When it comes to gaming, the right setup can make or break the experience.
It's relatively easy to build the dream gaming PC with hand-picked components, but finding an ideal gaming laptop (without breaking the bank) can be a struggle.
However, HP claims its Pavilion Gaming Laptop is the perfect compromise between portability and power. According to HP, the laptop was designed with gamers in mind to deliver a budget-friendly gaming-on-the-go experience. With premium components, including enhanced thermals and a 16-inch screen, the laptop is touted as a portable option to game better and longer.
We decided to put the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop to the test to see whether this laptop really delivers a superior choice for portable gaming. Here's what we found.
How we tested the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop
We tested the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop among avid gamers who normally use custom-built PCs for gaming. Our tester’s typical setup included a dedicated graphics card, 16 GB memory, and a gaming monitor with fast response times and high refresh rates.
We played popular titles like "Overwatch" (2016) and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" (2019) to compare experiences on the Pavilion versus custom PCs. In addition to gaming, we tested other tasks on the Pavilion Laptop, including browsing the web and using Microsoft Office Suite.
HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop cost
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop retails for $899.99, which is impressively affordable compared to most gaming laptops on the market. It features a 16-inch display with eight GB memory and 128 GB SSD storage. It’s equipped with an Intel Core i5-10300H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card.
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop comes with a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Home and a free trial of McAfee LiveSafe. There are additional options to upgrade the Microsoft subscription and McAfee trial to more robust packages at discounted prices.
Setting up the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop
We found the setup process for the HP Pavilion to be seamless and user-friendly.
Once the laptop is turned on, the Windows virtual assistant, Cortana, prompted us to follow steps for setup. This included selecting language and time zone, as well as connecting to WiFi. After that, it was easy enough to get games loaded to begin playing.
First impression of the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop resembles other HP laptops. It displays the signature mirrored HP logo on its plastic (albeit solid) casing. The speakers are located at the top of the keyboard in a hexagonal pattern. Overall, this low-profile laptop has clean, contemporary lines.
When compared to a 15-inch MacBook Pro, the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop weighs about the same. While this HP is thicker and has a slightly larger footprint than the MacBook Pro, it remains travel-friendly.
Playing games on the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop
The HP Pavilion excels at playing older games that are less graphically intensive and require lower memory usage. It successfully ran "Overwatch," for example, at 60FPS on high graphics settings.
Because the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop only utilizes eight GB of memory, titles like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” that run at 1080p should be played on medium graphics settings. This allows them to run seamlessly and prevents freezing -- and still offers impressive functionality for a portable gaming laptop.
HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop thermals
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop is equipped with enhanced thermals that keep the device cool during gaming, including prolonged gaming sessions. While running "Overwatch" on high graphics settings, the laptop did warm considerably. During this time, the fans were running at high speed, but this didn't interfere with gameplay and the fans seemed to do their job.
At load, the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop was 70 degrees Celsius -- hot, but well within the normal range for a gaming laptop while loading. Seventy degrees Celsius is considered a safe temperature, especially because this was the laptop’s temperature at load, not idle. We didn’t experience any more rises in temperature once the laptop was placed on a desk.
It should be noted that fans are located at the bottom of the Pavilion Laptop. To ensure proper airflow, which aids in temperature regulation, it's recommended to use the device on flat surfaces.
Using the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop for other tasks
When it comes to non-gaming tasks, the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop was more than capable. There were no interruptions, lagging, or device stuttering while using web browsers, YouTube, Spotify, or the pre-installed Microsoft Office Suite. This laptop would be suitable for basic work or school tasks, as well as streaming movies and shows.
The HP Pavilion has a decent keyboard and touchpad, both of which were easy to use. The laptop is equipped with two USB ports that provide options for accessories, like a gaming mouse or controller.
HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop pros
Overall, the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop is a robust device that offers a good gaming experience for casual gamers. It also runs ably while handling other common functions and software, making it a well-rounded device. It serves older titles incredibly well, provided they don’t require much memory and aren’t graphically intensive. Games that run at 1080p will run without issues when played on medium graphics settings.
At $899.99, it's competitively price compared to premium gaming and non-gaming laptops, particularly when you factor in the processor and graphics card. The one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home and trial of McAfee LiveSafe are nice bonuses.
HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop cons
Avid gamers may feel underserved if they seek a 2K to 4K experience with higher than 60FPS. While trying to run some of these games on high graphics settings, including "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," lag was present and we were unable to play through some boards and multiplayer modes. Switching to medium graphics setting alleviated the issue.
Is the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop worth it?
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop is a formidable option for a quality on-the-go gaming experience. It runs and performs best with games that don’t require a lot of memory or high graphics settings.
Given the retail price of $899.99 for a 1080p and 60FPS gaming experience, the HP Pavilion is ideal for the casual, budget-minded gamer -- especially if they enjoy an assortment of slightly older titles, such as "Overwatch," "World of Warcraft," or "Minecraft."
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.