- Sturdy case and six-core CPU
- Low power draw, quiet
- Wireless-N networking
- Fingerprint magnet
- Poor cable management
- Poor upgrade potential
In short, the HPE-235F is small, black, and a solid performer. It may lack bells and whistles, but it does deliver high performance on low budgets.
HP’s Pavilion Elite HPE-235f marks the introduction of AMD’s affordable six-core processor into their premium Elite lineup. Going up against Dell’s award-winning Studio XPS 7100, the HPE-235f brings a six-core CPU and Blu-ray playback to the table, all for under a grand. Read on for our full review.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1035T (2.6GHz/3MB L2)
- Memory: 8GB DDR3-1333 (4x 2GB)
- Hard Drive: 1TB WD Caviar Green SATA 3.0Gbps (WD10EADS)
- Optical Drive: SuperMulti Blu-Ray with LightScribe (LGE-DMCH10LS20)
- Sound: Realtek High Definition Audio
- Graphics: ATI Radeon HD5570 1GB
- Networking: Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless Networking: 1x PCI-e 802.11n
- USB Wired keyboard and optical mouse
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Power Supply: 300W
- Weight: 18.3 lbs.
- Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.5 x 7.0 inches (DxWxH)
- Warranty: One-year limited parts and labor
The sticker price weighs in at $999.99, but as of time of this writing, the HPE-235F could be found for as little as $900 online.
What’s in the box
The HPE-235F is packaged in a standard, utilitarian series of boxes. When you pop the box open, you’re presented with the system and two small boxes. Box one holds the keyboard while box two contains a mouse, the standard assortment of “READ ME FIRSTS” you’ll never read, and My First PC color coded guide to sticking round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes.
There are no recovery media, but there is a recovery partition on the hard drive which will come in handy if the hard drive crashes.
Build and Design
The HP Pavilion Elite HPE-235F is another in a long line of shiny black monoliths. If you have a taste for glossy black and chrome trim, this is the box for you. I found, however, that with even light usage during the review period, the front bezel became absolutely littered with fingerprints and superficial scratches.
Conversely, the matte side panels show no wear whatsoever. So, it looks nice enough as long as you don’t touch it. The keyboard has a matching gloss and chrome finish and the corresponding fingerprint malady. Unfortunately, they skimped on the bling for the mouse; it’s just a combination of matte and gloss black.
As far as construction goes, the chassis is sturdy. I wouldn’t use it as a step stool, but it serves its purpose as a computer-part-holder-togetherer. The front bezel is plastic, but it’s fairly thick and doesn’t feel chintzy. Even the plastic doors should stand up to years of dutifully opening and closing-barring an errant foot-if you keep it on the ground.
There are two doors covering the 5.25-inch drive bays and one on the front panel connectors. Any sleekness gained from their inclusion, however, is marred horribly by the large silver text labeling everything (HP seems to be afraid users might confuse “multimedia optical bay” with, say, a toaster). In a curious move, HP put the power button on the top front right corner of the bezel instead of someplace sensible like the front, next to the power indicator light. If you’re inclined to use the top of your tower as a repository for various doodads, manuals, and cables, mind their placement!
The included 3 button mouse is unremarkable. It’s rigid, but light, so while it should hold up to a heavy use, the weight requires some adjustment if you’re used to a heftier mouse. Left click; right click; click-scroll wheel; optical tracking. You’ve seen this all before. HP made the mouse ambidextrous, so it’s equally usable in both left and right hands.
The keyboard features a standard load out and 10-key pad. There is a Fn key like you’d find for most laptops, but it only works with five keys: four for media control and one for sleep mode. Beyond the three volume control buttons, the only other thing of note is the warning label lovingly embedded into the keyboard advising you to read the included safety documentation to “reduce the risk of SERIOUS injury”. Apparently, keyboards are not to be taken internally.
Inputs and Expansion
Aside from the 15-in-1 media card reader, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-235F’s input options are underwhelming. The front of the box is host to three USB ports: two above the optical drive with the media reader and one toward the bottom accompanied by headphone and mic jacks behind a plastic door. The most exciting feature of the back side is the optical digital audio port.
Beyond that, it’s a fairly standard compliment of 6 3.5mm jacks, a single Gigabit Ethernet, 1 FireWire, 4 USB 2.0 ports as well as 2 blazing fast USB 1.1 ports (fast enough for, and designed to be used with, the included keyboard and mouse, but it’s still an odd decision). There are VGA and DVI ports on the board, but they are capped off due to the inclusion of the Radeon HD5570- which features 1 DVI, 1 HDMI, and 1 DisplayPort.
Since the motherboard inside of the HPE-235f falls into the microATX form factor, there aren’t a lot of upgrade options. The board hosts one PCI-e 16x slot used by the graphics card and three PCI-e 1x slots, one of which is used by the included wireless-N card.
The chassis has two internal 3.5-inch bays (one used), one external 3.5-inch bay, and two 5.25-inch bays (one used). All four RAM slots are occupied by 2GB DIMMs, so any upgrade there (to a system max of 24GB) would require replacement.
One potential limiter in upgrading the HPE-235f is the 300w PSU. Not only is its wattage lacking for something beefier in the graphics department, but the mass of cables attached to it take up a good deal of room and make the tiny chassis a troubling experience for anyone looking to change components..