HP Pavilion Aero 13 Review: Punching above its weight

HP Pavilion Aero 13 Review: Punching above its weight

In the world of laptop reviews, HP’s Pavilion brand is something we don’t talk about a whole lot. When it comes to technology, we tend to focus on flagship products like HP’s Spectre or Dell’s XPS. Sometimes we’ll take a step below that with a Lenovo Yoga 7 series or an HP Envy. Pavilion is more mainstream, which is why you’re going to be surprised by just how good the HP Pavilion Aero 13 really is.

I’ve reviewed a few Pavilions in the past, the last one of which was a $700 PC that had 4G LTE connectivity. They always have a lot of value, and are decent PCs. The Pavilion Aero isn’t just decent. It’s a really good HP laptop, and it’s something I personally would use as my daily driver, something I don’t often say about mainstream devices.

It weighs in at under a kilogram, hence the Aero branding. That’s not all that’s great though. It’s got an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU and 16GB RAM, so the performance is there too. It even has a pretty great FHD display, something I was particularly surprised by.

Navigate this page:

HP Pavilion Aero 13 specs

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 5800U (up to 4.4 GHz max boost clock, 16 MB L3 cache, 8 cores, 16 threads)
GraphicsIntegrated: AMD Radeon Graphics
Body11.72×8.23×0.67in, <2.2 lbs
Display13.3″ diagonal, WUXGA (1920 x 1200), IPS, micro-edge, anti-glare, 400 nits, 100% sRGB
Memory16GB DDR4-3200MHz RAM (onboard)
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Battery3-cell, 43Wh Li-ion polymer
45W Smart AC power adapter
Ports(1) SuperSpeed USB Type-C 10Gbps signaling rate (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4, HP Sleep and Charge)
(2) SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5Gbps signaling rate
(1) HDMI 2.0
(1) AC smart pin
(1) headphone/microphone combo
Realtek Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.2 combo (Supporting Gigabit data rate)
WebcamHP Wide Vision 720p HD camera with integrated dual array digital microphones
AudioAudio by B&O; Dual speakers; HP Audio Boost
Color and materialNatural silver magnesium-aluminum Thixomolding cover and keyboard frame, natural silver base
InputHP Imagepad with multi-touch gesture support; Precision Touchpad Support
Full-size, natural silver keyboard
OSWindows 10 Home
Price$999.99

Design: The HP Pavilion Aero 13 weighs under a kilogram

Much like when I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Book Go, taking the HP Pavilion Aero 13 out of the box was a real “wow” moment. Like I said, I’ve reviewed Pavilions before, along with other PCs in the mainstream range. It’s pretty straightforward. You usually get the same U-series processor, RAM, and storage you’d get with something premium, but the laptop is thick, heavy, and comes with a subpar display.

The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is a phenomenal product that feels more premium than it should.

That’s simply not the case here. Made out of magnesium-aluminum, it’s super light but still feels more premium than it should. For a full-powered PC, it’s just about as light as it gets. Fun fact — HP doesn’t actually list the weight of this laptop, as you might have noticed from the spec sheet above. The company only says it’s less than 2.2 pounds.

Back of HP Pavilion Aero 13 showing Pavilion branding

Using a laptop like this makes a difference. When it’s in your backpack, it feels like nothing is there. You’ll leave your home and double-check your bag to make sure you didn’t forget your laptop. That also means it’s easier to carry around long-term, and it’s easier on your back. None of this is new, but it’s incredibly rare at this price point.

Top down view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

It comes in four colors — Natural Silver, Warm Gold, Ceramic White, and Rose Gold. The one HP sent me is Natural Silver, which is fine. I’m never really thrilled with silver laptops, but it’s also the most popular color. HP discontinued Natural Silver in the Spectre x360 one year and had to bring it back by popular demand.

The lid is stamped with the circular HP logo that’s found in entry-level to mainstream devices. In fact, it’s the one way to look at the Pavilion Aero and know it’s not meant to be premium like a Spectre or an Envy.

Side view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

On the right side, there’s a barrel charging port and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, which gets 5Gbps speeds. The USB Type-A port uses a dropjaw hinge, allowing HP to fit the larger port into the thinner chassis. And yes, there’s a barrel charging port, meaning that it comes with a barrel charger. I didn’t use the charging port even once while reviewing this laptop.

Side view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

Instead, I used the USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, which is located on the left side. Yes, there’s only one USB Type-C port, and no, it’s not Thunderbolt. Remember, this is an AMD machine, so Thunderbolt isn’t happening. Also on the left side, there’s an HDMI 2.0 port tucked in the thickest part of the base, another USB Type-A port with a dropjaw hinge, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

For a total count, that’s two USB Type-A ports and one USB Type-C port. For most use cases, that’s totally fine, although a lot of modern work flows might depend on dual USB Type-C ports. Of course, you could always use the barrel charger to free up the USB port.

Display: The FHD screen on the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is actually pretty good

When I saw the specs of the HP Pavilion Aero 13, my first question was what the compromises would be to get there. After all, you don’t slap Pavilion branding on a relatively low-cost machine that weighs under a kilogram and still packs a lot of power. A big thing that usually takes a hit is the display. On entry-level to mainstream laptops, you’ll often notice the screens have a narrow viewing angle.

That’s not the case with the HP Pavilion Aero 13. The screen on this machine is actually pretty good. There’s no touch, which isn’t surprising, and it’s not something I miss on a clamshell anyway.

HP Pavilion Aero display tests

From my testing, it supports 100% sRGB, 76% NTSC, 81% Adobe RGB, and 83% P3. That’s pretty good for any screen, let alone one on a laptop that starts at $749.99.

That’s not even the whole story. It’s just the thing I led with because it was something I totally didn’t expect. There’s more.

Close up of HP Pavilion Aero 13 screen

The HP Pavilion Aero 13 has a 13.3 inch 16:10 1,920 x 1,200 display. The 16:10 aspect ratio has been becoming increasingly popular in the premium segment over the past year, as it offers a taller display with more surface area. Now, it’s making its way to the Pavilion Aero. There’s no option for a touchscreen or HP’s Sure View privacy display, but interestingly, there’s a 2,560 x 1600 option, and here’s the kicker — it only costs an extra $30 to have it configured with the higher-resolution display.

It comes with 400 nit brightness, and given that it’s a matte anti-glare display, it’s pretty good for all lighting conditions. It’s quite impressive.

Close up of HP Pavilion Aero 13 webcam

While I keep talking about how HP didn’t make compromises in certain areas, this is not a compromise-free machine. It’s still got a 720p webcam, and there’s no option for an IR camera for facial recognition. The lack of an FHD webcam is still notable; remember, you can buy a phone for a third of the price that has a far superior front-facing camera. It’s just that no one pushed the PC market in that direction until the working from home boom with COVID.

Keyboard: It doesn’t have a backlight

The keyboard on the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is pretty good. It’s comfortable, it’s accurate, and despite the narrower screen that results from the taller aspect ratio, the keyboard feels like it’s full-sized since it’s edge-to-edge. The company actually sent out the EliteBook 840 Aero G8 to reviewers at the same time, so I’m looking at two mainstream ultra-light PCs, the EliteBook being made for businesses. The EliteBook also has a superior keyboard.

Top down view of HP Pavilion Aero 13 keyboard

The Pavilion Aero has a very good keyboard for a consumer PC. However, the EliteBook has a keyboard that’s more similar to what you’d find on an EliteBook 1000 series laptop. That means it’s one of the best keyboards on the market.

If you didn’t catch the header of this section, the keyboard isn’t backlit. It is available as an option, but it’s really one of those things I take for granted in modern laptops. It’s like if I bought an inexpensive 2021 model car and it didn’t have power windows.

It’s got a Microsoft Precision touchpad, and next to it, a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor comes standard, which actually surprised me a bit, but thanks to that, you do get to use biometric authentication to log into this laptop.

Performance: It has AMD Ryzen 5000 processors

The model HP sent me includes an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD, so it’s pretty sweet. AMD has been doing really good work over the last few years, pumping high performance into relatively low-priced devices. The Pavilion Aero 13 even uses the better versions of the two processors offered — the Ryzen 5 5600U and Ryzen 7 5800U, rather than the Ryzen 5 5500U and Ryzen 7 5700U.

Note with the previous generation, the higher-end processor number meant it had simultaneous multithreading (SMT), but this year, SMT is in both versions of the chips.

Angled view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

The 7nm processors seem to do great on battery life, as I got over seven hours at 50% brightness and the power slider on one notch above battery saver. The battery is 43WHr, which really isn’t very big for a laptop, so getting over seven hours of real-world usage is super-impressive.

Performance is great too, although I didn’t find it always beat Intel. I’d actually say the two are on par with each other. The big problem with AMD is it doesn’t perform well when on battery life. I ran into a lot of issues when working while doing battery testing. It just seemed to choke up more than it would when it’s plugged in.

This is a productivity machine though. It’s not designed for photo editing, although with the screen being as good as it is, you could certainly do that. But instead, it’s designed for people like me that work with a dozen browser tabs open, and use other apps like Slack and OneNote. It definitely gets the job done, and does the job well, especially with 16GB RAM.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, Geekbench, and Cinebench.

HP Pavilion Aero 13
Ryzen 7 5800U
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7
Ryzen 7 4800U (28W)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
Core i7-1185G7
PCMark 8: Home4,5124,5564,532
PCMark 8: Creative4,3604,8614,910
PCMark 8: Work3,9773,9264,144
PCMark 105,7585,2525,168
3DMark: Time Spy1,2121,376
Geekbench1,427 / 5,5241,160 / 6,3621,489 / 5,280
Cinebench1,365 / 7,1151,245 / 8,7031,303 / 4,224

Note the last-gen Ryzen 7 in the Yoga Slim 7 was boosted to 28W, which is why it still competes so well.

Conclusion: Should you buy the HP Pavilion Aero 13?

The short answer is yes, you should buy the HP Pavilion Aero 13. It’s just a phenomenal product. When I wrote up my first impressions, I said it feels more premium than it should. That’s been the theme of this whole review.

Front view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

Hands down, the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is the best you can get for the price.

Here’s the bad. It doesn’t have a backlit keyboard by default, there’s no IR camera for facial recognition, and the webcam is 720p. First of all, if you buy this laptop, just make sure you configure it with the backlit keyboard; I’d go for the 2,560 x 1,600 display too, although you’d be sacrificing some of the fantastic battery life. To me, the biggest issue, as with many laptops, is the 720p webcam. Two years ago, no one cared about webcam quality (no really, no one cared; that’s how Dell got away with putting webcams below the display on its XPS laptops). We’re still dealing with the repercussions of that today.

Let’s get back to the good, because this laptop is fantastic. The biggest praise I can give it is I’d happily use this as my daily driver. It has everything I want in a laptop (except 4G LTE, which was in the last Pavilion I reviewed), such as an ultra-light build that feels premium, a great keyboard, and even a great 16:10 display. On top of that, it has the power and storage I need with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD.

When you think of everything the HP Pavilion Aero 13 offers, all for under a thousand dollars, it feels like a no-brainer. Hands down, it’s the best you can get for the price.

    HP Pavilion Aero 13
    The HP Pavilion Aero is a mainstream laptop that weighs under a kilogram and still has a lot of power.

      Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.