The Bottom Line
Jun 6 2012 - HP's Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9t customizable desktop does bring a fair amount of performance to the consumer desktop but is hit and miss on the customizable aspects. The range of storage options is quite amazing and may be daunting for some buyers but it is very disappointing to see such a small selection of graphics cards for something aimed towards gamers. Performance is very good thanks to the new top of the line Ivy Bridge processor and it is nice to see HP make Blu-ray drives standard here. Pricing does make it a bit more expensive than many competing systems which is even more telling considering the case doesn't offer the same build quality level as some others. Those wanting some software with their computer will be pleased with some Adobe stuff preloaded but there also is a lot of other software that isn't quite as useful. Overall, HP has made a solid attempt here but it needs to offer a bit more options for those looking to get a customized performance desktop.
- Strong Performance
- Large Number of Storage Configuration Options
- Blu-ray Compatible Drive
- Case Design And Build Quality Could Be a Bit Better
- Limited Number of Graphics Cards Options
- Fair Amount Of Software Installed
- Intel Core i7-3770K Quad Core Desktop Processors
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 2TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Blu-ray Reader and Dual Layer DVD Burner Combo Drive
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 Graphics Card With 2GB Memory
- Intel HDA 7.1 Audio
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Four USB 3.0, Eight USB 2.0, DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, 15-in-1 Card Reader
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Photohop Elements, Premiere Elements, Norton Internet Security
Review - HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9t
Jun 6 2012 - At the heart of the new HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9t customizable desktop is the new Ivy Bridge processor. This third generation processor is a more efficient design and adds in a better integrated graphics engine. Right now, the only processor option available is the Core i7-3770K quad core model which is the highest model available. It is combined with 8GB of DDR3 memory that offers very strong performance which slightly improves upon the older Core i7-2700 Sandy Bridge processor but not by a huge margin. This is the K or unlocked version which means that it can be overclocked but many buyers probably won't necessarily look into doing this. To help on with cooling the CPU, HP does uses a dedicated liquid cooling system that helps reduce noise and temperatures which is helpful with this compact desktop tower design.
Since this is HP's premium consumer performance option that is designed for gaming, it does use a different case design from previous Pavilion Elite models. The case itself is relatively compact tower design which is useful for those with a bit more limited space but it does have the drawback of being a bit more cramped inside, The wire bundles make the two PCI-Express x1 slots only really useful for compact expansion cards. Going with the gaming aesthetic, there are a number of red LED lighting within the case as well as a small winder on the side panel. This produces a red glow around the case that can be a bit distracting for some. The big issue here with the case is the heavy use of plastics that just don't have the same level of build quality as say the Alienware Aurora or Dell's XPS.
Storage features for the Pavilion HPE Phoenix base setup are pretty typical of a desktop near the $1500 price point. It features a two terabyte storage capacity hard drive with a traditional 7200rpm spin rate. This gives i a good amount of storage space and decent performance. They offer a wide range of options including solid state drives and even RAID setups with multiple drives for added security or performance. Most of these options will add considerable cost to the overall cost of the system. Internally, there is space for more drives than there are headers on the motherboard. Just four SATA connectors total are available. Thankfully, there are four USB 3.0 ports (two top, two back) for use with high speed external storage devices. A Blu-ray compatible drive is standard for playback of the high definition media format or playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
With HP marketing the Pavilion HPE Phoenix as a gaming system, it is kind of surprising that they are only offering two card options right now. The base card is the AMD Radeon HD 7770 graphics card with 2GB of memory. This is a fairly modest graphics card when it comes to gaming. It is possible to game up to the 1920x1080 resolution typical to many monitors without much problem. It will struggle with higher detail levels and filters for more demanding modern games though. If you want a bit more performance, than an AMD Radeon HD 7950 is available that will allow for performance up to 2560x1440 for those that like large monitors or even multiple monitor setups. It would be nice to see HP also offer the new NVIDIA Geforce GTX 670 or 680 cards as options. One downside to the more compact tower design is that there is only a single graphics card slot which means that it is not able to have a multiple card CrossFire configuration for even greater performance.
One of the big new features to the Ivy Bridge processors is the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built onto the CPU. Now, with the dedicated graphics card, this feature becomes a bit redundant as it is not accessed at all. This is a bit of a shame as some performance systems have the ability to utilize virtualized graphics so this integrated graphics processor can be used for the QuickSync capability for accelerated video transcoding. This system lacks this ability which is disappointing but the dedicated graphics card does add performance to other non-3D applications which trump the Intel HD Graphics 4000's ability.
Installed software is both good and bad with the HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix. On the one hand, they include full versions of the Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements programs. In addition, they include he Magic Canvas software that was first introduced on their TouchSmart systems. The former are quite useful for photo and video editing while the later is mostly cosmetic change to the Windows 7 interface. The problem is that there is a lot of other programs installed which are not as useful and can clutter things up. This includes a number of toolbars that are preloaded into the web browser. Users will definitely want to take some time to clean up their system by removing unwanted programs.