The HP 15-ay018nr is a desktop-replacement laptop that offers well-rounded performance thanks to a decent set of components including a Full HD, snappy 256GB SSD and sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB system memory.
THE GOOD: Strong performance especially on general tasks. True Full HD screen.
THE BAD: Would do with a backlit keyboard.
The desktop replacement category is pretty competitive right now, with plenty of manufacturers making sturdy, long-lasting laptops with fast, powerful processors: that were a few months back a preserve for the premium category. The HP 15-ay018nr fits right in: It’s among the few powerful systems you can currently get, but it still manages to earn our nod in performance benchmarks. With quality materials and construction, excellent components including a sixth-generation (Skylake) Intel Core i7 processor, 256GB SSD and 8GB memory. It adds up as the bigger brother to both the HP 15-ay013nr (Intel Core i5,128GB SSD) and the HP-ay011nr (Intel Core i5, 1TB HDD) $459.99 at Amazon , thanks to well-rounded design and performance. This laptop will appeal to you if quality design and solid performance are must-haves.
HP bills this 15-inch laptop with the same design as its stablemates the HP 15-ay013nr and HP-ay011nr, safe for the internal components. It measures 0.95 by 15.12 by 10.02 inches (HWD), and weighs in at just over four pounds (4.75 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 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 HP 15-ay018nr has a dual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 6200U processor (turbo up to 3.1GHz), 8GB DDR4 system memory and an integrated Intel HD 520 graphics card. Yes, here you don’t have a dedicated graphics card like the Acer Aspire E15 (E5-575G-76YK), that comes with Nvidia GeForce 940MX 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 will be more than sufficient for most day-to-day tasks. The snappy 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) is M.2 compatible, but it’s installed in 2.5” slot meaning you can install an extra 2.5” here. However, you have an extra slot for upgrading the system memory to 16GB.
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 ASUS K501UW-AB78 Gaming Laptop. With the HP 15-ay018nr 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 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) 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-ay018nr as an option that is hard to ignore since it already comes with a faster 256GB 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 28 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.
With an incredibly sturdy body and well-rounded performance, the HP 15-ay018nr is easy to recommend. It’ll turn heads, but it’s not the usual case of style over substance as it brings down premium components such as a Full HD, snappy 256GB SSD and sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor down to the budget category. 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 E15 (E5-575G-76YK) $699.99 at Amazon , our Editors’ Choice. True, the HP 15-ay018nr is slightly behind the Acer Aspire E15 $549.99 at Amazon in matters graphics, but not prohibitively so. Therefore, we have no qualms recommending the HP 15-ay018nr for anyone in the market to buy an everyday laptop on a limited budget.