The Dell XPS 13 9360 is HP's direct competitor, featuring a newer eighth-generation processor, a high-res Infinity Edge display, superb connectivity including a Thunderbolt 3 port and a sleek design. It remains our Editors' Choice for midrange ultraportables.
- Fast performance
- Good battery life
- Sharp design
- Constructed with high-quality materials
- No traditional USB ports
- 1080p display lacks touch technology
As I worked my way down the list of parts, everything about the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr seemed as if it were a “dream come true,” for as far as budget desktop-replacement laptops go. At least, it gets the job done…done well for that matter.
The seventh-generation Kaby Lake mobile processor, paired with Intel’s HD 620 integrated graphics, 8GB of memory, a 256GB PCIe NVME M.2 SSD and respectable battery life are more than adequate for everyday tasks or casual multimedia consumption.
The 13.3-inch aluminum chassis that bears a strong resemblance to the Apple MacBook Pro gives it a premium look, which is something most folks will find impressive. With quality materials and construction, excellent components, and USB-C support, this laptop will appeal to you if quality design, portability, and solid performance are must-haves.
Design and Features
The Envy 13’s looks picks up where the HP ENVY 13-d010nr left off, with refreshed aesthetics that are simply irresistible. The Envy line emphasize sexy appeal and luxury appeal above all. Like the MacBook Pro 13-inch, it’s completely surrounded in aluminum metals and measures only an inch thick (12.83 by 8.9 by 0.55 inches, HWD). It achieves this level of thinness by purging the optical drive, which would have otherwise made it a lot thicker than the MacBook Pro.
The thin build is made possible by the Envy 13’s unique, compact hinge, which also contains pistons to add resistance and keep the lid from slamming shut. The sleek design continues with the anodized aluminum and carbon fiber chassis, which is a silvery gray with reflective copper trim along the rear and on the retooled HP logo. This color combination gives the laptop a look fit for an executive, or really anyone who wants to turn heads.
The Envy 13 is flashier than the XPS 13 Touch or the Razer Blade Stealth, despite its use of aluminum, and the LG gram-14 is comparatively flimsy. All in all, the Envy both looks and feels high-end. If you need to carry it around, you can slide it into the Bonvince 18.4″ Laptop Backpack, which has nicely placed compartments for the power adapter, mouse and other peripherals.
The Bang & Olufsen dual speakers – with two on either side of the keyboard – provide rich sound and solid bass, and it doesn’t have the tinny effect that is common in some laptop at maximum volume. Its backlit keyboard is comfortable and the key travel is superb, better than the stiff keyboard on the Apple MacBook with little key travel, that makes it a little uncomfortable to use. The glass touchpad on the Spectre 13 is smooth and responsive.
Display and Ports
The 13.3-inch display boasts a full HD (1,920-by-1,080) resolution, which is the same we saw earlier in the HP Spectre 13, and its increasingly becoming common in the lower end category. The Dell XPS 13 Touch features a QHD+ (3,200-by-1,800) screen, the Blade Stealth‘s display is 4K (3,840 by 2,160), and the screen of the MacBook Pro is 2,560 by 1,600.
Still, the Envy 13’s display is perfectly crisp and sharp, thanks to In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology that gives it wide viewing angles, eliminating distortions when looking at the screen form the side. It doesn’t support touch like (a feature available on the XPS 13 Touch and Blade Stealth), but the tradeoff helps keep the laptop thin.
Given the svelte-design, connectivity is quite limited to one USB 3.1 Type-C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (which simply means they’re standard USB 3.0) and HDMI. You don’t have Ethernet here, but wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. The XPS 13 Touch and Blade Stealth, being thicker, include more standard port options in addition to USB-C, such as USB 3.0 and HDMI.
While we hope to see the newer USB format take over going forward, the reality is there’s still a definite need for standard USB connectivity.
HP ENVY 13-ab016nr -Performance
Equipped with a 2.5GHz Intel “Kaby Lake” Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB PCIe NVME M.2 solid state drive (SSD), the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr fares well on daily productivity. For the day-to-day notebook user, a seventh-generation processor that can clock 3.1GHz is more than enough for enthusiast-level media editing on Photoshop among other programs.
This is the same configuration on the ASUS F556UA-AB54, with both having almost similar performance, while our Editors’ Choice the ASUS ZenBook 3 UX390UA doubles the memory to 16GB and comes with a Kaby Lake Intel Core i7-7500U processor.
The combination of features packed into the HP Envy 13 give it enough muscle to allow you work on multimedia projects, it will be enough, and after all, that’s one of the reasons you consider a Seventh-generation Core i5 machine over a Broadwell Core i7 system.
Ultraportables are typically weak at handling 3D graphics and gaming given their integrated graphics, and the Envy 13 (which uses Intel HD Graphics 620) is no different. During testing, I managed 30FPS on GTA at low settings (1366-by-768), but you can expect better playability on casual games such as Starcraft 2, Minecraft and League of Legends among other lighter titles.
If you need a gaming laptop, perhaps you can consider the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM-DB71 that features Nvidia’s latest Pascal-based GTX 1060 dedicated graphic card that crunches perfect FPS on modern titles: Grand Theft Auto 5 (60FPS) and Fallout (65 FPS). For gaming, the HP Envy 13’s hardware doesn’t pack a punch.
Battery life was excellent during our rundown tests. The Envy 13 lasted an impressive 12 hours 59 minutes (HP bases it at 14 hours), with continuous video playback, which is one of the major optimization in the latest Pascal-based processors. In comparison, the ASUS ZenBook 3 gets 11 hours 56 minutes.
It eschewed the MacBook Pro (11:08) and the 12-inch MacBook (11:34), which were our former champs in battery life. To some, it will be surprising to see such a compact system pull good battery life, but the Kaby Lake processor is quite energy efficient thus the all-day battery life.
With an incredibly thin body and aluminum chassis with a premium feel, the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr is easy to recommend. It’ll turn heads once you flash it from the back-pack, but it isn’t a typical case of style over substance, as it rivals or matches other top ultraportables we’ve tested before.
Is there a better alternative?
The Dell XPS 13 9360 is HP’s direct competitor, featuring a newer eighth-generation processor, a high-res Infinity Edge display, superb connectivity including a Thunderbolt 3 port and a sleek design. It remains our Editors’ Choice for midrange ultraportables.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The HP ENVY 13-ab016nr is an easy choice to recommend for folks on a budget but quality design, portability, and solid performance are must-haves.