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HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y Reviews
With a generous feature set and a sub-$1,000 price tag, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y ($929.99 street) desktop, available at Best Buy, should meet the needs of a wide range of users. The 1TB hard drive can store tons of media, the Blu-ray drive can dish out gorgeous-looking high-def movies, and the Wi-Fi radio will let you work wirelessly. Application performance is decent as well; but you can find better performing desktops in the same price range.

Specifications
Type
Gaming, Mainstream, Multimedia
Processor Family
AMD Athlon II
RAM
8 GB
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
1000 GB
Graphics Card
ATI Radeon HD 5570
Primary Optical Drive
Blu-Ray Disc
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Design
Nearly all HP Pavilion desktops apply a subtle variation on a theme of a black metal chassis with a glossy black plastic front bezel. The HPE-410y's mid-tower case follows suit, and, in fact, uses the identical design as the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-447c-b ($1,349.99 list, 3 stars) and HP Pavilion Elite HPE-367c-b ($1,499.99 list, 3.5 stars) desktops. This includes a 15-in-1 media card reader and two USB 2.0 ports at the top of the front bezel, as well as a door on the bottom left that swings out in order to grant access to another USB port and mic and headphone jacks. Below the card reader are two 5.25-inch drive bays, one of which is populated with a Blu-ray drive, while the other remains vacant. On top of the case is a tray where you can place electronic devices you'll connect to the system, such as MP3 players or digital cameras.

The case has a roomy interior, which you get to by removing a single screw and sliding off the side panel. All four DIMM slots are occupied; but as the system already has 8GB of RAM, it's unlikely you'd need more memory. Three 1X PCIe slots lie empty, and a single 16X PCIe slot holds the graphics card. The HPE-410y comes with an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi radio on a card that is installed into a MiniPCI Express slot on the motherboard. The Wi-Fi antenna is built into the chassis, so you don't need an external antenna like the HP Pavilion p6654y ($529.99, 4 stars) requires. One external 5.25-inch and two internal 3.5-inch drive bays are empty, but as there are only two unused SATA ports on the motherboard, you could actually only add up to two additional drives. The system's 300-watt power supply should be sufficient even if you were to fill all the drive bays and 1X PCIe slots; but if you ever wanted to upgrade to a more powerful graphics cards, you'd likely need to upgrade the power supply as well.

Features
Around the back of the system are a 100Mbps Ethernet port, 4 more USB ports, 6 audio jacks for up to 7.1-channel audio support, and an optical (digital) audio out port. The graphics card has DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video-out ports. If your monitor requires a VGA connection, the system also comes with a DVI-to-VGA adapter. Additional system features are a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and a combo DVD burner/Blu-ray drive. One feature missing from the HPE-410y, however, is an eSATA port.

Like so many HP systems that have come before it, the HPE-410y is unfortunately saddled with a bucket load of bloatware. However, you will find some useful apps installed such as the HP MediaSmart suite for media playback, and the CyberLink DVD Suite Deluxe for watching Blu-ray movies and performing some media-creation tasks. As to how useful a 60-day trial for Norton Internet Security 2011 is, or links to eBay and Snapfish are, is up for debate. The HPE-410y comes with a one-year limited parts-and-labor warranty, and HP offers 24/7 toll-free support.

Performance
The HPE-410y churns out decent performance that should be more than capable of tackling almost any day-to-day function. But in terms of bang-for-the-buck, there are other similarly priced systems that produce faster performance. Take, for example, the 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-860-based Gateway FX6840-01e ($999.99 list, 3.5 stars), which got a PCMark Vantage score of 9,069. This is notably speedier than the 6,928 score the HPE-410y garnered. The FX6840-01e's dominance carries over to its performance on our Handbrake (1:58 vs. 2:26 for the HPE-410y), CineBench R11.5 (4.97 vs. 4.79), and Photoshop CS5 (3:44 vs. 4:58) tests as well.

The HPE-410y and FX6840-01e's gaming performance is a different story, however, with both systems having similar 3D graphics capabilities—which shouldn't be a surprise as they both use the same ATI Radeon HD 5570 graphics engine. This parity isn't a cause for celebration, however, as neither system's graphics performance is up to snuff for today's demanding 3D game titles. While the HPE-410y maintained a healthy 56 frames per second (fps) on our Crysis test at 1,280 by 720 with middle settings, the frame rate plummeted to an unplayable 8 fps at 1,920 by 1,080 with high settings. This means that in order to play games that tax a system's resources—as many modern titles do—you're going to have to crank down the screen resolution and image-quality settings. Otherwise you'll need to rethink your budget and plunk down at least another Benjamin or so in order to invest in a system with a more powerful graphics adapter, such as the Editors' Choice Dell Studio XPS sx8100-2777NBC ($1,149,99 street, 4 stars), which uses an ATI Radeon HD 5770. The XPS SX8100-2777NBC hummed along at 90 fps on Crysis at 1,280 by 720, and was more than twice as fast as both the HPE-410y and FX6840-01e at 1,920 by 1,080, with a frame rate of 19 fps.

The HP Pavilion HPE-410y is a well-rounded desktop with some upgrade potential and decent application performance. The addition of a Blu-ray drive and Wi-Fi certainly add to its appeal. But if you're looking for more powerful performance—and don't need the Blu-ray drive—the Editors' Choice Dell Studio XPS sx8100-2777NBC, for $220 more, might be a better choice.

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