February 21, 2024


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HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop (2018) review: Plays harder than its price

The Pavilion Gaming Laptop isn’t as aggressive or cutting-edge as HP’s Omen gaming line, though that’s sort of the point. The PC maker promotes it as a solid, reliable laptop for gaming and everyday tasks and it definitely lives up to that. 

You won’t find the latest Nvidia RTX graphics chips inside, and it doesn’t have gaming extras such as RGB LED keyboard lighting or GPU overclocking. What you do get is snappy multitasking and gaming performance and a design that stands out from the run-of-the-mill. It’s a 15.6-inch, budget-minded laptop that’s not too flashy.

Prices start at $780 on HP’s site with Nvidia’s 2GB GeForce GTX 1050 (£649 in the UK, AU$1,749 in Australia), but I tested a $999 Amazon-exclusive configuration with a stronger 4GB GTX 1050 Ti, which isn’t currently an option direct from HP. Generally speaking, it’s a good deal for what you’re getting in design, specs and performance. But, depending on what you personally want in a $999 gaming laptop, it might not be the best deal at this moment.   

HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop (15-c0042nr)

Price as reviewed $999
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel display
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage 1TB HDD, 128GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)

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Sarah Tew/CNET

That green gaming glow

Like Dell’s G series gaming laptops, this Pavilion is relatively thin and light for a budget-minded gaming laptop and is more angular than the rest of the Pavilion line, especially at the rear where the fan vents jut out beyond the lid’s bottom. Beyond that, there’s a subtle green tint to the HP logo on top and the acid green backlit keyboard to help give it a “gaming laptop” look.

If you don’t like green, it comes in white and violet versions, too. The former would be a nice option if you need your gaming laptop to be less conspicuous in an office environment. The green does look nice, though, and it’s a nice change from all the red typically used on entry-level gaming laptops. The keys remain easy to read with the backlight off. Even the font choice is interesting. 

The keyboard is comfortable to use as well, with enough travel to keep a hard touch typist like me from feeling tired after all-day use. Aside from the WASD keys being outlined, there are no other gaming features to the keyboard and no software to set up macros or anything like that. The touchpad is acceptable for everyday use, if unremarkable. It doesn’t have discrete buttons, which I personally like to have for games where a mouse isn’t entirely necessary. 


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Sarah Tew/CNET

Something’s gotta give

On sub-$1,000 gaming laptops, it’s not uncommon for the display quality to suffer for the lower price. The full-HD 60Hz panel on this configuration is no different. It’s by no means bad, with good off-angle viewing and contrast, but it’s not terribly bright and the color gamut and accuracy isn’t ideal for content creation. HP does, however, offer a 144Hz panel for better gaming performance or a 4K-resolution display aimed at content creators.   

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