One of the reasons we didn't choose the Dell Inspiron I530S-119B for the feature comparison chart is that its slim tower case lacks the expandability of the HP's standard midtower design. That less expensive system is almost universally faster than the Pavilion a6700y. However, the Dell's narrow case can't offer the HP's full-sized upgrade options, which include a full-sized graphics card slot, as well as a pair of 1x PCI Express slots, and a single standard PCI input. If you don't think you'll use the HP's expansion options, and you don't need its Wi-Fi adapter, the smaller, cheaper Dell also has the same amount of RAM and the same size hard drive as this Pavilion. We'd definitely consider the Dell first if you're shopping in the $500 range with an eye on performance.
On the HP's back panel you'll find a handful of USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire jack, analog audio ports, as well as a single digital coaxial audio output. Unlike the feature-studded Acer Aspire X1700, a $480 PC, neither this HP, nor any of the Dells mentioned in this review have eSATA ports or an HDMI output. While many people may not require those features, the fact that you can get them in such a low-cost system from Acer makes pricier PCs without them look behind the times.
HP, like most mainstream vendors, backs this system with one year of parts and labor warranty. You get 24-7 toll-free phone help should you need it, and a variety of system-specific support resources on HP's Web site.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell Inspiron I530-120B
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 500GB Samsung 7,200rpm hard drive.
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz AMD Phenom X4 9100e; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
HP Pavilion a6700y
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.8GHz AMD Phenom X4 9150e; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive.
HP Pavilion a6750y
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.3GHz AMD Phenom X4 9650; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 750GB, 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.