HP Pavilion Elite HPE-190t review: HP Pavilion Elite HPE-190t

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MSRP: $2,105.00

The Good Offers Intel's fastest desktop CPU for lowest price; Blu-ray drive, TV tuner, and large hard drive make this a capable media PC.

The Bad Tower system not exactly living-room-friendly; strange RAM layout doesn't take full advantage of triple-channel DDR3; limited room to expand.

The Bottom Line HP's Pavilion Elite 190T isn't the most innovative desktop, nor the best-looking. It does, however, offer Intel's six-core Core i7 980X Extreme CPU, currently the fastest desktop chip on the market. Anyone with demanding productivity needs should find this desktop a worthwhile investment.

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7.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Underneath its feature bloat and its boring case, the HP Pavilion Elite 190T is actually a fairly impressive computer for its price. Our review configuration comes in at $2,105, but at its leaner $1,899 default price, this system is the least expensive we've seen with Intel's six-core core i7 980X Extreme CPU, currently the fastest desktop chip available. A weak graphics card prevents this PC from excelling as a gaming box, and if all you want is raw CPU performance, you can easily get the price under $2,000 by shedding some options. But even if you left the extras, and perhaps added a $300 or $400 3D card to round out its performance, the Pavilion Elite 190T would likely still come in less than a system from any other vendor offering Intel's monster six-core CPU. It might not win any design or innovation contests, but this HP is easy for us to recommend as a cost-effective means to a very fast computer.

The Pavilion Elite case is no more or less appealing than any other off-the-shelf desktop. Its glossy black design echoes the industry standard, and while it lacks any stand-out features, you'll find the case has at least a few useful elements. A 15-in-1 media card reader sits at the top of the front panel, next to a pair of USB 2.0 ports. Underneath it you'll find a door concealing the Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo drive, which itself sits above the bay for HP's removable (and optional) Pocket Media Drive. On the bottom half of the case, a door flips open to reveal a few more USB 2.0 ports, as well as a FireWire 400 jack, and inputs for composite and S-Video components.

  HP Pavilion Elite 190T Maingear Vybe
Price $2,105 $1,299
CPU 3.36GHz Intel Core i7 980X 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T
Motherboard chipset Intel X58 AMD 890GX
Memory 9GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5830
Hard drives 1.5TB, 7,200 rpm 640GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
TV Tuner Yes No
Networking Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11n wireless Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Lining the $2,105 HP up against the $1,299 Maingear Vybe doesn't seem like the fairest comparison, but we think pitting PCs using Intel's and AMD's six-core chips against each other makes for an interesting match-up. And while we like the Vybe as a gaming system, the $1,299 Gateway FX6831-01 is actually a better general performance PC, albeit with a four-core Intel chip. You could easily consider the Gateway a comparison to the HP as well.

To judge the HP's value against any $1,299 PC, we'll need to discount some of its extra features. The HP came with a TV tuner and a wireless mouse and keyboard set. Those features are $80 upgrades, so cross them off. The wireless networking card is also optional, but we'll leave that in because Maingear includes one. HP also includes a Blu-ray drive by default, leaving us no room to adjust. That leaves the adjusted cost for HP at about $2,025, still $725 more than the Maingear or the Gateway.

The question, then, is whether the HP offers $725 more computer than its competition. You'll need to weigh your own preferences against the costs, but considering the Pavilion has more than twice as much hard drive storage than the Maingear, more (but also slower) RAM, a Blu-ray drive, and a significantly faster CPU, performance-oriented non-gamers, at least, shouldn't have to stretch too far to justify the HP's higher price.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP Pavilion Elite 190t
Velocity Micro Edge Z30
Maingear Vybe
Gateway FX6831-01

The HP's finish on the top of every performance test might seem less impressive given that it's the most expensive PC on the list by nearly $1,000, but keep in mind that its base $1,899 configuration gets you the same core hardware. That makes the price separation a bit less dramatic, but you'd still be right to expect top performance from a system with even a $500 price gap from its competition.

For the best evidence of the HP's performance value, focus your attention on our multicore Cinebench test, where the HP comes in nearly 50 percent faster than its closest competitor, the Velocity Micro Edge Z30. The HP's single-core clock speed wins, like on iTunes, are less dramatic, but they reflect the fact that in this price bracket, CPUs have settled around a 2.8GHz to 3.36GHz single-core range. Without dramatic overclocking and the expensive liquid-cooling hardware and larger cases that generally demands, you won't see large performance gaps from apps that don't take full advantage of multiple CPU processing threads.

When you use multithreaded software, like on Cinebench, and our Photoshop CS3 test, the resulting speed gains can be dramatic with a fast CPU like the Intel Core i7 980X Extreme in this HP. We expect the gap from the forthcoming Photoshop CS5, which is supposed to offer even better multithreading support, will be even larger, but even today, this HP Pavilion Elite 190T will stop for nothing.

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200 (4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (4x aa)  

Far Cry 2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

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