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.
PROS: Strong performance especially on general tasks. True Full HD screen.
CONS: Would do with a backlit keyboard.
The HP 15-ay013nr, a midrange desktop-replacement laptop, has been updated with new features that push it from average to top of the class. Its other iteration the HP 15-ay011nr 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.
Design and Build
The HP 15 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. Measuring 0.95 by 15.12 by 10.02 inches (HWD), and weighs in at just over four pounds (4.65 pounds), this system is fairly 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.
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 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 pre-installed Windows 10, touch isn’t a must have. 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.
Ports and Storage
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. You also get an optical drive, which most manufacturers are shedding of modern systems. Missing is a VGA port, which isn’t a big deal, but would come handy in case you need to hook up the system to an old VGA monitor.
The system includes 8GB of memory on a single DIMM (expandable to 16GB) a faster 128SSD. A notable impovement over its other iteration, that feateures a 1TB 5400rpm hard drive. The SSD suffices for fast booting and gives an overall performance. Its other sibling the HP 15-ay011nr has a spacious, but slow-loading 1TB hard drive, which can easily be swapped for a fast 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.
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 delivers acceptable performance on most productivity tasks. For instance, the 8GB of memory will let you keep dozens of browser tabs open simultaneously, and the SSD will speed thing up.
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 i5577-5335BLK-PUS that features a seventh generation Intel Core i5-7300HQprocessor and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card.
Battery life is good, not excellent. The system lasted 5 hours 37 minutes on our battery rundown test, which is acceptable for a basic system with a full HD system. The latest ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH55, with its eight generation processor leads the pack with all day battery life. Thanks to its lithium ion battery pack, the Zenbook UX330UA lasted 11 hours and 43 minutes on our rundown test, eschewing the Dell XPS 15 Touch (9550) (5:56) and even the MacBook Pro 15-Inch Retina Display (2014) (8:55).
The Bottom Line
The latest HP 15-ay013nr is a reasonably priced midrange desktop-replacement laptop with a lot going for it. Its improvements over its other iteration the HP 15-ay011nr, 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 most of its peers in the same category, making it an easy choice to recommend for work and college. It is our Editors Choice for budget desktop-replacement laptops.
Well, that was in 2016 and the release of the HP 15 just coincided with the launch of Intel’s sixth generation line of CPUs codenamed ‘Kaby Lake’ that saw us enjoy more powerful systems for ever decreasing amounts of money. To date, it has remained a steadfast favorite among office users, college students and enthusiast gamers, alike. A lot has changed since then, and consumers preferences have shifted, dictated by need for even better performance and longer battery life.
In Q1 of 2017, Intel launched its seventh-generation processors to succeed the 6th Gen. chips and on that line the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 emerged as our newest Editors Choice desktop replacement laptops. It adds a couple of performance improvements over its predecessor that are tough to beat including: a seventh generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card, 8GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD storage. All these features combined with over 11 hours of battery life, make it our newest Top Pick for the category, worth having at the top of your list.