- Extremely fast six-core CPU
- Minimum 9GB memory
- TV tuner, Blu-ray drive
- Lots of video inputs, outputs
- Case feels cheap
- No high-end graphics cards available
In some respects, the Pavilion Elite HPE-190t can't be beat - it's fast and it's furious - it's also expensive, but in this world you pay for convenience and the the 190t is one of the fastest desktops we've ever used.
HP’s newest addition to their performance desktop lineup is the Pavilion Elite HPE-190t. This machine is set apart from the rest, as it offers six-core performance thanks to Intel’s very expensive Core i7-980x CPU (at market prices, this chip runs consumers $1000 or more). Packed with 9GB of RAM, Blu-ray drive and 1500GB of storage space, the HP-190t offers the potential for serious multimedia creation and consumption. Read on for our full review.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-980X @ 3.33GHz (1.5MB L2, 12MB L3 cache)
- Memory: 9GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Hard drive: 1.5TB SATA @ 7200RPM
- Optical drive: Blu-ray Rom / DVD+/-RW SuperMulti with Lightscribe capabilities
- Sound: Integrated HD Audio
- Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5770 (2DVI, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort)
- Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless networking: n/a
- HP wired keyboard and mouse
- Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Hybrid NTSC/ATSC/QuickQAM television tuner
- Power supply: 460W internal
- Dimensions: 16.85 x 7.05 x 15.79 inches (HxWxD)
- Warranty: Two year limited in-home hardware warranty
In this configuration, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-190t carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $2,419.99. HP currently offers an instant rebate of $400, bringing the price down to $2,019.99.
Build and Design
HP has succumbed to covering the front of their desktops in glossy black plastic like the rest of the market, so the first impression you get of the new HPE-190t is of a computer going to a black tie event, all dressed up and shiny. That’s not to say that it looks bad, because it doesn’t. The glossy black plastic, mixed with the shiny chrome trim gives the Pavilion Elite an elegant, if dated, feel. Part of the machine is extruded outward from the desktop’s face; a trendy faux-speaker grille effect dots the plastic behind it.
The card reader is open up at the top of the machine, which is nice; there’s no need to open one of those terrible, floppy plastic doors to find something. Optical drives are hidden behind industry-standard drive bay covers; little eject buttons on the right provide access through an intricate series of levers and electronics.
Just below the drive bays is HP’s Pocket Media Drive bay, which lets users purchase a portable or “pocket” drive from HP’s website, then just plug it into the computer without having to worry about cords. It’s an interesting solution, even if it’s little more than a glorified USB port, but the fact that there isn’t any sort of industry standard for accessories like this means that the vast majority of owners will very likely never bother using it. Another floppy plastic door at the bottom hides a number of video connections.
The rest of the HPE-190t’s case is constructed of a sturdy aluminum frame with scratch-resistant blank paint. It would be nice to see HP take a stronger page from their Elite (as opposed to Pavilion Elite) line of desktops we saw them unveil last year, targeting the home office and small business markets. The Elite 7000, for instance, featured a clean, contemporary design with nothing to get in the way of interacting with the hardware.
On top of the HPE is an indentation buyers can use to store flash drives, small electronics that need charging, like an iPod, or even just pocket change. Unlike variants from other manufacturers (or even some of HP’s own designs), however, the area on top is empty and plain. There are no USB ports for easy charging access, or the innovative cord management system HP built into previous Pavilion Elite models. Additionally, we found that putting any sort of serious weight into the tray resulted in noticeable flex. The HPE-190t is in zero danger of warping or collapse, so there’s no worry about that; it’s just that you can press the tray and feel it impact the internal frame of the machine. Like most of the other design issues, it’s not a big deal – but when you pay a minimum of two thousand dollars for a machine, there’s a certain minimum level of quality to be expected.
Inputs and Expansion
While the design of the Pavilion Elite HPE-190t may be a little dated, its port selection and expansion options certainly aren’t. The memory card reader at the top front provides access to over a dozen different memory cards, while adding an addition two USB2.0 ports and an IR receiver for use with an optional Windows Media Center remote control. Moving down the front of the case, there’s a Blu-ray-readable and DVD-writable optical drive hidden behind door number one, and an empty 5.25-inch drive bay hidden behind door number two.
HP’s previously-mentioned Pocket Media Drive bay sits just above center. The most interesting part of the machine’s front, however, can be found in the lower left-hand corner. Behind another annoying floppy plastic door is a series of hidden audio, video and data ports. There is another USB2.0 port, one FireWire, or IEEE1394 port, headphone and microphone jacks and a set of audio/video IN ports for use.
You can hook up either S-Video or composite video inputs, along with stereo RCA audio for use either in watching content on the computer’s display or, more likely, recording it for use later. While it’s unlikely that most people will take advantage, since the process requires a few steps, but the ports are a nice option to have – many consumers still have older analog devices and media, like favored VHS tapes unavailable on DVD or home movies – if you ever want to rip old media to new formats.
Around the rear of the machine are the rest of the external ports. There’s no dearth of video options, as the discrete ATI Radeon HD 5770 provides users with two DVI-I (an included DVI-VGA dongle lets you hook up an analog VGA display) ports, one DisplayPort input and one HDMI. Audio is covered with 7.1 analog audio out as well as a second audio-in jack and a digital optical audio out port. Two unpowered eSATA ports rest back here along with four more USB2.0 inputs, a second FireWire port and Gigabit Ethernet. Unfortunately, there are no USB3.0 ports to be found on this machine.
Thanks to the optional TV tuner, there are a number of additional inputs available. On the tuner itself are coaxial video in as well as S-Video, composite and stereo analog audio. Down at the bottom of the machine is an IR blaster that can be used to control external tuners such as digital cable or satellite TV boxes. It’s nice that HP connects this directly to (presumably a USB port on) the motherboard, so it doesn’t use up an additional expansion slot.
Inside, there are two different drive bays available for aftermarket use; one is an externally-facing 5.25-inch drive bay for something like a secondary optical drive, while the second is an internal 3.5-inch bay for use with an additional hard drive. The drive cage seems to be unnecessarily-complicated in a desktop of this size; to add a second drive, users will need to unscrew a bracket, remove the drive cage, screw in the hard drive, replace the drive cage and finally reattach the bracket. Conversely, the process for adding a new optical drive is extremely easy; just lift a lever and swivel it around.
Six memory slots are usable for adding additional memory; in this 9GB configuration, only one is open. The motherboard in this desktop comes with one PCI Express x1 slot (which is taken up by the TV tuner, if one is ordered) and one PCI Express x4 slot. There are also two PCI Express x16 slots (only one is used) and four SATA2 (3Gbps) ports available (two are in use). There are no SATA3 (6Gbps) inputs.