card in the Pavilion dv4t; the IdeaPad Y480′s main advantage is in its nearly $250 price advantage. It should be noted the IdeaPad Y480 also includes a Blu-ray drive (which is available on the Pavilion dv4t for $75).

Design and Build Quality

We’ll focus on the design of the notebooks over build quality since these are consumer notebooks. The IdeaPad Y480 has the edge in both areas — it’s hardly a comparison. The Pavilion dv4t is unfortunately covered in glossy plastic which gets smudged up easily and does not feel nearly as high quality as the IdeaPad Y480′s aluminum covered exterior. Keep in mind though that the IdeaPad Y480 is still mostly plastic.

The IdeaPad Y480 also has better fit and finish than the Pavilion dv4t; parts of the chassis have a closer fit and its lid closes solidly; the dv4t has a small amount of gap.

Keyboard

Neither notebook has a bad keyboard by any means though the IdeaPad Y480 again takes the lead here. I think Lenovo is hard to beat in terms of tactile feedback (must be a side effect of their ownership of the ThinkPad line) and the Y480 is extra hard to beat because it includes keyboard backlighting, which is not even an option on the Pavilion dv4t.

Speakers

The Pavilion dv4t’s “Beats” audio speakers sound positively horrific and are worse than I expect typically notebook speakers to sound. The IdeaPad Y480 is the opposite side of the spectrum and has excellent JBL speakers. They’re situated in the correct spot above the keyboard facing upwards towards the user. They get loud enough to fill a small room without distortion. HP usually does well in the audio area but not this time.

Performance

Ah, finally an area where the Pavilion dv4t can take the lead; it does so because of its significantly more powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card. The GT 640 “LE” graphics card in the IdeaPad Y480 is a gimped version of the GT 640M and significantly slower than the GT 650M. While the GT 640LE won’t have problems playing the latest games, it will not be able to play them on as high of settings as the GT 650M; it doesn’t have as much processing power. The GT 650M’s extra power will especially make a difference should you decide to hook the notebook up to your TV to play games in 1080p.

Other Differences

These two notebooks are surprisingly similar; they’re physically the same thickness and weigh within 0.05 pounds of each other; the screen is the same 1366×768 glossy model; the battery life is right around six hours; and they have about the same port selection, with a slight edge going to IdeaPad Y480 as it has four total USB ports versus the three on the Pavilion dv4t.

The Winner?

The crown goes to the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 — it’s superior in every dimension save for graphics performance. The HP Pavilion dv4t’s Nvidia GT 650M graphics card is significantly more powerful than the IdeaPad Y480′s GT 640LE, but it’s hard to justify a ~$200 difference in price. The IdeaPad Y480 has superior build quality, a better-looking design, a backlit keyboard (not even available on the Pavilion dv4t), excellent speakers and one extra USB port. Overall unless you find a deal that makes the Pavilion dv4t closer in price to the IdeaPad Y480 and graphics performance is a priority, the IdeaPad Y480 is the way to go.

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