HP Envy vs. Pavilion: Which is best?

Shopping for an HP laptop might seem daunting at first. There are so many product lines and options to choose from. Which one is right for you? Not to worry — we’ve come up with a quick comparison guide for two of HP’s most well-known laptop lines: Envy and Pavilion. Keep reading to learn more about what each line has to offer and to find out which HP laptop series is best for your needs and budget.

Design

HP Envy

A front view of an open and turned on HP Envy 15 laptop. A photograph of a person in front of a red background is on the laptop's screen.
HP.com

The HP Envy line can be divided in two main design categories: Traditional clamshell laptops (HP Envy) and 2-in-1 laptops (HP Envy x360). The standard clamshell HP Envy laptops come in four main size options: 13, 14, 15, and 17 inches. As you might expect, the features each laptop offers will vary depending on the size you choose. But overall, here’s what you can expect to see among HP Envy clamshell laptops: Displays with three-sided narrow bezels, touchscreen options, IPS displays, fingerprint readers, backlit keyboards (some with numeric keypads), HD cameras, dual array microphones, webcam shutters, microphone mute buttons, and port selections that include Thunderbolt 4, microSD card readers, and USB-C and USB-A.

When it comes to weight, the clamshell portion of the Envy line does skew a bit toward the heavy side, but there are lightweight options like the 2.88-pound 13-inch Envy. The heaviest options are just over 6 pounds.

On the other hand, the Envy x360, a 2-in-1 Envy offering from HP, comes with a 360-degree hinge that allows the laptop to be folded into different display modes, such as tablet, stand, or tent. This part of the Envy line comes in two sizes: 13 and 15 inches. Like their clamshell counterparts, the Envy x360 line of laptops has features that vary among its products, but you can generally expect to see the following among them: Narrow bezel displays (with bezels of varying thicknesses), fingerprint readers, backlit keyboards, keyboards with numeric keypads, touch-enabled displays, HD webcams, privacy camera shutters, microphone mute keys, and dual array microphones. Port selections include USB-C and USB-A ports, HDMI 2.0 and 2.0b, Thunderbolt 4, and microSD card readers.

You’ll also see, depending on the model, built-in privacy screens and a variety of sensors: Accelerometers, gyroscopes, eCompass, and IR thermal sensors.

In terms of weight, the Envy x360 line is a bit on the lighter side compared to the Envy clamshells. The heaviest x360 we saw is only 4.42 pounds. The lightest x360 offering, however, isn’t the lightest Envy laptop overall since it weighs in at 2.92 pounds.

Both the Envy x360 and Envy clamshells offer FHD and IPS displays, and you can also find options for WUXGA, UHD, and even 4K UHD displays.

HP Pavilion

HP Pavilion Aero 13 sitting on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

HP’s Pavilion line offers laptops that fall into four main design categories: Clamshells (Pavilion), 2-in-1s (Pavilion x360), ultra-lightweight (Pavilion Aero), and gaming laptops (Pavilion Gaming).

Pavilion

The standard Pavilion clamshell laptops come in three size options: 13, 14, and 15 inches. In terms of processors, you’ll find both Intel Core and AMD Ryzen options. You’ll also find FHD and HD displays, IPS displays, up to 1TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage, backlit keyboards, keyboard with numeric keypads (on the 15-inch models), HD webcams, dual array mics, dual speakers, microSD card readers, and selections of ports that include USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI 2.0. None of the Pavilion clamshells have Thunderbolt ports. These Pavilions also have displays with three-sided narrow bezels and fingerprint readers. The fingerprint readers are only available on a few models, though, unlike the Envy line.

The Pavilion clamshells aren’t the lightest laptops the Pavilion line has to offer, but they’re not heavyweights, either. You can expect a weight range of 2.74 pounds to 3.86 pounds.

Pavilion x360

Like the Envy x360, you can expect these 2-in-1s from the HP Pavilion line to feature a 360-degree hinge, which allows for four display modes: Laptop, tablet, reverse, and tent. The Pavilion x360 comes in three sizes: 11, 14, and 15 inches. With these 2-in-1s, you’ll see three-sided narrow bezel displays (the 14- and 15-inch models only), displays with HD or FHD resolutions, IPS displays, touchscreens, HD webcams, dual array mics, and selections of ports that include microSD card readers, USB-C and USB-A ports, and HDMI 2.0 and 1.4 ports. Thunderbolt ports are also missing from the Pavilion x360 laptops, but they do have three kinds of sensors: An accelerometer, a gyroscope, and eCompass.

Some of the x360 configurations have backlit keyboards, and some do not. Others have backlit keyboards and numerical keypads. Like the Pavilion clamshells, the Pavilion x360s also don’t have many models with fingerprint readers. These laptops are also mid-range when it comes to their weights — you expect them to weigh anywhere from 2.67 pounds to 4.39 pounds, depending on the size and configuration you pick.

Pavilion Aero

HP’s Pavilion Aero is designed to be incredibly lightweight. It’s only 13 inches and weighs less than 2.2 pounds, which makes it the lightest laptop out of both the Pavilion and Envy laptop lines. The Aero sports a magnesium chassis and a 16:10 four-sided narrow bezel display. There are slight variations among the Aero models, but you can expect to see the following features among them: AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 processors, displays with WUXGA or WQXGA resolutions, IPS displays, up to 1TB of SSD storage, fingerprint readers, backlit and non-backlit keyboards, HD webcams, dual array mics, dual speakers, and selections of ports that include USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI 2.0 ports.

Pavilion Gaming

Unlike the Envy line, the Pavilion series has a dedicated gaming laptop collection. The Pavilion Gaming laptops come in two sizes: 15 and 16 inches. There used to be a 17-inch model, but it’s been discontinued. These laptops have three-sided narrow bezel FHD displays, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of SSD storage, backlit keyboards, keyboards with numeric keypads, HD webcams, dual array mics, dual speakers, accelerometers (some models, not all), and a port selection that includes USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI 2.0.

The Pavilion Gaming lines comes with a choice of AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 and Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, but with graphics cards, you’ll see even more variety. Nvidia GTX 1650, 1660 Ti, RTX 3050, and 3050 Ti discrete GPUs are available, as well as a more standard Intel Xe onboard GPU option.

Pavilion Gaming laptops don’t come with fingerprint readers or Thunderbolt ports. They’re also on the heavier side, with a weight range of 4.37 pounds to 5.18 pounds.

When should you buy an Envy?

If you need a dedicated work laptop, get an Envy. The Envy laptop line has lightweight options if you need a portable machine for working on the go. Plus, it has the privacy features you need to keep your work and your information: Fingerprint readers, webcam shutters, microphone mute buttons, and even built-in privacy screens. Envy laptops also have a wider selection of productivity-friendly ports like Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.0.

Envy laptops have even made it into two of our “best laptops” guides and have done so for their potential for productivity: The best business laptops guide and the best budget laptops guide. Our Envy pick for the best business laptops list was the 2020 Envy x360 because we considered it to be the best business-style option for those who also want a 2-in-1 laptop. Our Envy pick for the best budget laptops list was the Envy x360 13 with an AMD Ryzen processor. It’s our pick because we felt that it was a great option for content creators who need a laptop that can handle intensive tasks such as video and photo editing at a budget-friendly price.

When should you buy a Pavilion?

You should opt for a Pavilion laptop if you want a general-purpose laptop, an entertainment laptop, or a gaming laptop. Basically, get a Pavilion if you plan to play as much as you work (or play more than you work, we’re not judging).

Pavilion laptops are marketed and designed to either emphasize entertainment and gaming or balance those uses with some productivity as well. But generally speaking, productivity is kind of treated as an afterthought when it comes to Pavilion laptops, and it’s pretty obvious when you look at the included features and what they lack. There are a wide variety of display-resolution options, narrow-bezel displays, and dual speakers. Pavilions, however, don’t have very many models with fingerprint readers, an important security feature workstation laptops tend to have. And they also don’t have Thunderbolt ports, unlike their more work-friendly Envy counterparts.

The Pavilion line also offers a dedicated gaming collection, Pavilion Gaming, which comes with specific features that optimize these machines for gaming, such as discrete graphics cards and a dual fan system to keep your machine cooler during marathon gaming sessions.

You should also consider getting a Pavilion laptop if you really need a lightweight machine because the Pavilion line has a collection dedicated to that as well: The Pavilion Aero. You can still get many of the same features as the other Pavilion laptops and do so without having to lug around a heavy machine. Aero laptops are less than 2.2 pounds.

How much can you expect to spend?

Disregarding any sale prices or discounts, you can expect to spend anywhere from $740 to $1,500 on an Envy laptop. Pavilion laptops tend to be priced between $600 and $1,200.

The Pavilion line has more budget-friendly options overall and has lower prices than the Envy laptop line.

They each have their strengths

Which is better? It depends on your needs and budget. The Envy line is best for those who need a professional-grade machine, but you should prepare yourself and your wallet to pay pro-level prices. Laptops like Envy don’t come cheap because they’re outfitted with enhanced security, privacy features, and productivity tools to help optimize your workday.

If you just need a general-purpose laptop for work and play, or you just want a dedicated laptop for recreation, get a Pavilion. They’re cheaper and lighter, but they’ll still enhance your movie-watching or gaming experience, so you can relax properly and in style after a long day.

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