HP Pavilion Plus 14 First Impressions

Posted on July 8, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 11 with 6 Comments

It is immediately obvious that the HP Pavilion Plus 14 is an incredible value no matter which configuration you choose. My only question is how HP can continue to differentiate its more premium offerings or justify their higher prices.

I know how that sounds. But think about this one for a moment: when was the last time you could purchase a high-quality laptop with an H-series Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 14-inch OLED display for under $1000? Right, never. Oh, and that configuration is on sale right now for $850.

Have I got your attention now? I thought so.

As its name suggests, the HP Pavilion Plus 14 is an improved version of a more pedestrian Pavilion laptop, one that comes with several important upgrades. This is something HP’s been doing a lot lately: take an already popular PC model, pump up the specs, and offer it as a premium alternative for not that much more money. In enthusiast space, the Dragonfly Elite did this to the EliteBook 14, and then the Elite Dragonfly Max did it again to the original Elite Dragonfly. And in the business world, the EliteBook 840 Aero did it to the EliteBook 840.

But you don’t have to plumb the upper regions of HP’s price sheet to find examples. It performed similar magic in the consumer space last year with the HP Pavilion Aero. And now it’s doing it again.

To be clear, the addition of the word “Plus” to the laptop’s name does little to convey the improvements one can find in this new model. HP tells me that it’s the thinnest-ever Pavilion laptop at just 16.5 mm towards the front and 18.4 mm at the rear. And though it’s less wide side-to-side than the non-Plus Pavilion 14, it offers a taller 16:10 display with a higher 87 percent screen-to-body ratio, as opposed to 84 percent.

Speaking of the screen, the Pavilion Plus 14 is also the first Pavilion to offer an OLED display option, which is on the review unit and is a stunner with bright HDR colors and deep blacks. The display is rated at a bright 400 nits, and it supports 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space, making this PC a solid choice for creators. It’s also available at a resolution up to 2.8K, or 2880 x 1800, which is admittedly unusual but provides a sub-4K high-DPI experience. There are also 60 Hz and 90 Hz options.

Intriguingly, the Pavilion Plus 14 can be had with U-, P-, or H-series 12th-Gen Intel Core processors, and here I have to pause for a moment to consider what that means. After all, while each is a hybrid design, with both performance and efficiency cores, each also offers a very different power profile: where the U-series are 15-watts, to date the typical processor series for mainstream Ultrabooks and laptops, the P-series chips are 28-watt parts, and the even higher-end H-series chips are 45-watts. It’s surprising—and a bit incredible that the thin and light Pavilion Plus can be configured with any of them. It can also be configured with up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2050 4G graphics.

For those curious, the review unit comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H processor with 14 cores—6 performance and 8 efficiency cores—and integrated Iris Xe graphics, and this necessitated a 90-watt USB-C power supply. It also shipped with 16 GB of RAM, though HP was forced to bump up the storage to a 1 TB SSD because the 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD parts used in that $850/$1000 configuration noted above are in short supply. I’ll manage.

The way HP explains it, the U-series models are aimed at mainstream users, while the P-series models target heavy multitaskers and digital creators, and the H-series products offer the best performance for both work and play. The H-series models also get HP’s Omen Gaming Hub software, which, among other things, can automatically optimize your system for the best performance.

Naturally, I wondered how stuffing a powerful H-series processor into such a thin chassis would impact temperatures and fan noise. But HP has completely redesigned the cooling system around two new thin-bladed fans and dual heat pipes that vent air out the back and below the display. And the firm claims that the dramatically improved airflow reduces heat and noise whether you’re gaming, streaming, creating, or multitasking. I’ve only just configured the PC with all my apps and data, and it’s been mostly whisper quiet so far. But I’ll be editing some videos soon.

That said, battery life should suffer with this configuration, of course. HP says I can expect to see about 6 hours of real-world battery life, but I will test that.

Expansion is mostly great, though there is notably no Thunderbolt 4 support. Instead, we get a 5 Gbps USB-A port and a microSD card reader on the left, along with a combo headphone/microphone port.

And on the right, there’s a second 5 Gbps USB-A port, an HDMI 2.1 port, and two 10 Gbps USB-C ports with USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4, and HP Sleep and Charge support.

The backlit keyboard seems terrific so far, and it has that column of Home, Pg Up, Pg Dn, and End keys that I really like, but is not in any way quiet. Most of the other keys are pretty standard, but there’s an emoji key (F2), which I’d never seen before.

The touchpad is humongous, too big really, and I’ve already had to disable three- and four-finger taps and gestures because of misclicks.

More impressive, at least on paper, there’s a 5 MP HP True Vision web camera with temporal noise reduction, HP Presence, and auto-framing so you can move around a bit, plus integrated dual array digital microphones for online meetings. And the stereo speakers are tuned by Bang & Olufsen and support HP Audio Boost but not Dolby Atmos.

Of course, it’s still a Pavilion. And the Pavilion Plus 14 has to make some, shall we say, concessions to its more premium stablemates.

The construction is all aluminum—except for the black plastic bezels—but it comes in three parts, the bottom two of which are held together by Torx screws, instead of being an all-in-one CNC-machined piece. I have zero issues with that, and I find the design to be classy and classic, with a nice premium feel.

The screen can’t lay flat. Can’t, in fact, come anywhere close to flat. And there are no multitouch options, though I happen to find that preferable on a laptop.

It’s allegedly offered in five colors globally—Space Blue, Warm Gold, Mineral Silver, Tranquil Pink, and Natural Silver—but only the boring latter option—gray—can be had in the U.S. (HP says that Warm Gold may be coming soon.)

There’s no mention of fast charging, so I’ll look into that.

And there are some unfortunate software mistakes that HP doesn’t make on its premium PCs. Two HP utilities and McAfee LiveSafe are pinned to the Taskbar by default, and HP overloads the Start menu with an unfortunate amount of crap that includes WildTangent Games, Simple Solitaire, Express VPN, a Dropbox promotion, and hard/impossible to remove crap like Adobe Offers, Amazon.com, and Booking.com. There are over 15 HP- and Omen-branded utilities, and a smattering of hardware-related utilities.

But then there’s the pricing.

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 starts at just $790 (at HP or Staples, now on sale for $710) for a configuration with a P-series Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage, and a 2.2K (2240 x 1400) IPS display. That’s impressive, of course, but there are other configurations of note, some at other retailers. Walmart offers a version of that with a 512 GB SSD for just $703 (on sale, normally $850). And HP offers a U-series configuration with a Core i7, NVIDIA RTX 2050 graphics, a 2.8K OLED display, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage for about $1230. You can, of course, customize the device at HP as well.

We’ll see how it holds up in testing, but the Pavilion Plus 14 looks impressive and could be the laptop value of the year. Let’s find out.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “HP Pavilion Plus 14 First Impressions”

  1. hrlngrv

    Yup, it's an HP keyboard, with half-height Up and Down cursor keys, the thing which guarantees I'll never willingly buy an HP laptop.

    • Daishi

      In all honesty I think, given the choice of one or the other, I’d take the row of dedicated home/end/pg up/pg down over full sized up and down arrows. But the thing that doesn’t make sense is that they’ve got that huge right shift key that could easily be cut down to accommodate a full-sized up arrow and they don’t.

      • anoldamigauser

        If they cut down the size of the right shift key, you will hit the up arrow key if you are a touch typist. I have an Asus that has that configuration, and it is far too easy to hit the arrow key.

        If you are a search and destroy typist, your mileage may vary.

    • rob_segal

      Half-height up and down arrow keys are standard on a laptop these days. For many, half-height inverted T arrow keys are the best for laptops.

  2. Travis

    Something about the look of this that just doesn’t resonate for me. I was in the market for a new laptop a couple weeks ago and opted for a Lenovo yoga 6, r7 16gb 512 for $799. It is a fantastic laptop. Lenovo has some really nice models.

  3. dougkinzinger

    Dang. Solid specs at a great price. HP's been doing a great job innovating and maintaining, for sure.