HP Pavilion dv6 seriesStanding out in the budget laptop category isn’t hard. Even modest improvements like metal construction, extra ports, and quality sound are enough to garner attention in a category where price reigns supreme. The HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl ($649.99 list, at Costco) offers plenty of reasons to give it your attention, but the addition of a new second-generation Intel Core i3 processor puts it over the top. If you’re in the market for a laptop that’s under $700, the HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl is the cream of the crop.

Design
One of the first details that caught the eye with the dv6-6013cl was the updated design, which uses brushed aluminum and a bold dose of color. With so many laptop designs mimicking the bare aluminum look popularized by Apple’s MacBook Pro line, it’s refreshing to see a metal-clad laptop that has some more interesting visual elements.

In addition to the navy blue paint job, the Pavilion dv6-6013cl also uses a vertical “grain,” which looks great, and added some subtle yet functional curves to the metal panels as well. On the palm rest, for example, the metal panel curves down into the keyboard, providing a more comfortable surface for your hands. On the lid along the hinge, a curved lip lets you carry the closed laptop more comfortably and with a more secure grip. The metal construction also means this laptop doesn’t suffer from the noticeable chassis flexing common to many other budget systems.

The dv6-6013cl measures 10 by 14.8 by 1.6 inches (HWD), though these dimensions are slightly misleading as the laptop is mostly 1.4 inches thick except for the curved lip along the hinge. Weighing 5.6 pounds, it’s a tad heavier than both the 5.3-pound Sony VAIO VPC-EB33FM/BJ ($629.99 list, 4.5 stars) and the five-pound Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire AS5742-6475 ($599.99 list, 4 stars).

Pros
Second-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Gaming capable. Fresh design and aluminum construction. Long battery-life. Beats Audio sounds great.

Cons
No backlight on keyboard. Bloatware.

Bottom Line
In terms of looks, features, and cost, the HP Pavilion dv6-6013cl was already a great laptop, but the addition of a second generation Intel processor and dramatically improved graphics and gaming capability make it a winner.

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