The latest updates to HP’s 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch high performance laptops, the dv6t and dv7t Quad Edition have not been particularly well covered by the media, with most of the attention being directed to the new ultrabooks and ‘sleekbooks’ from HP.
However, the changes made in the quad-core Pavilion series are more substantial than in any other laptop from HP. The reasons are first and foremost the all-new Intel processors and Nvidia graphics cards, and the latter is particularly interesting for gamers.
The design has also been updated but has not changed radically. One of the most noteworthy changes is the lid, which is now less rounded and more accented. Another important change is that you can equip the dv6t and dv7t Quad Edition machines with backlit keyboards (a $25 upgrade). The display options remain the same, with a 1366×768 panel in the entry-level dv6t Quad and 1600×900 in the dv7t Quad, respectively, but both of them can be upgraded to Full HD (1920×1080).
Nevertheless, the most significant changes can be found under the hood. The dv6t and dv7t Quad both come with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors, starting with the Core i7-3610QM (2.3 GHz, 3.3 GHz Turbo Boost frequency). The other two options are the i7-3720QM (2.6 GHz, 3.6 GHz) and the i7-3820QM (2.7 GHz, 3.7 GHz). These processors provide some additional performance per watt at roughly the same cost as their Sandy Bridge predecessors.
More importantly (for gaming), the graphics card options have been changed from AMD to Nvidia. The entry-level GPU is a GeForce GT 630M, which is a bit slower than the high-end option in the previous dv6t and dv7t Quad, the Radeon HD 7690M.
This GPU can however be upgraded to a GeForce GT 650M with 1GB ($50 upgrade) or 2GB ($100 upgrade) video RAM. The difference between the 1 GB and 2 GB cards should be small, but compared to the Radeon HD 7690M it is a major update that should be somewhere between 30% to 50% faster depending on the game or benchmark. The 650M is only a notch below the GTX 660M and has more or less the same specifications but lower clock speeds.
An additional change has been made to the storage alternatives. The entry-level models come with a 1 TB mechanical hard drive, but this drive can be accompanied by a 32GB mSATA solid state cache drive that speeds up frequently used apps and games by storing partial data in considerably faster Flash memory modules.