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[Review] HP 14-DK1003DX: An Underwhelming PC best suited for Students

  • Hybrid Storage unit with 628 GB in total
  • Dual core CPU with 8 GB of RAM
  • Unpretentious design
  • Extensive connectivity options
  • Limited Battery life
  • HD Display

Nowadays finding a perfectly balanced laptop is more important than ever. With many of us having to quarantine for one reason or another it's clear that we have to get used to working from home and we're going to need the perfect device to do so. 

That's were HP's latest mid-range model comes in; the HP 14-DK1003DX, a seriously affordable 14-inch laptop that's managed to surprise us thanks to its use of a massive hybrid storage unit, lightweight design and ample RAM for intensive multitaskers.

 Today we're determined to get to know this top seller in-depth as we dive headfirst onto this review of the HP 14-DK1003DX to figure out if this is the best laptop for you or if you're better off looking elsewhere.

Content Index
  1. Who is this laptop for?
  2. Specs Overview
  3. Let's talk design and keyboard
  4. What's the performance like?
  5. Graphics & Battery life
  6. Connectivity options
  7. Disable S Mode on the HP 14-DK1003DX
  8. Closing arguments 

Who is the HP 14-DK1003DX for?

In short, HP's newest venture onto the laptop landscape is aimed at the average user, be it your typical college student or the people who've now found themselves having to work from home. 

This laptop is good for browsing the web, managing email, editing documents and presentations, streaming video as well as doing some entry-level coding by using virtual machines. In this regard, it will fit the needs and requirements of most users without making a fuzz about it. Overall, it's a fast device that has most customers gushing about its multiple virtues.

Specs Overview:

Display:14 inch WLED.
Processor: AMD Athlon SILVER 3050U
Storage:128 GB SSD + 500 GB HDD
OS:Windows 10 Home S Mode
Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Extras: USB Type C Port, SD Card reader

HP 14-DK1003DX In-depth Review

An ordinary design with a standard display

Performance is what you're paying for when you buy the HP 14-DK1003DX. On the design front, HP's laptop doesn't really stand out with a black casing that's alright but hardly impressive. 

The display, on the other hand, is also quite tame with a standard HD resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels and a nice antiglare coating to allow for use in exteriors - not all that common -. It's WLED so colors are nicer than your standard LED display but the resolution is a bit low for what we can find at this price point. 

Specifically, if it's a better display (ie: Full HD) what you're looking for we would be remiss if we didn't recommend the Asus VivoBook 15 F512JA-AS34 we've recently reviewed, priced along the same lines as this model, or the top-selling Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L, both of which come with very attractive specs beyond the display.

Moving on, we've got a nice and very ergonomic keyboard that - like most 14-inch laptops - does not have a dedicated numeric pad. Unfortunately, unlike the two models listed above, the keyboard is not backlit.

Finally, portability is hardly going to be an issue with this model as it weighs in at a very manageable 3.3 pounds, well within the numbers we're seeing for 14-inch displays.

Performance: What you need to know

As we've said before, when you buy the HP 14-DK1003DX  you're paying for performance and speed -something several clients were quick to point out -. In that regard, we've got a dual-core AMD Athlon Silver 3050U CPU that clocks in at a base 2.3 GHz and can reach its ultimate frequency at 3.2 GHz

If you come from an Intel background this processor would be equivalent in performance to that of a 10th generation Core i3 but with better-integrated graphics.

Add to that 8 GB of DDR4 RAM as well as a hybrid storage unit that boasts 128 GB of SSD plus an additional 500 GB of Hard Drive storage and we're looking at a laptop that was built with productivity in mind.

In case you've never heard of what a hybrid storage unit is, basically it means that HP will store the operating system as well as your most commonly used apps on the SSD for maximum speed and efficiency (SSD's are up to 10 times faster than regular mechanical hard drives) while you will also have 500 GB of storage on a hard drive to save files, pictures, videos, and the sorts.

In short, with this set of key specs, you can expect this laptop to work properly on most scenarios, not lag when multitasking with 6-8 browser tabs open at a time, as well as allow you to do some light picture editing if you wish to. 

It goes without saying that this laptop is also suitable for schoolwork, editing spreadsheets, streaming videos, coding in HTML or Javascript and even kick start the Turbo Boost feature of the processor by running a virtual machine.

Battey life and graphical performance

While the HP 14-DK1003DX reviewed here today presents itself as a pretty portable work station thanks to its lightweight design, the battery life does not really accompany this "portability philosophy". 

In that regard, you can expect battery life to be between the 2 and 4-hour mark depending on usage, basically meaning you will either have to carry the charger everywhere you go or it will essentially be a home office situation which is also alright. 

When it comes down to graphics, this laptop comes with an AMD Radeon Vega 3 Graphics card which, if you come from an Intel background, is similar to an Intel HD Graphics card. As in; it's a good graphic card to watch movies, do some light picture editing as well as some light gaming such as Fortnite at low settings or even FIFA. 

That said, this is hardly a gaming laptop and you should not expect to be able to play any kind of demanding game without crashing the laptop.

Connectivity and extras: Anything else I should know?

Productivity and connectivity go hand in hand. HP knows this which is why the HP 14-DK1003DX has a pretty packed resume in that regard. Specifically, we've got a couple of USB 3.1 ports, a standalone USB type C port, HDMI output, an ethernet port, and an audio jack. As expected, we've also got an SD card reader and no DVD reader (it's 2020 people!).

It goes without saying that this laptop has a WiFi connection (802.11 b), Bluetooth support, and a webcam that's pretty bad as one would expect in this price range.

The infamous Windows 10 in S Mode and how to disable it on the HP 14-DK1003DX  

Finally, something plenty of people seem to struggle with is with swapping the default operating system. Specifically, the HP 14-DK1003DX  comes with Windows 10 Home in S Mode which is a mode whereby Microsoft restricts us to work only with authorized Windows applications. 

Understandably, many people don't like "S Mode". However, upgrading to the standard Windows 10 Home is really easy and free. In short, when you go to download Chrome Windows will tell you that you're on S Mode and can't download Chrome, it will then prompt you to decide if you wish to "disable S Mode", you click "Yes" and that's about it.

Wrapping things up: Is the HP 14-DK1003DX worth it?

Honestly, it's never easy to end these reviews as all the laptops we cover have their own set of pros and cons that make them perfect for some people and pointless for others. That said, while we like HP and the HP 14-DK1003DX is an alright machine for its price with ample RAM and a very interesting storage configuration, the laptop also has an HD display and a very limited battery life.

All in all, it's great as a student laptop if performance is your main concern and a good laptop to work from home if you want something that's fast while also allows for massive storage. 

However, if display resolution is a big deal for you or if battery life is something that's going to be a big deal down the line then we urge you to consider the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L instead which, with a very similar price point, addresses these two issues while offering similar performance at the expense of a more limited storage capacity. In any other case this is a great option that won't let you down.