HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y review: HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y

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The Good Decent light-duty performance, compact size.

The Bad Slim tower case conserves space but offers little room for expansion; limited connectivity options.

The Bottom Line The HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y provides adequate performance for light-duty media editing and entertainment, but its slim tower case leaves little room for future upgrades, leading us to recommend the older Gateway SX2800-01 that offers more features and better components.

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5.2 Overall
  • Design 4
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5
  • Support 7

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.

HP's $480 Pavilion Slimline s5220y is another low-end slim tower PC that offers mediocre performance and equally unexciting performance packaged in a relatively boring case. Its small stature might tempt some of you to use it as a light-duty PC, or even a media-streaming box, but its out-of-date connectivity options and generally lackluster components suggest otherwise. As an alternative, we prefer the older Gateway SX2800-01, that offers a robust array of connections and performs significantly faster than the HP.

The s5220y is essentially an update to the s5120y, an HP retail system from last quarter that also had performance and features issues. The tower measures 12.2-inches high, 4.4-inches wide, and 15.9-inches deep--it's slightly smaller than its closest competitor, the Dell Inspiron 545s-1476N, but is significantly larger than the Gateway SX2800-01. The Slimline's compact physical dimensions make it a good candidate for a living room PC, but you also don't get extra room for a second hard drive or addition memory.

  HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y Dell Inspiron 545s-1476N
Price $480 $480
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300
Memory 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 640GB, 7,200rpm 640GB, 5,400rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN 10/100 Ethernet LAN
Operating system Windows 7 Premium 64-bit Windows 7 Premium 64-bit

Although it doesn't happen often, the Pavilion Slimline s5220y and the Dell Inspiron 545s-1476N are almost exact replicas of each other in both price and components. Both feature Intel's budget-price 2.6GHz Pentium Dual Core chip, 4GB of memory, a standard integrated graphics chip, and 640GB of storage. Despite subtle differences between the two, they essentially produce the same benchmark scores, which leave both systems choking on the Gateway's dust.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway SX2800-01
Asus Essentio CM5570-AP003
HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y
Gateway DX4822-01
Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

As expected, the Slimline s5220y registered luke-warm benchmark results, finishing in the middle or the bottom of the pack in all four of our tests. The system can certainly handle day-to-day browsing, lightweight edits, and media playback, but the Gateway SX2800-01 offers significantly faster performance for $30 less after the latest price drop.

If its poor performance isn't a surprise, we weren't expecting the HP would continue to suffer from the dated connectivity options that have plagued HP's Slimline systems all year. The front of the HP gives you a vertical-loading dual-layer DVD burner, a single media card reader, two USB ports, and a headphone jack, and the back end offers four more USB ports, 5.1 analog audio outputs, an Ethernet jack, a VGA connection, a 56k modem, and a pair of PS/2 ports for the mouse and keyboard. Sounds fairly robust on paper, but the Gateway gives you all the above in addition to mini FireWire, eSATA, HDMI video out, and eight USB ports.

With the more capable Gateway out there for less money, we don't advocate buying the HP as an upgrade platform. If you went that route, you'd find the single hard drive bay occupied by the 640GB hard drive, and both memory slots filled, but you would get a free 16x PCI graphics slot and a pair of 1x PCI Express slots to play with if you remove the 56k modem. That's roughly what we expect to find in a slim tower, although an extra pair of RAM slots, like you'll find in the Gateway, would have been welcome.

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