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HP Pavilion Slimline s7320n (Celeron M 1.66 GHz review: HP Pavilion Slimline s7320n (Celeron M 1.66 GHz

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At 9.7 inches high, 4.4 inches wide, and 13.1 inches deep, the HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline is about the size of a large college dictionary. It's certainly larger than the diminutive Mac Mini, but the s7320n's silver finish and minimal ornamentation come somewhat near replicating the Mini's sleek, understated look. Like the Mini, the s7320n isn't designed to be opened by the end user, so HP has smartly outfitted it with a relatively robust feature set that most buyers at this price point won't outgrow too quickly. The system features 1GB of RAM, a nine-in-one flash-card reader, a spacious 200GB 7,200rpm hard drive, and a double-layer DVD burner. HP throws in LightScribe so that you can label CDs and DVDs using the company's proprietary laser technology.

6.5

HP Pavilion Slimline s7320n (Celeron M 1.66 GHz

The Good

Very affordable; compact design; quiet operation; LightScribe DVD burner; roomy hard drive; Media Center OS.

The Bad

System cannot be upgraded or customized; roller-ball mouse.

The Bottom Line

HP's small-form-factor PC, the Pavilion s7320n Slimline, is a stylish and able budget performer, but its lack of expandability makes it better suited for use as a second PC.
HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline Desktop PC
Until recently, small-form-factor (SFF) desktop computers targeted niche buyers, such as gamers on the LAN-party circuit and city dwellers short on desk space. But with Apple's unveiling of the Mac Mini last year, the SFF computer began to migrate into the mainstream, thanks to the Mini's aggressive price point and sleek styling. HP introduced its Pavilion Slimline last year; the Pavilion s7320n Slimline reviewed here is one of two current models in the line. The $550 system, available at retail stores, delivers impressive goods in an attractive package at an approachable price, with the caveat that you can't customize or expand the system. It's about as fixed a configuration as you'll find in a desktop PC.

The s7320n achieves its tiny size thanks in part to its use of a notebook processor, the 1.6GHz Celeron M processor 380, which runs more efficiently than a desktop chip. (Though the system uses the Windows Media Center OS, the Celeron M chip keeps the s7320n from being labeled as a Viiv PC, since it features but a single core.) The Celeron M allows the s7320n to run coolly and quietly in a compact case. Other than the CPU, however, the s7320n uses no other mobile technology--the optical drive and the motherboard, for example, are full size and as durable as those on a traditional desktop. HP has even managed to fit the power supply inside the box, so the system requires no external power brick.

The HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline is a one-size-fits-all deal. You can't up the RAM or opt for a smaller hard drive prior to purchase, which you can do with the Mac Mini. While the company does offer a slightly lower-end configuration, the $518 HP Pavilion s7310n, available only in retail stores, we'd like to see even one configurable option in the Slimline series.

Take wireless networking, for example. Priced as it is, the s7320n will surely find a market as a second PC for the home; being able to network it wirelessly to the family's main computer seems like a no-brainer. The same goes for sound and video--you can't upgrade the integrated solutions found in this budget system, which limits its appeal, despite its entry-level status. The ability to add more memory a year or two down the road would greatly extend the s7320n's life span. If you are looking not for a second PC but a basic budget box to serve as your primary (or only) PC, we suggest the $599 eMachines T6420. It's a standard midtower system, but it's expandable and more powerful than the s7320n.

In testing, the HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline kept up with budget competitors despite its mobile processor. The s7320n's score of 128 on CNET Labs' SysMark 2004 application benchmark trailed the score of an equally inexpensive yet roomier Celeron D 341-based Gateway DX100X by 6 percent. On the other hand, the $599 eMachines T6420 outclassed the s7320n by a considerable 24 percent.

On our multimedia tests, the HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline turned in decidedly average scores. Don't read too much into the fact that its times on CNET Labs' Photoshop and Sorenson Squeeze benchmarks were faster than those of the Mac Mini. Because universal binary apps--nonnative Mac software built for the Intel platform--have yet to be released for Photoshop and Sorenson Squeeze, the Mac Mini (when running Mac OS X) must rely on the Rosetta translation utility, which adversely affects performance.

The HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline ships with an Internet keyboard, which features Web buttons and media controls as well as dual eject buttons, even though the computer has only one optical drive. The eject command is a nice thing to have at your fingertips, although in this case the operation takes a while. We pressed the button several times in frustration, causing the commands to back up and the drive to open and close until all the commands were executed--annoying. Equally annoying is the bundled PS/2 roller-ball mouse; we expect an optical mouse with even the cheapest PCs these days. The PS/2 peripherals allow you to keep all five USB 2.0 ports free (four back, one front). There's also one six-pin FireWire port on the back panel along with integrated 5.1 audio ports. A headphone jack sits on the front panel.

At this price, HP could have decided in good faith not to bundle software or documentation; instead, it gives you Microsoft Works 8, Quicken 2006, and Microsoft Money 2006, as well as a suite of multimedia apps, including Muvee AutoProducer for basic video editing and DVD burning. We could do without the slew of annoying preloaded trial offers from AOL, EarthLink, and the like, however. HP also preloads electronic getting-started and PC-basics guides on the hard drive and includes some minimal printed documentation. Do note that although the s7320n uses the Media Center OS, it does not feature a TV tuner. Nor does it include the Media Center remote control.

HP backs the system with a standard one-year warranty, which you can upgrade to a two- or three-year plan. We recommend taking advantage of HP's Accidental Damage protection, which you can add to an extended warranty for only $50 more, no matter the warranty's length. You get toll-free phone support for the life of the warranty, but you can use HP's Total Care Web services even after the warranty expires. These services include e-mail support, online chat with a service representative, and a thorough help and support center.


Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

Multimedia tests (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sorenson Squeeze 4.0 video-encoding test (in seconds)  
Adobe Photoshop CS test (in seconds)  
Apple iTunes 4.7.1.30 MP3-encoding test (in seconds)  

System configurations:
Apple Mac Mini Core Duo
Macintosh OS 10.4.5; 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; integrated Intel 915G graphics chip using 64MB shared memory; Seagate ST98823AS 80GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm
Dell Dimension E310
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 521; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 915G graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; two WDC WD1600JS-75MHB0 160GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801FR Serial ATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
eMachines T6420
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; Nvidia C51G (GeForce 6100) chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Nvidia GeForce 6100 graphics chip using 256MB shared memory; Seagate ST3200826A 200GB 7,200rpm IDE
Gateway DX100X
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Celeron D 341; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; integrated Intel 915G graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; Western Digital WD800BD-22JMA0 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
HP Pavilion s7320n Slimline PC
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 1.6GHz Intel Celeron M 380; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 915G graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; Seagate ST3200826AS 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
HP Compaq Presario SR1620NX
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.0GHz AMD Sempron 3400+; ATI Radeon RS480 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics chip using 256MB shared memory; Seagate ST3160021A 160GB 7,200rpm EIDE
iBuypower Viiv-350
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.8GHz Intel Pentium D 820; Intel 945G chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB ATI X300 (PCIe); Seagate 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

6.5

HP Pavilion Slimline s7320n (Celeron M 1.66 GHz

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 5Support 6