Heat and Noise
Under stress the low-voltage Intel Core i3-380UM processor didn’t create any troubling hot spots on the exterior of the notebook. Outside case temperature of the HP Pavilion dm3t stayed mostly “lap friendly” after 30 minutes with both the CPU and GPU stressed. The bottom of the notebook spiked at 96 degrees Fahrenheit in our test lab with an abient temperature around 72 degrees. The system fan gets louder when the CPU and graphics are being stressed, but it’s much quieter than the average fan noise that comes from high-performance ultraportables like the Alienware M11x.
At the time of this writing the HP website claims that the HP Pavilion dm3t delivers “up to 7.5 hours of battery life” from the included 6-cell battery. I don’t have the specific testing procedures used to arrive at that number, but I suspect this figure comes from using the MobileMark benchmark with the notebook running at an essentially idle state with the screen set to minimal brightness. We assume most notebook users will set their screens a little brighter for average daily use and will be actively browsing the internet most of the time they are using their notebook.
In our tests with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active while refreshing a website on regular 60-second intervals, and Windows 7 set to the Balanced profile, the HP Pavilion dm3 continued running for 6 hours and 13 minutes. That puts the dm3t pretty much neck-and-neck with the MacBook Air in terms of battery life. You “might” be able to extend the dm3’s run time past the 7-hour mark if you lower the screen brightness and aren’t actively loading pages every 60 seconds, but this is still roughly a half hour less battery life than the Pavilion dm1z.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
Overall the HP Pavilion dm3t offers an impressive value for those looking for a 13-inch travel laptop. Our tests show the optional Intel Core i3 processor delivers plenty of performance, and the Pavilion dm3t’s battery life is essentially the same as a much more expensive MacBook Air.
The only potential issues that stood out during our review period were the weak and poorly placed speakers, the less-than-impressive touchpad, and graphics that simply aren’t as good as what you can find on several cheaper notebooks. If you can live with those annoyances then the HP Pavilion dm3t is an affordable solution with enough performance to get your work done.
- Good overall performance
- Comfortable keyboard
- Decent battery life
- Bad speaker placement
- Poor touchpad quality
- Unimpressive graphics