Specs-wise, there aren't many that match-up directly with the HP Envy 4 since it's 14-inch Ultrabook. As such, we're pitting it against a couple of different machines that compete against it in various ways. Sony's 13.3-inch VAIO T Ultrabook utilizes the same CPU, RAM and hybrid 500GB HDD with 32GB SSD cache but is slightly smaller and uses only integrated graphics.
To see how the Envy 4's discrete GPU fares, we're pitting it against another 'Ultrabook' with a discrete GPU, Acer's Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. And finally, we also have a pure Ultrabook with the standard Intel specs (integrated GPU, full SSD) - an Ivy Bridge reference platform from Intel itself.
|Specifications/Notebook||HP Envy 4||Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3||Sony VAIO T||Intel Ultrabook (Ivy Bridge)|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3317U
|Intel Core i5-2467M
|Intel Core i5-3317U
|Intel Core i5-3427U
|Chipset||Intel UM77||Intel HM77 Express||Intel UM77||Intel UM77|
|Memory||8GB DDR3||4GB DDR3||8GB DDR3||4GB DDR3|
|Storage||500GB HDD with 32GB SSD Cache||500GB HDD with 32GB SSD Cache||500GB HDD with 32GB SSD Cache||256GB SSD|
|Video||AMD Radeon HD 7670M||NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M||Intel HD Graphics 4000||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
The Envy 4 was somewhat underwhelming on PCMark 7, which tests a system's overall performance. However, its scores should be taken with a grain of salt as we have noticed discrepancies in the past when comparing across machines with SSD drives and integrated graphics. We've noticed that Intel's HD Graphic 4000 GPU skews the Creativity and Computation scores on PCMark 7 (as can be seen in both the Sony VAIO T and Intel Reference Ultrabook), which in turn results in a higher overall PCMark score. And systems using a true SSD storage get an even stronger boost in results. As such, it's important to decipher results from benchmarks, which in this case just means that it's accurate to compare within similarly configured systems. So from an overall perspective, the results for the HP Envy 4 notebook is reasonable for its configuration.
3Dmark 11 tests a system's graphics capabilities through a series of tests using various DirectX 11 functions like tessellation, DirectCompute and multi-threading. Here, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3's NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M was the clear winner, beating the Envy 4's AMD Radeon HD 7670M by more than 50% on both settings. This is mainly due to the GeForce GT 640M using NVIDIA's newer 28nm Kepler-architecture, whereas the HD 7670M uses an older 40nm process, and is actually based on the same chip as the Radeon HD 6650M (it's just AMD's renaming schemes at work to make it sound more relevant - more reading on this subject over here).
The Envy 4 is however, quite a bit better than either of the integrated graphics based Ultrabooks compared. To what extent can it allow you to game? We find out in the next test with a real game.
In our gaming benchmark, we again saw the Envy 4's AMD graphics fall behind the Acer M3's, which was able to double the Envy 4's frame rates. However, the Envy 4's discrete GPU was once again better than Intel's integrated HD4000 graphics, with the Envy 4 scoring roughly 30% better than the Sony VAIO T at medium graphics settings. However, the difference increased to over 60% once you tune up the graphics quality to Very High. With an average frame rate of 26, it was certainly somewhat playable as compared to the stuttering results produced by the Sony VAIO T at the same game settings.
Intel's reference notebook performed better than the VAIO T due to its SSD drive and slightly faster processor, although it was still not enough to catch up to the HP Envy 4.