HP Envy 15 2020 takes it up a notch or three

HP Envy 15 2020

The new HP Envy 15 2020 range is for creators. An 88% screen-to-body-ratio, the latest Intel or AMD processors, optional 4K, 15.6” screen and NVIDIA GeForce graphics make it a powerful desktop computer.

The HP 2020 Envy range is a refinement of the 2019 range. The Envy series sits about halfway up the HP range – Essential, Pavilion, Envy, Spectre and EliteBook, so you are getting many of the high-end specs for a lower price. So much so that HP has redefined it from an ‘everyday’ laptop to the premium series.

I admit to a soft spot for HP products – we have two Spectre x360s in the family. A few years ago, HP was boring, practical and meh.  Since 2017 it has become fun and sexy again producing innovative designs at reasonable prices.

HP Envy 15 2020 models 15-epXXXXTX

As is usual HP have a plethora of models so we will try to list the variations

  • Price from $2799 to $4999 (i7 models)
  • 15.6” FHD LED, 300nits OR 4K OLED, 400nits, 10,000:1, 100% DCI-P3, Delta E <2 (calibrated)
  • Intel 10th Gen i7-10750H up to i9 H-series
  • Intel UHD Graphics and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 and micro-SD slot
  • 512GB to 2TB PCIe NVMe. RAID 0 (2xSSD) available
  • Wi-Fi 6 AX 2×2, BT 5.0.
  • HP Dynamic Power allocates power between the CPU and GPU. The IR thermal sensor supports Performance Control which allows you to adjust the temperature according to needs
  • Gaming PC-grade thermals – a vapour chamber and two 12-volt fans reduce throttling
  • Ports: 2 x TB3, HDMI 2.0, 2XUSB-A 3.1 and 2xUSB-C 3.1
  • Battery capacity 6-cell, 83 Wh, 18.5-hours and 50% fast charge in 40 minutes
  • Natural silver milled aluminium chassis
  • 35.79 x 23.68 x 1.84 cm x 2.14kg

We had the Model 15-ep0067tx to review at $4999.

Website here

We use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against all test paradigms. If the unit PASSES all tests, it starts at 4/5 with extra points for EXCEED and vice versa.

The new HP Envy 15 2020 range – first impression – Big – EXCEED

I am so used to 13” laptops that this seems huge. And well, it is. A 15.6” screen with 88% STBR (that means small bezels), a big glass trackpad (that means a huge palm deck) and a full-sized, backlit keyboard.

On the rear is a large, perforated base (to remove CPU and GPU heat) and a raised rubber strip to lift the base off the desk.

The 4K OLED looks gorgeous – and it is very close to perfect. It exudes quality although I would love to see an Envy colour other than aluminium to differentiate it.

HP Envy 15 2020

Screen – EXCEED

  • 15.6” 4K 3840×2160, 282ppi. 16:9
  • Samsung SDC4145 controller on presumably a Samsung 60Hz AMOLED touch panel

It is an amazing panel. The hinge lids opens to 140° – that is typical of a clamshell design.

It rates as 400 nits, but we measured 435 fairly evenly across the screen. It has DCI-P3 gamut (original), and Delta E is <3 (<4 is ideal). Being OLED, it has an infinite contrast. G-t-G is .8ms.

It has

  • 100% sRGB
  • 90.4% Adobe RGB
  • 100% DCI-P3 (in DCI-P3 profile)

Screen summary: Good punchy colours and probably a wide enough colour gamut for most creatives. But a glossy protection panel makes direct sunlight use impossible. It is perfect in office light.

Processors – EXCEED

It is a notebook processor that works within certain battery parameters. As such it is throttled to 80% of capacity on battery, but you can override that on mains power.

The i7-10750H, 2.6/4.8Ghz (not the 5Ghz version) is a 14nm, 6-core, 12-thread CPU with fairly hungry Thermal Design Power (TDP average power, in watts) from 35-45W. If you want long battery life, this is not for you.

Geekbench 5 gives it single/multi 1150/5508 which puts it close to an AMD Ryzen 9 3900. Passmark gives it 12891, closer to last year’s Intel i7-9750H.

Memory – expandable – PASS+

There are two SO-DIMM slots so you can upgrade to a maximum of 32GB. It is DDR4-3200 dual channel. Our tests topped out at 2900MT/s.

Storage – PASS+

Storage is via either one or two M2.2280 slots. The base is removable via five T5 Torx screws and HP  can field service this model as it does with Spectre and Elite levels.

The review unit came with a single Toshiba XG6 KXG60ZNV1T02 1TB NVMe M.2 22x80mm. This is a 96-layer TLC, PCIe NVMe Rev 3.1a Gen 3, 3×4 Lane, SSD

Interestingly it has sequential read/write speeds of 1739/2900 – showing a larger than normal some write cache. Read speeds need to be closer to 3000Mbps to match the Samsung 970 or WD Black.

GPU – Exceed

The integrated GPU is the Intel UHD 630 running at 350Mhz with 3 x 4K@60Hz display support.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 975Hhz with Max-Q design (6 GB GDDR6) cuts in when needed. This gives HP a 10% advantage over lesser GTX 16XX competitors notebooks.

It is highly capable of 1080p games playing all tests at 60fps or better. But 4K games maxed out between 30-60fps.

Ports – PASS

The HP Envy 15 2020 now has 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) ports, and that means 40Gbps full-duplex data transfer each. That also means these can be USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 with 10Gbps, ALT DP 1.4 and power delivery PD 3.0.

But a closer look at the service manual reveals

  • Port 1 – USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type–C port: 2 (on left side) 15W downstream PD
  • Port 2 – USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type–C Thunderbolt Gen 3 port: 2 (on left side) 15W Downstream PD, HP Sleep and Charge
HP Envy 15 2020
HP Envy 15 2020

Don’t worry these are both TB3 ports but see later about use with a TB3 dock. The service manual states, Port 2 ‘might also support a Thunderbolt docking station’. It does, and it doesn’t.

Also, it has

  • HDMI 2.0a 4K@60Hz
  • 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 5Gbps with HP Sleep and Charge
  • MicroSD (90/70Mbps – typical although the microSD rates far higher).
  • 3.5mm combo audio
  • 200W Smart AC Power brick round pin port (see battery later)

The only thing missing is a Gigabit Ethernet port. Still, with two TB3 ports, you can easily connect a TB3 dock like the Belkin Pro or Plugablethat use Intel’s new Titan Ridge chips for either an additional downstream TB3 port or 2 x Display Port.

Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) Dock – BIG FAIL – no upstream charging

You would expect it to work with most recent Thunderbolt 3 docks – not just graphics or USB ports but upstream charging. It does, and it does not.

You can still use a self-powered TB3 dock, but you must use the laptop power 200W brick as well.

Graphics are fine – you can use one TB3 port on a 4K@60Hz TB3 monitor and HDMI for the second. Or run a second screen from the dock.

Battery – PASS

It has 6-cell, 83Wh battery capable of (claim) 5 hours and 45 minutes of video playback.

The charger is a 19.5V/10.3A/200W round pin brick that will fast charge in about two hours. Under full load, it delivered 145W and was still able to top up the battery.

The battery lasted 7.5 hours for general productivity, email and browsing websites. At 100% load, it empties in 3.5hrs.

While that may not seem a lot of time, it is typical of a 15” 4K device with a separate GPU. To put that in perspective a Surface Book 3 15” has about 10% less battery life.

Comms – PASS

  • Intel AX201 adapter Wi-Fi 6 AX 2×2 MU-MIMO supporting 160Mhz (on system board – not upgradable)
  • BT 5.0 3Mbps

The Intel adapter will connect at up to 1.2Gbps to an AX router or 866Mbps to an AC router. It supports Miracast for screencasting (up to 1080p).

Fan – PASS

Most of the time, it is inaudible <30dB. But under load, it will jump to 36dB (still quiet) and then up to 48dB for office work and 58dB for games and CPU heavy tasks. This is not unusual.

What it does affect is chassis temperature that ranges up to 52° (bottom) and 47° top. Again, not unusual and a 15” is not something you use on your lap.

HP Command Centre – PASS

The Centre has options to change performance profiles – default, performance, cool and quiet. You can set each of these to Manual or Auto. These appear to relate to fan speeds rather than CPU performance.

It also has Network Booster to allocate priority to apps. We did all tests on auto settings

Keyboard and trackpad – PASS

It is a nice big, well-spaced keyboard. Regrettably, our test equipment is elsewhere during COVID-lockdown so let’s just say that we estimate 1.25mm and 45g throw – perfect for typists.

Backlighting is ‘off plus 2-levels’. But the three-coat paint silver with reverse lettering over plastic keycaps tends to mute the effect. There is a lot of light leakage from under the keycaps.

The glass trackpad is 112.5 x 75mm, and you can move the cursor from the top right to bottom left in one stroke. The integrated left and right press areas tend to be on the ‘soft’ side.

There is a fingerprint sensor.

Webcam – PASS

It is a 720p camera, but the addition of an electronic privacy shutter is a nice touch. Don’t expect good colour or detail – it is primarily for video conference.

There is a dual-mic array either side of the camera.

Sound – PASS

You see the big speaker grills either side of the keyboard – only they don’t seem to work. The two speakers that do are down-firing from under the front. Damn, I was looking forward to some B&O quad-speaker sound.

It has B&O tuned sound, and the speakers will reach 80dB. All tests were default options although there is a 10-band, +/-12dB Equaliser. There are also presets for Music, Movie and Voice.

BT headphones – PASS

The BT 5.0 drove our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC and provided good clear sound and plenty of volume.

Sound quality – PASS+

Deep Bass: 20-40HzNil
Middle Bass: 40-100Hzhints
High Bass: 100 to 200HzClimbing to flat
Low-mid: 200-400Hzflat
Mid: 400-1000Hzflat
High-mid: 1-2kHzflat
Low-treble: 2-4kHzflat
High Treble: 6-10kHzSight decline to avoid harshness
Dog whistle: 10-20kHzFlat to 18kHz
HP Envy 15 2020

This is more a Bright Vocal (bass recessed, mid/treble boosted) for modern music tastes.

The EQ allows altering this to Warm and Sweet (bass/mid boosted, treble recessed) for music and many more combinations.

GadgetGuy’s take – I have HP Envy

HP makes a huge range of laptops. Before the HP Envy 15 2020, as a power user, I would not have considered an ENVY.

But this has 4K OLED, great processor speed, dual graphics, dual Thunderbolt and dual memory/storage slots wrapped in an aluminium (not moulded polycarbonate as the 2019 model was).

The screen meets the needs of creatives – not picky professionals, but it exceeds the MacBook Pro 16 screen.

My greatest disappointment is that it won’t take upstream power from a TB3 dock. OK, I am picky, and it works with the dock in every other way.

Rating Explanation

In reviewing this, we kept looking for areas that were above the 2019 Envy range when we reviewed the AMD version 4.2/5. The aluminium chassis is nice, but in all other respects, it is what we expected.

When you compare it to a Spectre 4.9/5, you begin to see what the differences are and why you spend even more.

Let’s just say this is a quality product from a quality maker and you will be very happy with it. Oh, an MacBook Pro users will drool at the screen and power.

Value for money
Ease of Use
4K OLED and superb colour calibration
Durable aluminium chassis
One of the better keyboard and touchpads
Battey life is as to be expected – take a charger
No upstream TB3 charging
A price point well above what the Envy range used to command