Like most midtower desktops in the $500 to $600 price range, HP's $560 Pavilion a6700y is mostly here to get the job done. We found that its lower-end AMD quad-core processor is a decent enough multitasker, but HP's component selection is questionable. In particular, the HP sacrifices core capability for Wi-Fi, a feature we can't get too excited about in a stationary desktop. We can recommend this PC only if you're especially price sensitive, and you spend most of your time using programs you know are multicore-friendly. Otherwise, look for a system with a more balanced set of features.
We're by now very familiar with the HP Pavilion a6700y's case, a simple, serviceable glossy and matte black design that neither stands out nor offends. A media card reader sits in our preferred spot on the easy-to-reach upper portion of the front panel. The DVD burner, a spare optical drive bay, and a collection of audio, FireWire, and USB 2.0 ports hide behind a series of front panel doors.
|HP Pavilion a6700y||Dell Inspiron I530-120B|
|CPU||1.8GHz AMD Phenom X4 9150e||2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400|
|Memory||4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip||128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||500GB 7,200rpm Seagate||750GB, 7,200rpm Seagate|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Digital media card reader||Yes||No|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11b/g Wi-Fi||10/100 Ethernet|
|Operating system||64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium||64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium|
The HP Pavilion a6700y has no exact price competitor of the system's we've seen at retail stores. We compare it with the $650 Dell Inspiron I530-120B, but you could just as easily match it against the $550 Gateway DX4200-09 or the $500 Dell Inspiron I530S-119B. Against the Dell listed, you'll note the HP has a smaller hard drive and less RAM, but it also offers 802.11b/g wireless networking where the Dell sticks to a traditional Ethernet connection. Of the two, we don't find Wi-Fi necessary in a desktop, and we'd gladly trade the HP's wireless adapter for more RAM, a faster CPU, or some other more useful feature.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
The HP's uninspired performance on our benchmark tests is the result of the fact that it has less RAM and a slower core CPU clock speed than its competition. In some cases, a PC can make up for its slower CPU clock if it has four cores and its competition only has two. However, even the $500 Dell Inspiron has a 2.5GHz Intel dual-core Pentium chip, which on all but one test outpaces the HP and its 1.8GHz AMD processor. Had the HP posted a better multitasking score (which it might have even with more RAM), we'd forgive its slower single application speeds in exchange for targeting the way many people work. But with only a single multithreaded Cinebench test in its favor, we find the HP's lack of overall performance too much of a hindrance.
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.
Dell Inspiron I530S-119B
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.