The latest HP 15-ay013nr laptop features a solid design, stable performance, a Full HD screen, and decent battery life for day-to-day home/office use.
THE GOOD: Strong performance especially on general tasks. True Full HD screen.
THE BAD: Would do with a backlit keyboard.
The latest HP 15-ay013nr $549.00 at Amazon , a midrange desktop-replacement laptop, has been updated with new features that push it from average to top of the class. Its other iteration –that we reviewed earlier– HP 15-ay011nr $459.99 at Amazon was one of the reasonably priced, large screen laptops with a fast processor and good battery life. Although released at the same time, we dinged it for having a slow 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive, since many midrange laptops now come out with snappier solid-state-drives (SSDs). HP rectifies those shortcomings with the HP 15-ay013nr but still maintains the Full-HD (1920 x 1080) screen that wowed many of us in the HP 15-ay011nr. All that along with a fast 128GB SSD, 8GB memory and decent battery life, help the latest HP 15-ay013nr earn our Editors’ Choice for midrange desktop replacement laptops.
The HP 15-ay013nr 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 comes in at It comes in at 0.95 by 15.12 by 10.02 inches (HWD), and weighs in at just over four pounds (4.65 pounds), which is slightly lighter than the HP 15-ay011nr’s 4.73 pounds. 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 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 HP 15-ay013nr 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 previous 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. Apparently, 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-ay013nr 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 includes 8GB of memory on a single DIMM (expandable to 16GB) a faster 128SSD. This is a major improvement from its other iteration that comes with a 1TB hard drive. Here we are looking at snappy boot times and general performance improvement. In the other iteration, HP 15-ay011nr, you have a spacious 1TB hard drive which culminates in slowed booting. The 1TB hard drive rotates at 5,400 revolutions-per-minute (RPM), and 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, then we are looking at the HP 15-ay013nr as an option that is hard to ignore since it already comes with a faster 128GB SSD.
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 system lasted 5 hours 37 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 latest HP 15-ay013nr $549.00 at Amazon is a reasonably priced midrange desktop-replacement laptop with a lot going for it. Its improvements over its other iteration, HP 15-ay011nr $459.99 at Amazon , must be the faster 128GB SSD among other forward-looking technology like a Full HD display, a powerful sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, and strong battery life, all that look like real value for the buck for a midrange laptop. It has a larger screen, better battery life, and faster boot-times than the Acer Aspire E5-573G $539.00 at Amazon , our former Editors’ Choice. True, the HP 15-ay013nr is slightly behind the Acer Aspire E5-573G in matters graphics, but not prohibitively so. If you need some more power, the latest HP 15-ay018nr comes with a sixth-generation Intel Core-i7 processor and a roomier 256GB SSD (we reviewed it here). That said, the HP 15-ay013nr is our Editors’ Choice for midrange desktop-replacement laptops.