Application and Futuremark Performance

While the Intel Core i7-720QM in our Envy 17 is a well known quantity by now, it's still nice to get a feel for how this overall system performs, and we're happy to be getting updated results from the AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5850 into our suite. (We did look at MSI's GX640 back in June, but that used a dual-core i5-430M and 5850, and we don't have it for running updated results with our revised benchmark suite.)

It's true, the Envy 17 with its i7-720QM comes in last in nearly all our tests, but that's not entirely fair. These numbers are still very high, and in some cases the Envy 17 is able to outpace machines equipped with the slightly faster 820QM. If we were to include results of lower-end notebooks, the Envy would place quite a bit higher.

Unfortunately, the 5850 remains consistently last in our charts and loses to the last-gen NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M at every turn. In some cases it's not a huge difference, though, and we suspect that if the 5850 in the Envy 17 was clocked at spec instead of below that it might be able to close the gap.

Now let's see how it fares in real games.

Touring the HP Envy 17 High and Ultra Gaming Settings
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  • xype - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    "See, this is what we're talking about when we say we want to see better screens in notebooks. Now we just wish we could get these kinds of panels without having to constantly buy premium-grade hardware."

    In other words, you want premium-grade hardware without having to buy premium-grade hardware. I guess this is why the PC manufacturer's market is in such a bad shape—because they all try to cater to people who are unwilling to spend money.
  • dustcrusher - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Maybe I misread the instructions on my Jump to Conclusions Mat, but I figured they meant something a little different: "why do we have to buy top-end everything just to get a quality display? Can't we just pay extra for a normal laptop with a really nice screen?"

    It's a fair question. Surely there is a way to offer a high-quality display for an additional cost that is reasonable to manufacturer and consumer.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Yes, precisely. And of course there's a way to offer better displays without the price being substantially higher; one has only to look at the numerous IPS HDTVs priced below $1000 to see that it's possible. Unfortunately, most laptop companies don't appear interested in anything but minimum cost, unless you're buying a premium product in which case you get higher costs on everything. :-\
  • Netopia - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I've done IT work for about 20 years and have owned and/or used dozens of laptops. I bought the Envy 17 when there was a $400 off coupon (if you upgraded to the Core i7). I've got a couple of regrets:

    I wish I had not used the coupon and just gotten a Core i5 for the same price. Battery life is HORRIBLE.

    I wish I had actually seen this laptop in real life and tested it first. The track pad is the absolute WORST I've ever used. Depressing one or the other of the 'buttons' (which is really just flexing the bottom left or right of the track pad) takes significant effort compared to any other track pad I've used.

    I'm left handed, so I tend to use more of the left side of the pad when scrolling, and I do tap or double tap quite a bit when surfing. The upper left corner is actually a button of sorts too. If you double click this area it turns off the track pad! I can't tell you how many times I've inadvertently turned the pad off without realizing it. In the past on other laptops I've also used this area to set up a gesture for a middle click, but it's already reserved on this laptop.

    Speaking of the track pad software, it really doesn't have good configuration for setting up different tap areas on the key pad, so custom stuff like I mentioned above isn't even available.

    It's funny... I never gave much thought to track pads. Some were better, some were worse, some had stiff buttons, and some mushy buttons... but it was never a big deal. This is the first laptop I've ever used where I have truly thought that it was an issue.

  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    Go on Notebookcheck and look for the thread about the Envy 14 trackpad. There are multiple alternative software choices and I highly encourage everyone to switch to one of them - they greatly improve the trackpad, making it actually usable. I should know, I have an Envy 14.
  • Netopia - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    THANK YOU! Much appreciated!
  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    And I should've said Notebookreview... Sorry.

    Here's the link for anyone who might also be interested:

    Should work for the Envy 17 and 15 too and well just about any Clickpad-using laptop. I know this shouldn't affect a product's review, but a big sore point about the Envy is often the trackpad and thanks to those few tools we can enjoy what is an otherwise great machine a little bit more!
  • joshv - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I own an Envy 15 bought about a year ago. The thing gets hot enough to fry an egg on, even when not doing much of anything, so I am glad to hear that they adressed the thermal issues.

    The touch pad's "clickers" are worthless. Until I figured out how to "tap", the touchpad was a definite negative. It took me maybe a week to adjust and become proficient - though now I really like the touch pad - it's large and very sensitive.

    Perhaps the 17" is different, but for the 15" the nine cell battery isn't a drop in replacement, it's a massive "strap on" slab that mounts to the bottom of the laptop, basically becoming a 3/4" thick base. This thing dramatically increases the weight and size of the Envy - but is *required* for any significant usage when unplugged. Battery life is otherwise abysmal.
  • Modeverything - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    I have one of these ENVY 17 notebooks. It's an ok machine, but I don't think it's worth the money, or is a Macbook killer.

    The two biggest issues I have with it, is the mouse track pad is really annoying. Being that it's a solid piece (no separate buttons), the place where you press the buttons also detects finger movement. Too many times when trying to click on something would my finger move just a tiny bit as I pressed down, and it would cause me to miss what I was trying to click, or drag an item by mistake. I had to buy a mouse with a mini USB dongle to use as a permanent replacement to this touch pad. I keep the touch pad turned off now.

    The other issue is that while playing games, the video card can get the case so hot it can actually cause mild pain. Part of the area that heats up is right where your left hand will be if you are resting it on the case to use the keyboard. Also, about half the time I start a game and within about one min, the video card will overheat causing me to have to hard reboot the machine. Usually on the second time it plays properly. I have updated to the latest drivers as well.

    It's an ok notebook, but it should have been better.
  • Modeverything - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    One thing that I forgot to add that is a good point. One of the main reasons I bought this notebook is because it can run two hard drives. I have an SSD as my boot drive, and the 500 GB mechanical drive for all of my data. This was a huge plus for this notebook.

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