HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112y review: HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112y

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The Good Smart balance between features and performance; Blu-ray drive; energy efficient; interior improved from older Pavilion Elites.

The Bad Adding or replacing a hard drive is still unnecessarily complicated.

The Bottom Line A midtower PC with a Blu-ray drive isn't for everyone, especially if that option requires you to make sacrifices elsewhere. Fortunately, HP's Pavilion Elite HPE-112y strikes the right balance between its features and performance, such that the niche customers interested in a desktop with Blu-ray won't feel like they're giving up too much.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

HP typically orients its Pavilion Elite desktops as higher-priced, do-it-all systems with a few extra features beyond what's typical in standard midtower systems. We've found previous models in the Elite line disappointing, but the $900 Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y is a pleasantly surprising value. By wrapping a Blu-ray drive, a discrete budget graphics card, and wireless networking around a reasonably fast, AMD-based quad-core foundation, HP covers most of the performance and entertainment bases we expect for this price. Midtower PCs aren't the best living room accessories, but we can recommend the Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y as a versatile desktop for a dorm room or some other informal space.

On the outside, the Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y and its glossy black plastic chassis looks like most of the other retail desktops out there. However, we're glad to report that the inside has improved from that of the older models in the Elite series. Previous Elites had a clunky metal sleeve jammed inside to accommodate one of HP's proprietary removable hard drives, which the company sold as optional extras. The new model has no such sleeve, but the interior cage for the fixed hard drives is still an inconvenient remnant from that old design. You need to remove the entire assembly to add a drive or remove the current one. At least that and other upgrades should be easier with the up-sell drive sleeve removed.

  HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
Price $900 $830
CPU 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 925 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 560
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card 1GB Nvidia GeForce 220GT graphics card
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner; Blu-ray drive dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

As a $900 desktop, the Pavilion Elite HPE-122Y trends toward the pricier-end of the retail PC shelf. Dell's $830 Inspiron i580-5108NBC is a decent competitor, and though the Dell has a faster graphics card and better performance on most of our benchmark tests than the HP, the Dell has only a standard definition DVD burner. The HP has both a DVD burner and a Blu-ray drive. And while the HP trails on every performance test, it's only by 10-percent or so at worst. We expect most consumers shopping for a computer would favor the Dell's performance and lower price, but for the niche crowd in search of a midtower desktop with a Blu-ray drive, $70 and a 10-percent performance sacrifice against a competing model isn't an exorbitant asking price.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
HP Pavilion p6320y
Gateway DX4300-15e
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
Asus CG5275-AR003
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y

Our benchmark charts paint a clear picture of the HP's performance drop-off next to the Dell. The differences on our time-based tests (all but Cinebench) come down to seconds, rather than minutes, which makes it hard to get too upset at the HP's slower times. If we were shopping for a media-converting desktop, or a PC for some other processing-intensive workload, a win is a win, and we'd pick the Dell at this price. But we're glad to see a media-oriented desktop like this HP striking that apparently hard-to-find balance between features and performance, without asking you for too many sacrifices along the way.

As always, we don't love the idea of using a midtower PC in the living room. Still, we assume you wouldn't be interested in this system if you weren't also interested in the Blu-ray drive, which suggests that you intend to connect it to a decent-size display for watching movies. Whether you do that in your living room or at a desk, the HP's ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card is ready thanks to its VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs. For audio, you can use up to a 7.1 analog PC speaker set up, or route the sound through the built-in S/PDIF digital output port.

The Pavilion Elite HPE-112y is less flexible in its data connections, giving you only an assortment of USB 2.0 ports. FireWire and eSATA drive owners will need to look elsewhere or add an expansion card to one of the two free 1x PCI Express slots, the only options for card expansion. The memory slots are also all occupied, and though you have room for a second hard drive, as mentioned previously, the drive cage design is cumbersome, requiring you to remove the entire drive cage to add extra internal storage. On balance, this HP isn't the best upgrading platform, but at least you get some flexibility.

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