Laptops might be outselling desktops by a factor of five, but that hasn't stopped HP ploughing ahead with yet another family-friendly PC.
The Pavilion Elite m9000 series is designed to be a good all-rounder, delivering 'outstanding entertainment and top performance' to all and sundry. Our review model, the HP Pavilion m9065.uk-a, is available from all the usual HP resellers for around £840.
Not much forethought has gone into the basic shape of the m9000 series -- it looks like every other PC that came before it. Get a little closer though, and you'll likely be swayed by the modern piano black finish and the abundance of extra bits, bobs and flapdoodles to fiddle with.
The most interesting additions include the top-mounted power button. This is far easier to reach than front-facing switches, particularly when the PC lives under a desk. The top of the chassis is rubberised to make it less slippery, so external hard drives and cups of coffee don't accidentally slide off. There's even a flip-up panel that keeps USB cables tidy on their way to the four rear-facing USB ports.
The front panel of the m9000 has a few clever tricks, too. Firstly the 15-in-1 memory card reader sits near the top, making it easy to access without getting on your hands and knees. Then all flap hell breaks loose: There's a flap concealing the optical drive, a flap concealing the USB and front-facing audio ports, and flaps for hiding 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch HP removable Media Drives. Finally, there's an HP Backup button, which launches software for making copies of your most precious files.Thankfully, that's not protected by a flap.
As is usual for PCs, the m9000 series is available in a couple of configurations. No matter which box you buy, they all come with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU, 3GB of RAM and a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GT graphics card.
Overall, it's a well-balanced specification but there are a couple of oddities. Firstly, HP provided 3GB of RAM, not 2GB or 4GB as is more common. This is supplied across two 1GB DIMMs and two 512MB DIMMs, so all four memory slots on the Intel G33 express-based motherboard are occupied. Upgrading memory in the future will involve throwing some of the existing RAM in the dustbin.
The next oddity is in the configuration of the hard and optical drives across the two available configurations. The m9075.uk-a comes with a 320GB hard drive and an HD DVD drive for playing back high definition movies. The m9090.uk-a, on the other hand, comes with 1TB of storage -- across two 500GB hard drives -- but lacks HD DVD capability. Instead you have to settle for an ordinary dual-layer DVD rewriter. Perhaps HP thinks fans of large hard drives will steal all their movies from the Internet, whereas those with smaller disks will pay for HD DVDs.