HP Pavilion HPE h9z review: HP Pavilion HPE h9z

3DMark 11 combined test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  
HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9z (FX 8100, February 2012)
5 
8 
10 

Slow 3D performance paints perhaps a worse picture for the Phoenix, given its positioning as a gaming system. It came in last on every test, barely even hitting 60 frames per second on our venerable Far Cry 2 benchmark. Yes, the Phoenix will play most current games at reasonably acceptable image quality and smoothness. Compared with competing systems in its price range, however, the Phoenix offers less headroom for "ultra" quality settings and resolutions above 1,920x1,080 pixels, and won't instill as much confidence in its ability to run more demanding PC games released in the future.

As a traditional full-tower desktop, the Phoenix does offer more expandability than the Alienware and Origin systems, and its 600-watt power supply should allow steady graphics card updates down the road. Those competing systems have faster cards than the Phoenix, but the full-size Phoenix case design means it can take a full-length card, which the Alienware X51 can't. The Phoenix also has more expandability than the small-form-factor Chronos, with four memory slots, room for three hard drives, and two free 1x PCI Express card slots. While that expandability is welcome, I still wish the Phoenix was more competitive out of the box.

Its external connectivity options cover the most important bases. You get one pair of USB 3.0 jacks, an assortment of USB 2.0 ports around the system, and two DVI ports and a Mini-HDMI jack on the graphics card. For audio output, you get a set of 7.1 analog jacks and a S/PDIF digital audio output, as well as a set of audio jacks on the front of the system. I wouldn't mind a few more USB 3.0 ports, but overall I can't think of many other connections I'd like to see.

Juice box
HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9z  
Off (watts) 3.27
Sleep (watts) 2.89
Idle (watts) 71
Load (watts) 244
Raw (annual kWh) 417.36
Energy Star-compliant No
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $47.37

Power consumption cost

Because this is a gaming system, it's worth looking into the Phoenix's power draw. At just about $4 a month in power bills, HP's gaming rig falls in the middle of this group of systems. None of these costs are too exorbitant, but comparatively the Phoenix posts disappointing power efficiency by requiring more power than two other systems that offer better performance.

HP includes a basic one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9z. You also get 24-7 toll-free phone support, and a variety of support resources are available on HP's Web site, as well as on the system itself.

Conclusion
If it's not apparent, I advise against purchasing the slow, uninspired HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9z. You can look to a number of other vendors for more gaming performance at this price, including HP itself via its Pavilion HPE h8 line.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Alienware x51 (Core i5-2320, January 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-2320; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 555 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Origin Chronos (Core i5-2550, March 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.5GHz Intel Core i5-2550; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card; 750 GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

HP Pavilion HPE h8xt (Core i7-2600, August 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card; 1.5TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9z
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz AMD FX-8100; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 550 Ti graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Velocity Micro Edge Z40
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4GHz Intel Core i5-2500K (overclocked); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti graphics card (overclocked); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

What you'll pay

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    Where to Buy

    HP Pavilion HPE h9z FX-8120 - 3.1 GHz, 2TB HD, 8GB RAM, Windows 7

    Part Number: A5U16AV#ABA_1759286 Released: Feb 1, 2012
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Feb 1, 2012
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