X

HP Envy 27 AIO (late 2016) review: An all-in-one for when looks are everything

HP's redesigned version of its 27-inch all-in-one looks classy and has a layout to match.

LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg
Lori Grunin
LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg

Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

See full bio
4 min read

If you're looking for an all-in-one for watching high-quality movies, photo editing or gaming, look away -- look away quickly. But if you want a general-purpose, elegantly designed and reasonably priced Windows 10 AIO that also happens to deliver satisfactory performance and above-average built-in sound quality, then the late 2016 update to the HP Envy AIO 27 is a good bet.

hp-envy-aio-27-18.jpg
8.2

HP Envy 27 AIO (late 2016)

The Good

The 2016 update of the HP Envy AIO 27 has a really pleasing and simple design, it's easy to use and its B&O sound system is better than your average built-in sound.

The Bad

The bundled keyboard and mouse aren't that great, and some people might find the display a little too washed out.

The Bottom Line

A pretty good value wrapped in a classy, well-designed box, the HP Envy AIO 27 will fill your need for a solid everyday PC that you won't need to hide.

Though not as striking as the more recently announced model with a 34-inch curved display, the less showy 27-inch model makes the statement, "Nothin' to see here; move along" for people who like their tech to be as invisible as possible.

Prices for touchscreen models start at $1,299 for a 6th-generation Core i5-6400T (dual-core) with integrated graphics and a 1TB hard drive (supplemented with a 128GB solid-state drive) and top off at just under $2,000 for an IPS display (a non-antiglare version) 7th-generation Core i7-7700T (quad-core), Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M and 2TB hard drive plus 256GB SSD. Our test configuration isn't available via HP, but is offered via the Microsoft Store as a Signature Edition PC, which means only Microsoft junkware and trialware and no one else's. (HP's closest option has more storage.) There are only two models available on HP UK's site, for £1,499 and £1,999, and the current model doesn't seem to be available yet in Australia.

The performance of our test configuration didn't really stand out, but any of the configurations should give you your money's worth as long as you're not a hard-core gamer or think you'll be VR'ing in the near future.

HP Envy All-in-One 27 (late 2016)

Price as reviewed $1,399
Display size/resolution 27-inch 2,560x1,440 touchscreen
PC CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-6700T
PC memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M
Storage 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Aural aura

This isn't HP's first rodeo with Bang & Olufsen -- they've been partners for almost three years -- but with four front-firing speakers, this is the most ambitious design to date.

And the built-in sound is certainly better than most all-in-ones -- the far more expensive Dell XPS 27 is a notable exception -- and it's louder. But it doesn't have much bass, so if you've got persnickity ears or like to feel it when you launch a grenade, you should consider alternatives, as there's no audio input and the only output is the jack, which doubles as a mic input.

I'm not exceptionally impressed with the display, either, though it's responsive enough as a touchscreen and not heinously reflective. Will you notice everything I nitpick about? Probably not unless you compare it side by side with a better one or if you're as sensitive about monitors as I am. If you are, it might be worth springing for the configuration with the upgraded display.

Despite having a Technicolor-certified mode (which seems to mean that it displays colors as accurately as possible, but doesn't guarantee that it can display all the colors you might need), the monitor covers just the sRGB color space. That's fine for HD video streaming, shopping and other general-purpose uses, but not for HDR video, photo editing or other tasks that require a larger color space. (Note: It uses switchable graphics, so it's quite possible that the color issues are fault of the integrated graphics, but there's no way to force it to use the discrete GPU.)

If it were just the colors, I wouldn't be so hard on it. There also doesn't seem to be a lot of leeway in the brightness -- it's either too washed out or too dim -- and you really have to fiddle. The blue-light modes are pretty useless because they don't compensate for the color changes that occur in interfaces when changing the white point; but those don't matter as much on a desktop as on a laptop, tablet or phone, all of which seem to be smarter about it.

Hey, good-lookin'

All that aside, I'm a really big fan of the Envy AIO 27's design, and for a lot of people that's the most important aspect of a PC like this. It's certainly one of the classiest-looking all-in-ones I've ever seen, and the connections are all hidden but still relatively accessible.

hp-envy-aio-27-06.jpg

There's a touch volume control on the base.

Sarah Tew/CNET

All the guts are in the base, with an SD card slot, USB-C charging port and jack easily reachable on the side plus four USB 3.0, HDMI in and out and Ethernet connections on the back. The power button is on the back as well, but on the left side close to the edge.

Then there's the webcam. Yes, I'm one of those people who puts a Band-Aid on my laptop's webcam. HP addresses the "OMG someone may be spying on me" issue with a camera that can retract into the display when not in use, and one that doesn't ruin the lines of the monitor or deliver an up-nose view like the XPS 27's does.

My one quibble is with the HP Envy wireless mouse and keyboard included with it. The mouse feels a bit awkwardly weighted and the buttons are too hard to press. And the keyboard keys have very little travel; I've used better laptop keyboards.

A good value

You can get the Envy AIO 27 starting at just over $1,000, which is pretty decent for something with its looks, and if you don't have specific performance needs, it'll give you enough power for your daily work and play. For something more specialized, with better sound and graphics, you need to pry open your wallet a little more for the Dell XPS 27.

Multitasking Multimedia Test 3.0

Falcon Northwest Tiki 120Origin PC Omni 137Microsoft Surface Studio 171Dell XPS 27 (2017) 196HP Envy All-In-One 27 (late 2016) 198
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 Multi-Core

Falcon Northwest Tiki 24461Origin PC Omni 15801HP Envy All-In-One 27 (late 2016) 14155Microsoft Surface Studio 13648Dell XPS 27 (2017) 13204
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Origin PC Omni 256.64Falcon Northwest Tiki 201.87Microsoft Surface Studio 117.67Dell XPS 27 (2017) 77.5HP Envy All-In-One 27 (late 2016) 47.59
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Origin PC Omni 7217Falcon Northwest Tiki 4421Microsoft Surface Studio 2341Dell XPS 27 (2017) 1019HP Envy All-In-One 27 (late 2016) 811
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Dell XPS 27 (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-6700; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M470X; 512GB SSD
HP Envy All-In-One 27 (late 2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-6700T; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M; 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Origin PC Omni Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); (oc) 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz, 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 2TB HDD + 500GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Studio Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HQ, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz, 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M; 2TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Falcon Northwest Tiki Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5,700rpm
hp-envy-aio-27-18.jpg
8.2

HP Envy 27 AIO (late 2016)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7
laptop
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping