We can't say the same about the HP's gaming capabilities. You shouldn't run into too many titles the HP can't handle, but you might notice a drop-off at higher resolutions, especially with more demanding first person shooters. Unlike the Maingear system, where we're fairly certain the six-core CPU helped push the graphics card past the Gateway and its combination of a quad-core CPU and a slightly better 3D card, the lower midrange ATI Radeon HD 5570 graphics card presents the HP with a performance a gap the Core i7 980X can't overcome. Still, hitting close to 60 frames per second on our high-resolution Far Cry 2 test suggests the HP won't give you that much to worry about. You may need to reduce the resolution or image quality on more recent titles, but as long as you stick to 24-inch or lower displays, generally speaking you should be fine.
With the TV tuner and Blu-ray drive, it's clear HP also has home entertainment in mind for this desktop. The graphics card features DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs, so you should be able to connect it to any modern display from the office to the living room. The 7.1 analog audio and S/PDIF digital audio jacks also open up a handy variety of audio output options. We don't think many people will drag this tower system into their living room, but we'd of course rather have the AV flexibility than not.
The motherboard also provides a strong assortment of data ports, although it's without a few newer features that come with some enthusiast-class 980X chipset boards, as well as with AMD's more affordable 890GX chipset. You get the now-more-or-less-standard array of USB 2.0, eSATA, and FireWire outputs. The system has no USB 3.0 jacks, however, and the internal SATA hard drive connections remain SATA 2.0, as opposed to the wider-bandwidth SATA 3.0 standard. With few USB 3.0 components available at the moment, and relatively little noticeable benefit from the fatter hard drive pipe, we don't suspect many of you will miss these extras.
The HP's internal expansion is a bit less impressive. Technically, you get two 16x PCI Express slots, a 1x PCI Express slot and a 4X PCI Express slot. With the TV tuner, the wireless networking card, and the double-wide graphics card, all of those slots come either occupied or obstructed. Our configuration also included only five sticks of RAM for six available slots (four 2GB sticks, one 1GB stick). Perhaps to keep prices down, HP uses only 1,066MHz DDR3 memory in this system, and had HP occupied all six RAM slots, the system would benefit with a performance boost from full implementation of the triple channel memory. You can add a single 1GB stick to go to 10GB, or rearrange however you'd like, of course. HP also offers an upgrade to 12GB for an extra $120.
|HP Pavilion Elite 190T||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.97|
|Sleep (10 percent)||3.63|
|Idle (25 percent)||148.42|
|Load (5 percent)||236.34|
|Annual energy cost||$68.48|
Given its very high-end CPU, we're not surprised this HP is one of the most power-hungry desktops in this roundup. That added power draw isn't surprising considering its performance edge over those systems. While none of these PCs can be considered power-efficient stand-outs, at least the HP is no more or less consumptive than its competition, at least relative to its performance.
HP's service and support matches that of the industry-standard one-year warranty coverage/24-7 toll-free phone service. HP's Web site also has a bunch of useful features, from FAQs, driver and manual downloads, as well as support chat. The system itself also comes with a few diagnostic tools, although you'll have to sort them out from the trial offers and crapware icons.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770; 1TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.36GHz Intel Core i7 980X Extreme; 9GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5830; 640GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.22GHz Intel Core i7-860 (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 896MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (216 core); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive