HP Pavilion p6320y review: HP Pavilion p6320y

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MSRP: $699.99

The Good Competitive multitasking and multicore performance; built-in wireless networking; spacious interior fit for upgrades.

The Bad The Gateway system offers faster single-core performance for less; lacks HDMI.

The Bottom Line The HP Pavilion p6320y earns its place with respectable multithreading performance that takes advantage of its powerful quad-core processor. Although it falls slightly behind the competition in single-core performance, it's still quick enough to earn our recommendation for the average light-duty user.

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

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

The $700 HP Pavilion p6320y is a solid midlevel PC that occupies an uncomfortable middle ground. The $550 Gateway DX4831-01e is a better budget choice if you spend most of your computing time managing a music library or manipulating digital photos. Or a $730 desktop from Asus gives you generally better all-around performance with equivalent features for a marginal cost increase. That makes us recommend the HP only for its strength in multicore-friendly programs. If you're using programs that take full advantage of a quad-core CPU, the HP could make sense for you. We suspect most of you shopping for a PC in this price range want something of a jack-of-all trades PC instead.

The HP p6320y features the same aesthetic design we've seen in HP's Pavilion P-series for the last couple of years. 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 p6320y Asus CG5275-AR003
Price $700 $730
CPU 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 820 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650
Memory 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333 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, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless 10/100 Ethernet LAN
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The Asus CG5275-AR003 is another mainstream retail desktop in our 2010 spring roundup that has close to the same set of components as the Pavilion p6320y, with the exception of the processor. For $30 more, the Asus steps up the CPU to Intel's new 3.2GHz Core i5 quad-core chip that gives it a speed boost in our Photoshop, iTunes, and multitasking tests. Asus also gives you an HDMI port on the back to lure you into hooking it up to an HDTV. Living room hookups aren't the first thing we look for in a midtower PC (we'd point you to the Gateway SX2840-01 as a slim tower alternative), but, prices being relatively equal, we'd certainly rather have more connectivity options than less. On the other hand, we assume most shoppers in this price range value performance over motherboard connections, and the performance results tip the scales in HP's favor in the multicore Cinebench test, as you can see in the charts.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion p6320y

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion p6320y

Multimedia multitasking tests (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion p6320y

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP Pavilion p6320y
HP Pavilion p6310y
Gateway DX4300-15e
Asus CG5275-AR003
Gateway DX4831-01e

The performance scores present a valid argument for both the HP p6310y and the Gateway DX4831-01e, depending on what tasks you plan to do. The Intel processors in the Gateway and Asus systems outperform HP's AMD chip on the Photoshop and iTunes tests that favor simple processor speed and single-core performance. However, the Gateway and its Core i3 CPU--a dual-core processor that can emulate four cores--falls behind on the multitasking and multicore Cinebench tests when put up against HP's true quad-core AMD Phenom II X4 b20 CPU. That said, the Gateway is a better choice if you plan to only use your new system for surfing the Web, light photo retouching, or ripping CDs to iTunes.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Asus boasts still-faster single-core performance, as well as better multitasking thanks to its Core i5 650 CPU from Intel and only costs $30 more than this HP. Similar to Core i3, this particular model in the Core i5 family is also a dual-core CPU that can shift to a four-thread design on-the-fly, but its faster clock speed and other features help it outperform the Core i3 across the board--it even beats the AMD Phenom II X4 820 chip on the majority of our tests.

The HP stands out only on our multithreaded Cinebench test, which suggests it might provide a boost on single programs that really take advantage of multicore processors. Your best bet is to research the programs you use most to see if they're designed to take full advantage of multicore CPUs (Photoshop, for example, only uses multiple processing threads on certain filters). The most likely suspects are video encoding programs and games, although for the latter you'll definitely want to add a dedicated 3D card to this system.

The back of the HP Pavilion p6320y gives you four USB ports, an Ethernet jack, a FireWire 400 port, VGA out, DVI, digital audio, and 7.1 analog audio, but eSATA and HDMI are absent. This relatively small handful of external connections doesn't match up with its competition, especially the Gateway DX4831-01e that offers just about every port you need, including HDMI and eSATA for $150 less.

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