HP Pavilion x360 14m-dh0003dx review: A sturdy 2-in-1 with dependable quad-core performance
- 18 December, 2019 22:00
The HP Pavilion x360 14 2-in-1 laptop comes in many flavors, and ours (14m-dh0003dx) should please productivity-minded professionals with its smooth quad-core performance and a keyboard that feels great. Given that it's $700 from Best Buy before discounts (though we’ve recently spotted it for just $560), we would have liked a bit more battery life, though.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.
HP offers a dizzying array of Pavilion x360 models in 11-, 14-, and 15-inch sizes, with the 14-inch configurations ranging from 8th-gen dual-core Intel Core i3 systems up to 10th-gen Core i7 quad-core Comet Lake CPUs. Here’s what’s under the hood of our middle-of-the-road 14-inch Pavilion x360 14m-dh0003dx):
- CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5-8265U
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Display: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen
- Storage: 128GB SSD
At first blush, we’ve got the makings of a solid productivity workhorse here, with a quad-core Core i5 Whiskey Lake CPU that should be able to breeze through most daily computing and Office tasks and tackle some CPU-intensive tasks, such as video processing and database work. The 8GB of RAM, typical for a laptop in this price range, should help smooth out multitasking kinks (although 16GB of RAM would be even better), and the full-HD IPS touchscreen should offer reasonably sharp resolution with solid viewing angles.
The 128GB solid-state drive is on the small side, however, leaving you with only about 90GB of storage once Windows, Office, and other miscellaneous apps and utilities are accounted for. Given the cramped SSD, you’d probably want to lean on cloud storage or an external drive.
A similar Pavilion x360 14 is officially $900 on HP.com with 12GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but only $590 with discounts as of presstime.
HP has been adding more and more snazzy design elements to its Pavilion x360 series. This particular 2-in-1 bears many of those hallmarks, particularly the “hourglass” edges that allow you to open the Pavilion from the front, left, or right sides, as well as the shiny aluminum trim and the matte lid stamped with the HP logo.
The 14-inch, 16:9 “micro-edge” display does indeed have reasonably thin bezels along the top and sides, although the bottom bezel is pretty chunky. Below the hinges sits an attractive, diamond-cut grille for the Bang & Olufsen speakers (more on them in a moment), along with the silver-colored palm rest and keyboard. An understated Pavilion logo sits near the bottom-left edge of the keyboard.
As a 2-in-1 system, the Pavilion x360’s lid can swivel all the way around for tablet use. You can also tent the laptop on a desk, or place it keyboard-down with the display tilted back in kiosk mode. The Pavilion x360’s reassuringly sturdy hinges did a solid job of keeping the lid in place, although the stiff motion of the lid means that opening the laptop requires a fair amount of effort.
One design element I didn’t love on the Pavilion x360 was the power button on the left edge of the laptop, near the middle. More than once, I accidentally put the Pavilion to sleep by inadvertently pressing the button as I was moving the laptop on my desk. A smarter move would have been to position the button farther away from the middle—or, better yet, put it just above the keyboard on the inside, where you’re much less likely to press it by accident.
Measuring 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches, the Pavilion x360 is reasonably thin for a convertible-style laptop. Weighing in at 3.62 pounds (or 4.19 if you include the power brick), the Pavilion feels a bit on the heavy side, and you'll definitely notice the weight when you’re toting it around in a backpack.
The Pavilion’s 1920x1080 display looks as sharp and vivid as we’d expect from a full-HD screen. With its IPS (in-plane switching) display technology, the panel boasts impressive viewing angles, dimming only slightly when viewed from the sides, top, or bottom.
The screen is a tiny bit dimmer than we’d like, measuring about 245 nits (or candelas), when our low-water mark for comfortable indoor viewing is 250 nits. Then again, we’ve seen dimmer displays on laptops in this price range, and I was able to view the Pavilion’s display comfortably in my office. Outdoor viewing would likely be a different story.
Keyboard, trackpad, speakers, and extras
The Pavilion x360’s keyboard is a cut above those you typically see in mid-range laptops. The square, flat keys feel solid rather than squishy, with a fairly generous amount of travel and a satisfying mid-stroke bump that feels almost clicky. Indeed, I found typing on the Pavilion to be an unexpected pleasure.
The Pavilion’s trackpad is a bit on the wide side, which meant that my palms frequently dragged over it while I typed. That wouldn’t be a big deal if the trackpad were better at rejecting accidental inputs; alas, the Pavilion’s cursor occasionally jittered across the screen as my palm brushed the trackpad, particularly on the right side. The accidental trackpad inputs weren’t so bad that they interrupted my work, but they happened enough to be noticeable.
Back on the plus side, the Bang & Olufsen-designed stereo speakers are actually pretty good. We generally expect very little from laptop speakers, but the Pavilion’s top-firing drivers actually evinced some subtle detail and even a bit of bass. While I couldn’t crank the speakers very loud, at least I didn’t notice any distortion when I dialed the volume all the way up.
This particular configuration of the Pavilion x360 comes with a fingerprint reader sitting just beneath the bottom-right corner of the keyboard.
The Pavilion x360 has a solid selection of ports given its size and price range. Starting on the left side, there’s a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port (5Gbps), a combo audio jack, and a laptop security slot. Also on the left side is a good-sized cooling vent, along with the aforementioned power button.
On the right side you'll find a media card reader, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, a second USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a full HDMI port, and a barrel-shaped charging connector.
There’s no ethernet port, but given that Pavilions generally don’t have one, that isn’t much of a shock.
For our performance charts, we’ve grouped with HP Pavilion x360 with a mix of laptops, ranging from a 8th-gen, dual-core i3 model to a system with Intel’s latest six-core Ice Lake CPU, along with a series of quad-core laptops in the middle. Obviously, that Ice Lake chip is going to dust the Pavilion’s less powerful Whiskey Lake CPU in some cases. But as we’ll see, the Pavilion gets a few chances to shine even compared to the latest and greatest laptops, particularly when it comes to day-to-day productivity. We’ll also see how much of a difference a quad-core CPU makes compared to a dual-core chip like Intel’s Core i3.
PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional
Our first benchmark simulates such daily computing tasks as web browsing, spreadsheet work, video chat, and other common desktop chores. Given that the HP Pavilion x360 should appeal most to productivity mavens, PCMark 8 is a great place to start with our testing. Generally speaking, a PCMark 8 score above 2,000 means you can expect smooth Office performance.
A quick glance at the chart reveals that the Pavilion handled the PCMark 8 benchmark like a champ, and it even edged the Dell XPS 13 7390 with its six-core Ice Lake CPU. To be fair, though, the core count doesn’t really matter so much with PCMark 8, which focuses mostly on single-core applications. It’s also worth noting that the Dell is much thinner and lighter than the Pavilion, which means it must pump the brakes to keep its slim chassis cool.
In the end, which laptop finished where in our chart really doesn’t matter given that they all notched scores north of 3,000. In other words, all of these laptops are great Office machines.
A benchmark that involves converting a 30GB MKV file into a format suitable for an Android tablet, our HandBrake test pushes even the beefiest CPUs to their limits. It also tells us a lot about how a given laptop balances cooling and performance over a relatively lengthy period, given that our HandBrake test often takes more than an hour to perform.
Checking our chart, the HP Pavilion x360 lands pretty much where we’d expect, right in the mix with other quad-core Core i5 Whiskey Lake laptops. The Pavilion is also neck-and-neck with the HP Envy 13, a Core i7 Whiskey Lake laptop. That's actually not as surprising as it sounds, as the main difference between the i5 and i7 chips is that the i7 boasts a higher boost clock, an advantage that’s most apparent during short, intense bursts of CPU activity.
The chart-topping Dell XPS 13 and its Ice Lake CPU illustrate the substantially superior performance of a (far pricier) six-core processor compared to a quad-core system, although you generally don't need that kind of horsepower unless you're dealing with, say, 4K video workflows. On the other end of the spectrum is the dual-core Acer Aspire 5, which lags well behind the pack but does just fine (and for a lot less) when it comes to daily, single-core productivity tasks.
Remember what we said a moment ago about short bursts of CPU activity? That’s what our Cinebench test, which involves rendering a 3D image in real time, is all about. Unlike the lengthy HandBrake benchmark, which can take an hour or more, Cinebench is typically all over within five minutes or so.
Once again, the HP Pavilion x360’s Cinebench score was bunched up with its fellow i5-packing laptops, albeit nearer to the bottom. The Paviion’s so-so performance can be partly blamed on its 2-in-1 form factor, which is tougher to keep cool than a traditional clamshell laptop is. Still, we should note that the Pavilion x360’s all-threads Cinebench score is respectable given its CPU, while its solid single-thread Cinebench result (which is all that matters when it comes to day-to-day computing tasks) brings it up a notch.
Looking at the competition, we see the six-core Ice Lake-powered Dell XPS 13 way ahead of the pack (no surprise there), while the quad-core HP Envy 13 and its Core i7 CPU ges an expected speed bump thanks to its faster boost clock. At the bottom of the list, once again, is the dual-core but bargain-priced Acer Aspire 5.
3DMark Sky Diver
Like many mid-range, productivity-minded laptops, the HP Pavilion x360 isn’t much of a gaming machine, although its integrated graphics core is designed to deliver enough adequate performance for light photo editing and similar tasks. As a rule, laptops with discrete graphics cards will score much higher in our graphics-oriented 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark, and our results bear that out.
As expected, the HP Pavilion x360 sits right alongside similar laptops with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 cores. While it’s nearer the back of the pack, you’re not going to see any of these integrated graphics systems deliver even close to 30 fps while playing, say, Fornite. For smooth gaming performance, you’d need a laptop with discrete graphics, such as the two laptops at the top of our chart, which both boast entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics cards.
We test a laptop’s battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows Movies & TV app. We set screen brightness set to about 250 nits (which means cranking the brightness all the way up on the HP Pavilion x360) and with the volume set to 50 percent, headphones on.
At first glance, the Pavilion’s position near the bottom of the chart doesn’t look so great, but its 484-minute battery drain result (a sliver over 8 hours) isn’t bad considering its 40-watt-hour battery, which is the smallest of the bunch. It even beats out that of the 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Flex, a 2-in-1 laptop with a larger 48-watt-hour battery.
Still, if you’re looking for a system that’ll last you more than a long afternoon on battery power (and keep in mind that our eight-hour battery drain result won’t hold up if you’re doing anything remotely demanding on the Pavilion), you should consider a device with a bigger battery. The relatively low-priced Acer Aspire 5's 48Wh battery managed to last 100 minutes longer during our battery drain test. It’s also a good three-quarters of a pound heavier than the Pavilion.
While its battery life and display are mediocre, the HP Pavilion x360 remains a solid, well-built 2-in-1 that will speed you through everyday computing tasks as well as moderately tough video-processing or number-crunching chores. Better still, its comfy keyboard will keep your fingers happy, and the surprisingly decent-sounding speakers will keep you humming. For the price (especially at current discounts), it's a solid deal.