HP combines a new, elegant, black color scheme with a strong parts selection in this retail update to its Pavilion Media Center Desktop.
HP includes a 2.6GHz Athlon 64 X2 5200+ dual core processor in this Windows Vista Home Premium-based system, along with 2GB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM and an integrated Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip. That's a strong set of features for pretty much everything but fast 3D gaming and high-definition movie watching. It also comes with a big, fat 500GB hard drive, and a host of removable data and peripheral inputs. Throw in the NTSC analog cable tuner, the over-the-air HD tuner, and the dual-layer DVD burner and you have what looks like a solid mainstream digital entertainment desktop.
The lack of a 3D card sticks out for us here. We understand that HP might not be going for the gaming crowd in a retail-only PC such as this one. With no HD DVD or Blu-ray drive, you don't really need the added graphics boost for video processing, either. Still, even casual photo editors and video watchers would benefit from a discrete graphics card. At least it comes with a spare 3D card slot for you to add one yourself later.
Even if the new coloring on this chassis is only cosmetic, we think people will appreciate the upgrade to classy black over boring gray. We also compared system configs from Dell, Gateway, and Velocity Micro, both online and at retail, and none of those vendors offers a system that's as loaded as this one, with a 3D card or otherwise. The 2GB of system memory and the 500GB hard drive stand out in particular. And if you're inclined toward more graphics power, we suspect that HP's online store will let you mix and match parts to add a 3D card for more money or perhaps at the cost of dialing down the hard drive capacity.