HP dm4 Beats Edition Notebook Review: Down With The Beat
Performance - Processor, General, Hard Drive
Despite its unusual exterior and unique branding, the HP dm4t Beats Edition is a typical laptop inside. Our review unit came with a Core i5-2450M processor clocked at 2.5 GHz, 6GB of RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics.
The most interesting hardware edition is the 32GB solid state drive which is used to enable Intel Smart Response. We’ll see how that impacts the hard drive and boot time benchmarks.
For comparison we’re going to consider other mid-range laptops of similar size and purpose. The most direct competitors are the ASUS U36S and the Dell Inspiron 14z, two other portable systems in a similar price range when similarly equipped. We will also look at the ASUS A53T which, as always, provides an example of what current AMD hardware can offer.
The tables below will provide you with detailed information about each system.
Let’s get on with the show.
The dm4t gets off to a good start here, beating all of the competitors in SiSoft Sandra, and sometimes by a wide margain. Although the clock speed of 2.5 GHz is only slightly higher than other Core i5 laptops we’ve reviewed, it does make a notable difference in a demanding benchmark such as this.
Here the dm4t again produces excellent results, beating all comers, though sometimes by only a small margain. The Dell Inspiron 14z had to be dropped from this Peacekeeper comparison because the latest revision of that benchmark was not available at the time we reviewed that laptop.
Our general benchmarks provide a look at real-world performance in some common usage scenarios. Let’s start with Windows Live Movie Maker, where we see how long it takes a laptop to convert and save a standardized video clip into a 1080p .WMV file.
This benchmark, along with the Sunlit BatchBlitz test, is new to us. As a result we don’t have as extensive a collection of results. We will instead be comparing the dm4t to the ThinkPad T420 and Alienware M14x. Here are the specifications of those systems.
Now, let’s get to the benchmark itself.
Here we see that the dm4t is able to easily outrun the Lenovo ThinkPad T420 but does not outrun the Alienware M14x. This makes sense. The T420 was had a less powerful dual-core processor, while the M14x was equipped with a quad-core.
Let’s look at BatchBlitz as well.
Here we see the ThinkPad T420 remain the champion, which is a bit unusual. I would like to go back and re-test BatchBlitz on that laptop to make sure the results remain consistent. None the less, the result of the dm4t here is good, as it manages to almost keep pace with the quad-core M14x. Some other dual-core laptops we are beginning to review have not done quite as well.
Finally, let’s have a look at boot and resume times.
The dm4t surprised by producing extremely good boot and resume times, beating even the ASUS U36S in the resume benchmark. That model, as the specifications table shows, was equipped only with a solid state drive.
Why is the dm4t so quick? Thank the combination of a small 32GB solid state hard drive with and a 7200RPM mechanical drive, enabling Intel Smart Response. Although not exactly an “instant-on” system, the fast boot and resume times are a pleasure, and something that every user will notice.
Hard Drive Benchmarks
Because of a lack of data from prior laptops we’re going to continue to use the ThinkPad T420 and the Alienware M14x in this section of the performance review. Let’s start with ATTO.
These results are interesting. Intel’s Smart Response seems to improve read time significantly, providing results that are far and away better than the other laptops here, which have normal mechanical drives. However, there seems to be a cost in write speed, as the dm4t writes significantly lower than the other laptops in every benchmark.
In my opinion, this trade-off is not a bad one. And that’s assuming these benchmarks are precisely indicative of real-world performance. This is an unusual combination of hardware, and it’s possible the benchmark is reacting to it poorly.
Let’s see what HD Tune has to say about the matter.
Here we see a result that is typical. The burst rate is low, but otherwise this looks like a system with a normal 7200 RRM mechanical hard drive.
Taking everything together, I think it is fair to say that the solid state drive and Intel Smart Response technology used in the dm4t provides an improvement to the user experience. There are no denying the advantage in boot and resume times, and while we do not have a real-world application load time test as part of our benchmark suite, my comparison against other laptops currently being tested showed that the dm4t is a bit more snappy – though when loading a basic program such as a web browser, the difference is only a second or two at most. That is imperceptible if you aren’t actively searching for it.