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CNET First Look
HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h9zSlower than all of its competition, the HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix h90z is impossible to recommend.
Hi. I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for cnet.com. Today we're gonna take a look at the HP Pavilion Elite Phoenix H9Z. So this is HP's brand new mainstream gaming PC. It comes in AMD and Intel based configurations. The H9Z model though is the AMD based one. So this system has an AMD FX 8100 chip in it. That's a native 8 core CPU, comes in a 2.8 gigaHertz. It also has an Nvidia GeForce GT 550 graphics card, it's sort of a mid range card. You can also see from the design of the system that HP is trying to communicate that this in fact a gaming PC. It's not really that innovative but it's not terrible either. The problem though is that for 1049, the system is not as fast as other PCs we've seen for 999 and if you spend a couple hundred bucks more, you can get significantly better performance. Even among other HP desktops, the system is not as fast, really making it kind of a disappointment. Behind this door here, there's a typical SD card reader as well as USB slots but in here you'll see the Bluray player. Now it's kind of hard to tell but up here behind this little rise, you get 2 USB 3.0 jacks as well as standard analog audio output. Now it might look a little spare back here in terms of connectivity but HP's actually covered its bases pretty well. Here's a graphics card, it's got 2 DVI jacks as well a mini HDMI output. You've even got 7.1 analog, audio, couple more USB ports as well as the all important digital audio output. And you'll of course notice the red LED here in this fan just like the one on the front, all that says gaming. So as you can see the inside of the Phoenix is kind of a mess. That's typical of mainstream PCs but boutique vendors actually has systems in this price range that look very tidy inside. So you can see the air cooled CPU down here. Now HP does actually sell a liquid cooling rig for this system and because this is an unlocked CPU, if you bought that, it's a $60 option. You'd set it up and you'd be able to overclock the system. Now that's a pretty good feature. We're used to seeing that in higher end systems. Now, overclocking would get you some more performance out of the CPU but you'd probably still be better off with an Intel Core i7 chip and you can actually get than in the Phoenix from HP for a little more money. Down in here the motherboard, there's 8 gigs of RAM and room for 2 more sticks if you wanna upgrade later. Behind this bar right here is the graphics card and up here is actually a nice beefy 600 watt power supply. Now, we will say this for the system. It actually has a pretty good range of expendability. 600 watts will let you add pretty much any high end card, at least within reason, probably for the foreseeable future. So while we wouldn't really buy the system as an upgrade platform, at leas if you do, you know there is some hope. Now up here this is actually 2 1XP SAG express slots giving you some S card expandability and here is HP's kind of perennially terrible hard drive cage design. The problem is it makes it really hard to get the hard drives out. You have to take out the whole assembly. There's one drive installed already, it's a terabyte drive, and there's room to add a couple more if you want to. So with the lightly stylized exterior and the red lights, the system certainly does suggest that it is a gaming PC. But overall, its performance is pretty terrible for its price so we can't recommend it. So I'm Rick Brown and this is the HP Pavilion Elite Phoenix H9Z.