- Wireless networking
- Quad-core processor
- Eight gigabytes RAM
- Not enough USB ports
- Older processor
- No Gigabit Ethernet
It’s really starting to get ridiculous, the amount of computer you can get for the money these days. Not too long ago, people were lauding the fact that you could get a dual-core processor with a couple of gigs of RAM for just a few hundred dollars, and we are looking at a quad-core processor with 8GB of memory for less than six hundred dollars. Could the HP Pavilion p6130f be your next machine? Read on for the full review.
- Processor: AMD Phenom I X4 9750 @ 2.4GHz (2MB L2 cache)
- Memory: 8GB DDR2 SDRAM
- Hard drive: 750GB SATA @ 7200RPM
- Optical drive #1: 16X DVD+/-RW SuperMulti drive with LightScribe capability
- Sound: Integrated HD audio
- Video card: Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9100 with 256MB shared graphics memory
- Networking: 10/100 Ethernet
- Wireless networking: built-in 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi
- Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
- Built-in multiple memory card reader
- Inputs: 6 USB2.0 (2 front, 4 back), 2 PS/2, FireWire, 7.1 audio out + headphone/microphone jacks
- Power supply: 300W
- Dimensions: 16.85 x 6.97 x 15.32 inches (L x W x D)
- Warranty: One-year limited parts and labor
As of the time of this writing, the HP Pavilion p6130f is available for $579.99.
Build and Design
The front of the p6130f features the same smooth, glossy black plastic as the rest of the recent fall desktop updates. I’m still of a mixed feeling regarding the recent flurry of glossy plastic panels in computers these days; while it definitely offers an elegant alternative to some of the grey finishes we’ve seen before, it’s starting to be seen everywhere. It would be nice to see HP use more of the nice powder-coated metal looks we’ve seen on their other computers, since those finishes end up being very sturdy. The 5.25-inch expansion bays are hidden behind black plastic covers like most optical bays are these days. They’ve definitely come a long way since seeing them on some of the older PowerMacs back in the day. The eject buttons are off to the right of the bay covers; while only one bay is filled with an optical drive, the second bay still has a button, just in case. One issue that’s slightly problematic with case designs like this, however, is when users want to use the expansion bay for something besides an optical drive. There are many very cool accessories available these days that fit in one of these drive bays, and the plastic sheath that fits over the front can easily cause issues with this.
One thing about the front of the machine that I think is a big improvement over the other new Pavilions is the way HP handled the front-facing inputs. The USB ports and audio jacks aren’t hidden behind a little flapping door. Those doors are a pain because they often need to be left open so a flash drive or headphones can be plugged in; this leaves them ripe for walking past and accidentally snapping them off. Instead, the ports are hidden behind a sliding vertical door. It doesn’t stick out, it can’t be easily broken off, and it slides very well. It actually looks like an integrated part of the design, looking nice enough whether it’s open or closed. I wish HP would implement this on more of their computers, but then if they did that they wouldn’t be able to put in their annoying media drive slots all over the front (which, by the way, are notably absent from this model).
The sides of the machine are largely unremarkable, save for the fact that they serve as the vent access for airflow and the cooling of the machine. Each side has the “hp” symbol in stamped up in raised metal in the middle of the computer. It’s worth noting that because of the way the vents are set up, the computer probably shouldn’t be placed against a wall on either side, just to make sure it stays cool. I do wish that HP would have kept at least the basic form of the charging tray we saw on the other computers. They made a mistake by adding that to their Pavilion Elite line; we liked it so much that every desktop computer that doesn’t have it from this point is going to end up getting called out on it.
Inputs and Expansion
As stated, HP mostly hides their inputs on the front of the machine. There are two USB2.0 ports as well as headphone and microphone jacks, hidden behind the little sliding door. Given how essentially all of our devices connect via USB these days, there really needs to be more than two ports on the front. The ones on the back are for more permanent installations, like keyboard and mouse dongles; no one likes turning the computer around just to plug something in. Up above, HP added a set of card readers. This company has always been a fan of adding built-in memory card readers to their desktop computers; while they may or may not have been the first to do, they were certainly the ones who popularized and essentially made it standard. It’s interesting and a little unfortunate that HP couldn’t figure out a way to put the card readers next to the USB ports and audio jacks, hidden behind the panel. This would move the optical drives up, and provide a very clean front for the computer. Also on the front of the computer are the two large bay expansion slots. One of these is filled with a 16X DVD+/-RW drive with the fun-to-use LightScribe feature, while the other is empty, blocked instead with a removable aluminum cover.
On the rear of the machine is where the rest of the ports unsurprisingly lie. There are four more USB2.0 ports, bringing the total up to a rather anemic six. That’s really not enough for a modern desktop. Wireless keyboards and mice can take two, a printer can take a third, a charging cable a fourth, and now we’re left with just the two on the front. In addition to the USB ports is a FireWire port, a 10/100 Base-T network jack (there is zero excuse for this not being Gigabit Ethernet), VGA and DVI video out, 7.1 analog and coaxial digital audio out and line in audio jacks as well as PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports. It’s a little strange to see PS/2 ports on a new consumer-grade desktop; business desktops often have them so they can lock down USB ports but still add a keyboard and mouse combo. Seeing them on here is a bit of a surprise.
The best part of the expansions on the rear of the machine, however, are the two little golden ports sitting in the middle PCI-E x1 card slot. These are antenna ports for the included wireless networking antenna. Similar to 10/100/1000 wired networking, there’s very little reason why every desktop can’t include some form of wireless networking. It’s nice to be able to put a computer anywhere in the house and not have to worry about yet another cord. Just because desktops are stationary doesn’t mean people want to run cords to them, so congratulations, HP, on that.
Inside of the machine there are more opportunities for expansion; again, since this desktop isn’t plagued with the giant metal brackets for HP’s media drives, there’s plenty of room to move around. On the left is the hard drive bracket; the included drive is mounted vertically in the lower-left hand corner. There’s a second vertical drive bay right next to it that’s still open. Up above are the more traditionally-located drive bays; while the top 5.25-inch bay is obviously taken up with the DVD burner, there is the 5.25-inch bay directly below it that’s open and a 3.5-inch bay that’s open right beneath that. All of the four RAM slots are taken up by RAM DIMMs; while the 8GB of included memory is less than the 16GB maximum that’s supported, chances are 8 gigabytes will be more than anyone who buys this computer ever ends up needing.
Happily, there are a number of open expansion slots available in the Pavilion p6130f. There are a total of three PCI-E x1 slots and one PCI-E x16 slot; only one of the x1 slots actually comes pre-populated with some kind of card. That leaves three slots open for expansion, including the all-important x16 slot. Drop in a cheap discrete video card like the ATI Radeon HD4770, and users will instantly have a pretty capable gaming machine, too. You might even be able to step up to the HD4850 or HD4870, although that’s getting a little close to the 300W power supply’s limits.
While the p6130f has pretty weak integrated graphics, its comparatively powerful quad-core processor helps it to keep from lagging too far behind in the benchmarks. It may not be setting any records, but neither does it stray too far from the rest of the pack.
wPrime CPU performance comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Desktop||Time to complete wPrime 32M
|HP Pavilion Elite e9120f (AMD Phenom II X4 910 @ 2.6GHz)||15.771s|
|Dell Studio Slim (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||16.301s|
|Gateway SX2800-01 (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||16.35s|
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||16.379s|
|HP Pavilion p6130f (AMD Phenom I X4 9750 @ 2.4GHz)||17.253s|
PCMark05 overall general performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|HP Pavilion Elite e9120f (AMD Phenom II X4 910 @ 2.6GHz)||8455 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||7107 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio Slim (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||6887 PCMarks|
|Gateway SX2800-01 (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||6539 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion p6130f (AMD Phenom I X4 9750 @ 2.4GHz)||6220 PCMarks|
PCMark Vantage overall general performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|Desktop||PCMark Vantage Score|
|HP Pavilion Elite m9600t (Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.66GHz)||6479 PCMarks|
|Alienware Area-51 790i (Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 @ 2.66GHz)||5976 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion Elite e9120f (AMD Phenom II X4 910 @ 2.6GHz)||5801 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||5280 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion p6130f (AMD Phenom I X4 9750 @ 2.4GHz)||5157 PCMarks|
3DMark06 overall graphics performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Core 2 Quad Q8200, NVIDIA G210)||2547 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio One 19 (Pentium Dual Core E5200, NVIDIA 9400)||1966 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio Slim (Core 2 Quad Q8200, ATI HD3450)||1820 3DMarks|
|Apple Mac Mini (Core 2 Duo P7350, NVIDIA 9400M)||1552 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion p6130f (Phenom I X4 9750. NVIDIA 9100)||1222 3DMarks|
The Pavilion p6130f may have come in last in some of our canned benchmark trials, it isn’t as if it’s more than a few percent behind everyone else. It’s worth noting that I believe the p6130f is the cheapest, or among the cheapest, of any of the desktops listed. Additionally, while the graphics performance of this machine is nothing to write home about, users who are looking to edit or encode audio and video files will be pleased by the ability of the quad-core processor to power through those easily digestible processes. The hard drive isn’t super fast, but it’s fast enough for most people, and isn’t so slow as to cause any real lag.
Power, Heat and Noise
The p6130f is pretty much in the middle of the road as far as the electrical usage of mainstream desktop computers goes. At idle, we clocked the power draw as running around 86 watts of electricity. AMD’s processors do a decent job of ramping things down when they don’t need all of that power, so it’s mostly the CPU taxing the socket when we pushed it to its max of pulling down 165 watts. Since it doesn’t use excessive amounts of power, it doesn’t need to run too loudly to keep things cool. Fan noise is present, and audible in a quiet room, but it isn’t very noticeable unless you really search for it. Chances are most people won’t even notice it unless the room is absolutely quiet.
As we stated in the introductory paragraph, the amount of computer you can get for your money these days is just incredible. I’m sure this statement has been said an embarrassing number of times over the last thirty years, and I have little doubt it’ll be said many times more in the years to come. Still, for now, the ability to get four physical processor cores, eight gigabytes of memory, a 750GB hard drive, wireless networking, card readers, and more for less than six hundred dollars. It’s a pretty great value, all things considered. For users wanting to spend a little more, there is plenty of room inside for expansion, such as bigger hard drives or a fast solid state drive, a much nicer discrete video card, or even something a little more esoteric like a discrete sound card.
There is room for improvement, of course; we’d love for HP to have included such features like its indented charging tray that sits at the top of the computer, a few more USB ports and even Gigabit Ethernet. Still, the features that are included, especially wireless networking, still represent pretty good value. The HP Pavilion p6130f is a solid, mainstream desktop. It’s a great fit for users who need a little oomph, but may not need all the latest features or capability. It also gives users the chance to grow with the machine, upgrading it as their needs change. Users looking for a dependable, affordable desktop could do much worse than picking this guy up.
Eight gigabytes RAM
Not enough USB ports
No Gigabit Ethernet