HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart: Performance

October 30, 2012 by Jerry Jackson Reads (195,723)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 6
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 3
    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 6.57
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Our HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart (ENVY 4-1102xx) review unit has the following specifications:

  • Windows 8 Pro (64-bit)
  • 14-inch glossy LED HD TouchSmart display (1366 x 768)
  • Dual-core Intel Core i5-3317U Processor (1.7GHz, 2.6GHz Turbo frequency, 3MB cache, 17W TDP)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM (2 DIMM, 16GB max supported)
  • 500GB 5400rpm HDD plus 32GB mSATA SSD cache
  • 802.11a/b/g/n wireless network adapter
  • Internal Bluetooth v4.0
  • Integrated 720p webcam
  • LED Backlit keyboard
  • Beats Audio with stereo speakers plus subwoofer
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty
  • 4-cell (52 WHr) Li-Po integrated battery
  • 65W power adapter
  • Weight: 4.77 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 13.38 x 9.28 x 0.78 inches
  • MSRP as configured: $974.98 (starting at $799.99)

Performance and Benchmarks

Most consumers won’t be surprised to learn that HP offers the ENVY TouchSmart 4t Ultrabook in a wide variety of configurations. At the time of this writing there are only two processor options — an Intel Core i3-3217U Processor with a 1.8 GHz clock speed and no Turbo Boost mode or a Core i5-3317U Processor with 1.7GHz clock speed and 2.6GHz Turbo frequency. The Core i5-3317U in our review unit is the more powerful option but adds an extra $75 to the purchase price of this laptop.

It’s also worth mentioning that consumers can buy essentially the same configuration for just $904.98 if you opt for Windows 8 instead of Windows 8 Pro … which isn’t really a necessity unless you care about Remote Desktop, a Windows Server domain, Hyper-V, virtual hard disk booting, or BitLocker.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 in the new 3rd generation Intel processors is perfectly capable of handling any streaming HD video you want to watch and can even play some games. However, the lack of a discrete graphics solution from AMD or NVIDIA means that the ENVY 4 isn’t the laptop you want if you’re planning to play the latest first person shooter games over the holidays.

The included 500GB 5400rpm hard drive provides more than enough storage space for most personal libraries of photos, videos and music and the overall storage speed is augmented by a 32GB mSATA solid state drive (SSD) cache. You never actually see the 32GB SSD because the hard drive is the primary storage space where your data is read and written. As with any mSATA cache, HP installed a complex set of firmware algorithms to configure blocks of commonly used data onto the 32GB SSD so it can be accessed as quickly as possible. In short, the hard drive and SSD work together as a “hybrid drive” giving you SSD-like speeds when accessing the data you use most. The rest of the time it works like a standard hard drive.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark that measures overall system performance in Windows 7(higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark 11 measures overall graphics performance in games using DirectX 11 (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark and ATTO storage drive performance tests:

Heat and Noise

This HP laptop keeps temperatures well under control thanks in no small part to the latest generation of HP CoolSense software and internal sensors that adjusts the speed of the cooling fan based on usage and internal temperatures. HP’s marketing folks describe HP CoolSense as “automatic air conditioning for your laptop” and that is largely accurate … despite being more than a little cheesy. In any case, HP CoolSense is one of the better fan control applications that currently comes pre-installed on laptops and is quite easy to use.

Fan noise was kept to a minimum at the default settings while the notebook was idle and the fan only produced a noticeable whine when the processor and graphics were being stressed during benchmark tests. All the warm air is pushed out the exhaust vents on the back edge of the ENVY beneath the hinges and you won’t feel the exhaust on the left or right sides of the laptop. We recorded one hot spot on the bottom of the notebook near the processor and RAM; this area reached a peak exterior temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit during benchmarks but typically remained around 90 degrees while web browsing. You probably won’t have to worry about “lap burn” when using this Ultrabook on your lap for extended periods of time.

Battery Life

Our new standard battery life test under Windows 8 is to use Powermark in the “Balanced” mode; running the laptop with a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, video playback, and gaming workloads. This gives our readers an easy way to duplicate our findings at home and it pushes laptop manufacturers to deliver better battery life for “real life” use and not just light web browsing with the laptop essentially idle.

The HP ENVY TouchSmart 4t ran for 3 hours and 33 minutes on the enclosed 4-cell battery before the Windows alert appeared indicating a dangerously low battery level and warning of imminent shutdown. That’s far better than any of the current Windows 8 laptops we’ve reviewed so far. Keep in mind that battery life varies based on usage, so you can expect a longer run time on battery power if you’re just browsing the web and less battery life if you’re constantly editing video. If we were to use our old battery life test this laptop would likely deliver more than 6 hours of run time for casual web browsing.

Powermark battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):



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