HP Pavilion dv5163cl Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (26,093)

by Amol Mundayoor

Overview and Introduction:

The HP dv5163cl is a variant of the dv5000t series. It’s a preconfigured system, which explains the difference in the name (HP uses very specific sku numbers for pre-configured systems, while the dv5000t is a configurable system). It’s a multimedia notebook, perfect for those looking to do mainly office work like word processing or multimedia presentations, photo editing, movie-watching and some light gaming



Compared with a standard DVD case for length and a 5G iPod for breadth. (view large image)

The Specs in a nutshell:

  • Centrino Core Duo T2300
  • 1024MB DDR RAM Dual Channel
  • 80GB HDD @ 5400 rpm
  • Nvidia Go 7400 Turbocache
  • DVD-RW w/ Lightscribe
  • Altec Lansing Speakers

Full and Detailed Specs can be found here:

HP dv5163cl Full Detailed Technical Specifications

Reasons for Buying

This notebook was purchased at Costco as the desktop that I had needed to be thrown out and I didn’t want anything that took too much space. I wouldn’t be moving this around a lot, so an ultraportable was not what I had in mind. My budget was sub $1,200 and I wanted a Core Duo, since it was cheap and could multitask without much hassle. A gig of RAM and Vista capability was really necessary as I don’t plan on blowing money on notebooks in the coming 3 years or so. So, I was looking for an all round performer that could deliver and last and wasn’t looking for any starry-eyed top-of-the-line state-of-the-art monster.

Where and How it was Purchased

I bought this from the nearby Costco for $1,099 and tax. CA tax is 8.75%, so the amount total came  to $1,195.16,which is a really good deal for what this notebook offers. And same day pickup from Costco couldn’t be beat. The specs and price beat logic, so I can’t offer any more details. Walking around the computer section, all the 17″ were a tad bit on the higher end of my budget. After checking out all the notebooks  on display I decided that 15.4″ widescreen is large enough. I took all my needs into account and I found that the HPs were the sturdiest on the bench. The dv5163cl caught my eye without any trouble — the blue lights and glossy screen stayed in the corner of my eye throughout my inspection. Since there was nothing else that I really preferred, I decided to spin this thing around and give it a test ride. It didn’t take longer than 5 to 10 minutes to know that this was exactly what I was looking for. The queue at Costco was the only bad experience, but I’m not complaining.

Build & Design

The HP is definitely stylish.  The blue-backlit (annoyingly bright, may I add) Quickplay, Volume Controls, Media Center and the Power buttons,the silver touchpad, and a glossy black “housing” for the keyboard are contrasted and complimented well by the matte plastic surrounding it.  As all good things have drawbacks, so does the HP. The screen protection is bad. Ripples can be seen by applying little pressure. It came as a surprise, because it looked really sturdy. The hinges were strong, but HP could do better in terms of screen protection. The front part of the notebook sports a grill with the “Altec Lansing” label on the right and Power, Hard Drive Access and a lightning-shaped (I don’t know what it’s supposed to indicate!) LED on the left. They too glow faint blue. All port labellings are present on each side of the keyboard and also near the respective ports. Overall the bottom is impressively sturdy for something that is made totally out of plastic but the top screen part could do with some improvements. At an approximate weight of 6lbs it’s not heavy, and I personally won’t have any trouble using it on my lap (although I predominantly use a desk) or carrying it around if I have to.


Closed top view of HP dv5163 with DVD for size comparison (view large image)

Screen

I wouldn’t say that I was blown away by the screen, but at 1280×800 it does not fail to please. Powered by the nVidia Go 7400 with 256MB Turbocache (128 discrete,128 shared) the glossy screen can be used at maximum brightness most of the time. It can be a drawback to mobile users who don’t usually plug in their notebook most of the time. I personally plug in my notebook when I can where I can, so I’m a happy customer.


HP dv5163 screen showing FIFA 2006 World Cup schedule (view large image)

Speakers

The speakers’ overall performance was good. I was actually satisfied with the quality it delivered when I was watching Neon Genesis Evangelion(for watching romance movies, talk shows or similar stuff the internal would be sufficient enough); but at the same time, if you are listening to music or movies that rely quite a bit on sound effects(like action,sci-fi), you’d want headphones or external speakers.


Front of HP dv5163 with iPod for thickness comparison (view large image)
 
Processor and Performance

The dv5163cl comes with a T2300 (1.66GHz w/ 2MB L2 Cache and 667MHz FSB).  I have a lot of stuff stored in this 80GB (@ 5400rpm) hard drive, and it’s slowing down the boot time a bit. It takes 1’10” (1m10s) for a complete boot, ie, from the moment you power up to the moment you can open up a web browser. It was, I am sure, faster when I got the notebook, but since I never shut it down it doesn’t really matter. The notebook comes with two partitions — a 61.6GB and a 11.8GB partition, the larger NTFS and the latter FAT32. Believe it or not, the 11.8GB partition as such is the recovery partition, which is just totally ridiculous.


Screenshot of recovery partition information (view large image)

The notebook comes with a gig of RAM and that is more than sufficient for general office work, browsing, light photoshop work and the like. It’s snappy and works really well for what I use it for. The DVD burner that comes with it also has lightscribe enabled which is something appreciated.  I always lightscribe since it always seemed cool. Like I said, I intended to get this notebook for general home use so that I could get rid of my clunky desktop and let this take over. I haven’t played any games, and don’t intend to either, so I can’t really say how it performs graphics-wise. I’ll let 3DMark and PCMark do the talking on that. All tests were conducted while the notebook was plugged in.  The tests were conducted in the following order: Super Pi, HD Tune, PCMark, 3DMark. In brackets are the test results while using the battery and the screen was set at full brightness. Tests were again in the same order, initialized at full charge.

Benchmarks

Super Pi

Super Pi is a program that forces the notebook processor to calculate Pi to 2-million digits of accuracy.  The dv5163cl took 1m 22s to calculate this value with its 1.66 GHz Core Duo processor, here’s how it stacked up to other notebooks:

Notebook Time
 HP dv5163 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)  1m 22s
 Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo)  1m 12s
 Lenovo Z61m (2.0GHz Core Duo)  1m 16s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)  1m 36s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 Asus V6Va (Pentium M 1.86 GHz)  1m 46s
 Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)  1m 18s

 

3DMark 05

Below is the overall 3DMark05 score and comparison to other notebooks:

Notebook 3DMark 05 Results
HP dv5163 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400)  1,987 3D Marks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)  2866 3D Marks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX)  7,078 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Intel T2500, ATI X1400)  1,791 3D Marks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)  2,273 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB)  2,090 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4,157 3DMarks

PCMark 05 Results:

Below is the overall PCMark05 score and comparison to other notebooks:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP  dv5163 (1.66 GHz Core Duo) 3,493 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300) 2,879 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz) 1,877 PCMarks

HDTune Results


(view large image)

Heat and Noise

The dv5163cl doesn’t make a whole lot of a noise. I’d say that it’s very tolerable. When you power up the notebook, the fans whirr like crazy for about 2 seconds and during actual usage it never gets that noisy. I did the tests in pin drop silence, I could even hear the faint clicking of the hard drive. And after all that testing, the unit hardly became warm to the touch. Continuous usage till battery drain never made the notebook warm. I’d say it’s by far the coolest running notebook I’ve used. Very impressive!

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard had very little flex and it is sturdy.  It did take some time to get used to, coming from mainly a desktop and an Acer keyboard that had some flex (but a bit “softer”). The touchpad felt good and it also had a dedicated up and down scroll area, which was marked off visibly, unlike some touchpads that have “zones”. I do wish the keyboard had a Fn shortkey to switch off the screen and also to disable the touchpad. It’d be really handy.


HP dv5163 keyboard (view large image)

Input and Output Ports

  • 3 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0
  • 1 Headphone out w/SPDIF Digital Audio
  • 1 microphone-in
  • 1 VGA (15-pin)
  • 1 TV-Out (S-video)
  • 1 RJ-11 (modem)
  • 1 RJ -45 (LAN)
  • 1 notebook expansion port 2
  • 1 IEEE 1394 Firewire (4-pin)
  • 1 ExpressCard/54 Slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
  • 1 Type I/II 32-bit card bus (also support 16-bit)

Now that the ports are mentioned, I did wish for 4 USB ports, but I can make-do with 3. Absence of DVI-D came as a small surprise since it had MCE coming with it, but I never hook it up to anything external. Bluetooth was the only thing that I felt was really lacking, especially considering how many Bluetooth enabled gadgets I have. But then again, it’s always something that I can add later on if I feel like I need it that badly.



The left side view compared with the new 5G iPod (view large image)



The right side view compared again with the 5G iPod. (view large image)



Note that the back does not have any port, just the heat vent. (view large image)


Wireless

As part of the Centrino package the notebook is enabled with the default Intel 3945a/b/g. My connection kept dropping every hour for a few seconds and that really got to me, especially if I was IM-ing. I narrowed down that to the fault of my router, and ever since I got a new one, it’s been working really well with good reception all around the house.

Battery

At maximum brightness, I streamed some general video, along with chatting (Yahoo IM) editing this review, and also with Winamp streaming Shoutcast radio. All of this gave me only around 2 hours. I was actually disappointed, but I don’t plan to move this around that much. Two hours should be barely enough since it’s for normal home use. People thinking of getting this who are on the move should definitely get an extra backup battery.

Operating System and Recovery Stuff

The Windows XP Media Center Edition has been working flawlessly (why not?). The only complaint that I have is as I mentioned earlier, the recovery partition. Why would you need 11.1GB for recovery?  I don’t get it.  Dell comes with 5GB, Acer comes with 3.5GB. 5 is the tops, period.  I’ve been tempted to delete the partition and get rid of all the bloatware that comes with any notebook, but I just don’t want to go through the hassle because it won’t do much good given the fact I’m not using this notebook for anything but simple tasks.

Customer Support

I never had to use customer support, but since it’s an HP, I believe it’s going to be a breeze. I’ve owned HP stuff before and to date I haven’t found anything to complain about. It’s sturdy so I don’t think I’ll be calling them just yet.

Conclusion

If you are a person who doesn’t do all that much gaming, and want to get a notebook that has good performance and bang for buck, I suggest you get it. It’s sturdy and has a pleasing look, has a lightscribe enabled DVD burner and has decent speakers too, making it a good contender in the multimedia rich notebook competition compartment.


Pros:

  • Sturdy and Well Built
  • Elegant and Pleasing Design
  • Lightscribe Support
  • Better-than-ordinary sound from the inbuilt speakers.
  • Quite flexible and multitasks day-to-day programs without breaking a sweat.
  • Runs cool and isn’t noisy at all.
  • Keyboard is sturdy with no flex and the touchpad has a good touch to it.
  • Good screen, lots of expansion ports a lightscribe — enabled DVD burner.

Cons

  • Ultra-Huge recovery partition
  • LCD could do with more protection
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • The absence of a Shortcut to disable the touchpad and switch of the screen is a bit disappointing


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