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Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The Gateway DX4831-01e is the budget midtower to beat in this spring's retail roundup, and subsequent testing on this HP Pavilion p6310y only makes that argument more persuasive. Although it's a decent multitasker, we're not surprised to see that HP suffers from the same pitfalls as its predecessor: It has an attractive design and average scores, but is outshadowed by Gateway's competitive CPU and abundance of onboard connections. If it isn't obvious already, we're sticking with recommending the Gateway DX4831-01e until a more valuable system comes along.
The HP p6310y features the same aesthetic design that we continue to see in HP's p-series seasonal offerings, and the recipe is simple: take a minimal glossy black case, add a soft-blue LED-lit power button, a sliding panel on the bottom that reveals a media card reader, and two USB 2.0 ports underneath, and you have a visually attractive tower that can easily disappear into your office setup.
|HP Pavilion p6310y||Gateway DX4831-01e|
|CPU||2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 630||2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530|
|Memory||6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM||6GB DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip||32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||1TB, 7,200rpm||1TB, 7,200rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||10/100 Ethernet LAN||10/100 Ethernet LAN, Gigabit Ethernet|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
A side-by-side comparison of the desktops shows that the HP Pavilion p6310y shares almost exactly the same configuration as the Gateway DX4831-01e. In fact, the Gateway offers a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a $50 price cut, which we assume budget-minded users will consider more valuable. Unfortunately, neither system offers wireless networking, although you can purchase a Wi-Fi card online for less than $50. The Gateway also uses Intel's new Core i3 chip that gives it a noticeable speed boost that you can see in the chart.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
HP's AMD Phenom II chip takes the lead in both the multitasking and Cinebench tests that take advantage of its two extra physical cores; however, the Gateway is able to fight back with significant leads in single-threaded applications like iTunes and Photoshop. This is because the Gateway's Intel Core i3 chip emulates two extra cores when necessary, essentially turning it into a virtual quad-core CPU. At the end of the day, neither system will satisfy the demands of hard-core video editors, but at this price range, we prefer the extra clock speed of the Gateway and its i3 CPU.
Gateway gets even more points over HP thanks to its comprehensive set of external connections. While the back of the HP Pavilion p6310y gives you options like DVI, VGA, and FireWire 400, the Gateway offers all of the same but with more USB ports (eight total), two eSATA ports for external storage, optical S/PDIF audio, and swaps the DVI port with HDMI for serving high-definition media from the Web. Connected to a standard desktop monitor via a VGA cable, the Gateway ran full-screen video from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without a glitch. It also smoothly played full 1080p HD movie trailers from Apple's Web site, but we strongly recommend the slim tower Gateway SX2840-01 over either system if you plan to view your media on a TV in the living room.
To its credit, HP offers ample potential inside the tower for upgrades in the form of a 16x PCI Express graphics slot for a 3D video card, two 1x PCI Express slots, one standard PCI slot, and room for another hard drive. There's also space for another stick of memory and you can get more storage with one of HP's proprietary media drives that fits in the expansion bay slot underneath the optical disc drive. But since we don't recommend this system in the first place, we're not too keen on using this system as an upgrade foundation anyway.
|HP Pavilion p6310y||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||307.5855|
|Energy Star compliant||No|
|Annual power consumption cost||$34.91|
Out of the five comparison desktops we used in this chart, the HP Pavilions' cost the most to power over the course of a year at $34.91 for the p6310y and $34.75 per year for the p6320y. Compared with the $20.78 it takes to power the Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Gateway won't make as large of an impact on your wallet over time. You shouldn't be surprised to learn that neither HP comes close to earning an Energy Star certification.
HP includes a standard one-year warranty with the Pavilion P6310y, 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.
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System configurations :
Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7500; 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X45600 integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6310y Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia nForce 720a; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6320y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 820; 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive