HP Envy 17 3D

Yesterday I picked up an HP Envy 17 3D at the local Microsoft Store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. The Microsoft Store offers the Envy 17 3D, bundled with all the features you need in a good desktop replacement gaming PC, at a really nice price.

Sherri L. Smith, reviewing the Envy 17 for Laptop Magazine on January 27, gave it 4 stars and an Editor’s Choice Award:

HP knows how to make a winner. Not only has HP redesigned the Envy 17, but it has jam-packed this $1,484 system with a slew of crowd-pleasing features. From its full 1080p display and excellent audio to its Intel Core i7 processor and AMD switchable graphics, the notebook is an undeniable multimedia powerhouse.

But wait, there’s more: in the section on configurations, Smith noted:

Our $1,484 review unit of the Envy 17 came equipped with a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, an AMD Radeon HD 7690M XT GPU with 1GB of VRAM and a Blu-ray DVD burner. The $1,249 base model features a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2450M processor, 6GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, an AMD Radeon HD 7690M GPU with 1GB of VRAM and a DVD burner.

Consumers looking to break the third dimension can check out the Envy 17 3D. With a starting price of $1,599, the Envy 17 3D features a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, a Blu-ray DVD burner and a 1920 x 1080p full 3D display.

The Microsoft Store apparently wants consumers to break that third dimension, because they’re offering the $1,599 Envy 17 3D for only $1,499, with an additional store discount card for $200. And here’s a hat trick: I gave my discount card to a friend, who used it to buy an identical Envy 17 3D, which immediately yielded another $200 discount card. The end result: we each got the $1,599 list price system for $1,399 with a $200 discount card left over, enough for a 3-PC copy of 2010 MS Office Home and Student Edition and two wireless mice. (Funny how that worked out…)

A lot of hardcore computer gamers will probably scoff at anything other than a custom build, but there’s a lot to be said for choosing a production run configuration if you can find one that suits your taste: there’s safety in numbers. A production run configuration will always have more quality assurance testing than a custom build configuration, so most compatibility issues will be sorted out in advance. And if you still wind up with a bad apple, it’s simple to just return it for another. With a custom build, good luck with that.

In summary, the HP Envy 17 3D is definitely worth checking out. The Microsoft Store looks like a good place to check it out and see if it meets your requirements.

UPDATE, 2/5/2012. I have to note two minor differences between the configuration described by Laptop Magazine and the configuration offered by The Microsoft Store:

    • Plus – The Microsoft Store’s configuration has two Toshiba 500 GB 7200-rpm hard drives. So you’re getting an additional 250GB of drive space. The important part is that the two drives are 7200-rpm (instead of the 1 TB 5400-rpm hard drive on many notebooks), so disk access is faster.
    • Minus – The Microsoft Store’s configuration has 6 GB of RAM rather than 8 GB. This is not necessarily a show-stopper, but at least 8 GB is increasingly the industry standard. So I’m off to the store shortly to see about adding at least an extra 2 GB. Fortunately, the additional 2 GB isn’t expensive at all as long as there is a slot free.

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