Friday, November 11, 2011

HP Pavilion Elite H8-1010: Lost in the Mainstream-Desktop Crowd

HP Pavilion Elite H8-1010 mainstream desktop PCIn the crowded realm of mainstream desktops, it often takes an extra bit of panache to stand out. The HP Pavilion Elite H8-1010 ($829 as of October 20, 2011; $699 after instant rebate) provides decent general performance and a roomy hard drive, but ultimately it fails to outshine systems that offer a better overall value.

HP has stashed a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-2390T into the H8-1010, but the switch to a lesser-known, OEM-only processor (a dual-core CPU with hyperthreading) doesn't cut much of this system’s cost or free up the budget for enhancements. As for the rest of this rig’s meat and potatoes, 8GB of memory joins a 1TB hard drive.

The H8-1010’s scores on our WorldBench 6 suite of tests were comparable to those we’ve seen from systems that cost less. The $450 Acer Aspire AM3970 comes to mind; that budget desktop, equipped with a Core i3-2100 CPU, earned a WorldBench 6 score of 131, close to the H8-1010’s mark of 139. Don’t expect the H8-1010’s graphics performance to save the day, either--it output only 11 frames per second on our standard Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark (2560 by 2100 resolution at high quality). We had to dial that test back to a resolution of 1024 by 768 (high quality) just to see playable results.

The chassis is a recent refresh of HP’s traditional design: black and glossy, with stealthed drive bays on the front. Inside, you’ll see messy internal wiring. A strange locking mechanism secures devices into the system’s two 5.25-inch bays. One comes prepopulated with a standard DVD burner--nowadays, we’re used to seeing Blu-ray drives even on the lowliest of PCs, especially when they’re media-oriented. You’re stuck with screws for the single available 3.5-inch bay. Finally, an unimpressive locking mechanism secures devices for the motherboard’s three (yes, three) open PCI Express x1 slots. Who needs that many PCI Express x1 connections at the expense of, well, everything else?

The port diversity of the H8-1010 is also wanting. A total of four USB ports reside in front: two on the top, and two hidden underneath a panel below the built-in multiformat card reader. Four more USB ports adorn the desktop’s rear … and that’s pretty much it for connections, save for the gigabit ethernet port. A DVI port and an HDMI port are on the included ATI Radeon HD 6450 graphics card. And we suppose it’s nice to have integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity on this system.

Both the keyboard and mouse that HP supplies with the H8-1010 are wireless. We appreciate that, though both devices’ button layouts are generic and uninspiring.

The saving graces of this HP desktop are its good general performance, its ample memory, and its average hard-drive space. If you're shopping for a basic workhorse, however, it barely outpaces the Acer AM3970, a desktop that costs hundreds less. And for just a few hundred more, the Micro Express MicroFlex 68B dwarfs the H8-1010 in performance and features. Among desktops, the competition is a bit too fierce for the HP Pavilion Elite H8-1010 to distinguish itself.

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