HP Pavilion Elite E9220y review: HP Pavilion Elite E9220y

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MSRP: $799.99

The Good Reasonably attractive exterior.

The Bad Poor value and performance compared with less expensive desktops, including one from HP; adding hard drives is a pain because of obstructed drive bay; poor power efficiency.

The Bottom Line HP's Pavilion Elite E9220y strikes out because of slow performance and underwhelming features for its price. We can't recommend this desktop to anyone.

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4.6 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 4
  • Performance 4
  • Support 7

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

Yeesh. HP's Pavilion Elite has missed the mark before, but the discrepancy between this $799 Pavilion Elite E9220y and other retail PCs might be as wide as we've seen. HP is essentially asking you to pay $150 for $80 worth of features and slower performance than its competition. If you haven't already guessed, we don't recommend this desktop.

HP's Pavilion Elite chassis has been around for just over two years, and we continue to find it a mixed offering. It looks good on the outside, and for many of you that might be all that matters. Its black plastic is accented by soft, blue LED buttons. Wireless and drive activity indicator lights add a touch of functional polish. In general this system cuts a profile that strikes a balance between approachable and sophisticated.

The disconnect comes by way of the specialized bay HP includes for adding one of its proprietary Personal Media drives. HP only included one of these bays this time (we've seen two of them crammed into older Pavilion Elites), so the internal clutter and redundant functionality is reduced, but you're still faced with the Personal Media drive cage that blocks access to the standard hard-drive bays. Adding a second or third standard hard drive to this system is thus much more complicated than it should be.

  HP Pavilion Elite E9220y Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
Price $799 $649
CPU 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X4 910 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q3200
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4350 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The drive issue is familiar, and also of little consequence compared with the Pavilion Elite E9220y's larger problems. The side-by-side comparison with the $650 Asus system above tells only part of the story. Aside from the price, and the CPU, the primary differences between the two systems features-wise are that the HP has wireless networking and also a discrete budget graphics card. Asus sticks with wired networking and integrated graphics.

Wi-Fi and better graphics are great, of course, and worth paying extra for as long as the value lines up. Considering that you could add Wi-Fi and the same ATI graphics card yourself to the Asus for around $80 or so, we'd need to see more from the HP to justify its higher price tag. You can argue that it's more visually attractive than the Asus system, and also that HP's service and support is more comprehensive, but we tend to take a more practical-minded stance, and the HP's laggard performance offsets any intangible benefits that might improve its value.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP Pavilion P6230y
Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
HP Pavilion Elite E9220y
Gateway DX4300-11

The HP Pavilion Elite E9220y is plainly slower than the less expensive Asus, but we find the $799 HP's speed relative to the $679 HP Pavilion P6230y almost as problematic. That lower-end HP comes up marginally faster than the Pavilion Elite E9220y, and because it also offers wireless networking, and HP's polished aesthetics and robust support, the only thing the Pavilion Elite really has to recommend it over that model is its budget ATI graphics card, which you can find online for $40. That hardly accounts for the $120 premium HP wants for Elite over the standard Pavilion. If the Asus doesn't convince you that this HP is a dog, surely HP's own Pavilion P6230y will.

We can't even argue that the Pavilion Elite E9220y's graphics card gives it an advantage by adding more video outputs. Yes, the Radeon HD 4350 card in this HP has VGA, DVI, and HDMI outputs, but so do both the Pavilion P6230y and the Asus. None of the systems has eSATA jacks, but all three have optical audio outputs. HP's only connectivity advantage is its FireWire 400 port, which you'll also find on the Pavilion P6230y. The two HPs also share the same motherboard, which means they have the same combination of three 1x PCI Express slots and a single 16x PCI Express slot. The Asus expansion slot array has a few variations, none particularly crucial.

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