HP Pavilion dv3510nr Review

by Reads (47,355)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Pavilion dv3510nr is an attractive 13.3″ multimedia notebook from HP, offered in both Intel and AMD configurations. In this review we take a look at the Intel version of this notebook, packed with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA 9300M GS dedicated graphics, 4GB of DDR2 memory, and a 320GB hard drive. Retailing for $999, HP has it priced to compete with the Dell XPS M1330 and other mobile notebooks in the $1,000 price range. Is the high price worth it? Take a look at our review to find out.

Our review unit of the HP Pavilion dv3510nr was purchased at a Best Buy retail store and features the following specifications:

  • 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P7350 (1066MHz FSB, 3MB Cache)
  • 4GB DDR2 SDRAM (2GB x 2GB)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit with Service Pack 1
  • 13.3″ WXGA High-Definition HP LED BrightView Widescreen Display (1280×800)
  • 320GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS with 512MB VRAM
  • Intel 5100 802.11a/b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth
  • 5-in-1 card reader
  • Lightscribe SuperMulti 8x DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • 6-Cell 55Wh Li-ion battery
  • Dimensions: (LxWxH) 12.6 x 8.9 x 1.2-1.4″
  • Weight: 4.8lbs
  • Price as configured: $999

Build and Design
The Pavilion dv3510nr shares the same classic look and feel as the rest of the HP Pavilion lineup, with smooth edges and its shapely contoured chassis. The color scheme uses the HP Imprint finish, a durable glossy finish that is resistant to scratches and other blemishes. The Imprint Finish on the dv3 offers an attractive bronze or ash gold color that is shared with the outer cover, palmrest, and keyboard for a consistent look and feel.

While the design looks great, this laptop is not without its flaws. The build quality of our dv3510nr review unit was not as good as other HP Pavilion notebooks we’ve reviewed … in large part due to a squeaky chassis and uneven keyboard. The keyboard tray was bowed upwards on the left side of the notebook with the top layer of keys separating from the backlight. The two layers were supposed to be held together with adhesive but the glue failed. Each time you pressed in that section of the keyboard the layers would squish together and put off a sound similar to a pair of stickers being pulled apart. We were not impressed to say the least. Internally the cause of the bowed keyboard section traced back to rubber padding used to hold the wireless antenna in place, but these rubber pieces were slightly thicker than the space allowed. This pushed up on the keyboard, stressing the layers until the adhesive failed. Other parts of the chassis felt weak and the plastics would squeak while you carried the notebook around.

Display
The 13.3″ LED backlit display was average when compared with other notebooks equipped with TN panels. Colors were bright and vibrant inside the viewing “sweet spot” and contrast was excellent with the glossy finish. The screen was bright enough to stand out in an office setting, but would be difficult to view outdoors unless it was overcast or later in the afternoon. Viewing angles were limited to a narrow viewing sweet spot, quickly distorting as you moved out to steeper horizontal or vertical angles.

Keyboard and Touchpad
Outside of the issues described in the build quality section the keyboard on the dv3 was actually pretty nice. The keys felt solid and weighted, with barely any wiggle if you moved your fingers across the surface. Individual key presses gave off a mild click, not loud, but a step above stealth typing. The keyboard had good support with little flex, a benefit of the thicker design needed for the backlit keys. The backlight adequately illuminated the keys and was bright enough to type in a poorly lit room, but not blind you in the process. The backlight was triggered on or off by pressing FN+spacebar, with no varying levels in-between.

The dv3510nr uses an ALPS touchpad which worked adequately during our testing. Lag was minimal with a quick response time, but sensitivity could be improved. Part of the sensitivity problem relates to the glossy touchpad surface which requires a firm touch, but if you press too hard your finger doesn’t slide well across the surface. The touchpad buttons were large and gave moderate feedback with a shallow throw.

Ports and Features
Port selection on the dv3510nr was above average for a notebook of this size, offering three USB ports total, an eSATA/USB combo port, VGA, HDMI, modem, LAN, audio jacks, and IR for the multimedia remote. It was nice to see a combo port included on the notebook, as some manufactures waste space by using a standard eSATA port. It’s also worth mentioning that HP decided to remove the dedicated port used for the HP xb4 docking station, so you’ll have to use a less-capable generic USB docking station if you want to use the dv3510nr with desktop accessories.

The complete list of ports includes:

  • 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or xD Picture cards
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports (including one USB/eSATA combo port)
  • 1 VGA
  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 RJ-11 (modem)
  • 1 RJ -45 (LAN)
  • 2 headphone-out
  • 1 microphone-in
  • 1 Consumer IR (For remote)

Performance
System performance was excellent for a 13.3″ notebook, handling multimedia tasks with ease thanks to the NVIDIA 9300M GS dedicated graphics. Gaming could be handled with some tweaking to lessen the burden of the gaming engine on the fairly low-end graphics chipset. The dv3 was quite at home decoding HD content, outputting 720p and 1080p signals through the HDMI port with digital audio. Daily tasks like typing a document or browsing the web were no problem for the 2.0GHz Intel P7350 Core 2 Duo processor, showing no lag switching between programs. A 7200rpm drive would have been a good upgrade, but most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference unless they were running disk-intensive applications.

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

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
HP Pavilion dv4t (Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)
26.972 seconds
Toshiba Satellite U405 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 37.500 seconds
HP Pavilion dv3510nr (Core 2 Duo P7350 @ 2.0GHz)
38.656 seconds
Dell Inspiron 13 (Pentium Dual Core T2390 @ 1.86GHz) 44.664 seconds
HP Pavilion dv2 (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 @ 1.6GHz)
103.521 seconds

 

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9200M GS 256MB) 5,463 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv3510nr (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M GS 512MB) 4,920 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 4,145 PCmarks
Dell Inspiron 13 (1.86GHz Intel T2390, Intel X3100) 3,727 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.6GH AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB) 2,191 PCMarks

 

3DMark06 graphics comparison against notebooks @ 1280 x 800 resolution (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP Pavilion dv3510nr (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M GS 512MB) 1,865 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9200M GS 256MB) 1,741 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB)
1,355 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 539 3DMarks
Apple MacBook Air (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7500, Intel X3100) 502 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 13 (1.86GHz Intel T2390, Intel X3100) 470 3DMarks

 

HDTune for the built-in hard drive:

 

Speakers and Audio
The HP dv3510nr includes Altec Lansing speakers, but beyond branding we didn’t notice any considerable difference compared to other notebooks of this size. Peak volume levels were fine for a small or medium size room. Sound quality was average, with low and midrange frequencies lacking. Overall they are fine for day-to-day use, but if you want to really enjoy a movie use headphones or a stereo connected through HDMI.

Battery
Our configuration includes a standard 6-cell battery, though a 9-cell battery is optional. With the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Windows Vista set to the “Balanced” power profile the dv3510nr managed 3 hours and 9 minutes of battery life.

Heat and Noise
Thermal performance was very good, with the notebook able to keep its cool after being powered on for extended periods of time. In our tests the left side palmrest warmed up more than the right side by about 10 degrees, which might be explained by the wireless card located on that side. The bottom had a peak of 94 degrees Fahrenheit, putting it into the warm category but not too hot.

Fan noise is minimal under normal activity, where the processor isn’t under any significant load. As the system warms up if you are encoding video, ripping music, or gaming the fan noise gets louder up but is still within reasonable levels. In a lecture hall the only person who might notice is someone sitting next to you.

Conclusion

The HP Pavilion dv3510nr could be an impressive notebook given its features which include an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA 9300M GS graphics, and backlit keyboard inside a 13.3” chassis. What we got was a notebook that had some quality control issues, with a bowed, separating keyboard and a squeaky, flexible chassis. For almost $1,000 we expect a higher level of quality for a notebook. If the cost of the dv3510nr was between $500 and $600 some of the problems could be overlooked. On that note, HP currently offers the AMD-equipped dv3z for $679.99 if you are looking for an alternative to the Intel configuration.

Bottom line, the HP Pavilion dv3510nr excells in terms of design and features, but falls short when it comes to build quality. If you enjoy the overall looks of this model, I would recommend checking out the dv2 or dv4 which share a similar design but offer superior fit and finish.

Pros:

  • Good performance and dedicated graphics for a 13.3” notebook
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Nice design and color scheme

Cons:

  • Poor fit and finish
  • Bowed keyboard


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