The Good: Skylake i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, Full HD touchscreen with anti-glare, 1 TB of storage, WiFi ac support, low price for a gaming laptop.
The Bad: Not very light at 5.3 pounds, battery life doesn't stand out
Star Wars fandom knows no limits. So much so that the Lucas Films enterprise has even given its "blessing" to a new series of HP gaming laptops that feature attractive artwork inspired in the popular saga as well as a great set of internals to show you the force is alive and kicking. One of the most attractive models launched just a few weeks ago is the HP 15-an097nr.
HP's newest Star Wars inspired laptop features a Full HD touchscreen, 8 GB of RAM and a dedicated Nvidia graphics chip amongst many other interesting specs. Today we'd like to ask Obi Wan Kenobi (and you guys, of course) to join us in our review of the HP 15-an097nr Signature Edition. May the force be with you!
HP 15-an097nr Review of the Pros and Cons of a Striking Gaming laptop
Feel the force of the touchscreen and relish in a unique design
If you want a laptop with a bland design then this is not your model. No, the HP 15-an097nr features a very special design that gives the overall body of the laptop a rather "rugged design" with Darth Vader making his appearance on the back end of the model.
The keyboard is backlit with red lights to immerse you head on in the Star Wars world and make you feel as if the force is with you. Gimmicks aside, a backlit keyboard is always a welcome addition, especially when the light extends to the space bar as well, something not that common. There's also a numeric keyboard on the side and an ample trackpad with support for multi-gestures.
The screen is, of course, one of this laptops biggest claim to fame. Specifically, we've got a 15.6 inch WLED-Backlit touchscreen display with IPS technology and an added anti-glare functionality ideal for those who like to work in direct sunlight. This touchscreen in particular offers a 10 finger multi-touch capability so you're covered in that front as well.
Unfortunately, the force didn't really translate into the most portable of notebooks, weighing in at 5.3 pounds and measuring up to 1 inch. Sure, it's far from the heaviest of models but it's hardly a "light" machine.
A "galactic" performance
Puns aside, the HP 15-an097nr in review is very well equipped with a Core i5-6200U CPU that works at a base frequency of 2.2 GHz and can stretch it's way to 2.8 GHz. This is a dual core processor with 3MB of Intel's proprietary Smart cache and 4 threads.
In case you're not a complete nerd - such as myself - this would translate into a very good CPU for both simple as well as demanding tasks. You could've figured that one out when you read this was a gaming laptop but it's still good to point it out.
Actually we're quite impressed, HP could've easily skated by with a Broadwell generation processor yet it chose to give this laptop the latest generation Core i5, boosting performance as well as battery life around 10%. All in all, this is a laptop where you won't have to hold back since performance will hardly be an issue.
Speaking of performance, it's also well endowed in terms of RAM with 8 GB of DDR3L SDRAM clocking in at 1600 MHz. If 4 GB is typically enough for basic multitasking, 8 GB should prove to be enough for even the most demanding users that are dead-set on working with 7-8 programs running simultaneously.
When it comes down to gaming, the Signature edition HP 15-an097nr performs pretty well thanks to its Nvidia GeForce 940M with 2 GB of dedicated vRAM. This is a step down from the considerably more powerful Nvidia GeForce 950M. Yet you'll be able to run most current titles at low to medium settings at a respectable framerate.
If you wanna play the latest and more popular games at Full HD then that might prove a bit difficult. However, for the more casual gamer or the less demanding gamer this laptop will do the trick. Let's not forget that for a gaming laptop this is a pretty cheap model so a graphics card in accordance to the price point was to be expected.
Rendering video, editing video, compiling code, running Vmware and such should also be very easy tasks for this set on internals.
4 cell battery and a standard storage
While the HP 15-an097nr made great strides to prove itself where it really counts, storage and battery life aren't particularly special. In that sense we've got a Serial ATA hard drive with a 1TB capacity that works at a standard 5400 rpm speed. This is a common characteristic amongst most laptops in the mid range so we aren't that surprised to be completely honest here.
As far as battery life, we know that we've got a 4 cell battery but HP has remained silent as far as to what the battery expectancy is. That said, when a manufacturer doesn't specify battery life (which is pretty common) that's a pretty strong indicator that we can safely assume that battery life is between 3 to 5 hours but we should hardly expect anything more than that.
We would like to give a special mention to the Bang & Olufsen set of speakers, they won't give you a surrounding sound or anything of the sorts but they're still impressive for a laptop.
There's also a DVD tray, superfast WiFi a/b/g/n/ac with Miracast enabled, an HD webcam, three USB ports (1 USB 2.0), Bluetooth 4.0 support as well as an HDMI out and an ethernet dock in case you want to access the internet with a safer, faster and more reliable connection.
Windows 10 is the operating system at hand but there's also a bunch of nift extras such as a 1 year subscription to Fandor, a movie streaming service filled with indy flicks, an awesome star wars command center as well as a super geeky Aurebush font in case you want to write "encrypted letters" as well as a lot of concept art, specialized wall papers, storyboards and so forth.
Upon ending our review of the HP 15-an097nr we're very happy to see that this isn't just a fan collectable laptop. It's actually a very good laptop with or without the Star Wars theme attached to it which is what I believe is the secret to the success of this line. You're not really compromising on performance to get a dedicated Star Wars laptop, you're getting a great laptop that has a fandom component to it as a bonus.
The processor is great for heavy duty tasks, RAM is good for extensive multitasking and the Full HD touchscreen is just a delight to watch movies or play games. Overall, this is a great purchase and we would recommend this laptop not only for it's unique features but also for its main components. You can look up pricing for this model here.