The Bottom Line
Aug 23 2012 - HP's Pavilion p6 series of desktops are really starting to show their age and are in need of updating. While the p6-2120 is affordable and available for under $500, it just lacks the features such as wireless networking and USB 3.0 that are found on competing AMD based desktops in the same price range. The result is a desktop that feels dated and has limited upgrade potential. With HP currently trying to clear out its older second generation Intel Core i series Pavilion p7, it is certainly a much better option to look at one of them or buy a competing AMD based desktop to get more for your money.
- Improved Intergrated Graphics
- Quad Core Performance Slower Than Dual Core Intel Core i3 PCs
- Lacks USB 3.0 Ports
- No Wireless Networking
- AMD A6-3620 Quad Core Desktop Processor
- 6GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drives
- 16x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- AMD Radeon HD 6530D Integrated Graphics
- 5.1 Audio Support
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Six USB 2.0, DVI, VGA, 6-in-1 Card Reader
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - HP Pavilion p6-2120
Aug 23 2012 - The HP Pavilion p6-2120 is essentially a slightly upgraded version of the Pavilion p6-2100 that I reviewed six months ago. The big update of the system is a faster AMD A6-3620 quad core processor compared to the past dual core processor. In addition to this, it also comes with 6GB of DDR3 memory compared to 4GB. These two changes do increase the ability of the system to handle multitasking and more demanding tasks like desktop video. The downside is that the extra cores still fall behind the performance of desktops based around the Intel Core i3 processors in the same price range. Another thing to note about the memory is that there are only two memory slots meaning that memory upgrades are a bit more difficult.
Storage features for the HP Pavilion p6-2120 remain unchanged. It still uses a one terabyte hard drive that provides a good deal of storage for applications, data and media files. The drive spins at the traditional 7200rpm spin rate that provides it with decent performance compared to some budget desktops that use the green class drives. The one disappointing aspect is that this system lacks any USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage drives. Many competing AMD based budget desktops tend to have two of these so it makes it more difficult to upgrade the storage. A dual layer DVD burner is included for playback and recording CD or DVD media.
Since the HP Pavilion p6-2120 uses an AMF Fusion processor, it also uses a graphics solution that is built onto the CPU. In the case of the A6-3620, this is an AMD Radeon HD 6530D. This was the second highest tier of integrated graphics processor that provides an improved graphics performance but still not quite the same as a dedicated card. It offers some 3D performance for casual 3D gaming at lower resolution and detail levels but won't work so well with more modern demanding titles. It does offer a greater range of acceleration for non-3D applications like Photoshop especially compared to the Intel HD Graphics. There is a space within the system for a PCI-Express graphics card but the options are very limited to the most basic of graphics cards because of the low wattage power supply.
Another disappointing aspect of the p6-2120 is the removal of the wireless networking interface. This was a feature of the p6-2100 and made it very easy to integrate into a home wireless network that are fairly common now thanks to the increase in mobile devices. It is also becoming more common for many low cost desktops which makes the removal even more disappointing.
In terms of competition at the $500 price point for AMD based desktops, the Acer Aspire AM3450 and the ASUS CM1740 are the closest competition. The Acer system offers a more powerful FX-8100 eight core processor and a dedicated graphics card. The ASUS on the other hand comes with 8GB of memory and a dedicated graphics card. Both of those systems also offer more internal memory slots and USB 3.0 ports for greater expansion capabilities.