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HP 15-ay196nr Review of a Cheap i7 Kaby Lake laptop

It's undeniable that HP has been doing a pretty bang up job as of late. In fact, coupled with Asus, both companies seem intent on delivering the best hardware at the best possible price when it comes down to laptops. Today we set out to review the HP 15-ay196nr, one of the company's latest efforts on the matter.

It's newest laptop packs a nice 15 inch touch screen, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a latest generation Intel Core i7 CPU. With all this in sight it's pretty clear that HP was working on bringing its users a top notch laptop at an unbeatable price point. However, don't take our word for it, check out our in depth review and draw up your own conclusions.

The Good: Kaby Lake i7 CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, comprehensive battery life, touch screen, low price.
The Bad: No USB 3.0 ports, HD resolution display, HDD storage.


Lately it seems as though we're bombarded with attractive, slick ultrabooks. However, not everyone wants or is able to afford this kind of ultra portable laptop. In fact, for most people a laptop isn't something they're planning on taking everywhere they go therefore portability isn't that big of an issue. That said, the HP 15-ay196nr isn't an ultrabook but rather a conventional 15.6 inch laptop that weighs almost 6 pounds and measures just under 1 inch.

The display is one of the notebooks most prominent features as it delivers a responsive touchscreen that allows people to interact with their computer as they would with their smartphone or tablet. It should be noted that this isn't a convertible therefore you cant flip the screen and turn it into a massive tablet.

Speaking of the display, its your standard WLED-backlit panel with an HD resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. If you where hoping for a Full HD panel then you'd have to look elsewhere, such as the Asus ZenBook UX360CA-UBM1T we reviewed earlier which also packs 256 GB of SSD storage with a convertible design at a pretty similar price point.

Finally, it should be noted that the keyboard is your typical island style keyboard which is pretty useful for those late nights typing away.


Moving onto the performance of the HP 15-ay196nr we've got a very impressive CPU. In fact, its processor is perhaps its most outstanding feature since its not at all common to find a Core i7 laptop with this price tag, least of all one that packs a Kaby Lake model.

Getting into the nitty gritty, we've got an Intel Core i7-7500U dual core processor, a CPU that clocks in at 2.7 GHz and can reach a maximum frequency of up to 3.5GHz when pressed with more demanding tasks. This is just about the best CPU you can get within a dual core laptop and therefore there's very little that this CPU can't handle.

Anything from web development to image editing and working with multiple virtual machines, this laptop can tackle whatever you throw at it.

Obviously, you can't speak to a laptops performance without checking out its RAM. Here I'm not just talking about the amount of RAM but also the type. In this regard HP has us covered with 8GB of DDR4 SDRAM working at 2133MHz. 

This is the latest generation of RAM to hit the market and it pretty much means that tasks such as editing images and so forth will become much faster as this RAM is much faster than the traditional DDR3 RAM running at 1600MHz. For tasks like browsing the web and chatting up with friends you might not notice that much of a difference but hardcore tasks will definietly make it shine.

Finally, when it comes to storage, we've got a 1TB Hard Drive working at 5400 rpm. This is perhaps the HP 15-ay196nr's biggest drawback as an SSD storage unit would've been greatly appreciated even if it had cut down the capacity to about 256 GB.

Overall, we can't complain all that much. Sure enough an SSD unit would've made us happier but other than that the processor is top notch and the RAM is also more than enough to keep performance fast and capable of handling multiple tasks at a time. It's clear that this notebook is ready to take on just about any task and therefore we're looking at a great overall bargain.

Battery life and Graphical performance

Battery life on the HP 15-ay196nr is a bit of a controversial point. Specifically, the company advertises up to 9 hours of battery life on its 3 cell battery. That said, you should probable expect anywhere between 5-7 hours at best since many users have complained about battery life not living up to what was promised. However, once you expect 5 to7  hours, that's still pretty good all things considered.

Considering the fact that this isn't a gaming laptop it shouldn't be surprising the fact that it doesn't come with a dedicated graphics card but rather an integrated Intel HD 620 GPU. This is a great graphics chip for stuff like image editing and general multimedia consumption, however when it comes to gaming it performs well with games such as Titanfall 2 and Farming Simulator 17 but always with graphics set at HD and nothing above that.

Connectivity options

As we close in on this review of the HP 15-ay196nr we set out to take on the connectivity options where we notice a lack of USB 3.0 ports in favor of a couple of USB 2.0 ports. There's also a USB type C 3.1 port for fast data transfers of up to 5GBps and we've also got an HDMI output, SD card reader as well as an ethernet port for a wired connection to the internet. Contrary to the latest fashion we've also got a DVD reader and WiFi connectivity is set out through the b/g/n standard with Bluetooth 4.0 support.

Closing arguments

After reviewing the HP 15-ay196nr its clear that it seeks to find a balance between high end specs and an affordable price point. With this in mind we get a state of the art Intel Core i7 processor but have to settle for a 1TB hard drive.

 For hardcore users who are looking for a high performing laptop at a reasonable price this model seems to have made the perfect set of compromises as to be able to deliver a great performance overall. Obviously its far from perfect but considering its retail price it's easily one of the best options in the current market.