HP dv6t Select Edition Notebook Review: First Impressions

Please excuse me while I geek out about my new laptop…

My work now involves some really significant number crunching, to the point that I was regularly using all the CPU and RAM of my previous laptop, and was then struggling to get anything else done while the calculations were running. And then they would crash. It also helps that I will soon need to renew the license on one of the programs that I use, and the student price is only available for a given CPU once. And of course, there’s a game coming out on Tuesday that I really wanted to be able to play.

I decided from the outset that I was going to aim for a high-end system this time. I spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of my laptop, for both work and fun, so I wanted a quality machine. After lots of web-searching and comparing, I decided on the HP dv6t Select Edition. It had impressive specs, and there was a $400 coupon to sweeten the deal. Here are the full stats:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-840QM processor (1.86GHz, 8MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz
  • Windows 7 Home premium 64 bit
  • Hard Drive: 500 GB 7200 RPM
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Screen: 15.6″
  • Resolution: 1366×768
  • Approximate weight: 5.5 lbs
  • Graphics: 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5650 Graphics + HDMI and VGA ports – For Quad Core Processors

The computer arrived on Thursday, so I’ve had a little time to get it set up and get used to it. Here are my first impressions:

First of all, this is the sexiest computer I’ve ever owned. I really like the (mostly) metallic case and the subtle texture on the lid and hand rests. I saw somewhere that similar HP designs had a “pinkish” hue to the metal, but the dv6t SE definitely does not.The computer also feels solidly built, with no “wiggle” in the screen hinges and no flexing when picked up by the corner.

Click for a closer view of the lid texture.

Also, I love the “chiclet” keyboard. It just feels good to type things on it, and it is big enough that I don’t feel cramped at all. If you’re considering this laptop, I highly recommend paying the $25 more for the backlit keyboard. I didn’t realize how useful this feature would be, but I have used it quite a bit.

I do have a few complaints. The biggest problem is the track-pad. For some reason, HP decided to forgo having separate buttons to click and instead made the lower left and right corners of the track-pad clickable. This would be ok, except that those areas also still work as a tracking surface. When I’m using the track-pad I like to have one hand pointing and the other clicking, but this doesn’t work so well when the buttons also act as the pointing surface. Also, you have to push the corner “buttons” down a lot harder than I’d like. The track-pad is also supposedly multi-touch sensitive. I haven’t played with this feature much, but have found it to be pretty unresponsive and therefore useless for scrolling around web-pages and documents.

The trackpad is the worst feature. Click to see its weird all-in-one buttons and the nice texture of the hand-rests.

Basically what I’m saying is that if you get this computer, be prepared to use a wireless mouse. That’s what I normally do anyway so the trackpad is not that big a deal for me.

Another very minor complaint is the row of keys on the far left side of the keyboard. I am used to the control button being the lowest left one, but on this laptop, to the left of ctrl is a button that brings up a calculator program. I find myself occasionally hitting the wrong button and having a calculator pop up instead of, say, copying text with ctrl+C.

One other downside is that it does come with quite a bit of HP crap-ware. But most computers come pre-loaded with software that you’ll never use. Once you get the worst offenders uninstalled or at least turned off, it’s fine.

I really like the keyboard, though I sometimes hit the calculator button instead of Ctrl.

Other factors that might be a problem for some users are heat and battery life. I sprang for a very fast Intel i7 Q840 processor, which puts out a lot of heat when it is working hard, and eats up battery life. I haven’t formally tested the battery, but I wouldn’t count on more than 2 hours. Again, that’s not a big deal for me because I almost always use my laptop near an outlet. And my previous laptop’s battery life had dwindled to about 7 minutes, so this is luxury for me! There is a larger battery than the one I have, so there’s always that option if you’re considering this laptop and want more battery life. The computer itself is very sleek but I was surprised at how chunky the power adapter is. Both the cord and the brick are pretty hefty. Again, this might be an issue for some but not a big deal for me: I’m used to my slightly-heavier Toshiba with a less-bulky AC adapter so the total weight will be similar.

Here's a close-up of the light-up HP logo and texture on the back.

Coming back to heat: yes, this computer runs hot. For normal use it’s warm but not uncomfortable to use on your lap, but if you’re doing anything CPU-intensive, this computer (and any notebook really) should be on a hard surface to allow plenty of air-flow. When I was running work programs, it got mighty toasty.

But holy cow is it fast. It’s noticeably zippy at basic usage tasks, like installing and opening programs, but what really blew me away was using it for work. Not only is it faster, but since I got the 64-bit Windows 7 with 8 gigs of RAM, it easily was able to load my entire dataset for work without breaking a sweat. My previous laptop had to break the data into chunks and half the time would crash if I tried to load too much of it at once.

Bottom line, I am really loving this computer. It looks and feels really nice and has awesome performance to match. The only major downside is the trackpad, and I typically use a mouse anyway so it isn’t a big deal for me. There are some other nitpicks, but overall it is very nice. If you’re looking for a powerful, good-looking notebook computer, I recommend the HP dv6t Select Edition. Especially if you can find any special offers from HP (the coupon I used has expired, but they seem to do a lot of coupons, so look around if you’re considering buying from HP!)

And finally, here is a view of the bottom, which is black plastic rather than metal. I had a hard time finding bottom views when I was shopping for laptops, so hopefully this will be helpful for others:

Explore posts in the same categories: Not Mars, Pictures, Reviews, Ryan's Research, Science of Starcraft

31 Comments on “HP dv6t Select Edition Notebook Review: First Impressions”

  1. Jim Says:

    Sounds like a real win! Any chance you could post the full stats, or a link to another site? (RAM, hard drive, screen size / resolution, …)

    • Ryan Says:

      Oops, good point. I suppose people might want to know that! I’ve updated the post with the full stats.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Haha. I just noticed the ruler next to the computer in one of the pictures. Good work. Is the computer reliable? Mine and many others had issues with motherboard failures that weren’t so great so I’m skeptical of HP now.

    • Ryan Says:

      I’ve only had it for a few days and it has only been available since this spring, so I haven’t heard or experienced any motherboard issues. A friend of mine made a good point when I asked about this though. He quoted the line from Armageddon: “American components, Russian components: All made in Taiwan!”

      • Ryan Says:

        It does have an accelerometer to stop the hard drive from spinning if it is dropped, which is a reassuring feature.

  3. Bassim Mohsen Tawfeeq Says:

    really thanks .. you are very subjective and best review
    for this lap i ever read

    especial Thanks for the bottom photo because it shows some silent pipe for cooling

    and this a little matter to me

    the heat is a little expected because the aluminum i s a good conductor unlike plastic

    but plastic has more cap problems like scratching and finger magnet.

    anyway i’m buying it this week .. would really appreciate if u tell me
    did u discover any new problems with it?

    • Ryan Says:

      I’m glad you found the review helpful! The only problems I’ve been having are due to Windows 7, not the computer itself.

      I have been having trouble with using the scroll-wheel on my mouse, but I think it is a compatibility problem with Windows 7. The computer itself is still great.

  4. Bassim Mohsen Tawfeeq Says:

    mmm .. I have a little idea .. the lower click area can be stopped from tracking and be just clickable
    and that’s by telling hp to release a new driver
    that define a new tracking area coordinates for only the upper area
    leaving the lower only clickable.

    The scrolling response mostly depend on the driver to understand the scrolling very well and calibrate the motions .. cauz I doubt they made the track pad of bad sensors.

    the hard buttons i can’t find a solution for it .. we have to suck it.

    but anyway .. why don’t u try to tell hp about your problem
    and offer them this solution .. they should made u that driver.

    I’ve asked GigaByte 3 months ago for custom BIOS driver
    and they made it for me for free.


  5. We are looking forward to more.

  6. John Says:

    I’ve had this computer since late June…the only difference between his is that I have 4GB RAM…but everything is still amazingly fast and I haven’t even seen it use more than 1.83 GB of that RAM…(while playing MW2 even)

    It’s fast…even faster without crapware and dumb startup programs…like VERY fast. Zero problems for two months.

    Just go out and buy one…

  7. John Says:

    Also…I like the trackpad. It took a week to get used to and now…works great for me

  8. maninov Says:

    Thanks for the review

  9. Bassim Mohsen Tawfeeq Says:

    Hey .. I was surfing the Forums of DV6SE and found this

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-envy-hdx/502589-e14-trackpad-discussion-only.html

    I hope it ‘ll be useful for u guys.

  10. Bassim Says:

    Thanks to ur review i got my DV6 3060ee last night
    And it’s really awesome
    Touchpad is great .. u only need to learn the gestures
    no thing else matters

    For the normal browsing and music stuff
    the lap gets a little bit warm .. but not hot.

    Battery is less than 2 hours for browsing internet

    =========
    the only downfall as i think is

    the power brick is very large
    and heavy.

  11. Rachid Says:

    i just bought mine but i have the intel i5, i am suppose to get it friday i will comment if i find anything wrong with it.

    • Bassim Says:

      good for u
      the i5 has many features:
      smaller power brick
      less heat
      switchable graphics card .. means more battery time.

  12. shox Says:

    that’s the best review of that laptop online ! you did a great job , but can you post newer pics after days of use , and any heat measurements maybe benchmark scores ?
    that would be sooo amazing ! thank you soo much already
    i made my mind cause of ur review !

  13. da Q-ban one.. Says:

    Best review I’ve ever read by FAR!

    I JUST go my dv6se, in fact I’m writing my review on it right now!!!
    Mine, though not like the reviewer’s, I had built with the intel i5 (2.4 Ghz, which I understand has hyperthreading, so it is fast enough for me), 6gigs of RAM, the 1gig video card (HD5650) and an 160gig SSD. So far it is very fast, although I must say I am no hugely impressed. I was expecting WAY more speed with the 6 gigs of RAM and the SSD, as opposed to my late :( dv4t ent. notebook, which my wife threw and dismantled to pieces during an argument (it’s OK though, she replaced it with this beauty :9 jeje). So, as I was saying, my dv4t had a Core2Duo (also 2.4Ghz), 4gigs of RAM, and integrated graphics, and yet it performed quite alright in my opinion. Now, I have a theory, and it’s that this new laptop, the dv6se came with a LOAD of crapware, and since it is such a small drive (160gig SSD), I’m not seeing the full potential? could this be it? or am I not testing it with the proper load? So far i’ve simply done some web browsing and video watching on youtube. In any case, can someone please help me decide what to get rid of and what to keep, and also recommend a utility that works best removing those “more stubborn” programs like NORTON, which I don’t even want to begin to remove, as last time I was not able to, and had to shred it using tuneup utilities 08. Another option is for me to do a clean re-install as I ordered the $19 Win7 DVD in case of emergency. My only fear is that I won’t be able to get all my drivers or programs that I actually like and want to keep like most of the MediaSmart stuff, among others. Any suggestions, please be thorough in your suggestions. Much appreciated, thank you in advance.

  14. da Q-ban one.. Says:

    (continued from last post)

    The >>>>>>> Any suggestions? >>>> part, I meant as a question, but forgot the question mark.

    I am really leaning more towards a clean reinstall, but need to be sure that I will get most of the programs that I actually want to keep, back after reinstalling. Now, with my dv4t, I upgraded to win7 ultimate and was never able to get my MediaSmart stuff working the way it was before (when I was running vista). I went to hp and got all the drivers that it listed under my serial and model of laptop, but it was never the same (granted, it was faster and I probably did not miss the older stuff too much due to the hype of having a newer, much better OS than before, but this time that will not be the case. As I said in my previous post, I ordered the System recovery DVD for my version of Win7 (there are two discs), then there is a third disc labeled “Application and Driver Recovery DVD”, and a please note warning: Only for the recovery of the originally selected language version. And on the System Recovery DVDs, it says: “Installing this disc will return your computer’s hard disk drive to its original software configuration.” Does this mean that if I reinstall, I will get the same Crapware that I have now? Can someone please advise as to what I should do, or a way to safely get rid of some crapware? Thank you. Sorry for the double post, I should’ve been more clear in the first one…

  15. Bassim Mohsen Tawfeeq Says:

    Listen this post is giving u some info. about each program .. and u decide what to keep and what to remove.

    here’s the link:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-compaq-voodoo-pc/432564-hp-laptop-out-box-guide-2-0-windows-7-a.html#post5496474

    also u can search forum for other beautiful topics:

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/5668647-post3614.html

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/6468855-post6307.html

    if u did a recovery using the recovery partion .. u ‘ll find with the same crap ware came with the lap .. nothing changed.

    and here’s a link to the drivers and media smart
    http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/softwareCategory?lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&product=4207971&lang=en&#

  16. Eric Says:

    I appreciate so much the time you spent making this review. All other review I found were shallow and emotional.

    Very helpful, and I did order this laptop.

  17. notebook Says:

    I want to use this article in my website. Thats so useful

  18. Alisa Says:

    I’ve had this laptop for a couple months now, and I absolutely love it. The first one I received was actually defected (the trackpad was sticking out very slightly, making the buttons incredibly difficult to click), but HP exchanged it for a new one. The trackpad can be a nuisance at first, but I’ve grown quite comfortable with it now. Scrolling isn’t much of a problem anymore.

    The only problem that I’m seeing now is that the keys are starting to sink…. especially my space bar, left shift key and the enter key. When I turn on my backlit keyboard, I can’t see the light underneath anymore. And, my space bar key is bent in the middle where I normally press when I type.

    Macs and other brands use chiclet keyboards too, but I don’t think their keys have the same problem. I’m afraid that in a couple more months, half my keys might be lower. Then, having a backlit keyboard won’t even be beneficial anymore.

    Is anyone else finding this problem?

  19. Raj Ghosh Says:

    could you please tell me the speed of the RAM?

  20. Aditya Says:

    the speed of the ram for i5(in fact any dual core which has ddr3) is 1066Mhz and for quad core i7 is 1333Mhz


  21. the good thing about notebook computers is that they are not very heavy but they have small screens ~`:

  22. Austorior Says:

    I’ve had this laptop for a couple of months now. I also had the “stiff” trackpad problem when I first got it, but the buttons actually get better with wear; now it feels very normal.
    The multitouch experience of the trackpad is not on par with apple’s, but that should be expected and is the same with basically all other manufacturers. After you get used to it, it is very easy to use in fact.
    Also, there is a setting in control panel to disable the button area.
    I do find the screen a little washed out compared to other laptops in the same price range, for example, my friend’s dell studio.
    ALso, if you are a linux user, I would not recommend this laptop since the switchable graphics is not completely supported and the trackpad will have some problems.
    I’ve had problems with booting from usb drives, but that might just be me.

  23. naren Says:

    Touchpad of this laptop sucks…
    and the heat, u can toast your breakfast on this… seriously pissing me off.. i can not use this on my lap / bed..

  24. ash Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Naren, it burns!! I have exactly the same laptop except its an i5 and this laptop gives out electric shocks as well!

    So apart from getting burnt and electrocuted by this laptop, i guess it’s not so bad…

  25. Emybkbdy Says:

    moose skulls,

  26. Tenrai Says:

    Thank you for uploading a bottom photo of your Dv6t ^^


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