When HP announced its new Pavilion Aero 13 laptop back in June, there was a lot to get excited over. With a $750 starting price (now $670 on sale), AMD Ryzen processors, a slick modern design, and weighing around just 2 pounds (0.9kg), this laptop brings a lot of premium features to the mid-range budget space.
After spending the last few weeks with the Pavilion Aero 13, I'm floored by it. It's undoubtedly one of the best sub-$1,000 laptops you can buy right now, and while it is not perfect, it gets so much right that it is easy to overlook some of its few and minor shortcomings.
The Pavilion Aero 13 is so good it tempts me from my higher-end, more premium laptops. Here's why you should keep this Windows 11-ready laptop in mind if you need a new PC this fall.
Bottom line: Weighing around 2 pounds, the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is the best sub-$1,000 laptop you can buy right now. With an excellent display, keyboard, audio, and AMD Ryzen performance, it's a premium laptop that is super affordable.
- Excellent CPU performance
- Super light
- Outstanding design
- Very good keyboard, trackpad, and display
- Radeon GPU is weak
- Webcam is just OK
- Some bloatware
HP Pavilion Aero 13: Price and availability
As of early September 2021, only HP is selling the new Pavilion Aero 13 directly through the HP website. Other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy are likely to follow in the coming months as both are significant distributors of HP PCs.
HP lets you configure storage, CPU, RAM, display, color options, and more.
The Pavilion Aero 13 starts at $750, although HP has it on sale for just $670. That version ships with a Ryzen 5 5600 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, comes in natural silver, and has a WUXGA (1920x1200) non-touch display without backlit keys.
Maxed out, the Pavilion Aero 13 comes in at a very doable $1,040. It ships with a more powerful Ryzen 7 5800U processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, backlit keys, a higher resolution WQXGA (2560x1600), non-touch display, and comes in warm gold, ceramic white, or pale rose gold colors.
Our review unit is priced at $910 and features the Ryzen 7 5800U, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, no backlit keyboard, 1920x1200 display, and natural silver.
HP Pavilion Aero 13: What's good
The Pavilion Aero 13 is a mid-range budget clamshell laptop as denoted by its Pavilion branding (ENVY and Spectre are budget premium and prosumer premium HP brands). It ships with Windows 10 Home but is ready for the Windows 11 update on Oct. 5 (and likely to get the update right away due to it being so new).
With an all-metal chassis, the Aero 13 is incredibly light. HP cites "under 1 kg (2.2 lbs)" and our model weighs in at exactly 2.09 pounds (0.95kg). That is incredibly light for any laptop at any price point and makes the Aero 13 stand out from the competition.
The chassis for this review unit is natural silver — it looks traditional and is just fine. For those who want a little more flair, there are options for warm gold, pale rose gold, and my favorite, ceramic white, for an extra $20.
The 13.3-inch display is also a taller 16:10 aspect instead of the older and narrower 16:9. Because of this decision, the Aero 13 has "micro bezels" on all four sides, delivering a 90% screen-to-body ratio, making it look very modern and aesthetically pleasing. There are two display options: "Full HD" at 1920x1200 and the other closer to 2K at 2560x1600. Both are matte (anti-glare) and non-touch with 400 nits of brightness. The higher resolution option is a mere $30 extra making a worthy and recommended upgrade.
Despite the low price point, the IPS display is outstanding. HP says 400 nits for brightness, and I measured 413 nits — perfect. Color accuracy is also excellent with 100% sRGB, 79% AdobeRGB, and 84% DCI-P3, which matches or exceeds premium Ultrabooks. The display leans on the cool side (bluer) but otherwise looks superb. Using a colorimeter to calibrate it properly is rewarding.
|Category||HP Pavilion Aero 13|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (Windows 11-ready)|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 5600U|
AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
|Graphics||AMD Radeon graphics|
|Display||13.3-inch, 16:10 aspect ratio, 400 nits, 100% sRGB|
1x Type-C (PD)
|Camera||720p front-facing, dual mics|
|Audio||2x Bang & Olufsen (bottom)|
|Battery||Up to 10.5 hours|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6 (1x2) and Bluetooth 5.2|
Wi-Fi 6 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.2
|Weight||2.2 pounds (0.9kg)|
|Color||Pale rose gold|
The keyboard is edge to edge and continues HP's trend of outstanding typing experiences. Unfortunately, our review unit did not have backlit keys, which is a letdown, but HP lets you add it on for just $20 — another easy recommendation. Key travel is ample; the key design is excellent.
The trackpad is quite large and uses Microsoft Precision drivers. It's OK with smooth travel and a decent, albeit soft, click.
Ports are adequate too. There is a Type-C (no Thunderbolt 4) for charging, data or display out. There are two Type-A ports on each side with drop-jaws to make them fit in this thin chassis. And HDMI port is on the left, also for display out. HP also included a 65-watt barrel charger, which is a bit old-fashioned, but that Type-C port comes in handy if you have a spare Type-C charger. There's also a headphone/mic jack, as expected.
Audio is handled by two speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen (B&O). The speakers are on the bottom edge giving some clearance and are pretty good. Included B&O software lets users enable AI-controlled noise removal for the microphones during video calls, which is a nice add-on. There is also a 10-band equalizer and audio presets to custom-tune audio output.
The 720p front-facing webcam is average with decent color reproduction and excellent contrast.
The AMD Ryzen 7 5800U is a powerhouse, especially at this price. On Geekbench 5, the Aero 13 rivals the Razer Blade 14 and edges out the Surface Laptop 4 with an Intel Core i7. In fact, it just edges out all of Intel's 11th Gen chips. It even just beats out Apple's famed M1 processor on Cinebench R23.