HP is on a bit of a roll of late. Even though the company has been one of the biggest laptop and PC makers in the world for a while now (second only to Lenovo when it comes to market share, fact fans), it certainly hasn’t been resting on its laurels, and its recent laptop releases, like the HP Envy 13, are some of the best laptops its ever made.
HP’s Envy lineup of laptops are mid-range device that aren’t as premium (or expensive) as its Spectre line of laptops, pitching it against the likes of Dell’s Latitude range of laptops. But don't let that put you off, these computers are still hugely powerful and feature regularly in our round up of the best laptops for video editing.
Creating a mid-range laptop that treads that fine balance between offering great value for money, while making sure not to skimp on performance, features and design, can be tricky, but it’s a feat that if any company can achieve, it’s HP.
These mid-rangers are ideal for creative professionals as they look good, perform well for many creative tasks, like photo and video editing, while not costing the earth.
HP Envy 13 review: Price
The cheapest configuration of the HP Envy 13 costs £779. While this isn’t budget laptop territory, it’s certainly very affordable when compared to premium laptops like the MacBook Pro (see our 16-inch MacBook Pro review for more details), or Acer ConceptD 7.
For the price, you get an Intel Core i5 8265U processor, 1.3-inch full-HD display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card. That graphics card is a nice bonus in a laptop of this price (which usually use lower-powered integrated graphics), and while it’s not much use for gaming, it gives the laptop a bit more oomph when it comes to graphic-intensive tasks.
As is often the case with HP’s laptops, there are various different configurations, so if you have a bigger budget and want something a bit more powerful, there’s likely a HP Envy 13 for you.
For example, the next model up comes with a new Intel Core 15-1035G1 processor for £899. In our opinion, getting the newer processor is worth the extra money, as you’re getting a decent performance boost. You don’t get the discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card with this model, but that doesn’t really matter as the integrated graphics of the Intel processor are much improved.
You can also get a model with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor and double the SSD storage space for £999, which again is worth considering if you want more power, and that extra storage space will be welcome for anyone who works with large files (such as photographers).
Finally, there’s a version (which is the one we have tested here) which comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage for £1,049. Despite the older processor, this is the best configuration for digital creatives thanks to the additional RAM and storage space.
HP Envy 13 review: Power and performance
The HP Envy 13 that we got in for review comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor. This is an 8th generation Intel processor, which means its showing its age a bit, but it’s still a formidable CPU that offers plenty of power for a laptop.
Coupled with the 16GB of RAM, and this configuration is a powerful little laptop that will breeze through day-to-day tasks. That amount of RAM and powerful quad-core processor means multitasking isn’t an issue – you can easily have plenty of apps open at once, and swapping between them all is fast and fluid. The HP Envy 13 comes with Windows 10 Home, and that feels quick and responsive when in use.
The only complaint we have with the Intel Core i7-8565U is that the integrated graphics aren’t as good as Intel’s newer 10th generation processors, but that’s been mainly addressed by the GeForce MX250 GPU, which is enough to handle video and photo editing.
For the price, we saw performance on par with more expensive laptops, like the Dell XPS 13, which is very impressive, as it means you can save money without compromising on performance if you go for the HP Envy 13.
Battery life is also impressive, as we managed to work a whole 6-hour day without needing a charge. Now, during that time we didn’t do anything too intensive, like render 4K videos, but it means you can happily work on this laptop without worrying too much about when you’ll next need to charge it.
When the battery does need charging, it does so pretty fast, thanks to fast charging tech that meant it was able to go from empty to 50% in just 45 minutes.
Compared to more expensive ultrabooks like the XPS 13 and HP Spectre x360, the HP Envy 13 did really well, beating them all by about an hour.
Power-wise, then, we were very impressed with the HP Envy 13, and for most people’s needs, this laptop offers a level of performance that will allow you to work while on the go.
HP Envy 13 review: Display
As a mid-range laptop, you won’t find any crazy-high 4K resolutions here, but the IPS 1080p display of the HP Envy 13 is bright, vibrant and looks excellent considering the price. The 13.3-inch diagonal display may feel a little cramped for people, but it keeps the overall size of the HP Envy 13 down, which means the laptop is a great portable choice for people who do a lot of travelling.
There’s no professional calibration or support for industry colour gamuts, and this might put off people who need colour accuracy with their creative work, but again, due to the price of the laptop, this omission isn’t too surprising, and for many people it won’t be an issue. Certainly using the HP Envy 13 for day to day use will leave you with a positive impression of the display. The thin bezels around the screen again keep the overall size of the laptop down, while also giving the laptop a modern look.
The screen is also a touchscreen, and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass technology, to keep it from getting scratched. While the touchscreen doesn’t mean this laptop can be used as a graphic tablet (the screen doesn’t fold all the way back, nor is a stylus included), it gives you an extra way to interact with the laptop, and that’s to be commended.
Overall, the display isn’t the most amazing screen we’ve seen in a laptop, but it does the job well, and most people will enjoy the bright and vibrant image quality on offer here.
HP Envy 13 review: Key features
Even though the HP Envy 13 is on the more affordable spectrum of Ultrabooks (which are classed as thin and light laptops that offer high-end performance), it still comes with some great features that will be especially useful for digital creatives.
For a start, it has a decent port selection with two standard USB-size ports and a single newer USB-C. This offers you a decent amount of flexibility when it comes to what peripherals you use. If you have older USB devices, you can easily plug them in to the HP Envy 13, while newer USB-C devices are also supported – though as it is just a single USB-C port, it means if you have more than one USB-C device you may need to buy an adapter to add more ports.
The USB-C port is also used for charging the HP Envy 13. This is good as it means you can make use of that fast-charging feature we mentioned earlier, and it also means you can use other USB-C chargers to top up the HP Envy 13 if you forget the one that comes with the laptop, as long as they provide enough power.
However, it does mean that you lose that single USB-C port when charging.
An interesting feature with the standard USB ports is that they feature mechanisms that close the port when not in use. This helps keep the HP Envy 13 as thin and light as possible while including the full-size USB ports.
Another welcome feature is the inclusion of an SD card slot, which will be of interest to photographers in particular, as it means you can insert your camera’s memory card into the HP Envy 13 without the need of an adapter. These ports are in stark contrast to the limited amount Apple includes in its modern MacBooks, where you’re stuck with two (or four in bigger models) USB-C ports – which means anyone with older USB devices need to buy an adapter.
The HP Envy 13 also features a physical kill switch for its webcam, which is a great privacy feature for people who are wary of the potential for hackers to gain access to your webcam.
There’s also a fingerprint scanner for biometric login to Windows 10, and Bang & Olufsen speakers that provide impressive sound quality that you don’t usually expect from a laptop.
HP Envy 13 review: Should you buy it?
The HP Envy 13 is a great example of a laptop that manages to offer premium features, performance and design, while keeping things reasonably affordable. This isn’t the cheapest laptop you can buy, and nor is it the most expensive, but it’s a great mid-range laptop that will suit most people’s needs. Crucially, it never feels like a compromise.
Build quality is excellent and performance for most day-to-day tasks is excellent. There’s a decent amount of ports available, so if you’re a photographer this is an easily portable – and cheaper – alternative to the MacBook that offers more versatility than Apple’s laptop.
There’s certainly a lot to commend the HP Envy 13 for. At this price point, it offers a design and features you’d expect to see on a more expensive laptop.
However, it won’t be for everyone. Some models use older hardware, and none of the configurations of the HP Envy 13 are hugely powerful. If you need a workstation laptop that can handle particularly heavy workloads, like 4K video rendering, then you’d be better off spending more money on a more powerful laptop – you’ll only get frustrated.
Also, digital artists who are after something to doodle on may be better off getting a 2-in-1 laptop, like the Dell XPS 13, as while the HP Envy 13 comes with a touchscreen, it’s not very suited to use with a stylus.
Overall, though, for the price, the HP Envy 13 offers excellent value for money.