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.
The Gateway SX2800-01 has become the gold standard for budget desktops ever since it rolled through our lab a few months ago. Most recently, the $579 Dell Inspiron 545s-3055NBK narrowed the gap, at least in terms of price and performance, and the HP Pavilion P5210y now offers a similar system for the same price. Unfortunately, this HP still lags behind the Gateway and looks outdated next to its impressive list of motherboard connections and aggressive CPU. The Gateway SX2800-01 remains our top budget PC for anyone hunting for a solid, affordable computer.
Although the design hasn't changed since the P6230y, we're still digging the clean, glossy black finish and the muted blue LED-lit power button. The bottom panel drops down to reveal a set of headphone and microphone jacks, and the optical drive and expansion bay both sit flush behind two covers as well. A media card reader on top rounds out the hardware on the front.
|HP Pavilion P6210y||Dell Inspiron 545s-3055NBK|
|CPU||2.6GHz AMD Athlon II X4 620||2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7500|
|Memory||6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||256MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip||256MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||640GB, 7,200rpm||750GB, 7,200rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||10/100 Ethernet LAN||10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11n wireless|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
The HP Pavilion P6210y and the Dell Inspiron 545s-3055NBK are priced the same and look similar on paper, but the HP distinguishes itself with a quad-core AMD CPU that gives it a slight advantage in the multitasking test.
Even still, the Gateway SX2800-01's remains the system to beat, both in terms of performance as well as cost. For $70 less than the HP and the Dell, we're still impressed by Gateway's ability to register almost the exact same scores, despite a negligible difference in the multitasking test.
HP manages to get a short leg up on Gateway in terms of internal expansion. While the SX2800-01's svelte chassis forces you to upgrade it with half-height cards, the Pavilion P6210 has room for a full-size16x PCI Express slot for a 3D graphics card and two spare 1x PCI Express lot. You can also add another hard drive and an extra memory stick.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
The Gateway SX2800-01 outperforms the HP by a wide margin in three out of the four tests, with the exception of the multitasking test, where the two systems register almost the same scores. Factor in the $70 you save by going with the Gateway, and the Pavilion P6290 looks expensive and outclassed by comparison.
While it's true that the Pavilion's larger tower offers more wiggle room to upgrade, we suspect that most of you shopping for a computer in this price range won't actually get around to it. That said, Gateway gives you all the same connections as the HP including digital audio ports, VGA, and DVI, but also adds an HDMI port on the back to connect it to a high-definition television, adding to its value as a home theater PC.
|HP Pavilion P6210y||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||1.39|
|Sleep (10 percent)||3.11|
|Idle (25 percent)||54.67|
|Load (5 percent)||107.91|
|Annual energy cost||$25.30|
The HP Pavilion P6210y holds its own against other PCs with quad-core CPUs, but the $25.30 it costs to run it every year is just over the threshold for a full EnergStar Certification. We'll concede that $2.10 every month isn't a big deal in the larger picture, nor will you notice the tiny difference between the HP and its dual-core competition.
HP includes a standard one-year warranty with the Pavilion P6210y, with just enough free support to keep you happy. Within the allotted time, you get 24-7 toll-free phone assistance, a comprehensive list of Web help, including manuals, FAQs, live customer service chat, and driver updates.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
System configurations :
Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm hard drive
Dell Inspiron 545s-3055NBK
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit (SP2); 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7500; 6GB 800MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Intel G33 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.5GHz AMD Phenom II X4 805; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB, 7,200rpm hard drive
HP Pavilion P6210y
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 2.6 GHz AMD Phenom II X4 620; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip; 640GB, 7,200rpm hard drive