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HolidayBuyer's Guide

HP Envy 23 review:

Nothing to see here

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking: iTunes and Handbrake
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs
Rendering Single CPU

The good news is that the Envy 23 keeps pace with the Apple and Dell systems that use the same Core i7 3770s CPU. I'd also hoped that the HP's added memory might show itself on either our Photoshop or our iTunes/Handbrake multitasking test, but the results don't indicate that the memory adds a significant benefit on those benchmarks. Again, some more-demanding users may appreciate 16GB. I suspect if you count yourself among that class of user, you're not looking for an HP touch-screen all-in-one.

The Nvidia graphics chip also bears some scrutiny. Apple sets a high bar with the high-end GeForce GTX 680M chip in its $1,999 iMac, and both the Dell and the HP look underfeatured with their lower-end GPUs. You can still use this HP for gaming, but you can expect to make sacrifices to image quality and resolution on more-demanding titles. Again, dropping down to 8GB of memory and configuring the higher-end AMD graphics chip would be a smarter choice for this PC for most mainstream users. That upgrade only adds $30 to the price of the system, too.

Portwise, the Envy 23 includes all of the ports you expect in a mainstream desktop, but almost none of the more interesting inputs you'd want to see in a PC that costs nearly $2,000. USB 3.0, HDMI input, and the SD card reader are all present and accounted for. HP also includes a TV tuner, a dedicated subwoofer output, and a digital audio jack. Optical digital audio, Thunderbolt, or anything else of note are all absent. The Envy 23 has a set of hard buttons on the side of the system for swapping to the external HDMI device, and volume controls on the wireless mouse and keyboard, all expected.

HP didn't help the cause of this system by submitting such a high-end configuration. Yes, a baseline unit would put the Envy 23 in line with recent, similarly unremarkable lower cost all-in-ones, but then we could at least say that this system offered similar value to that of its competition. Up against higher-priced systems from Dell, Apple, and other vendors, the HP Envy 23 is simply lost. Look for another PC if your shopping in the $2,000 price range. If you're looking for something less expensive, the Envy 23 should serve just as well as any other mainstream touch-screen all-in-one.

Performance testing conducted by Joseph Kaminski. Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations

HP Envy 23 (November 2012)
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64-bit; 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-3770S; 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Apple iMac 27-inch (December 2012)
Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-3770; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive, 128GB solid-state hard drive

Acer Aspire 7600U
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 768MB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Asus ET2300INTI
Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit); 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-3330; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell XPS One 27
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64-bit; 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-3770S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

What you'll pay

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