Review of the HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd
I have recently bought a 14″ laptop, the HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd. This is a mid-range laptop. It is an upgrade from my previous laptop, the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T. However, this machine is not without it flaws.
Design and hardware
The HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd looks and feels like a quality laptop. The body around the keyboard is made of anodized metal and feels quite premium. Somewhat less premium is the plastic cover at the bottom and the plastic screen cover. A nice design touch are the hexagonal shapes in the laptop speaker grille that stretches all the way from left to right. It houses the B&O PLAY speakers. There is a very large trackpad at the bottom of the laptop. The touchpad has invisible integrated buttons (by clicking the whole touchpad on the left bottom or right bottom).
On the left side, this laptop features 2 USB 3.2 type A ports. It also features a headphone jack, an opening for a kensington lock and a SD card reader. On the right side, this laptop features a port for the power plug, an ethernet adapter, a HDMI port, a USB 3.2 type C port and a fingerprint sensor.
The display has an interesting hinge mechanism, that raises the laptop a couple of millimeters when you open it. This means that the keyboard has a slight slope. Which is more comfortable for typing. The disadvantage of this mechanism is that it blocks the hot-air vents on the backside.
The display itself is bright enough, but not extremely bright. The colors look good enough for me, but they are not stunning by any means. The viewing angles of the display are good.
The keyboard feels very good for typing. I could see myself writing entire essays on this laptop. I find it annoying that by default the multimedia keys are enabled instead of the function keys. When I try to access Krunner, I decrease the brightness of the screen instead. This is easily changed in the BIOS. HP calls them ‘action keys’ and you can disable them. I am less enthusiastic about the track-pad, which is by default way to sensitive for my taste. I made some adjustments in the KDE System Settings and now it works fine. It does have a good size. A disadvantage of that size is that the distance between the left bottom click and the right bottom click is too far apart.
The B&O PLAY speakers sound good, relative to other laptop speakers. Voices in songs are very clear. Pop music and Jazz music sound great. The speakers are not very loud. Like many other laptop speakers they fail to produce very crisp high tones (e.g. violins in classical music) and the bass doesn’t feel ‘heavy’ enough (in R&B music). But that is to be expected from laptop speakers.
The weight is just 1,59 kilogram, so its a light laptop. Which is good for portability. The laptop feels quite sturdy because of the metal housing. However, it has a plastic bottom plate which could break, if you access the internals too many times.
Specifications and benchmarks
- Intel Core i5-8250U
- Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU
- Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5)
- 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
- 256 GB M.2 SSD
- 1 TB 5400rpm HDD
- 14.0″ FullHD Edge-lit IPS display (1920×1080 pixels)
- 1 x LAN port
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x Type C USB 3.2 port
- 2 x Type A USB 3.2 port
- 1 x SD card reader
- 1 x Microphone-in/Headphone-out jack
- Realtek RTL8821CE 8.02.11/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth card
- HP Wide Vision HD-camera
- B&O PLAY speakers
- 3 cell 41-WHr lithium-ion battery
For benchmarks, I always look at the benchmark scores on the websites: cpubenchmark, videocardbenchmark and harddrivebenchmark. In the table below I compare the HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd with my previous laptops: the ASUS VivoBook X402NA-FA112T and the Acer Aspire One 725. The HP Pavilion laptop has 3x more CPU/GPU power than the Asus Vivobook. And it has 10x more CPU power than the Acer Aspire One and 17x more GPU power. All-in-all a nice boost in available horsepower.
|Comparison||HP Pavilion 14 ce0830nd||ASUS VivoBook X402NA||Acer Aspire One 725|
|Benchmark Score CPU|
|Benchmark Score dedicated GPU|
|Benchmark Score integrated GPU|
|Benchmark Score SSD|
|Benchmark Score HDD|
|Combined storage size|
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
1366 x 768
Installing openSUSE Leap 15.2 Beta
I installed openSUSE Leap 15.2 Beta in March 2020, 3 months before the official release. The install went without issues. I have settled on the following disk layout:
- SSD 256 GB
- 500 MB – EFI (boot partition)
- 80 GB – BtrFS (root partition)
- 9 GB – Swap (swap partition)
- 16 GB – NTFS (Windows backup partition)
- 149 GB – NTFS (Windows partition)
- HDD 1 TB
- 1 TB – XFS (home partition)
I did encounter issues with hardware detection and drivers of the WiFi chipset and the videocard. I did succeed to resolve the WiFi issue. Unfortunately, I was not able to resolve the videocard issue.
I knew from past experience that you can still encounter WiFi issues with cards that don’t have proper Linux support. The Realtek RTL8821CE is such a card. After installation, I discovered that I had no access to WiFi. Which makes the laptop a very expensive brick. Fortunately, this laptop has an Ethernet adapter, so I could plug it in on my local wired network.
I first tried installing a driver for the RTL8821CE, which was packaged for openSUSE. However, this failed to work. The second thing I tried, was to follow this guide on manually installing the driver from Github. But that also didn’t work. After multiple hours trying to problem-solve this issue, I was ready to spend my money on an easier solution. In the end, I bought 3 WiFi cards:
- Intel 3168NGW (PCI-Express)
- TP-Link Archer T3U (USB type A)
- TP-Link TL-WN823N (USB type A)
Replacing the internal Realtek card was fairly straightforward. After unscrewing a couple of screws, the bottom plate of the laptop can be removed. And the internal of the laptop are easy to reach. After replacing the Realtek card, the new Intel card produced a working WiFi signal. Which is great! However, the signal strength is low. And my WiFi reception is not great when I am indoors. So I wanted a better solution.
I initially purchased the TP-Link Archer T3U with the WiFi protocol ‘802.11 ac’. Which was a mistake. It uses the Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 card internally. Which (surprise surprise) is not supported on Linux. I tried to install the driver the easy way (packaged for openSUSE) and the hard way. Both ways didn’t succeed. Which meant that I had to purchase another USB WiFi dongle.
This time, I looked for a WiFi card that had Linux support out of the box. I purchased the TP-Link TL-WN823N card with the WiFi protocol ‘802.11 n’. And it works without any problems on openSUSE. So my suggestion for other Linux users with WiFi problems: purchase this (13 euro) USB WiFi dongle and save yourself hours of fiddling around with DKMS drivers that may or may not be working.
Nvidia videocard issue
The HP Pavilion 14 laptop is an optimus laptop, which means it features both integrated (Intel) graphics and dedicated (Nvidia) graphics cards. openSUSE Leap 15.2 doesn’t install the xf86-video-intel package by default. This is easily remedied by searching and installing this package via YaST and rebooting.
The Nvidia videocard wasn’t showing at all. When the proprietary Nvidia gfx-G04 / gfx-G05 drivers became available, I wanted to try to resolve this issue. I installed SUSE-prime to be able to switch between Intel and Nvidia graphics. SUSE-prime has a very easy to understand Wiki page. After installing the proprietary G05 drivers and SUSE-prime, the Nvidia card was still not showing. I tried the G04 drivers instead and replaced SUSE-prime with SUSE-prime-bbswitch. But I still wasn’t able to switch between the Nvidia and Intel GPUs. The G04 driver did appear to work better than the G05 drivers, because I was able to open the NVIDIA X Server application. Which presented me with an error dialog, informing me to run nvidia-xconfig as root.
When I followed the recommendation, an empty xorg.conf file was created. Which caused Xorg not to work at all after reboot. I had to remove this xorg.conf file to get my KDE desktop back up and running.
sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf
In the blog of another openSUSE user (Cubiclenate) I found that I was not alone in trying to resolve this issue. He linked me to the openSUSE Bumblebee Wiki page. These instructions looked very daunting, so I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. I can play the same games on Windows (via Steam) where the Nvidia drivers are working.
Dual booting Windows
My reason for installing Windows 10 has nothing to do with the mentioned Nvidia issues. The reason to install Windows is to be able to transfer files between my computer and my Samsung Galaxy S phone and my Fitbit Versa watch.
I encountered problems in the past, trying to transfer pictures and music via Dolphin or via KDE Connect. I did manage to transfer a couple of files without a problem. But a mass download of all pictures from my Samsung phone to my computer was to much for Dolphin/KDE Connect to handle. And uploading a large collection of music from my computer to my Samsung phone was just as much of a problem.
This laptop originally shipped with Windows. I formatted both hard drives when installing openSUSE. I left some space on the SSD for a fresh Windows install. Windows 10 installed without any problems. When I restarted the computer, GRUB only showed the openSUSE entries, so I couldn’t boot into Windows 10. This issue was easy to resolve, I found the solution online.
In Dolphin I opened the Windows partition. Then I opened a terminal and entered:
grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
GRUB directly found my Windows partition and added it as an option in the GRUB menu. After his, I was able to boot into Windows 10.
As many people have experienced before, Windows 10 is very hostile to your privacy. I already gained an advantage by doing a clean install. This way I didn’t have to deal with the unwanted crapware that HP installed by default on my system. Next, I disabled all spying options in the settings. Windows 10 was also automatically installing games like Bubble Witch 3 Saga and Candy Crush Friends. This apparently cannot be disabled. Microsoft, please stick to Mahjong, Minesweeper, Solitaire and Sudoku.
So what did I install? Mostly open source applications: Firefox, LibreOffice, GIMP, VLC media player, Elisa music player, ImageGlass, Notepad ++, openRA and SuperTuxKart. I also installed Steam (not open source) to play some games. And I installed the Fitbit app (also proprietary software) to communicate with my watch.
I have installed OpenArena, Xonotic, SuperTuxKart and OpenRA on both openSUSE and Windows. I will use these open source games to compare gaming performance between openSUSE and Windows. The GeForce Experience app (which controls the Nvidia GPU) didn’t recognize these as games and thus everything runs on the Intel GPU. So this is a fair comparison.
|Average FPS||openSUSE Leap 15.2||Windows 10|
|OpenArena (max settings)|
|Xonotic (ultra settings)|
|SuperTuxKart (max settings)|
|OpenRA – Red Alert (default settings)|
I wasn’t expecting this difference in gaming performance. The average frame-rates are almost twice as good on the Windows side. Apparently the Intel GPU drivers on the Windows side are better optimized.
The GeForce Experience app did recognize the games that I installed via Steam on Windows: Tomb Raider, DiRT Rally and GRID autosport. These 3 proprietary games are used to see how well the Nvidia GPU is handling them.
|Average FPS||Ultra settings||Low settings|
Not surprisingly, the frame rates on Ultra settings are not great. However, these games are very playable on full HD resolution on medium/low settings.
The HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd handles multitasking like a boss. It has no problem handling multiple tasks at the same time. For fun, I tried opening Firefox, Dolphin, Gwenview, Darktable and LibreOffice Writer, while playing music in Elisa music player at the same time. The image below shows the result. The applications started almost instantly. None of the CPU cores reached 100% and most of them stayed below 50%. The 8GB of memory was plenty to handle all of these tasks.
Would I recommend the HP Pavilion 14-ce0830nd? To be honest, its a mixed bag on openSUSE. Installation of openSUSE Leap 15.2 was very easy. And installation of a dual boot system with Windows 10 was easy as well. The laptop has an attractive look and feel. The display, speakers, keyboard and external ports are all good. The touchpad is too sensitive, but this can be adjusted in the KDE settings. The machine has enough RAM, enough storage and the hard drives are performant. The Intel CPU/GPU is great. Which means that this is a great machine for multitasking. The gaming performance on the Intel GPU on openSUSE Leap 15.2 is good enough to play various open source games on medium/high settings.
There are 2 big issues why I wouldn’t recommend this machine:
- the Realtek WiFi card is not supported under Linux
- the Nvidia GPU is not working in openSUSE Leap 15.2
I feel that if you are looking for a good Linux laptop, it should come with an Intel WiFi/Bluetooth chip. And that it is better to avoid laptops with Nvidia optimus videocards.
So is this laptop a disappointment? Not at all. After a bit of tinkering, I am quite happy with it. I replaced the internal WiFi card and use a 13 euro USB WiFi dongle if I need an even better signal. I don’t mind that the Nvidia GPU is not working on the openSUSE side. This machine offers a big performance upgrade in comparison to my previous laptop. I enjoy the better display, speakers and the great keyboard. I have a Logitech wireless mouse plugged in, so I don’t have to use the track-pad exclusively. The battery is also better than my previous laptop. For me, these are enough reasons to happily keep running openSUSE Leap on this laptop.
Published on: 2 July 2020