The HP 15-ay011nr is an affordable desktop-replacement laptop with a Full HD display, and hardware suited for your day-to-day computing tasks.
THE GOOD: Strong productivity and multimedia performance. Full HD display.
THE BAD: Slow hard drive. Lacks keyboard backlighting.
Typically, systems priced in the lower end of midrange desktop-replacement laptops come with one or two glaring compromises. The HP 15-ay011nr maintains well-rounded features, including a fast sixth-generation processor, 8GB of memory, 1TB hard drive and a 1080p and a 1080p display. All these features suffice for any user looking for a middle-of-the-road laptop that has all it needs to learn how to use Windows 10 while finishing on some office/school projects. That said, the HP 15-ay013nr remains our Editors’ Choice midrange desktop replacement laptop, thanks to its full HD display and solid performance on most day-to-day computing tasks.
Design and Features
The HP 15-ay011nr isn’t any thinner than rivals, which is attributed to the fact that while other manufacturers are eschewing the optical drive, we still have it in this model. It measures 0.95 by 15.12 by 10.02 inches (HWD), and weighs in at just over four pounds (4.73 pounds) or 2.14kg. It’s still a full sized laptop overall, thanks to its 15.6-inch screen, which has a 1,920 by 1080 resolution, good for 1080p HD videos. The full-HD resolutions is something we’ve previously seen mostly on pricier systems.
It does not quite offer the clarity or wide viewing angles of an In-Plane-Switching (IPS) screen, but the picture is sharp and can be viewed reasonably well from most angles. More expensive midrange systems like the Acer Aspire R14 R3-471T-77HT and the Lenovo Edge 15 lack IPS displays as well, and the ASUS Zenbook Pro UX501VW-DS71T, which does have one, will have you throw in more bucks.
The display doesn’t support touch, but depending on your needs, that might not be a deal breaker as such. In fact, a touch screen would only serve to drive up the system’s price further, and with the ore-installed Windows 10, dependence on touch navigation has been reduced unlike its predecessor Windows 8/8.1. If you really need a touch screen, you can perhaps look at the Lenovo Edge 15 or the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, though you will generally spend more for the touch functionality. Here you also get a well-designed, comfortable keyboard and full numeric pad with keys that provide a satisfying click and a pleasant soft feel, though no back-lighting.
The system includes 8GB of memory on a single DIMM (expandable to 16GB) and a spacious (albeit slow) 1TB hard drive. The 1TB hard drive rotates at 5,400 revolutions-per-minute (RPM), though, we expected at least 7,200RPM in an otherwise superb machine, you can swap it with a faster SSD. However, if swapping the drives is an uphill task for you, you can opt for the HP 15-ay013nr, which is another iteration of the same model but features a 128GB Solid-State Drive.
Connectivity options include one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a headset jack, and an Ethernet port. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0, integrated 802.11.ac wireless, and an SD card slot, and the laptop does feature a DVD burner, though not everybody needs it in 2016. The system lacks a VGA port, which can be inconvenient if you’re planning on using the system with an older VGA monitor you have in your home.
The HP 15-ay011nr has a dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 6200U processor (turbo up to 2.8GHz), 8GB system memory and an integrated Intel HD 520 graphics card. Yes, here you don’t have a dedicated graphics card like the Acer Aspire E5-573G-57HR, our Editors’ Choice, that comes with Nvidia GeForce 940M graphics card with 2GB of video memory; but that comes into consideration if you plan on gaming or running applications that are graphics-oriented. For mid-range notebook users, the sixth generation (Skylake) processor with a CPU benchmark score of 3,900 can deliver on most tasks.
Typically, 8GB will let you keep dozens of browser tabs open simultaneously, and 1TB is more than enough for most family snapshots and music files. 1TB may eventually get a little cramped if you like to download multiple full seasons of TV shows in HD.
For gaming, the laptop won’t deliver the best experience due to lack of a dedicated graphics card. The integrated Intel HD 520 graphics will only allow you poke around some casual games, but if you need some eye candy you can look at our Editors’ Choice budget gaming laptop, the Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK. With the HP 15-ay011nr you can only get not-so-good FPS: For instance, GTA5 will be playable at 25FPS at 1366 by 768 resolutions. However, for basic games like Counter-Strike you can tone up the settings and still have it run smoothly.
The system lasted 4 hours 56 minutes on our battery rundown test, which is commendable, given its 1080p display. The Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK came ahead (7:16), with most systems like the Lenovo Edge 15 (4:39) falling well short.
The Bottom Line
The HP 15-ay011nr is a 15-inch desktop-replacement laptop, that doesn’t bring into the competition new features, safe for a faster processor, an affordable sticker price and a Full HD display. It offers middle-of-the-road performance when compared to competing machines like the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241. While the system can’t run the most demanding games or have niceties such as a backlit keyboard and touch screen, it is still a modest option for the home/office user or student on a budget than most specialized systems.
Given its decent performance, it still lacks the chops to unseat the HP 15-ay013nr remains our Editors’ Choice midrange desktop replacement laptop, thanks to its full HD display and solid performance on most day-to-day computing tasks.